The Red Sox have John Lackey, Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Clay Buchholz, but Tim Wakefield says one of them is going to have to take a back seat to him:
“I’ve been right back on track with
my normal offseason routine and I don’t feel like there’s going to be
any setbacks, so I plan on being one of the five starters.”
I’m sure someone in the crowded Boston media landscape will try to turn this into a controversy of some kind (“Wakefield: TAKE A BACK SEAT, BECKETT!”) but such a thing would be silly. For one thing, Wakefield is a knuckleballer, and knuckleballers are totally awesome, so what should really happen is that Beckett, Lackey and Lester should be turned into mop-up men and Wakefield should get something like 54 starts. There. Controversy averted.
Only slightly more likely is that one of the six starters will get hurt or be ineffective at some point this year, rendering the notion that the Sox have a surplus of starters quaint. Remember last year when the Red Sox allegedly had seven Major League-ready starters to open the season? Somewhere along the line that turned into Paul Byrd, Junichi Tazawa and Michael Bowden being pressed into service, so I’m assuming that Wakefield will get plenty of starts in 2010 by simply hanging around.
The Nationals will be many people’s favorites in the NL East this season. Not everything is looking great, however. For example, their ace — defending NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer — can’t even throw fastballs right now.
The reason: the stress fracture he suffered last August is still causing him problems and Scherzer is unable to use his fastball grip without feeling pain in his right ring finger. He will throw a bullpen session tomorrow, but will only use his secondary stuff.
Scherzer has not been ruled out for Opening Day — the fact that he is throwing some means that his timetable isn’t totally on hold — but you have to figure, at some point, not being able to air things out and use his heater will lead to some problems in his spring training routine.
File this under “man, that would’ve been cool.” Or, if you’re a Tigers fan, file it under “man, that would’ve signaled several years of misery.” However you fall on the matter, however, know that, according to Jon Heyman, the Dodgers inquired about trading for Justin Verlander over the winter.
It never went anywhere, but it’s not like it was silliness for the Dodgers to ask. As you may recall, the Tigers were reported to be willing to listen to offers on any and all players back in November, as GM Al Avila contemplated a tear-down. That never came to pass — the Tigers had a quiet offseason and are keeping the team together to make another run at the playoffs with the Verlander/Miguel Cabrera core — but it couldn’t hurt to ask.
Verlander, who is coming off a resurgent season which saw him return to form as one of baseball’s best pitchers, has 10-5 rights, allowing him to veto any trade. He’s married to an actress/model, however, owns a home in L.A., and the Dodgers are a clear contender, so there’s a good chance he would’ve allowed such a trade to happen. Heck, dude even loves pitchers batting, so a chance to do it all the time would be right up his alley.
The bigger issue likely would’ve been Verlander’s $28 million salary. The Dodgers already pay the luxury tax so taking on that commitment would cost them more than the sticker price. And, of course, if the Tigers are going to ever give up one of the best players in franchise history, it would take the motherlode of prospects to do it.
So, no, a Verlander-to-L.A. trade wasn’t ever a strong possibility. But even the slight possibility seems exciting in hindsight. It was a boring as hell offseason.