The Red Sox have finally cut their roster down the the 25 man limit set by MLB. Naturally, there were some tough omissions. The toughest decision probably came down to whether or not to keep Hideki Okajima. As it turns out, the Red Sox decided they didn't need his arm right now, and optioned him down to AAA Pawtucket. It's tough not to feel bad for the guy, who had a three year period of being a consistent rock out of the 'pen.
Okajima's story is an interesting one. He signed with the Red Sox in 2007 at 31 years old after having a good career pitching in Japan. At the time of the signing, Red Sox fans and talking heads declared he was here more to be Dice-K's friend rather than a valuable asset to the team. However, Okajima used his quirky pitching motion and his famous "Okie-Dokie." Gary Sheffield once said he is "one of the most impressive lefties I have ever seen." His rookie year resulted in an All Star appearance and a 6th place ROY finish. He didn't disappoint in 2008 either, and 2009 was alright. However, he took a clear step back last year. This dropoff is probably a combination of age, he is now 35, and American hitters figuring him out. With his strange motion, and not seeing all hitters in a lineup each appearance, it took a while. So while it's sad to see someone who pitched so well out of nowhere to go, the Red Sox made the right call.
The Red Sox also optioned newly acquired Alfredo Aceves to the minors. Aceves has made limited appearances for the Yankees the last three years, and has seen decent success, especially in 2009 when he appeared in 40 games. He was hoping for a more steady job in Boston, but that does not look as promising anymore. The Red Sox decided to keep Dennys Reyes and Matt Albers instead. The Reyes choice was a no brainer, since he is our only lefty (and a better option than Okajima). The competition came down to Albers and Aceves for the final long relief spot with Wake. It came down to Albers not having an option and Aceves having one. I hope that both of these guys make it back to the bigs and find more success, especially Okajima. I just don't see it with this team.