McAdam: Couldn't hurt to give Koji a break

McAdam: Couldn't hurt to give Koji a break
August 26, 2014, 12:30 pm
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TORONTO -- Three things we learned in the Red Sox' 4-3, 10-inning victory in Toronto on Monday night:

1) The Red Sox should give serious consideration to shutting down Koji Uehara for a while.

Uehara, somewhat bizarrely, picked up the win Monday, even though he blew the save. Although three runs were charged to starter Clay Buchholz, Uehara allowed one to score on a fielder's choice and two more to cross on a two-run double by Edwin Encarnacion.

That ugly ninth inning was merely a continuation of a rough past 10 days for Uehara that has seen him allow 10 hits and seven runs in his past 3 1/3 innings.

Uehara insisted that the recent struggles are not due to faituge, maintaining that he hasn't been able to properly finish his split-finger fastball, upon which he relies heavily.

Pitching coach Juan Nieves seconded that, saying that he sees no signs of fatigue.

But how can it not be a factor? Uehara has appeared in more than 140 games - counting last year's playoffs -- since the start of 2013 and he's now 39 years old.

John Farrell voiced the viewpoint that fatigue is "a part of'' of Uehara's issues and said, while there's been no serious talk of shutting down Uehara, the matter hadn't been ruled out, either.

The Sox have to take the long view here -- Uehara is a free agent, but one of the reasons the Sox chose not to deal him at the deadline was the idea that, at the very least, they could present him with a qualifying offer for next season and bring him back on a one-year deal for approximately $15 million.

That makes Uehara, essentially, Red Sox property for another year and risking his long-term well-being for some late-season save opportunities for a last-place club is illogical.

2) Don't get Yoenis Cespedes angry.

The Cincinnati Reds learned that lesson almost two weeks ago when reliever Jonathan Broxton threw up-and-in to Cespedes in the eighth inning. On the very next pitch, Cespedes responded with a laser-shot, three-run homer that won the ballgame for the Sox.

It happened again Monday night when hard-throwing Jays reliever Aaron Sanchez buzzed Cespedes high and tight. On the next pitch, Cespedes whistled a rocket to center, scoring Brock Holt from third with what turned out to be the winning run.

Lesson learned: Cespedes doesn't scare easy. While some hitters might lose some of their aggressiveness after such pitches, Cespedes seems to find some extra resolve and grows more determined.

So far, in fact, Cespedes has been everything that was advertised: he's a free swinger (three walks since joining the Red Sox), streaky and a top run producer. In 22 games, he's knocked in 19 RBI.

In the first month, he's been exactly what David Ortiz has been clamoring for: protection in the Red Sox lineup.

3) Dustin Pedroia deserves another Gold Glove.

Pedroia's offensive season -- though better of late -- has been a disappointment, with an alarming drop off in power (just six homers and a career-low slugging percentage of .376). He hasn't had the sort of impact at the plate that the
Red Sox have come to expect and the downward trajectory of his offensive game is especially troubling when you consider he's under contract for another seven seasons.

But know this: Pedroia hasn't lost a thing in the field. On Monday night, he turned in a spectacular diving play to take a base hit away and save a run for Clay Buchholz in the third inning.

Pedroia's play at second has been as good as ever, and that's not just a subjective eye test -- Pedroia leads all second baseman with 17 runs saved, more than he had all of last season and his most since he saved 18 runs in 2011.

It says something about Pedroia that he can separate his offense and defense and that he hasn't let his down season with the bat impact his game at second.

He's been able to separate the two. Here's hoping voters (managers and coaches) do, too, since all too often, voting for the Gold Glove gets influenced by the kind of offensive profile a player has.