Hat tip to the ever vigilant Mr. Walton for this one:
The Japan Times says that Kenshin Kawakami has narrowed his options to the Orioles, Cardinals and Twins. Ooh! Ooh! Pick B! Pick B! Sean (Chone) Smith ran projections on the incoming NPB pitchers and Kawakami’s are pretty darn good.
- 122 IP – 125 hits – 15 HR- 32 BB- 105 K – 4.13 ERA – 3.86 FIP - 2.1 WAR (Forgive me for my ingorance of code.)
Put him in Busch III with the steady Cardinal defense behind him and he should be able to post some solid numbers. Before you write off the notion of projecting Japanese league players, Chone did quite well projecting Hiroki Kuroda’s rookie season-
- CHONE: 179 IP – 181 H – 20 HR – 49 BB – 125 K – ERA 3.97
- Actual: 183.1 IP- 181 H – 13 HR -42 BB – 116 K ERA 3.73
Unless the Orioles make a big offer which Kawakami can’t refuse, I can’t see him going anywhere else but St. Louis. Minnesota doesn’t need him with their rotation, and we know they don’t spend in free agency. We’ll see how this all plays out. In my view, Kawakami represents the best available arm on the B list of free agent starting pitchers. That B list includes Randy Wolf, Jon Garland, Oliver Perez and our old pal Braden Looper. If Kawakami can manage throw 180-190 innings, he could be 2.8 WAR pitcher.