Kazuo Fukumori Rumors

Odds and Ends: Fukumori, Rivera, Haerther, Walker

Some small notes from various sources:

  • According to the North County Times, the Padres brought in Japanese righty reliever Kazuo Fukumori for a workout at Petco last week. The Padres haven’t yet been mentioned as suitors for Fukumori. The Rockies, Royals, Rays, and Red Sox have previously been linked to the free agent.
  • New York Daily News writers Bill Madden and Anthony McCarron spoke to sources close to Mariano Rivera, who reveal that the 38-year-old closer could accept the Yankees current offer of three years, $45 million as soon as this weekend. Rivera was seeking a fourth year guaranteed, citing the deal the Mets gave to Billy Wagner before 2006, and the contracts the Yankees are giving teammates Jorge Posada and Alex Rodriguez. Unfortunately, Rivera doesn’t compare well with any of those signings.
  • As mentioned in the comments, the Blue Jays have claimed former Cardinal Cody Haerther off waivers. Haerther, a left-handed leftfielder, hit .292/.385/.494 in 154 at bats in the minor last year, most of which was spent at AA. He seems to have no immediate spot with the Blue Jays. As we’ve mentioned, left field is pretty jammed, and it’s believed that Haerther can’t adequately handle any other position.
  • The Giants re-signed righty reliever Tyler Walker to a one-year, $750,000 deal. They had declined his $1 million team option before the re-signing. Walker posted a 1.26 ERA last season, striking out nine and walking four in 14.1 IP. He returned to the majors on August 29 last year, after undergoing Tommy John surgery in mid-2006.

    The Yanks fan in me also has to mention that the Giants hired Roberto Kelly as their first base coach.

Joe Pawlikowski is co-author of River Ave. Blues, a Yankees blog

Odds and Ends: Kendall, Matsui, Fukumori

Here are some non A-Rod/Lowell rumors from today…

  • MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy says the Brewers are interested in Jason Kendall.  Kendall is somehow seeking a two-year deal.  The Rockies are in on him as well.  The Brewers still have Johnny Estrada, but they’re not happy with him.  He could be traded or non-tendered.
  • WGN Radio’s Dave Kaplan reported that the Cubs could complete a contract with second baseman Kaz Matsui this week.  It’d be a multiyear deal; not sure if the Cubs would have to go three years on it.  This would be an indefensible signing.  UPDATE: A source of Troy E. Renck’s believes the Cubs may have offered something close to three years, $14.4MM.
  • East Windup Chronicle profiles free agent reliever Kazuo Fukumori.  The Rockies, Royals, Rays, and Red Sox are said to be interested in him.

Rockies Rumors: Atkins, Barrett, Fukumori

What are the Rockies up to as they plot to defend their NL pennant?  Tracy Ringolsby and Troy E. Renck have the latest.

  • Ringolsby says Garrett Atkins is staying put, which should help the third baseman relax a little bit.  This echoes Renck’s sentiments yesterday.  Renck also noted that the Rox won’t be offering Atkins a multiyear deal anytime soon.
  • Yesterday Renck said that after Yorvit Torrealba, the Rockies were considering Jose Molina, Paul Lo Duca, Jason Kendall, and Ramon Castro for catcher.  However Ringolsby says today that Michael Barrett and Kendall are the main targets.  Renck has come on board with that today, noting that Dan O’Dowd has contacted the agents for Barrett, Kendall, and Lo Duca.
  • Ringolsby adds that the Rockies are exploring the Japanese reliever market, namely Hitoki Iwase and Kazuo Fukumori.  Fukumori might appeal as the cheaper of the two.
  • Meanwhile the Indians, Brewers, Phillies, and Mets like Brian Fuentes.  We’ve also read about the Tigers’ interest.  The Rockies’ willingness to trade him may depend on the progress of 2007 top draft pick Casey Weathers.
  • Jason Jennings might be leaning toward signing with the Padres.  This echoes an obscure article we found back in July.
  • Renck says that if the Rockies don’t hear by Tuesday about their offers to Kaz Matsui, Matt Herges, LaTroy Hawkins, and Torrealba, they’ll start looking at other options. 
  • Renck adds that the Rockies have checked in with Ron Mahay‘s people.  He’s getting popular.
  • The Rockies are out on Jon Garland – they can’t fit his $12MM salary into the 2008 budget.  Matsui moving on would clear $3MM though.
  • The idea of locking up Troy Tulowitzki long-term is being entertained.  It probably wouldn’t happen until after the 2008 season though.

Royals Rumors: Cordero, Silva, Guillen

Some good info surfacing regarding the Royals, as usual courtesy of the KC Star’s Bob Dutton.

  • While Joakim Soria will remain in the pen, the Royals want to add more relief help.  They could re-sign David Riske, and even plan to contact Francisco Cordero‘s agent (Bean Stringfellow).  Bringing back Octavio Dotel is also being considered, though Soria would remain the closer.
  • Ron Mahay is on the radar.  It’s thought that he’ll require something close to a three-year, $12MM deal as one of the better southpaw relievers out there.  Riske wants a deal like that too.  Dayton, just take the draft pick.
  • I’ve yet to mention here Dayton Moore’s quotes.  Basically, steroid allegations won’t affect the team’s pursuit of any player, meaning they still like Jose Guillen.  It’s not surprising to see GMs moving in this direction.
  • Japan presents options such as Hitoki Iwase, Kazuo Fukumori, and Yashuhiko Yabuta.  New manager Trey Hillman observed Iwase up close this year.
  • What about more starting pitching?  The Royals like Carlos Silva, Hiroki Kuroda, Kris Benson, Matt Clement, and Jason Jennings.  Something useful could come out of that.
  • By the way, the Royals saw Glendon Rusch work out recently.  The swingman came up as a Royal before being traded to the Mets in ’99.

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.