New York Yankees: Hiroki Kuroda Wants To Win New York Yankees: Hiroki Kuroda Wants To Win New York Yankees: Hiroki Kuroda Wants To Win
 

New York Yankees: Hiroki Kuroda Wants To Win

Along with the four-player trade that sent top prospect Jesus Montero packing for Seattle and pitcher Michael Pinedain pinstripes,

Photograph of Hiroki Kiroda at Dodger Stadium ...

Image via Wikipedia

ESPN’s Buster Onley also verified that the New York Yankees made a deal with ex-Dodger Hiroki Kuroda over this past weekend.

According to an Onley tweet, the 36-year-old agreed to a one-year, at $10 million deal pending a physical; but according to Japan’s Nikkan Sports News, Kuroda’s deal was reported to be around $16 million.

A $6 million difference seems awfully steep considering Kuroda’s caliber and age, but maybe that was the raised one-season rental price. Also remember that last July, Kuroda made no secret of his want to stay on the West Coast, so maybe the Yankees wanted to make sure and cover all moving expenses.

Is Kuroda An Expensive Gamble Or A Sure-Thing?

Kuroda is without a doubt an innings eater, pitching 196 and 202 innings over his last two seasons respectively with the Dodgers.

Over his 4-year MLB career, Kuroda has posted eerily high hit numbers with a 198-season average, but as a groundball pitcher, that number is pretty typical. Kuroda’s 3.45 ERA and low 48 walks per season average proves that he has been effective.

To understand Kuroda better, I compared his numbers from the last two seasons, to groundballer and ex-Yankee Chien-Ming Wang’s two best years in New York.

stats are courtesy of www.baseball-reference.com.

Other than the significant number of wins Wang posted, there are enough similarities here to see why the Yankees paid $10 million+ for Kuroda.

Wang’s 2006-2007 seasons were only his second and third in the Majors, and he was also 10 years younger than Kuroda then. This lowered my concern of Kuroda’s overall stability and his win totals should rise, as the Yankee bats will offer more run support than the Dodgers could.

My one concern is whether Kuroda can adjust to hitter friendly Yankee Stadium, as he gave up 24 home-runs in 2011 in Dodger Stadium, which is a pitcher’s ballpark.

The overall risk has lowered for pitchers moving from the National to the American League, as batting average and hits have evened out more, but not power wise and getting a hitter out is still harder.

In 2011, ESPN listed the top five teams with the highest home-run totals were Yankees, Rangers, Red Sox, Orioles and Blue Jays; with the Rays coming in tenth. So, clearly the AL East is overflowing with heavy hitters, which makes the threat of a potential issue very realistic if Kuroda gets figured out. The fact that AL hitters are not familiar with him can work to his advantage.

And if Kuroda is a man of his word, his attitude appears clearly is in line with the as he picked the Yankees over the Boston Red Sox, who had a deal on the table as well because he wants to win a Championship. So, he seems to be ultra competitive, which usually is not a bad thing.

My Overall On Kuroda:

Overall, I like the potential here, as it was a solid signing by Cashman.

And the one-year deal is genius, as Kuroda posses no threat of hogtying the Yankees financially after next season, but makes the club a legitimate threat in an area that needed a boost.

The usual concern I would have about why a player, like Kuroda refused a trade last July is not relevant as Japanese players don’t understand trading to dump salary or rebuild.

ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Tony Jackson wrote an article last August explaining why Kuroda refused any trade before the rumors that the Yankees and Red Sox were interested came true; and it made me like Kuroda a lot more.

Lastly, the fact that Kuroda’s home and away stats are almost identical was very reassuring.

GRADE: B+/A-

Kuroda should fit in the middle of the Yankees rotation nicely. But if for some reason Kuroda doesn’t take to the Bronx, skipper Joe Girardi has the luxury, thanks to the work of GM Brian Cashman, of having replacements just a phone call away if needed.

 




3 Comments

  1. Thomas Catanzarita says:

    I like the signing of Kuroda, A ground ball pitcher who can get a K when he needs it. I can't wait for the season to start! I'll be in Tampa for some spring training games again this year. Hopefully I'll get a glimpse of Kuroda and Pineda before the season!

  2. Well Thomas….I have seen Pineda before and he is HUGE that has legit stuff. Larry Rothschild will work his magic on him, but my guess is that once Kuroda adjusts to the Bronx he will be solid mid-rotation guy the Yankees need. Guess we shall see….it is so great that Yankee fans finally have something to talk about.

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