Another Japanese Signing for Baltimore

» 15 January 2012 » In nichibei, npb »

… this time lefty reliever Yoshihiro Doi on a minor league contract (via Nikkan Sports).

Doi is an interesting case. He qualified for free agency after the 2010 season and immediately headed to the Western Hemisphere, an endeavor that was totally overlooked on this site. According to Nikkan Sports, Doi didn’t find any takers among MLB and Mexican League teams, and although he passed an Indy League tryout, he wound up spending 2011 on the shelf with knee visa problems. This year he hired agency IBC NY to represent him, and caught on with Baltimore. He’ll join former Chiba Lotte Marine Ryohei Tanaka in the O’s system.

Doi is 35 and hasn’t shown much over the last few years, but kudos to him for sticking to his guns and finding an opportunity. Taking my usual glass-half-full view, he’s lefthanded and had enough skill to hang around NPB for 12 years, so that’s something. Here are links to his stats and stuff.

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  1. Patrick
    John Brooks
    15/01/2012 at 10:24 am Permalink

    Seem to remember the Orioles were interested in him last year. I dont expect him to be anything than a organization depth arm like Tanaka but got to admire his consistency staying around so long.

  2. Patrick
    15/01/2012 at 10:50 am Permalink

    Is it your screen or age? ビザ is visa, not knee 😉

  3. Patrick
    15/01/2012 at 10:54 am Permalink

    It’s my sleep-deprived brain 🙂 Duly corrected.

  4. Patrick
    15/01/2012 at 1:51 pm Permalink

    You’re definitely taking a glass half-full approach, Patrick. It’s hard to understand what the Orioles see in a pitcher who hasn’t pitched well in Japan since the 2005 season.

  5. Patrick
    15/01/2012 at 4:55 pm Permalink

    Maybe the glass is only like 10% full. Doi will probably just be an organizational player, but if he’s not taking innings away from a legitimate prospect, why not give him a look?

  6. Patrick
    Carlos Andino
    15/01/2012 at 6:52 pm Permalink

    What a waste of a sign. Did the Twins just sign Joel Zumaya for almost the same. What a joke.

  7. Patrick
    John Brooks
    15/01/2012 at 7:19 pm Permalink

    What a waste of a sign. Did the Twins just sign Joel Zumaya for almost the same. What a joke.

    Seriously, doubt the Orioles are guaranteeing Doi, $850,000 with incentives up to $1.7 million. Zumaya got a guaranteed contract, Doi is getting a minor league deal. Big difference. Cant even compare the two signings.

  8. Patrick
    15/01/2012 at 9:45 pm Permalink

    Even if they were, signing one minor league free agent would almost certainly not preclude a team from signing other. It’s not like the Orioles were choosing between Doi and Zoom.

  9. Patrick
    16/01/2012 at 1:34 am Permalink

    Wow, the O’s must really have a thing for Asian pitchers – Wada, Chen, Tanaka and now Doi.

    It’s also notable that the O’s very seriously tried to sign reliever Chong (Dae-hyun) of KBO this winter, though they failed to reach an agreement. Instead, they signed a minor league contract with another Korean pitcher; Choi (eun-chul *not sure if this is the correct spelling).

    It’s almost like they’re trying to ‘collect’ every Asian pitcher on the market as long as they’re relatively cheap. Maybe they really liked Uehara and now consider Asian imports as reasonably-priced lottery tickets – of course, besides marketing purposes.

  10. Patrick
    16/01/2012 at 11:00 pm Permalink

    Yeah it sure looks like they’re trying to find the next Uehara.

    Hope Chen’s not being serious about this comment about his fastball in the majors:

  11. Patrick
    16/01/2012 at 11:32 pm Permalink


    “I want to push my fastball with the same confidence I had in Japan.”

    “push”? “establish”? “challenge hitters with”?

    I don’t know, Chen’s fastball wasn’t impressive in 2011, but I kind of like that he wants to challenge hitters with his best stuff. He needs to add a few MPH back if he wants to take that approach though.

  12. Patrick
    Jim Allen
    16/01/2012 at 11:58 pm Permalink

    If the Yomiuri Giants were in the AL East, I could see the Orioles taking him. Doi used to terrorize the Giants while batters from every other team he faced just licked their chops and waited for fastballs that were straight as string.

  13. Patrick
    Taka Tanaka
    17/01/2012 at 12:26 am Permalink

    “Just like I did in Japan, I want to use my fastball with confidence to go after hitters.” (押したい is similar in nuance to “go on the offensive” here.)

    Chen’s m.o. really does seem to be to challenge hitters; he throws a lot of fastballs, he doesn’t walk many, and while his K numbers are respectable he’s never fanned more than one per inning. He appears to have had an insanely low BABIP in NPB, suggesting that hitters really were overwhelmed by his fastball. (Chen also throws a couple of different sliders, but hasn’t been able to find a third pitch from what I can tell from J reports.)

    It’s worth noting that in 2011, he averaged 90.1 mph with his fastball, which was the best among NPB lefties (J Wikipedia). But the same velocity would him right around the likes of Jaime Garcia, Wandy Rodriguez, Joe Saunders and John Lannan… not exactly poster boys of “hard stuff”. That kind of stuff might have allowed Chen to overwhelm NPB hitters (where Kaz Matshui, Aki Iwamura and Kosuke Fukudome were 30-homer sluggers) but probably won’t translate to MLB. For example, Chen posted a 0.185 average against opposing hitters in 2009 to go with a Pedro-esque 1.54 ERA and 0.93 WHIP. The only MLB pitchers (min 160 IP) to hold hitters under the Mendoza line since 2009 are Clayton Kershaw (2009, 0.195) and Justin Verlander (2011, 0.191).

  14. Patrick
    17/01/2012 at 11:31 am Permalink

    Just as you did, let me hand-pick three (ex-)MLB batters who came over to the NPB. Please look up what Pete Incaviglia, Gabe Kapler, and Rusty Ryal did in the NPB. Incaviglia and Kapler weren’t too washed up at the time. Ryal hadn’t had many at-bats at the majors, but he is the most recent and suitable guy.

    It cuts both ways.

  15. Patrick
    patrick wilson
    17/01/2012 at 1:18 pm Permalink

    Velocity is something that seems to come and go with pitchers… When they are young the scouting reports sometimes are pretty promising. when they reach the highest levels it often goes down. I imagine the command and the control become as important as radar…

    I thought Kikuchi was supposed to hit 95 mph with is fastball…
    It makes me wonder how Takahiro Fujioka of Chiba Lotte will do this year I read somewhere that he could reach 94mph… Too bad the game against U.S.A was postponed last summer I could only see some half serious bullpen out of him in Durham…

    Who do you think are the most promising lefties in NPB?