Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Two Days To Thaw Him Out

"Jimmy was cutting every link between himself and the robbery, but it had nothing to do with me."
-Goodfellas montage where everyone gets whacked.

If you haven't noticed (and you might not have because you think the Red Sox are "boring" - more on this on Monday), Theo Epstein is cutting every link between himself and the 2010 bullpen. This bullpen did fall short of the 37 blown saves I predicted at the beginning of the season, but they did successfully blow 23 saves, the highest total since their last non-playoff season of 2006.

And, not dissimilar to what he did with his 2003 bullpen ultimately featuring Byung-Hyun Kim, he realized the guys in place weren't working, so he started whacking guys. Ramirez got shipped to San Francisco. Delcarmen to Colorado. Richardson to Florida for a fellow lefty with a checkered history. Right now the only guys who aren't in trouble would be Scott Atchison and Daniel Bard. Even Felix Doubront is potentially on the trading block.

Thursday, we will find out whether Okajima will be the next connection to the 2010 bullpen that will be severed. He could be straight-up non-tendered Thursday night, and though the guy was a surprise star in 2007, that ship has sailed. A long time ago. I read the stat tonight that on the road, opponents hit .398 against Okajima. Holy crap. His WHIP was closer to 2 than to 1, which is not good when your job is to get one or two guys out in a tight spot.

In previous years of this great regression, Okajima (who is turning 35 this month) had gotten the benefit of the doubt a lot of the time. He got a reasonably bad rap in either 08 or 09 for allowing an inordinate amount of inherited runners in. But stat guys argued that wasn't his fault. The argument that Okajima, as a non-power pitcher with a funky delivery, was being "figured out" was being dismissed, even by myself. But in 2010 he was absolutely abominable.

Even if average relievers such as Joaquin Benoit are getting irrationally-generous contracts, there's no way on earth that Okajima, given the direction his years since 2007 have been going, deserves any raise over the $2.8 million he made last year. Sorry. It was a nice story at first with the little, unheralded Japanese reliever outperforming the overhyped Japanese starter because of his funky windup and deception factor. But at some point the fact that he didn't look at the plate when he threw the ball caught up to him, because he couldn't find it. It also doesn't help when he was pouting all season after failing to use his mind and watch people run around the bases while he's standing with the ball in his hand. If the Red Sox are indeed going to rebuild this season, it's time to blow up this disastrous bullpen and start over. Therefore, tonight is the time to cut ties with Hideki Okajima.


Anonymous said...


For some reason I enjoy 'Casino' and 'Goodfellas' much more than 'The Godfather.' I have no explanation for that.

More importantly, the bullpen needs to be blown up. Your prediction last year, I imagine, was mostly made to make a point--that the bullpen would be awful. And you were right, it was. It's also why trading Daniel Bard would be a really bad idea, at least for 2011.

Also, I'm just waiting to see the ESPN headline "Sox sign Werth to 6 year/$96 million deal."

--the Gunn

the gm at work said...

Probably due to Joe Pesci. Everyone talks about De Niro and Pacino, and rightfully so. But Joe Pesci's body of work is vastly underrated.

I thought the bullpen, with another year of Papelbon regression (which I nailed, by the way), was a little more than twice as bad as the 2009 bullpen. Combine that with the fact that I anticipated a lot of 2-1 games due to a good rotation (incorrect) and a bad offense (also incorrect), and that's where 37.5 came from.

I wouldn't sweat the possibility of Bard being traded. I also wouldn't sweat the possibility of Drew coming back after 2011. Because neither will happen.

How about 5/$80?

I read that Okajima's non-tender is a reality. Papelbon next? That would be awesome.