Archive > January 2009

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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Baseball Worldwide

» 21 January 2009 » In international baseball » 14 Comments

Here’s one of those blog posts that I hope people will read.

In my unending quest for baseball knowledge, I’ve come across a number of stories about baseball being played in ‘non-traditional’ territories all over the world. Quite a bit of what I’ve learned about international baseball has come from Japanese publications like Weekly Baseball; the Japanese have a very keen in interest in what other Japanese people are doing internationally. 

Part of the reason I started this blog was to spread knowledge and awareness of the Japanese game to English speaking audiences. As such, this post focuses mostly on Japan’s contributions in spreading baseball around the world, but isn’t exclusive to that. As crazy as I am about baseball, I had always questioned the interest in the sport outside North America and a few countries in Asia, but now it seems like there is some growth occurring. And with interest in stories like the two Indian pitchers who signed with Pittsburgh got, there seems to be some growth in American interest in international baseball.

I hope someday competitive baseball is played in enough countries where just qualifying for the World Baseball Classic is a big deal. 

Here are my bullet points on some interesting baseball leagues from around the word. These leagues aren’t going to produce major league prospects, but that isn’t the really the point.

  • It was perhaps Torazo Yagi that inspired this post. I first read about Yagi a year or two ago in a Weekly Baseball article. He’s an interesting guy — a cameraman who was living in Sicily, got bored, tried out for the local baseball team and made the cut. He’s since played semi-pro ball in Italy, Cuba, and Lithuania. His (Japanese) blog isn’t really active at the moment, but there are still a number of good pics from the European frontiers of baseball.
  • I learned from journalist Cyrus Farivar that there is a baseball league in Iran, and from ABC news that the league is led by an Iranian who used to live in Boston. I admire Yu Darvish’s commitment to his team in Japan and NPB in general, but I have to wonder if baseball in general would benefit more greatly from his presence in a large American market.
  • When I was teaching English in Japan several years ago, a handful of my students where from Brazil. Most of them were at least partially ethicnally Japanese; Brazil is home to over two million Japanese emigrants, the most in the world. It shouldn’t be a surprise, then, that baseball has spread to Brazil by way of Japan. NPB’s Yakult Swallows and MLB’s Tampa Bay Rays each have baseball academies in Brazil, and Yakult has brought over a couple of Brazilian players. A handful of Brazilian kids have played high school baseball in Japan, including a hero from last year’s national Koshien Tournament in Pedro Okuda (the batter in the video). Chicago White Sox farmhand Anderson Gomes also came to America by way of Japan, though he started in professional ball with the Daiei Hawks.
  • Baseball is played in a number of countries in Europe, in my observation most prominently in Italy, the Netherlands, and the Czech Republic. Mister Baseball is an excellent site on the European leagues, and this interview with Italian baseball great Giulio Glorioso gives some insight in to baseball’s history in Europe. Before reading this, I didn’t know that Italians and Germans had played in the American minor leagues as far back as the 50’s and 60’s. Janblur is a German blogger who occasionally writes about baseball in English, and this Japanese blogger keeps up with the Italian league.
  • Fuoricampo is an Italian-language blog that covers many leagues in Europe and Spanish-speaking countries.

Anyone have more to add to this?

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Okajima, Kobayashi Added to Provisional WBC Roster

» 20 January 2009 » In international baseball, mlb, nichibei » 2 Comments

Looking to reinforce it’s pitching staff after Takashi Saito and Hiroki Kuroda opted not to participate, Japan has added MLB relievers Hideki Okajima and Masa Kobayashi to it’s provisional WBC roster. Lotte infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka and one of my favorites Hayato Terahara were among the other notables added in the most recently announced roster.

And of course, the WBC will afford international fans the opportunity to see Yu Darvish and Norichika Aoki live against top level competition. Mainichi has the complete provisional roster published in Japanese, but I haven’t found the latest version in English. I’ll translate Mainichi’s later tonight if an English version hasn’t shown up by then.

NPB players also appear on provisional rosters for Australia, Canada, Korea, Taiwan, Venezuela, and Panama.

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Blogging in Japanese / 日本語でブログを書く

» 19 January 2009 » In NPB Tracker » 3 Comments

Some of you may have noticed that I posted an entry in Japanese earlier today. I’ve been thinking about giving writing in Japanese a shot for a while, and when the news of Ken Kadokura’s contract with the Cubs broke in English first, I thought I’d take it as an opportunity. The same content was available in English in a seperate post that was published moments before.

I don’t speak or write native-level Japanese and I’ll make mistakes, so I’m looking at this as an opportunity to improve. For anyone out there learning Japanese (and I’m sure there must be a few), ALC is a great resource for translating short Japanese-English, and this site is handy for getting the readings of tough Kanji characters. Both of those sites are intended for a Japanese audience, so they’re not really recommended for beginners. For a more novice learner (and up), is a good resource.



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Done Deal: Iguchi to Marines

» 19 January 2009 » In npb » 1 Comment

News of the official announcement of Tadahito Iguchi’s move the Chiba Lotte Marines is beginning to spread around the East side of the ‘net. Reports have it that Iguchi has agreed to a three-year deal that will pay him 540m yen ($5.94m) plus performances incentives. The length of the contract is cited as a decisive factor in Iguchi selected the Marines. Reports had as many as eight MLB teams interested in Iguchi, plus an unspecified number of Japanese teams.

Iguchi will be introduced in a press conference on the 25th.

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» 19 January 2009 » In mlb prospects » Comments Off on 門倉健はカブスとマイナー契約締結


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Cubs Sign Kadokura

» 19 January 2009 » In mlb prospects » 1 Comment

According to the venerable Baseball America, the Cubs have signed former Yomiuri Giant Ken Kadokura to a minor league contract. I’m sure Kadokura will get a spring training invite and chance to compete for a bullpen spot.

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Iguchi Announcement Soon

» 19 January 2009 » In mlb, npb » Comments Off on Iguchi Announcement Soon

Update, Jan 19 8:11 am: According to 47news, Iguchi to Lotte is a done deal, and will be announced on the 20th. Other sources say the deal is close but not done.

I didn’t post this when it was new, but it’s been widely reported that Tadahito Iguchi will decide his destination on the 20th, which is either tomorrow or later today depending on which timezone you happen to be in.

Bobby Valentine’s Chiba Lotte Marines very publicly made Iguchi a three-year offer, and cleared out second base for him by releasing the incumbent Jose Ortiz. Despite this, Iguchi hasn’t given up on an MLB contract, but given that the market for 2nd basemen (Orlando Hudson) has been so weak, his best financial offer is likely to be in Japan.

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» 18 January 2009 » In npb » 1 Comment

With much of the NPB player movement done and spring training yet to start, news has been a little slow lately, which means we’ll see more stories like these for a few weeks.

It’s not often you see a switch-pitcher come along, but we have two such ambidextrous prospects to watch in NPB. Both pitchers were  selected in the 2008 draft and will make their debuts this season. Natural lefty Kazuki Miyata was selected in the 4th round by the Seibu Lions. Miyata started throwing right handed in high school as an exercise in balance, and kept it up in junior college as it helped him alleviate back pain. He hasn’t thrown right handed in an official game, but is still working on his right handed pitching and has learned to throw a curve.

Yakult instructional draftee Rafael Fernandez is also a natural lefty, but throws right handed all the time. Sponichi explains that when Fernandez started playing baseball in Brazil when he was 10, he thought that the ball must be thrown with the right hand. Fernandez threw lefty in Yakult’s autumn camp when he was having some arm pain, and hit about 75 mph on the gun. 

There’s been one switch-pitcher in recent NPB memory, Toyotoshi Chikada, who made one appearance as a lefty for the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks back in 1988. He retired in 1991, but in 2001 he threw both righty and lefty to a couple of Hawks farm players in an exhibition game.

And no post of this nature would be complete without a mention of Yankee’s switch-pitching minor leaguer Pat Venditte.

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NPB Tracker Radio Appearance

» 17 January 2009 » In NPB Tracker » Comments Off on NPB Tracker Radio Appearance

Last Tuesday, I discussed Kenshin Kawamakami’s move to the Braves on The Bill Shanks Show on WIFN SportsRadio 105.5 the Fan in Macon, Georgia. Bill was kind enough to send me the audio of the interview, and I’m happy to present it here: Part 1 Part 2

Subscribers to can also check out the interview here.

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