Friday, December 31, 2010

Okajima Back in Boston

According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, relief pitcher Hideki Okajima and the Boston Red Sox have agreed to a one year deal.  Okajima, who turned 35 last week, was non-tendered by the Sox earlier this year.  The specifics of the deal have not been published.

This isn't a good deal for the Red Sox.  Yes, a quality left-handed reliever was one of the last holes the Red Sox had to fill.  Even by signing Okajima, I don't think that the Sox have filled that hole.  Okajima has played four years in Boston and he has declined each year.  His ERA has gone from 2.22 in 2007, to 2.61 in 2008, to 3.39 in 2009, to  4.50 in 2010.  His batting average against (BAA) has gone from .202 in 2007, to .212 in 2008, to .242 in 2009, to a terrible .314. His batting average against (BAA) vs. lefties has gone from .236 in 2007, to .184 in 2008, to .167 in 2009, to .284 in 2010.  You get the picture.  Okajima has gotten worse the more teams have gotten to see him and his stuff.  Over the last four years the Red Sox have used him as more than just a lefty specialist, but that seems to be the only place that the Sox could put him.  Even that is a questionable move.  Yes, before this past season he pitched well against lefties, but his stuff was so bad in 2010 and it seemed like whenever he was brought into a game, inherited runners ended up scoring.  The Sox have been linked to lefty Brian Fuentes, with about 11 other teams, and he would be a much better left-handed option.  The Sox already had back up options too, with Felix Doubront and Rich Hill. I don't think Okajima would perform better than either of those guys.  Overall, questionable move by the Sox.  Even though the deal is only a year, and will probably be a minimal percentage of the Sox payroll, it seems like an unnecessary move by Boston.  I expect Okajima to continue his decline.    

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