A Japanese Free For All

An article by posted on October 26, 2007

According to MLB.com, over 50 Japanese players have officially filed for free agency and are eligible to negotiate contracts with and MLB teams. Several of these Japanese baseball players have already made it clear they intend to land a contract to play major league baseball here in the United States and key among them is outfielder Kosuke Fukudome and right-hander starting pitcher, Hiroki Kuroda.
 
Kosuke Fukudome was 29 days short of the service time needed for free agency in Japanese baseball, but the 2006 Central League MVP gained eligibility under a new rule aimed at bailing out injured players. He is regarded to be a a gap hitter with moderate power and speed, but tends to strikeout a lot. However, he is very highly touted and is expected to draw considerable interest from several major league teams.
 
Hiroki Kuroda went 12-8 with a 3.56 ERA in 26 starts this past season. He led the Central League with 15 wins in 2005 and took the ERA title last year with a 1.85 ERA. He is considered to be the best starting pitcher available out of Japan and may probably be the best starting free agent pitcher overall in one of the weakest MLB free agent pools in over a decade.
 
The Mets might become serious bidders for Hiroki Kuroda this winter, and may have some mild interest in acquiring Fukudome as well, in order to free up a trade for incumbent starting outfielder Lastings Milledge.
 
I wouldn’t mind seeing if we could get a pitcher like Kuroda to slot in as a number 3 or 4 pitcher. Of course I would still expect Omar to make a deal for a top of the rotation pitcher. I am not willing to give Mike Pelfrey and Phil Humber 60 starts next season and hope that everything will come up roses. They simply do not look ready and would have never been on our major league roster if the Mets weren’t so desperate last season.
 
There is two kinds of potential with young baseball players. Realized and unrealized. Did you know that only 15% of minor leaguers ever realize that potential?
 
I’m not willing to throw away yet another season in 2008 because we chose to bank on two pitching prospects who have not shown any signs of being major league ready. There are those who say that Pelfrey looked great in his last few starts, when in fact he pitched badly, which was an upgrade from what had been atrocious.
 
We need help, and if Hiroki Kuroda can upgrade the middle of our rotation then let’s sign him.

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