Tag Archive > Koji Uehara

The Market for Takahashi

» 19 January 2010 » In mlb prospects » Comments Off on The Market for Takahashi

For the second year in a row, we have a lefthander named Takahashi looking for an MLB job. We could have had two, but Ken decided early in the offseason to return to Hiroshima. So here’s the latest on Hisanori:

  • Offer the weekend, multiple sources reported that Takahashi revealed that he had a major league contract offer, but didn’t say which team it was from. This report from Sports Hochi says that the Angels had been interested, but I think they may be overthinking Takahashi’s Hideki Matsui connection.
  • Sponichi just published a report saying that there’s a growing possibility that the Orioles will make Takahashi an official offer in the next few days. Baltimore has another former teammate, Koji Uehara, under contract.
  • And David Waldstein of the New York Times says that the Mets reached out to Takahashi’s agent.

I posted a profile of Takahashi a couple of months ago. In a nutshell, he has a good screwball but don’t expect him to be a huge innings eater.

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Updates: Takahashi, Igarashi

» 11 December 2009 » In mlb prospects » 2 Comments

The respective markets for Ryota Igarashi and Hisanori Takahashi seem to be heating up.

First on Igarashi… I’ve seen Arn Tellem quoted in a couple of places as saying “discussions are progressing. It looks like we’ll have a decision sooner than I thought.” Here’s the breakdown:

  • Sports Hochi says the countdown is running toward a move to the Mets, and that Omar Minaya is getting his intelligence on Igarashi from none other than Bobby Valentine.
  • An earlier Hochi report said that Igarashi’s camp negotiated with the Orioles on the 9th, who would pair him up in the bullpen with Koji Uehara. Hochi also named the Padres and Diamondbacks as interested.
  • Sponichi throws the Yankees in the mix, saying that he could backfill for Brian Bruney or, in the event he is traded, Joba Chamberlain. This feels the most speculative of the rumors we have so far, but Sponichi does quote the projected line on Igarashi’s contract is two years, $2-3m. It wasn’t clear if that $2-3m is annual or cumulative, but either way, two years at $1-3m seems like a reasonable range.

Takahashi is getting less ink but things do seems to be starting to move for him.

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Orioles in on H. Takahashi

» 30 November 2009 » In mlb, mlb prospects » 1 Comment

Sponichi is reporting that Baltimore is looking at free agent lefty Hisanori Takahashi, where he would potentially re-join former Yomiuri teammate Koji Uehara.

There’s no indication of whether the O’s view Takahashi as a starter or reliever, but international scouting director John Stockstill said that if the team does make him an offer, it won’t be until January. Baltimore has become active in the Japanese free agent market; last year they were in on Kenshin Kawakami, were the only MLB to look at Ryoji Aikawa, and eventually signed Uehara and Ryohei Tanaka. I could see them picking up Hideki Matsui this offseason as well.

For more on Takahashi, please see my profile of him, and his velocity data.

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Interview with Hisanori Takahashi

» 17 November 2009 » In mlb prospects, nichibei » 2 Comments

We mentioned on Twitter that Hisanori Takahashi has declared free agency and will try to catch on with an MLB club via twitter. Hochi sports conducted an one-on-one interview with Takahashi after making the decision and here is our English translation of it.

– When did you start considering the Major Leagues?

“The desire to accomplish my dream has gotten stronger since last year. After watching Koji Uehara play baseball overseas, my admiration for Major Leagues increased.”

– Was there a possibility of staying put?

“I received good terms from the Giants. Staying might have been the better decision, but I appreciate the organization understanding my selfish desire to attempt my dream.”

– What is memorable moment with the Giants?

“When we won the ON (Oh-Nagashima) match-up and won the championship in my rookie season at 2000. Throwing a shutout game in that series is unforgettable as well.”

– Which team do you hope to play for?

“A team that needs me. I would be happiest if the team uses me as a starter. I feel like I can best show my strengths when I am starting. I would like to stick with that.”

– Any hope toward your challenge to the Majors?

“If I did not have confidence, I would not be making this decision. It’s my one and only baseball life. I would like to challenge as if I am a rookie.”

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Uehara To Bullpen, If He Can Return This Year

» 11 August 2009 » In mlb » 1 Comment

The title pretty much says it all: if Orioles pitcher Koji Uehara makes it back from the DL this year, it will reportedly be in the bullpen, limited to one or two innings of work. For his part, Uehara says that he’s going to “prepare for next season with the intent of starting”.

Uehara hasn’t spent a full season as a starter since 2006, as I touched on in the profile I wrote of him last year. He clearly wants to continue as a starter but at this point I have to wonder if he’s not better suited to the ‘pen, because of his health.

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Open Thread: Uehara & Kawakami Begin Their MLB Careers

» 16 April 2009 » In mlb » 1 Comment

Both Koji Uehara and Kenshin Kawakami have made their first MLB starts. Each had a solid debut game, but regressed in game two. Being on the west coast, I didn’t see more than ESPN highlights of any of the games (and I haven’t seen anything from Kawakami’s game today).

So to those of you who saw the game, what are your thoughts?

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New Pitch Update: Uehara, Matsuzaka

» 29 March 2009 » In mlb » 3 Comments

As MLB camps wrap up, players are making their final tweaks before the regular season starts. For Koji Uehara, that means finally testing his new pitches in a game situation. Uehara is planning on testing his newly-developed changeup in his  appearance today against the Mets. No word on whether the curve ball he was working on will make an appearance.

Meanwhile, Daisuke Matsuzaka took a souvenier home from the WBC — a new forkball. I was a little surprised to see that in the news, because Matsuzaka threw a forkball in Japan and I didn’t realize he stopped in MLB. Apparently he couldn’t keep his forkball under control with an MLB ball, and didn’t throw any forks at all last season. The WBC afforded him the opportunity to work with noted forkballers Hisashi Iwakuma and Yu Darvish, who gave him some tips on how to thow the pitch. Matsuzaka threw five forkballs in his first bullpen session with the Red Sox, and said it’s possible that he’ll use it during the season.

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Prediction: Central League

» 27 March 2009 » In npb » 4 Comments

1. Hanshin Tigers: This could be the year for Hanshin. Colonel Sanders has been exhumed from his resting place at the bottom of the Dotombori River, which should be enough to put the team over the top. Hanshin led the Central League for most of the season last year, despite a serious lack of home run power. If Takahiro Arai and Kevin Mench can combine for 45 home runs or so they should be tough to beat.
Key Players: Arai, Mench

2. Yomiuri Giants: Yomiuri slipped past Hanshin for the Central League crown at the end of the season in 2008, then took the Japan Series down to the wire before losing to Seibu. Look for a bounce-back year from Sun-Yeop Lee. The departure of Koji Uehara creates an opportunity for someone like Kentaro Nishimura, Shun Tohno, or Takahiko Nomaguchi to step up.
Key Players: Nishimura, Tohno, Nomaguchi

3. Hiroshima Carp: The Carp took a big step forward last season despite the loss of ace Hiroki Kuroda to the Dodgers. The lineup is respectable 1-5 and they have three good starters in Colby Lewis, Kan Ohtake, and Kenta Maeda. Look for a breakout year from Maeda.
Key Player: K Maeda

4. Yakult Swallows: Yakult has a number of good arms in its bullpen, some young starters that could develop, and Japan’s top hitter in Norichika Aoki. The big concern with the Swallows is a lack of team power, so their ability to compete for a playoff spot will depend on whether or not some of the non-Aoki batters can hit for average.
Key Players: Jaime D’Antona, Yoshinori, Tatsunori Masubuchi

5. Chunichi Dragons: The Dragons finished third last year despite being outscored by 21 by opponents on the season. This year they’ve subtracted Kenshin Kawakami, Norihiro Nakamura, and Tyrone Woods and have replaced them with untested players. I expect a fall in the standings.
Key Players: Tony Blanco, Kei Nomoto, Kazuki Yoshimi

6. Yokohama BayStars: Yokohama had by far the worst pitching in the Central last season, and despite moving Hayato Terahara back into the rotation, retaining Daisuke Miura, and adding Ryan Glynn, I don’t think they have enough depth to get out of the cellar. I think they’ll be more competitive than last year though.
Key Players: Terahara

Any thoughts? Pacific League is coming up next.

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Spring Debuts

» 28 February 2009 » In mlb, mlb prospects » Comments Off on Spring Debuts

Another MLB-centric post here. Several of Japan’s recent baseball exports have already made their exhibition debuts for their MLB clubs. Here’s a rundown:

  • Koji Uehara started for the Orioles today, going scoreless two innings, and allowing a hit and a walk while striking out three. 
  • Kenshin Kawakami got the start for the Braves, and also went two scoreless, allowing a hit, and struck out one. 
  • Sanspo has pics of both Uehara and Kawakami.
  • Junichi Tazawa pitched one inning against Boston College, getting three outs on four pitches, all fastballs. “I wanted to throw a breaking pitch,” commented Tazawa.
  • Ken Kadokura pitched an inning in relief in the Cubs Feb 25 game agains the Dodgers. “Looking back on today’s debut game, I was just happy to be there,” said Kadokura.
  • Katsuhiko Maekawa hasn’t appeared in a game yet as far as I know, but he’s impressed so far in the Cardinals camp. According to Sanpo, the Cards have five spots open on their pitching staff and Maekawa is an option. I’ll believe it when I see it.

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Uehara’s Debuts

» 18 February 2009 » In mlb » 3 Comments

Quick notes about Koji Uehara — he’ll make his spring debut on Feb 27 vs the Marlins, and his regular season debut on April 8 at home against the Yankees. Uehara opens the season as the Orioles’ #2 starter behind Jeremy Guthrie (who as it happens, has a Japanese-American mom).

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