Tim Wakefield gave up six runs on seven hits — including four home runs in the span of six batters– over three innings in last night’s loss to the Rays.
Ugly, yes, but normally we’d say no big deal. Sometimes the knuckleball dances just right and sometimes it doesn’t. It’s nothing Red Sox fans haven’t seen in his 16 previous years with the club.
But the outing takes on added importance in light of Terry Francona’s comments earlier in the day. According to Evan Drellich of MLB.com, Francona offered no assurances that the 44-year-old would make the Opening Day roster.
“We’re going to have some interesting decisions to make here come this last week,” the Red Sox manager said.
The main issue is that Alfredo Aceves has emerged as a reasonable alternative for the bullpen. The 29-year-old right-hander is back to full health and capable of starting or relieving. Meanwhile, Wakefield is coming off his worst season since 1993 and looked uncomfortable in a swingman role.
Of course, Wakefield has his advantages in this situation. He remains a fan favorite and is under contract for $2 million this season. And while Aceves has impressed this spring by posting a 3.48 ERA over 10 1/3 innings, he has options remaining and could open the season as a starter with Triple-A Pawtucket. In turn, two club sources told Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com that Wakefield’s spot in the bullpen is safe. I have my doubts about whether he’ll last the whole season with the club, but logic says he’ll at least be there come Opening Day.
The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.
Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.
Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.
As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.
Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.
Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.