Yu Darvish: The next great Yankee righthander?

Nippon Professional Baseball superstar Yu Darvish, a 24-year-old righthander who, by many accounts, is not only the best pitcher in Japan but may have the potential to become one of the best starting pitchers in Major League Baseball, recently took over the comment thread of our post looking at next offseason, as it’s expected the Yankees will be all over him when the Nippon Ham Fighters post him next winter.

And if the Yankees really do want him, I wouldn’t be surprised if they did whatever it takes next winter. Between a rather uninspiring crop of free agent starters, as well as the fact that they can reallocate the $160 million they were willing to spend on Cliff Lee and put it toward what could be a Daisuke Matsuzaka-esque $50 million posting fee, along with what RAB’s Mike Axisa expects to be a Felix Hernandez-type contract, for a total cost of around $130 million, the Yankees seem poised to be able to make a big splash with Darvish.… Click here to read the rest

The Hiroshima Carp are my favorite squadron

While perusing MLBTR, I came across a mention of Japanese baseball club The Hiroshima Carp. Eager to find out more, I promptly Googled the Carp to see if they had a sweet- and or crazy-ass logo a la many a minor league team, but instead came across this gem of a team information page. Truly, this has to be the most honest description of a professional baseball franchise on the Internet.

To wit:

“Partly owned by the City of Hiroshima and Toyo, a car manufacturing company, the Carp may be one of the poorest ball clubs in Japan. Because the team reportedly has a low salary benchmark above which it refuses to go, the Carp tend to rarely negotiate with free agents or sign high-priced foreign players.”

So the Carp are the Japanese Pittsburgh Pirates.

“Bored with pitchers’ duels? Enjoy watching a lot of action and home runs? If so, the Hiroshima Carp are your team. Hiroshima’s sluggers take advantage of their home ballpark’s shallow outfield walls.”

Everyone knows baseball fans hate pitchers duels.… Click here to read the rest

Kikuchi staying in Japan

Rather than pursue a career in the MLB, Yusei Kikuchi has decided to stay in Japan. The Yankees, along with several other Major League organizations, were interested in the young lefty. However, he’ll be a part of the Japanese amateur draft which is scheduled for October 29th (he’s projected to be the first overall pick).

Either way, for Kikuchi, I’m sure he was faced with a difficult decision and, at the end of the day, he ultimately chose what he was most comfortable with. During the press conference in which his decision was announced, Kikuchi said, “I don’t think I have what it takes to compete at the world level yet,” which is an extremely humble statement. Choosing a career in the MLB is obviously a lucrative situation, even as a prospect, but, it’s always difficult to take on such a significant cultural and competitive change. Perhaps we’ll hear about him again in a few years (there’s always the posting system).… Click here to read the rest

International Bits: Hinske, Kikuchi

Here are two quick international items to chew on before the game.

  • Apparently, the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks, a Japanese team (Pacific League), are interested in signing Eric Hinske this offseason. They like Hinske for his left-handed power against righties (enjoy New York while you still can, Eric) and reportedly tried to sign him a year go.
  • In addition, NPB Tracker notes that Yusei Kikuchi, the young lefty who is torn as to whether or not he should pursue a career in Japan or the MLB, has scheduled a press conference for tomorrow. The conference will likely serve as the forum for his decision, which, to this point, is still unclear.
Click here to read the rest

Yanks meeting Kikuchi?

From NPB:

Sanspo has gotten a hold of Yusei Kikuchi’s meeting schedule over the rest of the month, leading up to the draft. Here’s the breakdown:

Oct 16: meetings with Hanshin, Seibu, and Orix
Oct 17: Chunichi, Yakult, Nippon Ham, Chiba Lotte, Hiroshima, Rakuten and others
Oct 19: begin meeting with MLB clubs
Oct 20: Cleveland Indians, others
Oct 22: conclude meetings

Nikkan Sports lists the MLB clubs stopping by as the Giants, Mets, Dodgers, Yankees, Rangers, Mariners and Indians.

I’ve written about Kikuchi before, as he is an enticing left-handed arm that is in a rather difficult position (the Japanese amateur draft or Major League Baseball?). The Yankees are in on him, though the Rangers seem to be his biggest suitor. If you want to learn a bit more about Yusei Kikuchi, check out NPB’s scouting report. It’s riddled with interesting goodies. For instance, did you know that Kikuchi’s middle name is Igawa? Okay, just kidding…… Click here to read the rest

Yanks interested in Yusei Kikuchi?

Yusei Kikuchi, an 18-year old lefty who pitched for the Hanamaki Higashi High School baseball team as recently as Monday, is expected to be the number one pick in Japan’s upcoming amateur draft. However, Kikuchi is currently debating whether or not to skip Japan’s draft completely so that he may seek a contract with an MLB club (he’ll be considered a free agent). We could learn of his decision this week. Despite the very raw nature of Kikuchi’s talent, his fairly impressive two-pitch repertoire has reportedly enticed a bevy of organizations, including the Yankees, who have apparently scouted him this year.

Kikuchi throws a slow, looping curveball (mid 70’s), plus his fastball can register 95 mph on the radar gun. He often incorporates a cartoonish eephus pitch, as well, which you can see in the following video (go to the 3:00 mark).

If he were to bypass the Japanese draft and sign with a Major League organization, Kikuchi would likely fit into their respective minor-league system just as any other American high school prospect would.… Click here to read the rest