Monday, March 2

Don't Forget About This Guy....


Maybe it's because no one can properly spell or pronounce his name, but Junichi Tazawa has flown under the radar all winter and continues to do so into the spring. Not much is known about Boston's 4th new Japanese pitcher in the last three years....but from what we've seen this spring, he could be a value-added contribution to an already stacked bullpen, as soon as this year.

Like Dice-K, Saito and Oki, Tazawa comes from Japan and requires a translator, but that's where the similarities end. His acquisition had 1/1000th of the fanfare Dice-k's did and he doesn't have a cool nickname like Oki, but Tazawa does have significant upside potential. He is the first pitcher to come to the US prior to playing any pro ball in the Japanese league. At just 22 years old, Tazawa played the past four years in the Japan Industrial League where he was 14-3 with 11 saves and a 1.99 ERA in 53 games....impressive numbers at any age.

So far this spring he's had two outings, both against collegiate kids (BC and Northeastern, neither of which are as good as BU), he dominated both appearances and has made a great first impression with his teammates...including Tito; “I guess I didn’t quite expect him to be this polished, at first blush there’s a lot to like.” The next step is to see how he fares against big league hitters this week, which could be an all-together different story.

At such a young age, in a new culture and environment, and without any pro baseball experience, look for Tazawa to start the season in Double-A Portland.....but remember his name because you might be looking up its spelling again sooner than later.

7 comments:

Dale Sams said...

Just for the record...Okajima's 07 and 08 stats are virtually identical except in 08 he let 13/25 inherited runners score. in 07 he let 4/28 score. However...in 2008 he only let 1 inherited runner score after June 29th.

D Vicino said...

Dale...I’m not saying his 08' was bad, but if I’m already wishing, I might as well wish for the 2007 Oki. While the numbers are “close” over the two years, we all know he was not the same pitcher in 2008 for the majority of the year. His 08' numbers are also a reflection of different game situations, for a good portion of the season Tito was tossing him out there in non-pressure situations to build confidence after struggling through April and May, a far cry from 07'….

07'
2.22 era
5 saves
2 blown saves
27 holds
63k's
.971 WHIP
Opponents batted .202 with a .250 OBP

08'
2.61 era
1 save
8 blown saves
23 holds
60k's
1.16 WHIP
Opponents batted .212 with a .283 OBP

The inherited runners stat you mentioned is perhaps the most important stat for a set up man...part of that wide discrepancy is he only induced one double play last year, after getting six in 07'. He was leaving more pitches up in the zone and over the plate which resulted in a much lower ground ball to fly ball ratio (.89 in 07’ to .53 in 08’)….Overall he was still productive in 2008, but didn't have an identical year by any means.

I will give him credit that he had better playoff numbers in 08' than 07' (in a smaller sample size unfortunately).

Dale Sams said...

Good points.

Soxin09' said...

seeing that our bullpen is already stacked, i'm not so sure they rush this guy up to the big leagues. It will depend on injuries, but let the kid adapt and mature for a year or two.

D Vicino said...

Dale...we never got your thoughts your proposed Halladay/Sox prospects trade...interested to hear your thoughts.

D Vicino said...

Soxin09', I generally agree with you, just trying to point out that we could be hearing much more about this guy sooner than later....I guess we'll see how soon that is.

Dale Sams said...

The Halladay/Sox prospects thing...man, I don't know. You know the Yanks would get involved and they would have no qualms about trading their farm for the guy, because they know they can just buy their way out of any mistakes they make.

Then on top of it being an interdivision trade? The prosepect of seeing Lars Anderson bang 40 HR's for Toronto...I dunno.

I think in the end, the Sox would *have* to trade some high-end prospects just to keep The Yankees from getting away with a Hughes/Kennedy/Gardner for Halladay trade.

I would do it, but I would hope I could get away with Lowrie/Bowden.

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