Being that good pitching will more than likely come at premium, and many of the youngsters down on the farm are simply not ready yet for the majors, the Orioles are looking at the Far East for some more talent -- especially arms.
I first saw this development on Steve Melewski's blog on MASN Sports, and there was a follow-up article in the Baltimore Sun on Thursday.
From MASN Sports: Sources say the O's are looking at pitchers Koji Uehara, Kenshin Kawakami and Junichi Tazawa along with catcher Ryoji Aikawa.While it looks like Tazawa will sign with the Red Sox and develop through their system, the Orioles are doing the right thing by tapping into Asia. The organization on the major league level need the depth on their roster, and perhaps they are looking in the right place, rather than the traditional journey to the Caribbean where there's obvious physical talent; albeit, most of the time -- very raw and in need of development.
Tazawa is a 22-year-old amateur who asked the Japan pro teams to avoid drafting him since he wanted to play in the United States. The O's are likely a longshot to get Tazawa, who has received an offer this week from Texas, while some in the industry consider Boston the front-runner to get this pitcher who will likely start next season in the minors.
Uehara is a 33-year right-hander, who is 112-62 with an ERA of 3.01 in ten seasons with the Yomiuri Giants. He pitched in relief in 2007 and had 32 saves. Uehara throws four pitches including a fastball that ranges between 86 and 92. Many big league clubs are looking at him for bullpen help but sources say the O's see him as a possible back of the rotation starter.
Kawakami is a 33-year-old righty who went 9-5, 2.30 last year for the Chunichi Dragons. He has spent 11 years with that club. He is a pitcher with excellent control who has hit 92 with his fastball. Like Uehara, he also projects as a fourth or fifth starter in the Majors.
Aside from gaining some professional level talent, the Orioles -- if they do things right and grab a tiny piece of the pie in Asia -- could perhaps open a market and start branding the franchise in that region of world, much like the Red Sox, Dodgers, Mariners and Yankees have done.
I think little has happened for these three reasons -- 1) the economy, 2) the market needs to establish itself as most are waiting to see where the big chips (Ramirez, Teixeira, Burnett, Lowe) sign, 3) owners may want to be cheap...
While we wait, Press Box's Amber Theoharis wants the organization to open the checkbook for Teixeira. I do want him on the squad -- obviously -- however, if he is going to eat up let's say a quarter of the payroll, there's better places within the organization where it could be spent. This team has a lot of holes and they are not probably going to contend in 2009, 2010 or even
beyond. The good old New York Times -- a paper that seemingly most of conservative America hates -- reports what most already know about the Orioles and how things are going so far - blah, blah...
Camden Chat thinks the team should be looking at Adam Dunn as a subsitute in case we don't get Teixeira; The Roar from 34 has a great post on the truth and urban legends of the Hot Stove Season and how players select their teams; Oriole Central hopes that the hiring of Krivsky isn't the big move of the off-season & Dempsey's Army looks at the career of Mike Mussina.