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Mashup: Japanese Edition

October 22, 2010

There have been a fair share of rumblings around the game with respect to some of the Japanese players currently in Major League Baseball and those who could potentially find their way across the Pacific in the future. So, let’s take a look at some of those stories.

  • The biggest story that has been surrounding the game for a number of years now is whether Japanese superstar pitcher Yu Darvish will make his way to MLB. A number of teams have reportedly been scouting him over the past few years – the Yankees, Nationals, Mariners, Dodgers, and many others have all seen him multiple times according to reports – and let’s face it, most of us are salivating at the chance to see what he can truly do if he were to come to the US.
    Darvish is coming off of a 2010 season where he set career highs in strikeouts (222) and home runs allowed (5) in 202 innings pitched. This was his fourth consecutive season with an ERA below 2.00. His WHIP (1.01) was the highest it has been since 2006. If not for a poor win total (12) due largely to a lack of run support he’d be the clear favorite to win his second Sawamura Award (Japan’s equivalent to the Cy Young Award).
    Unfortunately, however, it looks like he will not be posted this winter so we’ll have to wait just a little longer to see if his talents can translate to MLB. Darvish stated on his personal blog (translated here thanks to Patrick Newman) that he’ll be pitching in Japan in 2011. He doesn’t rule out coming stateside in the future but doesn’t directly say it’ll happen either. Time will tell on this one.
  • Speaking of Newman, he recently doled out his year-end awards and there were a number of familiar names listed. Matt Murton, who recently broke the Japanese single season hits record, was a runner up for the Central League MVP. Murton and former New York Met Craig Brazell were named to the “Best Nine” at their respective positions for the Central League. Former San Diego Padre and Chicago White Sox Tadahito Iguchi was named from the Pacific League. Former Seattle Mariner Kenji Johjima received an honorable mention. The “Best Nine” is awarded to the top player at his position in each league as determined by a panel of journalists.
  • There has been a great deal of speculation that the Atlanta Braves could look to trade Kenshin Kawakami, who has one year left on his contract, because they simply have more pitchers than rotation space available. Kawakami is the logical choice to be traded, if they can, considering he’s due far less money that Derek Lowe (Lowe’s contract is borderline untradeable) and he struggled mightily this past season (1-10, 5.15 ERA). According to MLB Trade Rumors, a number of Japanese teams have started expressing some interest in bringing Kawakami back to Japan for next season. One team has reportedly even told Atlanta they’d be willing to pay $3 Million of the $6.67 Million that Kawakami is owed in the final year of his contract.
  • There have also been reports that free agent Hiroki Kuroda could look to make a move back to Japan.
  • Another free agent, Akinori Iwamura, reportedly hopes to stay in the US but finding a contract might be tough after the season he had in 2010. He and Kaz Matsui both struggled in the minors after being demoted and will have very difficult times finding a team willing to give them a chance to be anything more than organizational depth.
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