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Thinking About Japanese Pitching


“Darvish has better control than Matsuzaka,” Yoshii said. “You’d be hard-pressed to find an example over the course of a season where he got knocked out on walks. He has exceptional control of every pitch known to man except a knuckleball. Simple economics suggest that the Fighters, if they consented to the posting, would improve on the record $51 million fee collected by Matsuzaka’s former team, the Seibu Lions.

I'm anxious to separate the hype from reality. I have a hard time fathoming how a pitcher who has never thrown a big league pitch could be worth a deal approaching $110M+. I was glad when the Yankees lost the bit for Dice-K by $8M to the Mets, and by $19M to the Red Sox.

Matsuzaka is a more interesting comparison than ever.

While we expect a veteran pitcher to be most effective against teams who haven't seen him, Dice-K had a mixed rookie 2007: his 4.40 ERA and 80BB fell short of expectations but his 204.2IP and his 201K were promising.

2008 was one step back, another step forward- although K/9 held steady (8.84 vs. 8.27) his BB/9 (think pitch recognition) jumped from 3.52 to 5.05. While his HR/9 (the symptom) dropped from 1.10 to 0.64, his Line Drive% (the disease) stayed the same (18.0% a tick up to 18.1%).

The Yankees have to carefully weigh how much a young starter is really worth.

With millions invested in Sabathia and Burnett, but going year-to-year with Wang can the Yankees justify a major investment?  With Pettitte riding his last rodeo (Clemens reference intentional), do the Yanks trust Joba and Phil to claim the future, do they believe IPK, Aceves, Horne, or Coke can hold down a spot until Brackman, McAllister, or Cole are ready?

One more reason to watch the WBC very closely.