Blog: Japanese Free-Agent Pitchers

At his blog for SNY, Ted Berg takes a closer look at Japanese pitchers RHP Koji Uehara, RHP Hiroki Kuroda, RHP Kenshin Kawakami, LHP Hitoki Iwase and RHP Masahide Kobayashi, all of whom could find their way to MLB this off-season.

Berg writes…

“As for Japanese free-agent pitchers, I’m ambivalent. A lot of people have written that the level of Japanese baseball is somewhere around that of Triple-A, but I’m dubious. Really only two Japanese players have enjoyed prolonged success in the Majors — Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui — and there have been far more monumental disappointments than there have been pleasant surprises.”

…the Mets were next in line to land Daisuke Matsuzaka, had the Red Sox not gone totally overboard in their bidding…and although dice-k had an average season for the sox in the american league, for the Mets in the national league i believe he would have been far more successful…but, he was a rare case, i think…i don’t ever recall such universal hype around any one player from Japan before, and from a pitcher at that…all of these guys have hype, though…i mean, remember Kei Igawa

…i think it’s clear that there is a serious adjustment period for most of these japanese-league pitchers, mostly because the strike zone is so much bigger over there and they work off a different schedule…the shift to american baseball does not typically seem to be a smooth one…and so that has to be considered in the hype…

…however, from what i understand, since teams have begun striking strategic partnerships with scouting departments and teams from japan, the ability to project overseas talent is getting far more accurate…if this is true, i hope the Mets bring on a pitcher or two to compete for a spot in the bullpen…i mean, the more help the merrier




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