December 22, 2014

Scrolling Headlines:

Recovery fund established for former UMass student Chloe Rombach -

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Minutemen search for answers following blowout loss to Providence -

Saturday, December 20, 2014

UMass dominated in 85-65 loss to Providence -

Saturday, December 20, 2014

BLOG: UMass football recruiting roundup: UMass signs DT, offers two kickers -

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

UMass President Robert Caret resigns to become chancellor of the University of Maryland system -

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Brandon Montour: ‘It felt great to be out there’ -

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

UMass falls to Northeastern in Brandon Montour’s debut -

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Cady Lalanne continues to evolve as a potential outside shooting threat -

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

UMass hockey returns to action against Northeastern, Montour to make season debut -

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Demetrius Dyson remains hopeful despite rocky start to season -

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Former UMass soccer star Matt Keys aims to continue his career professionally -

Monday, December 15, 2014

Pierre-Louis, Dillard shine in UMass victory over Holy Cross -

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Passing, spacing improved in UMass victory -

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Prolific first half propels UMass past Canisius, 75-58 -

Saturday, December 13, 2014

UMass Faculty Senate hears ad hoc committee’s report on FBS football, shoots down contentious motion -

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Minutemen hope improved spacing will aid struggling half court offense -

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Divest UMass urges Board of Trustees to split with fossil fuel industry -

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Cady Lalanne accustomed to dealing with increased attention -

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Front to Back: Week of Dec. 1, 2014 -

Monday, December 8, 2014

Chiarelli: UMass basketball running out of time to find its identity -

Monday, December 8, 2014

Boston Red Sox 2013 Offseason Tracker: Koji Uehara

MCT

Koji Uehara

Former team: Texas Rangers

Position: Relief pitcher

Contract: 1-year, $4.25 million

Projected role: Middle reliever

For a team supposedly in “rebuilding mode,” the Boston Red Sox made plenty of noise this offseason. The acquisitions of Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino, Ryan Dempster and Joel Hanrahan received attention and emitted the impression that management sought to assemble a team capable of competing for an AL East title this season. However, the signing of Koji Uehara, one of baseball’s hidden gems, on an inexpensive contract, didn’t receive the appraise it warranted.

Uehara, who spent 10 successful years playing for the Yomiuri Giants of Japan, came to America in 2009 as a starting pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles. Despite pitching well in 12 starts, Baltimore moved him to the bullpen the next season, and he’s thrived there for the past three years.

In 145 innings as a reliever, he has a 2.36 earned run average, a strikeout per nine innings ratio of 11.4 (league average in 2011 was 7.1) and has only surrendered 17 walks.

Uehara posted career-bests for ERA (1.75) and WHIP (0.639) in Texas last year, but only saw 36 innings due to strained right lat muscle which landed him on the disabled list. This injury, and his age are the only reasons for concern; but even if Uehara gets injured or pitches poorly, Boston possesses the money to make such a situation inconsequential.

The 37-year-old fits in perfectly with Boston’s arsenal of right-handed relievers that includes Hanrahan, Andrew Bailey, Daniel Bard and Junichi Tazawa.

Hanrahan will start the season as the closer, but the setup man position is less definite.

Bard was spectacular in the bullpen for three seasons, but he’s not even a guarantee to make the roster after his meltdown last season.

Bailey’s late-inning experience makes him an obvious candidate, but his injury history brings up major red flags.

Based on last year’s numbers, Tazawa or Uehara make the most sense, but I’d expect to see all four in the eighth inning at some point this season, and perhaps even in the ninth if Hanrahan falters.

The market for relief pitchers, and more specifically closers, is ridiculous, and the Red Sox wisely chose the cost-friendly Uehara (although they did splurge on Hanrahan, but that’s a topic for another day). His contract is team-friendly for two reasons: Boston only has to commit to him for one year, and the guaranteed money isn’t excessive.

The best counter-example to the shrewd signing of Uehara would be the exorbitant contract handed out to Brandon League by the Los Angeles Dodgers. League signed for $23 million over three years, which could amount to $33 million with incentives. He received this large contract solely based on his status as a “proven closer”, and not based on his performance.

Take a look at the last three seasons for Uehara and League, and keep in mind the differences in contracts:

Koji Uehara

Year Tm ERA G SV IP WHIP SO/9
2010 BAL 2.86 43 13 44.0 0.955 11.3
2011 TOT 2.35 65 0 65.0 0.723 11.8
2012 TEX 1.75 37 1 36.0 0.639 10.8

Brandon League

Year Tm ERA G SV IP WHIP SO/9
2010 SEA 3.42 70 6 79.0 1.190 6.4
2011 SEA 2.79 65 37 61.1 1.076 6.6
2012 TOT 3.13 74 15 72.0 1.361 6.8

 

Uehara surpasses League in just about every category, and in most cases, it’s not even close.

More important than the financial benefits of the deal, Uehara improves a bullpen that blew an AL-worst 39 percent of its save opportunities last season.

With the additions of Uehara and Hanrahan, the possible returns of Bailey and Bard, a strong core of left-handers and an expanded role for Tazawa, expect the Red Sox to go from the worst bullpen in the AL last season, to one of the best in 2013.

Jackson Alexander can be reached at jtalexan@student.umass.edu.

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