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Checking In On Those Japanese Sensations

With opening day rapidly approaching, maybe it'd be a good idea to see how those Japanese imports have been doing. Of course, spring training usually has nothing to do with how a pplayer will perform in the regular season. New pitchers, especially, are tough to gauge in March because they can become less effective as hitters get a book on them. But what the hell, right?

Kei Igawa, pitcher, New York Yankees
12 IP -- 1-0, 15 K, 4 ER, 10 hits, 3.00 ERA

The ones who know: "The wind was blowing in as it often does there. It was really strong. At least one ball was a home run on 98% of the big league regular season games. The wind may have saved him a couple of other times.

3 walks is still too many. In addition he had periods where he struggled. He lost the release point and threw some awful looking pitches, way way off target. When he was behind he seemed to tense up and then had further problems. It was not a great performance.


So, we will see Igawa pitch in the show. He is struggling with his confidence. I hope he does well enough to hear some New York cheers. He clearly can have nerve problems at this point. I have the feeling he can establish himself over the season to be a solid Big League performer. We only need him to be an adequate number four. If he can go a couple games over 500 and pitch us 150 innings he'll help the team." - Pinstripe Alley

Daisuke Matsuzaka, pitcher, Boston Red Sox
12.2 IP -- 1-1, 13 K, 4 ER, 9 hits, 2.84 ERA

The ones who know: he fact that he's already up at 92 pitches two weeks before his major league debut to me is a positive thing because it shows he's ready to pitch, and he's ready to pitch deep into games.

It will be interesting to hear Matsuzaka's thoughts post game. What efficiency percentage level was he at? How did he feel? Did he approach it like a real game?

Over at Pittsburgh's Lumber Co., Cory Humes liveblogged the game between Dice-K and the Pirates. He started off skeptical, saying "the kid keeps the ball down, throws strikes—but is he worth $100 million?" By the end, Humes sounds sold: "Matsuzaka looks tough. He struck out LaRoche, setting down his ninth in a row."

I asked Humes about Matsuzaka's stuff. He saw Dice-K hit 94 mph with his fastball, but settled down around 91-92. It sounds to me that Matsuzaka's probably not at 100 percent efficiency yet, then, because he's supposed to be hitting 93-95 with regularity. - Fire Brand of the American League

Akinori Iwamura, 3B, Tampa Bay Devil Rays
6-for-34 (.176), 2 R, 3 RBI, 9 TB

The ones who know: If we figure on 600 AB's this year for Iwamura and do the math generated above, his stats might look like this: 82 Runs/ 18 HR's/ 75 RBI's/ .287 BA/ .340 OBP/ .441 SLG.

Not terrible stats, but Iwamura is unlikely to be a star for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

(What's interesting to note, is that the Japanese hitters have the most difficulty with their HR stats. Probably a product of the smaller parks prevalent in Japan, where it is easier to hit HR's. They have the easiest time reproducing Batting Averages.) - Associated Content