Saturday, December 10, 2016

Koji Leaves and Rutledge Returns (I Had No Idea He was Gone)

The highest profile free agent Boston had this offseason recently signed a contract to join the Cubs.  Koji was one of the most fun players to watch in recent Red Sox history, due to his excitement after doing something good.  His energy and enthusiasm are infectious.

In a lot of ways, Koji was the player that most represented the Red Sox in 2013.  He was a low-risk, high-reward free agent signing who exceeded expectations.  He started the season as a middle reliever, but due to injuries to closers Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey and ineffectiveness of Junichi Tazawa, Uehara became the closer and had one of the greatest seasons of any Red Sox closer ever.  He ended up 4-1 with a 1.09 ERA and 21 saves.  He struck out 101 and walked just nine batters in 74.1 innings.  He ended up winning the ALCS MVP and was a big part of the World Series Championship, striking out Matt Carpenter to end the Series.

The next season, Uehara declined a little, but still made his first All Star team.  The Red Sox were not nearly as good, but Uehara was 6-5 with a 2.52 ERA and 26 saves.  He struck out 80 while walking eight in 64.1 innings.  2015 saw Koji decline more, but he was still 2-4 with a 2.23 ERA and 25 saves.  He suffered some injuries and was ineffective late in the season.

2016 saw Uehara became a setup man, but he did pick up seven saves.  For his Red Sox career, Koji was 14-13 with a 2.19 ERA and 79 saves.  He struck out 291 batters, while walking a mind-boggling 37 in 226 innings.  Uehara will go down as one of my absolute favorite relief pitchers of all time and one of the most fun pitchers to watch, period.  Good luck, Koji.  Cubs fans, enjoy.
In other news, the Rule 5 Draft occurred today.  While Boston did not pick up Luis Torrens from the Yankees (sorry Zippy Zappy), they did re-acquire utility infielder Josh Rutledge.  Which was weird, because I had no idea he was gone.  Apparently Colorado signed him after the season.  Rutledge is a right-handed hitter (versus the left-handed Brock Holt) who can actually swing a bat (unlike Deven Marrero).  Rutledge has been with Boston for parts of two seasons and has hit .276/.338/.358 with seven doubles and a home run in 123 at-bats.  He stands a decent chance of being a backup infielder for the Red Sox in 2017 along with Holt.  Though he would have to beat out Marco Hernandez for the job.

Boston lost two players in the Draft: Justin Haley and Aneury Tavarez.  Haley stands the best chance of sticking in the Majors as he pitched in 15 games in Pawtucket and looked to be on the verge of making it to the Majors.  I would expect Tavarez to come back.

Boston also added Junior Lake as a minor league free agent.  Lake last played a full season with the Cubs in 2014.  He has bounced between the Majors and Minors ever since, playing for three teams in the last two years.  This is mostly just an outfield depth move.


  1. Here's hoping Koji can continue that success in Chicago. From waht you've described, I'm very much excited to see him take the mound at Wrigley.

    Also, maybe Junior Lake will finally figure things out in Boston. He's a great athlete with nice pop - it's too bad he's never been able to get a grip of the strike zone.

  2. I really liked Koji and was hoping the Yankees would scoop him up over Chapman (ugh). Of course there's the fact that I'm of Japanese descent and biased in that regard lol.

    You know, when I saw Torrens was picked up by a team that started with R-E-D, I got nervous. But then I saw he'd already been traded to San Diego lol.