Hiroki Kuroda, 32, went 12-8 with a 3.56 ERA for the Carp in 2007. The Japanese All-Star declared free agency yesterday, and the Phillies are making a pitch.
According to Paul Hagen of the Daily News, assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has already called Kuroda’s agent, but the process still appears to be in the early stages. This morning, Buster Olney of ESPN.com listed the Dodgers and Mariners as possible front-runners, which seems like a stretch. Kuroda declared free agency just yesterday and it sounds as though teams have only just begun to scratch the surface. Plus, Curt Schilling’s return to the Red Sox may have changed plans for a number of teams.
As noted by Hagen, Kuroda is attractive for several reasons. He would not require a posting fee and teams could avoid the hassle of giving up top draft picks. Pitching-wise, he’s been a machine, logging 74 complete games over his career, going 103-89 with a 3.69 ERA in 11 seasons, all with Hiroshima.
Although Beerleaguer’s top Japanese scout, Wayne Graczyk of the Japan Times, says he has lost something on his fastball and is not as sharp as last year, Kuroda showcases a terrific selection of pitches custom-built for Citizens Bank Park, including low-90s heat with late life that he’ll mix with off-speed stuff, a plus slider, a sinking forkball and a shuuto pitch, which is like a screwball. Hiroshima’s stadium is even smaller than CBP, so Kuroda’s impressive numbers translate very well.
In that same article, GM Pat Gillick said he would not rule out bringing back Kyle Lohse or Jon Lieber. The Astros, under new GM Ed Wade, have reported interest in Lieber. I would not be quick to dismiss Lieber as someone who cannot help a team as a fifth starter, which the Phillies need. The middling Astros seem like a perfect match ...
... Just as the Phillies are a perfect match for Kuroda. Make it happen.
Rollins, Rowand win Gold Gloves: Congratulations to Jimmy Rollins and Aaron Rowand on winning Rawlings Gold Glove awards yesterday, and you won’t find any complaints here. J-Roll started all 162 games and had a terrific defensive season – perhaps his best yet. Likewise, Rowand had a fine season, living up to his White Sox reputation and managing to get through the season without inducing bodily harm on himself and others.
Gillick meets with Orioles: According to the Baltimore Sun, Baltimore's president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail met with Gillick at the GM meetings yesterday, but details are unclear. The Sun speculates the discussion centered on Miguel Tejada, who’s owed $26 million over the next two years, plus $2 million in bonuses in 2010 and 2011. Tejada’s stock is dropping and teams who were once interested, like the White Sox -- who offered Gio Gonzalez and Jose Contreras last season -- are no longer calling.
The Phils need a third baseman and more right-handed pop, and Tejada is willing to make the switch in order to play for a contender. However, Gillick has downplayed the need for a third base all this week and said the club will instead focus on pitching.
Still, Tejada strikes me as a player who could be had for surprisingly little. Maybe a decent prospect or two. The money is the major stumbling block. Baltimore should be prepared to be underwhelmed with offers. He's an expensive player in decline.