Japanese Players In MLB Rumors

Odds And Ends: Phillies, Manny, Japanese Players

Here are a few more random notes from the MLBiverse…

  • Todd Zolecki says the Phillies would likely have to trade Geoff Jenkins or Matt Stairs if they want to add another right-handed bat to the bench, noting that it is not likely for either player to be released after the Phils already ate Adam Eaton’s contract. Zolecki does say that Stair’s $1M salary would be easier to absorb.
  • Dan Barbarisi of the Providence Journal gives us some quotes from Terry Francona in response to being asked about Jonathon Papelbon calling Manny Ramirez a “cancer.” Francona would not answer the questions directly but did say “The moves we make, I think that speaks volumes enough.”
  • Keith Law scouted the Japanese squad at the World Baseball Classic and gives us the rundown on a few of their better players. Please correct me if I am wrong, but I don’t believe that any of the players mentioned will be eligible to make the jump to MLB anytime soon.

Cork Gaines writes for RaysIndex.com and can be reached here.

Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Mets, Tigers, Red Sox, Angels, Pirates

Today is free agent Cliff Floyd’s birthday. He is 36 years young. His knees are not. Also, on this date 18 years ago, the San Diego Padres sent Roberto Alomar and Joe Carter to the Blue Jays for Fred McGriff and Tony Fernandez, in one of the biggest trades ever featuring young, proven talent. Got one that can top that? Let’s hear it in the comments…With little action so far this year, the Hot Stove Season is ugly, Don Mossi ugly. Let’s take a look at what is being written in the blogosphere…

  • Mets Geek takes a look at three recent rumored deals that may be sitting on Omar Minaya’s desk and ponders whether or not the Mets should make each trade.
  • The Detroit Tigers Weblog breaks down what a Jack Wilson trade would mean for the Tigers.
  • Fire Brand of the American League feels that with the recent additions to the bullpen, the Red Sox may be better suited to insert Justin Masterson into the rotation, rather than sign a high-priced free agent.
  • Ump Bump suggests that the Angels could get more bang for the buck if they sign Adam Dunn over Mark Teixeira.
  • The ‘Burgh Blues picks through the scraps and identifies eight players they would like to see the Pirates invite to Spring Training, including Richie Sexson, Sidney Ponson, Mark Prior and Matt Clement.
  • MLB Notebook takes a look at the big guns in the free agent market and feels that the Yankees are no longer in a position to set the pace. Rather, they argue that the Angels now control the market.
  • East Windup Chronicle feels that some are underestimating the amount of potential Major League talent playing in Japan, noting the number is "at least 30" and considerably more if they had the opportunity to start in the minors out of high school.
  • Bernies Crew likes the Jorge Julio signing by the Brewers, noting the move gives the team much needed flexibility and depth in the bullpen.

Cork Gaines writes for RaysIndex.com. If you have a suggestion for this feature, Cork can be reached here.

Yankees Send Michael To Japan

Mark Feinsand is reporting that the Yankees have sent Gene Michael to Japan to scout potential acquisitions for ’09.

That Michael was sent to Japan for the first time signifies a shift for the Yankees, who have relied on their Pacific scouts for several years. Following the disastrous signing of Kei Igawa, however, the Yankees aren’t taking any chances, sending one of their most trusted talent evaluators to look at potential acquisitions.

Feinsand notes that it is unclear which players the Yankees are interested in, but does list several players that could be available including right-handers Koji Uehara, Kenshin Kawakami and lefty Hitoki Iwase, a reliever.

Feinsand does not mention the biggest potential prize, Yu Darvish. Previously the Yankees were listed as one of the teams with a scout at the Olympics to watch Darvish. While nobody is certain that Darvish will be posted this winter, if rumors of a $75MM posting fee are even close to accurate, the Yankees will have to be involved.

In July we looked at some potential free agents from Japan and last winter East Windup Chronicle ranked several Japanese pitchers, none of whom have yet to make the jump to the US.

Cork Gaines writes for RaysIndex.com and can be reached here.

Odds and Ends: Manny, Pavano, Gonzalez

Some Saturday mid-day linkage:

Sarah Green writes for UmpBump and the Boston Metro and can be reached here.

Odds and Ends: Lowell, Carroll, Saltalamacchia

Time to gather up today’s links.

Japanese Free Agents For ’09

East Windup Chronicle points us to a list of some of the more interesting Japanese players who will be free agents after this season.  Most of these guys are around 32-33 years old.  Here’s who we’ve got:

  • Koji Uehara, SP/RP – NPB Tracker profiles him here.
  • Tomohiro Nioka, SS – We wrote a little bit about Nioka in October of ’07.
  • Kenshin Kawakami, SP – East Windup Chronicle profiled him for us last year.
  • Hitoki Iwase, RPThat same post also covered Iwase.
  • Masahiro Araki, 2B – Hit .263/.296/.302 in ’07 – not much with the bat.
  • Hirokazu Ibata, SS – Hit .296/.368/.393 in ’07.
  • Ryoji Aikawa, C – Hit .302/.369/.353 in ’07.
  • Tatsuhiko Kinjoh, OF – Hit .284/.349/.427 in ’07.

Odds and Ends: Gallardo, NPB, Braves

Today’s link collection…

  • Check out the latest MLB Roundup video.  The crew hands out April awards, assesses Billy Beane’s gameplan, and looks at Jeff Ma’s third-place Tout Wars team.
  • RotoAuthority helps Yovani Gallardo owners pick up the pieces and find a replacement (he has a torn ACL).  The Brewers have guys they can plug in but Gallardo seemed primed for a stellar season.  They’ll keep an eye on the trade market.
  • Mike Hampton could retire, but it’s highly unlikely that he’ll abandon the rest of his ’08 salary.
  • Nippon Professional Baseball might shorten the tenure needed for free agency, except for those looking to go overseas.  Players hoping to jump from Japan to MLB would still have to serve nine years or be posted.
  • In the sidebar of this article, Ken Rosenthal suggests that Frank Wren will explore the trade market for starting pitching but won’t overpay for mediocrity.  Tracy Ringolsby wonders whether the Braves will consider re-acquiring Kevin Millwood.

Hiroki Kuroda Coming To MLB

Hiroki Kuroda has publicly made the decision to leave Japan to pursue a career in MLB.  The L.A. Times reports the Mariners, D’Backs, Dodgers, and Royals as interested parties.  The Mariners already have a four-year offer out to him.

The Phillies, Cubs, Rangers, and Mets might be considered on the fringes of this pursuit, as all have been linked to him in the past.

Profiling More Japanese Pitchers

You may have enjoyed a recent MLBTR post called Ranking Japanese Pitchers, written by Aaron and Jackson of East Windup Chronicle.  Now they’re back with summaries on four more Japanese pitchers who may come over to MLB for the 2008 season.  Kazuo Fukumori, Tsuyoshi Shimoyanagi, Yasuhiko Yabuta, and Yukinaga Maeda were pegged by Nikkan Sports as MLB possibilities.  Summaries from Aaron and Jackson follow.

Kazuo Fukumori – Might have emerged as a top-flight closer on a better team, but best years may have been wasted playing for expansion Rakuten Golden Eagles. Still, saved 21 games and was an All-Star in ’06. ERA jumped nearly two runs in 2007, but still saved 17 and maintained a strikeout per inning ratio. Has a formidable slider that tails toward right handed batters. Could emerge as a nice sleeper considering the number of solid closers possibly headed to the U.S. Tampa Bay has been mentioned as being in hot pursuit.  [Note: the Red Sox may be in on him as well.]

Tsuyoshi Shimoyanagi – Lefty signed with agent Scott Boras in 2003, but nothing came of it. Had an off year in ’04, but in ’05, his 14th as a pro, had a career year going 15-3 with a 2.99 ERA. Has seen a decline in past two years in ERA, Ks, and wins, while BB/9 has jumped. But despite age has only averaged 95.5 innings per season and could be serviceable as a long reliever/spot starter in a new league. Throws a javelin in the offseason to maintain body/arm balance.

Yasuhiko Yabuta – Yabuta, the right-handed set up man for the Chiba Lotte Marines, is probably best known for striking out A-Rod, Derrek Lee, and Johnny Damon in the 2006 World Baseball Classic.  The Chicago White Sox need a set-up man and are rumored to have a strong interest in Yabuta, who has racked up 86 holds and a sub 3.00 ERA over the last 3 years for the Marines despite not panning out as a starter. [Note: the Red Sox are said to have a working agreement with the Marines, also.]

Yukinaga Maeda – The 37 year old left-hander Maeda was given his release by the Yomiuri Giants recently and is planning on making his trip over to the majors.   Despite posting dreadful stats over the last several years (ERA’s of 4.65, 7.23, and 5.06 in 2005-2007) and a career W-L record of 78-110,  His ’07 season was marked by a series of call-ups and send-downs, and going on 38 years old, it’s hard to see this guy making a huge contribution. 

Given the dearth of quality left-handed pitching, a team in need of a left-handed relief specialist might take a gamble on Maeda based on his performance from 1998-2004, split between the Giants and Chunichi Dragons.  Then again lefties hit .318 against him in NPB, so I shudder to think what Ryan Howard will do to him given the chance. On that note, Hideki Okajima may soon become the hero for all mediocre Japanese pitchers who get signed to contracts based on the possibility of being the next Hideki Okajima.

Odds and Ends: Fukudome, Burrell, Furcal, Rolen

Two of my favorite local blogs have good hot stove posts for us today as part of Odds and Ends.