Another bullpen arm going from Boston to Atlanta.
But what should the Braves expect out of the soon-to-be 40 year old?As Theo Epstein's only "low risk, high reward" victory last season, Saito was pretty solid for the Red Sox in 2009. Maybe a little bit lucky, but a good bullpen arm nonetheless:
|2009 - Takashi Saito||3-3||56||0||0||0||2||2||55.2||50||16||15||6||25||52||2.43||1.35|
As Red Sox fans, we've certainly seen worse out of old middle relievers. He wasn't the first arm Terry Francona would call out of the bullpen if things got sticky, but he was at least a reliable one. In my opinion, Francona did a fantastic job using Saito. He never overused him and he always pitched him in smart situations (unlike Ramon Ramirez, who seemed to be the redheaded stepchild of the bullpen).
But now he's the Braves' property. It looks like he'll be a setup man of sorts to, who else, but Billy Wagner. Saito will also see time as the team's closer, if need be. (Does it sound familiar at all? Hmm. Maybe. Should.) The folks at Talking Chop seem to like the deal, although the money may be a little pricey in their minds. According to Ken Rosenthal:
Saito terms: $3.2 million base plus $2.3 million incentives - all but $500,000 of those based on games finished - Wagner's department!
I don't think $3M is too bad of a deal considering he was set to make $6M if the Sox exercised his option. Not a bad deal for a reliever with a 2+ ERA pitching in the American League East.
A solid pickup for the Braves, but the question is how much longer can the 40-year-old Saito pitch? The age is the real question. Will he be able to rack up the hard outs?
For the Sox, it's just another puzzle piece to replace. I don't think Saito could have replicated his '09 performance. While it may have been close, Theo may not have wanted to give up $3M for it. The Sox will most certainly have to look for another bullpen arm or two to fill the vacancies of Wagner and Saito.
Your turn: did the Sox miss the boat by not re-signing Saito?