Could Tim Wakefield have a tough time making the Red Sox?

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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.

Yankees to hire Josh Bard as their new bench coach

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Aaron Boone has no experience as a coach or a manager at any level. As such, some have speculated that he’d hire a more seasoned hand as his bench coach as he begins his first season as Yankees manager. Someone like, say, Eric Wedge, who was a candidate for the job Boone got and who once managed Boone in Cleveland.

Nope. According to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, he’s going with Josh Bard.

Bard, 39, was a teammate of Boone’s with the Indians in 2005. He’s not without coaching experience, having spent the last two seasons as the Dodgers’ bullpen coach, but he’s not that Gene Lamont/Don Zimmer-type we often see in the bench coach role.

Which is fine because different managers want different things from their bench coach. Some are strategy guys, helping with in-game decision making. Others are relationship guys who help managers understand all of the dynamics of the clubhouse while they’re worrying more about lineups and stuff. Others are trust guys, who can serve as the manager’s sounding board, among other things. Some are combinations of all of these things. As Feinsand notes in his story, Boone said at his introductory press conference that he’s looking for this:

“I want smart sitting next to me. I want confidence sitting next to me. I want a guy who can walk out into that room and as I talk about relationships I expect to have with my players, I expect that even to be more so with my coaching staff. Whether that is a guy with all kinds of experience or little experience. I am not concerned about that.”