While the Red Sox are busy making their plans for the 2012 season, one thing they should do at their earliest convenience is re-sign Tim Wakefield.
Ever since he first took the mound for the Sox in 1942 in a spot start for the injured Oscar Judd, Wakefield has been a living piece of Red Sox history. The memories are almost countless: the year he left baseball to help fight the Axis powers, his stumping for Eisenhower, his marching with civil rights leaders in Washington (much to the chagrin of then-owner Tom Yawkey), his donning of a black armband to silently protest the war in Vietnam, the injury that kept him out of the ’75 World Series but had him cheering madly from the bench, his brief flirtation with joining the circus in the mid-80s, his classic “Nice Guys Bicycling For No Nukes” campaign with Reid Nichols, the Aaron Boone home run and his 2004 redemption represent just a few.
Look, I’m the first to admit that Wake’s stumble toward 200 wins last summer not only helped sink the club, it made for some of the most unwatchable baseball that didn’t involve a guy named “Slocumb.” But Wake represents everything that’s just and good with this club–perhaps even with the world. And in the shadow of a season full of discontent and fried chicken and clubhouse disorder, his Nice Guy Vibe is probably more important than ever.
Used with discretion (which should be easier with his 200th win in the rear view mirror), the flexibility Wake brings as a starter, reliever, mop-up dude or just a guy to start everybody’s car so they’re good and warmed-up by the time other players are ready to leave the park shouldn’t be underestimated. Give him a year, see how he rolls, be thankful you’ve got him when Bard/Aceves/Bailey/Melancon hit the DL, and start grooming him for his eventual role as Red Sox Goodwill Ambassador to the World.