Why Would Tim Wakefield Go to the National League?

Tim Wakefield should retire, not try to sign with an NL team. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Tim Wakefield‘s declaration at the end of September that he wanted to return to the Red Sox made perfect sense: if the team wanted him back, why not? The fans have always loved him; he needs just seven wins to break the team’s career wins record; and figuring out what to do next – every professional athlete’s most-hated task – gets put off one more year.

But when the Red Sox didn’t come calling, Wakefield’s actions spun off into the nonsensical. ESPN.com writer Jerry Crasnick tweeted Wednesday that, at least according to Barry Meister, Wakefield’s agent, Wakefield is considering signing with a National League team.

If the tweet is accurate and not just a hypothetical, it makes no sense. Why in God’s name would Wakefield want to play for another team? And what other team would actually sign him?

Wakefield’s Horrible 2011

Wakefield’s surface numbers alone make it unlikely another team would sign him. He finished with a sub-.500 record, sported an over-5.00 ERA for the second consecutive year, and gave up 25 home runs – a number that has more than doubled since 2008.

However, Wakefield’s problems don’t stop there. In previous years, Wakefield had no problem pitching as strongly late in games as early on. But in 2011, Wakefield could never finish. From the fifth inning on, Wakefield had an ERA of 6.57. That’s 1.8 runs over his career average during those innings.

Wakefield became too hittable too early on in his outings, and that put tremendous strain on a both over-used and under-manned Red Sox bullpen. Even if other free-agent pitchers wouldn’t bring a greater skill set, they’d probably still bring more durability. Most teams wouldn’t want a starter who’d tax the rest of the pitching staff as badly as Wakefield would.

Wakefield hasn’t had a 200-inning season since 2005. He hasn’t even had a 180-inning season since 2008. The idea that other teams would pay much of anything for that little production is just silly.

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