Sunday Mail: It’s a Relief to Have Koji Uehara Back, But Red Sox Have to Give Him Help

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I can’t stop flip-flopping on this Koji Uehara deal. I mean, glad he’s with the Red Sox — the only Red Sox closer I’ve ever appreciated and trusted more is Keith Foulke, circa October 2004.

And Uehara’s generally brilliant pitching is matched by an effervescent personality in victory and an accountability that makes you feel his disappointment on the rare occasions he loses.

When the Red Sox signed Uehara to a one-year, $4.25 million contract in December 2012 — it ended up as a two-year, $9.25 million deal when an option vested — is one of the prime bargains in recent Red Sox lore.

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Here are his numbers with the Red Sox, excluding his ridiculous 2013 postseason, when he gave up one earned run in 13 appearances, saving seven games en route to the parade.

It’s just … well, I’m not sure about this deal. I suppose two years and $18 million is easily gulped down by the Red Sox even if it doesn’t pan out, and that is a decent sticker price for a relief pitcher of Uehara’s recent accomplishment. But he’ll be 40 in April, had a 4.35 ERA in the second half, a 5.56 ERA in August and gave up three homers in 4.1 innings in September.

I’d prefer to remember him well, for all that he was and did in 2013, rather than watch him decline before our eyes.

Ultimately, I’m cool with it, I think, but it’s imperative than John Farrell uses him right — which means in moderation, even if there’s a save to be had.

The talented gang at Over The Monster dug up a great detail — Uehara pitched 12 innings in games in which the Red Sox were ahead by three or more runs. That cannot happen anymore. Using him in blowouts to get him some work can’t happen, either. There are only so many 87 mph Deceptionballs left in that right arm. Don’t waste a single one of them.

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It’s imperative that Ben Cherington takes away some of Farrell’s temptation to use him in any close circumstance in which the Red Sox have a late lead.

Go get him some real help, some additional relief. Hell, start by finding out whether Andrew Miller would take the same deal Koji got.
I told you the Pats would be undefeated for this game! Match up DarrelleRevis and Brandon Browner all over the field or mix and match?
— Bob Z.

You did? I could swear you had them at 1-7, Bob Z. Or was it 0-8? Maybe that was a different Bob Z.

I’m not going to pretend to have any idea what they plan to do to cover all of the Broncos’ weapons and how they will deploy Revis and Browner. But count me among those who give credence to the theory/suspicion that Belichick is going to unveil something — a particular usage of Revis, some aggressive twist to the scheme — that Peyton Manning has not seen on film a single time this year.

It seems like they’ve only selectively deployed Revis as a true shutdown one-on-one defender this year, so maybe he ends up locked down on Demaryius Thomas. But it’s all a guess right now.

The anticipation of how the Patriots will deal with the Broncos’ offense adds another element of pleasant suspense to a game that already had plenty.

Any changes coming soon to middays and afternoon drive at WEEI? Minihane sat in with MFB one day, and in his chat when asked if that was a possibility, he said “Yes”. Is this just Kirk being Kirk, or is there any truth to that possibility?
— Mark

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I think he ends up in the 2-6 p.m. slot within the next 2-4 months, with Jerry Thornton moving to mornings in the third-man role.

Not sure who they’d put Kirk with at this point. I know WEEI likes Marc Bertrand quite a bit and his contract, I believe, is up at the end of the year.

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Hi Chad, I think you have to move Yoenis Cespedes for whatever you can get for him. Pay Shane Victorino’s salary and move him, trade for Jason Heyward and open the wallet for Jon Lester. Lester at $150 million is a better deal than Shields for $100 million or Hamels for $90 million. Thoughts?
— Ben

I don’t know. There’s no reason to just give Cespedes away — he’s flawed, and it’s a bummer he doesn’t come with draft-pick compensation attached, but he’s still a useful player. Only 12 players in the majors knocked in 100 runs this season, and he was one. If you don’t have an appealing offer, might as well keep him and hope he has a big walk-year.

I like the idea of going after Heyward, and I think they will — he’s their 1A in the long-term plan to Giancarlo Stanton. I’d love to see Heyward play right at Fenway for the next six years. Still think he has a chance to be a lefty Dave Winfield.

Lester is getting more than $150 million, and that’s more than twice the amount of the only known offer they made. I just can’t see him coming back unless it’s for a huge discount. I think he ends up getting $100 million more than the Red Sox offered him in the spring.

Hamels at $90 million is a good deal. He’s a slightly — slightly — lesser Lester. Depends what they have to give up, though. You never know what Ruben Amaro is thinking. The guy has never really made a good trade for prospects.

Think they have a day for Youk?
— Youk fan

Sure. He does deserve it even though his accomplishments have faded from mind a little bit. He was a tremendous player here — finished top-five in the MVP balloting twice, played on two championship teams, and hustled, raked, never wasted an at-bat, and a fan-favorite for four or five years. Youuuuuuukkk! Yeah, I’d say he’s a Red Sox Hall of Famer, too, even though his run was relatively short.

Maybe they’ll do it in July, when it’s sweltering hot and we can all sweat buckets along with him in unified tribute. There will also be a Fenway-wide toss of mini-batting helmets (real ones are much too dangerous, especially in closed quarters) in homage, orchestrated by Dr. Charles. Manny will return to fake-punch him in the dugout, then give him a big hug. Then some singer from “The Voice” will charge across the infield at him singing his old at-bat music, Biz Markie’s “Just A Friend.”

Until next week, the Mailbox is closed. Exit music, please.

“Thank you.”

(The pans are the music part, FYI.)

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