Friday, December 2, 2011

Pirates looking at pitchers Wei-Yin Chen and Tsuyoshi Wada.

A couple of sites are reporting the Pittsburgh Pirates are looking at a couple of pitchers who played in Japan last year, Wei-Yin Chen and Tsuyoshi Wada.

For what it's worth, the Pirates have had rotten success with the few Asian players they've signed. The most intriguing was Masumi Kuwata, a 20-year-veteran and 8-time All-Star pitcher out of Japan. He was 39-years-old when the Pirates signed him, though, and the sequence on his Baseball Reference wiki page shows a typical trend in Pirates acquisitions:
"1987-1994: The Glory Years," "1995-1996: Injury," "1997-2002: Post-Injury," "2003-2006: Further decline," "To the USA."
After 19 games with the Pirates in 2007, he retired in the next spring training:
Kuwata, a baseball superstar in his native Japan, formally announced his retirement after the Pirates' 7-4 victory against the Detroit Tigers this afternoon, a game in which manager John Russell asked him to pitch one final time as a show of respect. But he declined.

"He told us he's pitched thousands of innings, that we should use that time to look at pitchers for our future," Russell said. "He's a class act, a true professional and a great human being. We wish him the best of luck in everything he does."

The ritual at the mound was meant to symbolize a farewell to the game. And, although Kuwata's impact in Pittsburgh was negligible, some in the assembled Japanese media were saying that this farewell would top their nation's news for the day.

"He's a legend in our country," said reporter Yasuko Yanagita, who broke the story of Kuwata's retirement for the Hochi Shimbun sports daily. "Everyone will want to know about this, and everyone will be surprised."
Next the Pirates tried reliever Byung-hyun Kim, who never made it out of spring training in 2008 because he wanted to start. Before the 2010 season they acquired infielder Aki Iwamura, who would hit .182 with 9 RBIs through 54 games and be among the worst Pirates in recent memory. Late in the season they claimed pitcher Chan-ho Park off waivers from the Yankees. Park is the best-known of the Korean players in his home country, and during his limited time with Pittsburgh he pitched fairly well and would set the record for most wins by an Asian-born pitcher in the Major Leagues.

Then again, the Pirates have had rotten success with most of the players they've signed the last two decades. If Chen and/or Wada are signed, it will only be a matter of time before they're traded for backup catchers and 26-year-old Double-A pitchers.

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