ImageI was just thinking what an interesting contrast Koji Uhehara makes with countryman Junichi Tazawa, and why it is much easier to see Uhehara in a Red Sox uniform next year. Now Tazawa is young and shows lots of promise, but Uhehara has saved the Red Sox bullpen, and probably more responsible than any one player for their holding on to first place in 2013.

Uhehara is aggressive and deliberate on the mound. Tazawa fusses and stalls. Uhehara has pinpoint control. Tazawa is often an adventure with the strike zone. Uhehara is fiery and competitive. Tazawa often looks like he wishes he were somewhere else. On his best days Tazawa could probably match pitches with Uhehara, but all days are Uhehara’s best.

When it was announced that Uhehara would gain incentives and security by pitching in his 55th game this season, all of Red Sox Nation must have said, “Thank God!” What a joy to know this animated closer can anchor the bullpen another year.  Meanwhile we are thanking our lucky stars that Mike Napoli is only signed for one year. Hindsight is 20/20, but sometimes foresight gets lucky.

Along with Shane Victorino, Koji Uhehara is the greatest off-season acquisition of 2012-13, and this with all due respect to Jonny Gomes and Ryan Dempster. He also proves the theory that you can’t have too many closers. That was probably daring foresight as well as a stroke of luck. Well played, Mr. Cherrington and welcome to another year, Koji Uhehara!


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