Red Sox may have gold in Wacha or a dud. What does history tell us?
Where to start with the latest Red Sox signing? That signing is right-hander Michael Wacha who “pitched” for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2021. Wacha is just 30-years old, but his arm has neglected him for a few seasons. Statistically, the results have been rather pedestrian since somewhere when Obama sat in the Oval Office.
Is Wacha the 2022 version of Garrett Richards? A question only to be answered at the close of next season. This is a path well worn by Red Sox supreme baseball honcho Chaim Bloom. Bloom continually attempts to find value where others have found none or just given up.
Is Wacha just another in a long line of pitching GIGO (Garbage in, garbage out)? A quaint term that has its roots in computers describing erroneous data input and expected disastrous results.
Bloom searches the baseball scrap yard for tired and worn arms. Once upon a baseball age long gone, the Red Sox ventures to the baseball pit of broken arms and not toys produced the mother lode of why this is done.
In 1971, general manager Dick O’Connell picked up a righty that the Braves released. Said pitcher did little to impress, going just 1-7 with a 4.85 ERA. For some reason, the team kept Luis Tiant, which may have been one of the most brilliant or lucky strokes in team management history.
Tiant had a remarkable career with the Indians (AKA – Guardians), pitching to 75 wins in six seasons. Tiant also had a 20 win and 20 loss season tossed in along with an ERA title. The Indians must have suspected something, and El Tiante was traded to the Twins and eventually released. This became the Twins pitching Waterloo as David Ortiz had become the hitting version. The rest is Red Sox history.
In his salad years, right-hander Bret Saberhagen was one of the very best. A two-time Cy Young Award winner with the Royals. Saberhagen’s entire career was a trail not of tears but arm misery and a litany of other assorted injuries. One statistical novelty of Sabs career was having more wins (14) with the Mets in 1994 than walks (13).
Boston signed Saberhagen, and Boston was rewarded with a 0-1, 6.58 line. But similar to Tiant, they re-signed Saberhagen and were rewarded with 25 wins over the next two seasons.
Is there anything left in the tank? Tom Seaver is in the Baseball Hall of Fame and hurled for the Red Sox in 1986. The Sox were desperate for an arm and traded Steve Lyons to the White Sox for Seaver. The results were quite positive, and Tom Terrific gave Boston 16 starts and 104.1 innings. Seaver missed the World Series with a knee injury, and that injury may have been instrumental in keeping The Curse alive.
Of course, those mentioned are the exception. Wacha does not have a history of prior performance of the three mentioned, but the methodology of tossing it against the wall and seeing if it sticks is sometimes a successful approach. I’ll forget about John Smoltz. The Red Sox may strike gold and it may be real or pyrite.