Today it was announced that former Red Sox pitcher Koji Uehara signed a 1 year deal 4.5 million dollar deal with the Cubs (yet ANOTHER ex Red Sox to go to the North Side). Really bums me out, even at 41 I still would've loved to have Koji back. He finally started to show signs of slowing down last year but I still think they could've found a spot for him in 2017.
No player was more surprising to the ultimate suprise championship team: The 2013 Red Sox than Koji Uehara (honorable mention: Daniel Nava).
The then 38 year old was the Red Sox 4th option at closer after Joel Hanrahan, Andrew Bailey, and Junichi Tazawa. Once Koji got the job, he never looked back. He was a blast to watch. I've never seen someone have so much fun playing baseball. Koji was 38 but acting like he was 8 playing little league. He was well known for the crazy high-fives he would give every single person in on the team after a big out. It started the #highfivecity craze which along with the beards (he and Boegarts I think were the only guys who didn't have one), and Boston Strong were the three big rallying crys of that special Red Sox team.
He finished the 2013 regular season with a microscopic 1.07 ERA, 21 saves and a staggering 101 strikeouts in only 74.1 innings. He finished 7th in the Cy Young vote which is pretty remarkable considering his role going into the season was to be the 6th inning guy. When Koji was in it was game over, and it was game over fast. I swear he must've had like 20 1-2-3 innings where he threw under 10 pitches. It was unreal to watch, the most dominant run I've ever seen in my life. Koji not allowing any runs in the 9th was the closest thing possible to a sure thing in baseball.
In the playoffs except for one HR he allowed in the ALDS in game 3 he was untouchable. 1 earned run in 13 innings. ALCS MVP (watched him close it out from the Monster, NBD).
In the World Series he famously picked off Kolten Wong to end game 4 and tie the World Series at 2-2. Without Koji there is no way the 2013 Red Sox are World Series Champs. Not only was he an awesome pitcher, he was also a very lovable member of a very lovable team with his goofy, boyish personality.
In 2014 he was an All-Star and while his number weren't as good as 2013 (very hard to replicate) he still managed to pick up 26 saves and have a 2.52 ERA. He finished his four years with the Sox with 79 saves, 291 strikeouts and a 2.19 ERA. Not too bad for a guy in his 40's.
Koji was awesome his entire time in Boston but nothing will ever come close to what he did in 2013. With Koji gone only three members of the 2013 Red Sox are still on the roster, Dustin Pedroia, Xander Boegarts and Clay Buccholz. It could go down to two very soon as their are strong rumors that the Sox are going to trade Bucchholz.
I wish Koji nothing but the best, he was one of the most lovable athletes Boston has ever had and was a major piece of a championship. I sure know I will miss him.