Good news for fans of 43-year-old knuckleball pitchers. From MLB Trade Rumors:
WEEI's Rob Bradford reports that Tim Wakefield is set to have surgery on the herniated disc in his back next week, likely on Wednesday.
Why is this good news? Not only have the doctors told Wakefield that the surgery won't hinder his ability to get ready for next season, but Boston GM Theo Epstein indicated that, assuming all goes well, Boston will likely exercise the $4MM team option they hold on Wakefield.
Wakefield, an up-and-comer who was named to his first All Star team this season weeks before his 43rd birthday, posted an 11-5 record in 2009 with a 4.58 ERA.
I was worried that we'd seen the last of Kid '66, but maybe not. At $4 million, why not bring him back and hope for the best. Wakefield would make five starters, along with Beckett, Lester, Buchholz, Dice-K. Somewhere, I came across speculation that the Red Sox might try to add another starter this winter, perhaps one of those low-cost, (potentially) high-reward guys like John Smoltz and Brad Penny.
Well, forget the speculating. Of course they'll enter spring training with more than five starters. And No. 6 isn't likely to be Paul Byrd, who -- like Smoltz and Penny -- finished his Red Sox stint with an ERA well above 5. Some clubs might be content with five established starters, but Matsuzaka's a question mark, Wakefield won exactly zero games after the All-Star break, and neither Junichi Tazawa nor Michael Bowden have yet earned the front office's trust.