One silver lining of the Red Sox vanishing playoff hopes is the resurgence of knuckleballer Tim Wakefield. It’s also fun watching Derek Lowe win 20 games and Pedro almost certain to (in his next outing). Manny Ramirez meanwhile is in contention for his first batting title in spite of missing six weeks earlier in the season because of his broken finger.

All of which makes the harsh reality of not qualifying for the playoffs (even as they easily win more than 90 games) all the more stupefying. Had the Sox won the wild card, they’d have had two 20-game-winning pitchers to take out the Twins in the best 3 out of 5. Assuming Oakland or the Angels blew away the over-rated Yankees, that would mean at least going the distance for the Championship and a good shot at the World Series. And yet…look what happened (or rather didn’t happen).

You have to assume Sox CEO Larry Lucchino isn’t going to stand pat and bring back manager Grady Little—a nice guy but the Forrest Gump routine and his hands off approach have all worn thin with Red Sox nation.

And since we’re on the subject (and I’d like to cross check in the Spring with my suggestions now), here’s who else I’d unload:

Pitchers: Dusty Hermanson (a disaster); Frank Castillo (a close, luckless second); non-relievers Haney, Gomes and Banks.

Players: Dump Tony Clark and Brian Daubach and get a real, full-time first baseman, like Jim Thome.

Keep: Cliff Floyd. Rickey Henderson. Carlos Baerga. Resign Nomar and Pedro pronto. (Tell Nomar to stop whining and exercise more patience at the plate and more leadership in the dugout).

New starting pitcher: Bartolo Colon. Keep Casey Fossum. He’s going to get better and better.

There. I feel better now….