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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Flood of the Wake

Tim Wakefield makes his statement on the field.

We all know the turmoil that is astir in the Red Sox club house these days- Ortiz, Varitek, Lowell... and Wake. This turmoil has taken its toll on the Red Sox in the first 45 games of the season. What Theo will do with Mike Lowell is anyone's guess, but Mike is understandably upset, and rightfully so. Theo knows he has to resolve that situation soon. Big Papi has returned, at least for now. Ortiz has bought himself enough time to last to the end of the season. He did snap out of his slump earlier this year than last, but only his final 2010 numbers will reveal his future with the Sox. As for Jason Varitek, he is holding his head up and is quietly doing what is best for the team.

But Wake....
This situation will be difficult to resolve if all of the starters are healthy. Nobody wants a teammate to go down with an injury to gain a spot on the roster, Wake included. So what happens when all 6 starting pitchers are all healthy all at the same time?

Dice-K served some time on the DL, and now Beckett is off the field for a bit. There will come a time when they're all healthy. When that time does come, the options will be very difficult to choose from. They are all starters. None of them deserve to be sent to the 'pen, Wake included.

There's 6 headed elephant in the room that needs to be dealt with now (7 if you include Mike Lowell.) Although the starting rotation is only one of the 3 most difficult situations, it involves more players. I don't pretend to know what's going on inside Wake's head right now, but we do know that he is not happy working out of the bullpen. None of them would be happy working out of the bullpen. It may be time to revisit the 6 man rotation again.

It would be tricky, but it could be done. One of them might need an extra day off once in a while for a myriad of reasons. Francona needs to see who is hot and who is not. He will have to take closer looks at match ups with opposing teams furthur in advance than he already does and juggle the order they pitch accordingly. There is no law that mandates that the starting pitchers rotation maintain the same order throughout the whole season.

If they haven't already, Francona and Farrell would do best to sit down with each pitcher and explain the difficulty of this situation and ask them to do what's best for the team, and if it means that some of them get 2 or 3 fewer starts over the course of the whole season because of this, then so be it. I know starting pitchers are of a different mindset because they do not play every day and that deviation from their normal once every 5 game start is harder for them to process. I know this leaves the bullpen with one less arm, but if the starters have more rest, then theoretically, they should be able to go deeper into games.

A lot of fans take one look at his age and yell, "Stick a fork in him already!" what gets overlooked is that a knuckleball pitcher's arm lasts a hell of a lot longer than a 95 mph fastballer. Even so, the list of baseball's best fastball pitchers who lasted well into their 40's is impressive.

Tim Wakefield has earned his spot in the starting pitcher's rotation. He just throttled the best team in the National League last night, blanking them for 8 innings. He was an All Star last year. And if the 6 man rotation does become the answer, no one should ever say it was Tim Wakefield's fault.

What this team needs is cohesion to make it into October and if it means that the rest of the starters' routine is a little bit different for the remainder of the season then they should deal with it as best they can. This is not a situation that will happen again anytime soon. Really, most teams would kill to be in this position. Well, maybe that would be a bit extreme, but you get the point.

Fenway West 05.24.10

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