|Fujikawa has excelled twice in the World Baseball Classic. (Photo by Junko Kimura/Getty Images)|
Saturday, November 24, 2012
Who is Kyuji Fujikawa anyway?
He's probably the best relief pitcher to come out of Japan ever. Takashi Saito was quite the discovery, but Fujikawa wouldn’t be a “discovery.” He’s proven to be the best closer in the NPB. Better yet, he's a free agent and not subject to the posting fee rules. That leaves the Dodgers in a pretty good position if they are genuinely serious about landing him.
Since 2007 Fujikawa has saved 202 games and posted an ERA of 1.36, all with the Hanshin Tigers. He has a strikeouts per 9 innings ratio of 12.4 lifetime, (11.0 last season) with pinpoint control. He has never posted an ERA in a season over 2.01, very seldom giving up the home run (0.4/9 inn. lieftime).
Fujikawa’s a right hander that stands 6’0”, 190 lbs, 32 years old. He tops out at 92-93 MPH with his fastball and scouting reports say that he has lost a tick or two off of that since he used to motor that thing up to 95. What hasn’t been lost is the late movement on the fastball that gives the illusion that it rises. He also mixes in an effective splitter, a curveball and occasional change up.
Scouts compare Fujikawa with Joel Peralta who throws the splitter 32% of the time along with a rising fastball.
Negatives? There are a few. Durability may be one. Fujikawa has never thrown more than 84 innings in a season, and that was six years ago. In 2012 he pitched only 48 innings. All this may mean that he may not be the 9th inning guy or the horse that can be depended on in the late summer days. We definitely won't see two inning saves out of him.
Reports are that Fujiwaka has narrowed down his choices to five teams. The Angels, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Orioles and Dodgers. If the choice is totally dependent on money, I wouldn’t count out the Dodgers as being the favorite. You can never have too many arms and the addition of Fujikawa would be the sleeper signing that will go un-noticed by the baseball world. That is until they see his electric stuff. I'd hate to see the D-Backs sign this guy.
With Fujikawa added to the Dodger relief corps, we are looking at having three stoppers to cover innings 7, 8 and 9 (Fujikawa, Jansen and League). Then you add Belisario, Elbert, Guerrier and Paco to that mix. You probably have the best bullpen in the majors .
This is an interesting development and something that we as fans might want to think about some more. Many are critical of the Dodger starting pitching stating that beyond Kershaw there really isn’t anyone for the opposition to fear. But if your starter only needs to go 5-6 innings each game, what does it matter? Having a lights out bully to close a ton of games is the secret weapon that the Dodgers may throw out there next year. Could it prove to be as effective as having the great starters that San Francisco has? I think it may.
I know reducing the our starters longevity may be a bit unorthodox, but I’m not saying that the Dodgers should become the Colorado Rockies and put their starters on a strict pitch limit. It’s just my opinion that with the best bullpen in the league and one with so many options, Mattingly’s decisions will often be made for him. He’ll go to the pen early in the game because it’ll be his best option. This also may prove to be a really big move late in the season when our starters will be strong during the stretch run. I really hope we get this guy.
They say in July or August that we go through the “dog days of summer.” Well, these are the "dark days of winter." Truth is, it’s still autumn since winter doesn’t officially start until December 21st, but as the days get shorter and we are looking at daylight disappearing at 5:30 pm everyday, we’re in the dark days of autumn and a full season away from watching meaningful baseball. Man, that’s so depressing. Baseball seems so far off in the distance. Before we're watching spring baseball:
I know I have to complete my tax returns. I hate doing my taxes.
I know that I need to get through another holiday season. That includes Christmas shopping, putting up a tree, lights, and decorations, taking down the tree, lights and decorations and then getting through New Year’s. My wife will want to go out dancing. I suck at dancing.
Then there’s the work appraisals and countless other assignments that are not looked forward to in my employment.
All this has to happen before baseball begins again. It can really be depressing time of year if you truly think about it.
Sorry, but football just doesn’t do it for me. A lot of brawn, abnormally huge men and showboating. I do recognize the amazing athleticism and complicated tactical moves in football, but it simply doesn’t do it for me, and I loved playing the game when I was growing up. I don’t even enjoy the Super Bowl anymore as it has become an event more than a game.
Basketball? Wake me up when the playoffs start since 3/4 of the teams qualify, and the playoffs begin a full month into the baseball season. I root for the Lakers and have a soft spot for the Clips, but the passion for the game isn’t there. The excitement is lacking.
Hockey? Well they aren’t playing and I haven’t missed it, so what does that tell you? One of my co-workers with season seats to San Jose Sharks games offered me tickets when and if the Kings come to town at face value. I figured I’d take him up on it, that was until I found out that they would cost me about $300 for the pair. I’ll pass on that.
Soccer might as well be badminton. If it isn’t a World Cup year, there isn’t much to watch. The MLS is the minors essentially. Half the games are 1-0 finals with most of the action being the back and forth mid-field passes. Yawn.
Back to the topic at hand though, it just seems that baseball is so far away, especially this year. I think it’s because the Giants won the whole enchilada. It has made the off season doldrums extra hard. I simply want to get on with the season and put 2012 in the rear view mirror. I know this sounds as depressing as all get out, but it is what it is.
We are still a week and two days away from the winter meetings. Add an additional 7 more days before the deadline to sign Korean pitcher Ryu. Maybe the signing of a top tier reliever like Fujikawa will make the winter seem a little less dreary. The clock can't click away fast enough. If the Mayans were right, we'll definitely go down on a negative note.