Archive > 22 January 2009

Fukumori Aims For Comeback

» 22 January 2009 » In mlb prospects » Comments Off

Disappointing Texas Rangers reliever Kazuo Fukumori is aiming for a comeback in 2009. “In the state that I’m in now, I won’t get a contract to play anywhere next year. I want to be promoted to the majors, and then attract calls from Japanese baseball too next offseason,” Fukumori was quoted as saying in Sports Hochi. Fukumori put up an ugly 5.48 era in AAA last year, but also suffered from a herniated disk which he had operated on in October. He says he isn’t feeling any discomfort at this point, but will still start spring training in the Rangers’ minor league camp.

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Yakult Introduces New Uniforms

» 22 January 2009 » In npb » 1 Comment

The Tokyo Yakult Swallows are the latest team to introduce a new uniform this offseason… check ‘em out here. This pic also shows the throwback uniforms that Yakult will use this year. 

Hiroshima, Yokohama, and Seibu will also debut new uniforms in ’09, but Seibu hasn’t introduced theirs yet.

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And Now, a Word on Ken Kadokura

» 22 January 2009 » In mlb prospects » 6 Comments

Update, mid-day Jan 22: The Cubs introduced Kadokura today, here’s a pic of him in his new Cubs gear.

So who is Ken Kadokura

Prior to signing with the Yomiuri Giants for the 2007 season, Kadokura had been a serviceable swingman type for 11 NPB seasons. He lost the plot a bit in his two years with the Giants, kind of like Terry Mulholland’s mid-90’s stint with the Yankees. I haven’t followed Kadokura closely over the last two years, but I haven’t found any evidence that he’s been injured — if anyone has any let me know. Wikipedia puts his absence from the top team in 2008 down to non-performance: Kadokura failed to break camp with the top team, but was recalled in April ’08 to fill a middle relief role. On May 17 he blew a game in the 10th inning, and afterward was demoted again, never to be recalled. He spent the remainder of the year starting for the Giants farm team, posting a 3.21 era over 75 2/3 innings, with a 72/14 k/bb ratio. Minor league numbers don’t mean much to me, but he did pitch the whole year and didn’t suffer from any publicly-announced injuries.

Kadokura had a decent pre-Giants career. He’s crossed the 100 IP mark six times in his career, and boasts a respectable 1146 K’s in 1276 career innings. He’s also given up 1296 career hits, and given up his share of home runs, so take that with a grain of salt. I’m not sure what he did differently in 2005, which was by far his best season. The last article I have on his stuff is from 2006, and it says he mainly throws a fastball, forkball and slider, and gets his fastball up to about 90 mph. Maybe I’ll dig around my Shukan Baseball collection a little more over the weekend.

Kadokura was teammates with Cubs outfielder Kosuke Fukudome for the 1999 season with Chunichi, and it’s been speculated that providing Fuku a little support over the course of the long season may have played a role in this signing. I obviously don’t know if that’s true or not, but to me this is a sound baseball move.* We’ve seen a solid trend of NPB relievers performing well in MLB, Kadokura might benefit from having a more consistent role, and the Cubs current regime seems to be able to get the most out of their pitchers. Given that this is a minor league deal, there’s very little risk involved, and if it helps Fukudome out somehow, that’s all the better.

I’d like to share a video of his work here, but the only one I could find was this on of him getting nailed in the chin with a line drive off the bat of former Cub Pedro Valdes during the 2001 season, when he was a Kintetsu Buffalo teammate of former Cub Tuffy Rhodes.

*I guess I should re-iterate that Kadokura is on a minor league deal, and certainly a depth guy for the Cubs at this point. I do think we’ll see him in the bigs at some point this year, even if it’s when someone goes down with an injury.

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