Based on e-mails, comments on the blog and listening to sports talk radio, there is a sentiment out there that the Red Sox should take Tim Wakefield out of the rotation. Some would go as far as to release him.
With the rosters expanding on Thursday, releasing him makes little sense. Beyond that, it would be unnecessarily callous. The man has been with the team for 17 years, show some respect.
Taking him out of the rotation may not make a whole lot of sense, either.
Starting tomorrow, the Red Sox have 28 games left to play over 29 days then one day off before the start of the postseason. It would make little sense to drive Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, John Lackey and Erik Bedard hard over the next month.
Lackey, Lester and Bedard have already been on the disabled list this season and Beckett was there much of last year. Having those four pitchers healthy and lined up for the postseason is critical.
Wakefield doesn’t have to — nor should he — pitch every five days with Andrew Miller now pitching well. But the Red Sox have seven games left with Baltimore and six with Toronto. If Wakefield picks up two or three of those games, there’s extra rest for Beckett, Lester, Lackey or Bedard.
Wakefield has eight quality starts, two this month. As poor as his start was against Oakland on Friday, it wasn’t representative of his season. If he is used correctly, the Red Sox can win the game that night while at the same time giving one of their top-tier starters a little break.
This isn’t about Wakefield winning his 200th game. This is about the Red Sox being in the best position to win the World Series. Nobody is going to throw a parade for winning the division, winning 100 games or having the best record in baseball. Those achievements are essentially meaningless.
If Wakefield can help Lester, Beckett, Lackey and Bedard be just a little more prepared for the games that really matter, what is that worth?
Finally, he’s 45-years-old and getting paid $2 million. For that, he delivered 130.2 innings and the Red Sox are 11-8 in the games he started. It would be unreasonable to expect much more. Fangraphs calculates Wakefield as giving the Red Sox $3 million in value. In the end, he has been a bargain.
When the season is over, his future can be decided. For now, Wakefield can still contribute to this season and should get that chance.