The Red Sox made a number of moves over the last day or so. Here they are, in super sexy bullet form:
DFA Hideki Okajima -It’s an unfortunate ending for Okajima with the Red Sox. He was a big part of the bullpen that helped bring the second World Series championship in four years to Boston back in ’07. But the Red Sox paid him for that performance back then.
Since there has been a noticeable decline in Okajima’s effectiveness. His walks have gone way up, his strikeouts have come way down and as those have trended in the wrong direction, not surprisingly, so has his ability to pitch effectively. The last reason to roster him was as a lefty-on-lefty-crime guy, but those numbers have been going in the wrong way too. In the end, this move was brought about by three things. The first is covered above and the second is Rich Hill‘s emergence as the lefty in the pen which moved Okajima into the very back of the pen. The third thing that brought about the end of Okajima’s tenure in Boston was…
Trade for Franklin Morales – The Red Sox dealt either a player to be named later or cash (their choice) for Morales, a 25 year old lefty with a plus fastball who has held left-handed hitters to a .185/.291/.333 line over his career. Morales’ four seem fastball averages 93.7 mph, which is some serious heat. It’s the kind of fastball that will register 95 or 96 mph on stadium radar guns. Or 206, who knows, but the point is batters have less time to hit it. As they say, you can’t teach velocity.
Of course, sometimes you can’t teach control either which brings us to the reason Morales was available at all. Over the last three seasons Morales has struck out 9.2, 8.5, and 7.1 batters per nine innings. During that same span he’s walked 5.2, 7.5, and 5.1. The difference between Morales and Okajima is Morales has upside. At this point in his career, Okajima is what he is, which, as far as the Red Sox pen goes, isn’t so much anymore.
Sign Kevin Millwood – With the injuries to Daisuke Matsuzaka, who may be out a long time, and John Lackey, who may (or may not) be back pretty soon, the Red Sox felt they need someone who can, if it comes to it, soak up a few innings. Josh Beckett‘s stiff neck could only have reinforced this decision. Millwood is no 36 year old savior, but if called upon he might be able to do that, which is about as good as you’re going to get for nothing right now.
Millwood is a back of the rotation guy at best who spent last season giving up 30 homers for Baltimore and then wasn’t able to secure a big league deal during the off season. He eventually signed a minor league deal with the Yankees that allowed him to opt out if he wasn’t on the big league roster by May 1st. He wasn’t so he did (despite what you may have heard, he was not cut). While the Yankees do make mistakes (Aceves) it should mean something that a team as starved for pitching as New York left Millwood in AAA even at the risk of losing him. It was, to be blunt, because he wasn’t very good. Peter Abraham of the Globe has spoken to scouts who think Millwood’s stuff won’t play in the big leagues any longer. That may be true, but hopefully it won’t come to that for the Red Sox anyway. Millwood is strictly a break-glass-if-necessary kind of acquisition. With any luck we won’t see him in Boston any time soon.
DFA – Susan Lucci – Is that funny? I don’t know.
It should be mentioned that Okajima’s career in Boston isn’t necessarily over. Being DFA’d (designated for assignment) means the team has ten days to trade him. If they don’t or can’t trade him then he goes through the waivers process. If he’s unclaimed then he’ll likely end up down in Pawtucket waiting for someone in Boston to pull up lame.