The New Times' David Waldstein has written an article on Hiroki Kuroda entitled "A Japanese Pitcher Without the Mystery." A snip:
For weeks before the deal, Cashman, when asked about another Japanese pitcher, Yu Darvish, emphasized his concern that players from other countries always brought a level of mystery about whether they could succeed in the United States. Cashman knew this as well as anyone, for misjudgments on this issue had cost the Yankees far more than other teams.
The Yankees had enjoyed great success with one Japanese star, outfielder Hideki Matsui, but their history with pitchers from Japan was not a happy one. The temperamental Hideki Irabu pitched for the Yankees from 1997 to 1999, went 29-20 with a 4.80 earned run average and pitched once in the postseason, in relief. The hype that greeted him ended up being far out of proportion to his production in the major leagues.
Munenori Kawasaki arrived in Seattle on February 8 (February 9 Japan time). He will head to Arizona on February 11.
Tsuyoshi Nishioka left for US today. He will touchdown in New York and then head straight Florida from there.
Yu Darvish makes USA Today's "Countdown of the 100 Names you Need to Know: Nos 1-10."
1. RHP Yu Darvish, Rangers, 25: If Darvish is truly ready to embrace the rock-star image he could project on a championship-caliber team, there's no telling how good he could be. Making the cultural adjustment seems to be all that's standing in the way of him being a top-of-the-rotation impact pitcher. Those who've been around him say Darvish has the personality to handle it.
28. LHP Tsuyoshi Wada, Orioles, 30: Wada's career ERA in Japan was 3.37 before last season, when the leagues switched to a new ball and scoring dropped dramatically. Still, his walk-strikeout ratios always have been solid, and he has a reputation in his homeland as one of the smarter pitchers. He doesn't get to 90 mph and works on the edges of the strike zone, so his margin for error at Camden Yards will be thin.
50. RHP Hisashi Iwakuma, Mariners, 30: He couldn't reach a contract last year after Oakland won posting rights and this year he arrives as a free agent. In the meantime, he dealt with some shoulder issues that reduced his fastball to the 90 mph range. But he uses the fastball to make an exceptional forkball more effective. He should be a solid ground-ball pitcher in a ballpark that will be forgiving if and when major league hitters zone in on the fastball.
53. OF Norichika Aoki, Brewers, 30: Signing a two-year contract all but ensures the three-time batting champion in Japan is at least Milwaukee's fourth outfielder. And he would get a quick and extended opportunity to increase his role if Ryan Braun is suspended at the start of the season. Aoki is a strong defender and had an on-base percentage over .400 four of the past five seasons. He's a line-drive hitter but less of a slashing swinger than Ichiro Suzuki.
55. LHP Wei-Yin Chen, Orioles, 26: He's younger and throws harder (92-94 mph) than most pitchers coming out of the Japanese leagues. Plus, he has a sharp slider that should be effective. After Jeremy Guthrie, the Baltimore rotation is wide open. Chen and Tsuyoshi Wada should have an edge over the Orioles' collection of promising young pitchers, most of whom struggled last year.
The Dallas Morning News is carrying an article about Curt Schilling's thoughts on Darvish. A snip:
Since he has pitched with Byung-Hyun Kim and Daisuke Matsuzaka during his 20 MLB seasons, Curt Schilling says he knows a little something about how Yu Darvish could fare with the Rangers.
And after hearing the lofty expectations before Matsuzaka arrived in Boston, Schilling advises to be cautiously optimistic when it comes to Darvish. Matsuzaka was advertised to throw up to 98 miles per hour and possess six pitches, however, Schilling revealed that Matsuzaka's speed was between 92-94 mph and he only had "two and a half legitimate big league pitches."
You can read a little more over here as well.