29 May, 2006

MLB debuts - Takashi Saito

Oh, boy. We've got a bit of catching up to do.

Interestingly, this season has featured a couple more debuts by ex-Japan League players. The Dodgers signed 36 year old reliever Takashi Saito back in February. Saito racked up over 1500 innings in Japan though only held a closers role for a couple of years. Over 13 seasons and 339 games in Japan, he had a record of 87-80 and 48 saves with an ERA of 3.80.

Saito was called up by Los Angeles on 7 April and made his debut on 9 April pitching 2/3 innings in a 6-3 loss at Philadelphia. He got a couple of groundouts on 4 pitches in the 8th preserving what was then a 3-3 tie. Tim Hamulack yielded a 3 run shot to Bobby Abreu in the bottom of the 9th, which handed victory to the Phils.

Saito played for the Taiyo Whales, who became the Yokohama Baystars, in Japan's Central League. He's not the first Japanese free agent pitcher signed by the Dodgers. Hideo Nomo, Kazuhisa Ishii, Masao Kida and Norihiro Nakamura all jumped across the Pacific straight to LA.

Update: Recently, with Yhency Brazoban and Eric Gagne still on the DL and Jonathan Broxton struggling in the closer role, the Dodgers have considered using Saito as a closer. As of 27 May, he's had two save opportunities both of which have been converted.

Baseball Cube (includes Japanese stats)

17 May, 2006

Cry baby

Boohoohoohoo. Hmmuph. Referee stole our ball. Boohoohoo. Thierry fell over. Ref not fair. Boohoohoo. We were robbed. Barca cheat. Ref cheat. UEFA cheat. Boohoohoo.

Eto'o no good. Ronald McDonaldino no good. Thierry good. Why not yellow cardy for Barca? Boohoohoo. I'm taking my ball home.

Ref no good. What do Norway know about football. Boohoohoo.

Boo bloody hoo.

11 May, 2006

MLB debut - Willie Eyre

Willie Mays (yep, Willie Mays) Eyre made his debut for the Twinskies on 6 April at the stadium formerly known as Skydome. Mays, I mean Eyre, is a 27 year old rookie reliever. So, you'll guess immediately that he's not prospect. But, the guy's finally made it to the Bigs. That's always nice: to see an organisational type player crack the Show.

Being an organisation guy (7 years with the Twins, no less), it would not usually be easy to pick up a great deal of information about someone like Eyre. However, McKamey's "Minor League Baseball Analyst" has a few lines. It seems he's a recent transfer to the bullpen. As happens for many a pitcher, a move to the pen means he can throw nothing but heaters and get away with it. One of Eyre's problems seems to be arm-speed on his secondary pitches, so a bit of tipping going on there.

Last year, Eyre went 10-3 with 7 saves in 56 games with a 2.72 ERA.

Against Toronto, Eyre relieved Juan Rincon in the 7th with Minnesota down 6-2. He kept them in the ball game with an inning of one-hit ball. Apart from a single to Hillenbrand, Eyre threw three groundball outs.

(Correction) Eyre is the brother of the Cubs' Scott Eyre but is not, if you need telling, any relation to Willie Mays.

Baseball Cube

10 May, 2006

MLB debuts - Fabio Castro and Jordan Tata

During Texas's 10-6 defeat of the Tigers back on 6 April, two relief pitchers of contrasting stature made their debuts.

Fabio Castro entered the game in the 4th inning, relieving starter R.A. Dickey who had been tagged for 6 homers. (Dickey was optioned to Oklahoma City after this game.)

Castro, just 21, went 3.2 innings in his Major League debut. He gave up an earned run on 3 hits and 3 walks, with 2 strikeouts.

The Dominican lefty was a rule 5 pick up for Kansas City off the White Sox roster, but wound up with Texas through a trade. Castro must stay on the Rangers roster all season or be offered back to Chicago.

In four seasons, Castro has never appeared above A ball. Last year he spent the entire campaign with Winston-Salem where he worked exclusively out of the bullpen. At 5' 8" and 157 lbs, most clubs look at Castro as someone lacking the strength and stamina to succeed. But, possessing a live fastball and serviceable no.2 and 3 pitches have kept him in the reckoning. Castro averages around a strikeout per inning, but has high walk totals so wildness might be an issue.

Castro wound up on the DL on 9 May with a groin injury.

Baseball Cube

Detroit's Jordan Tata entered game in the 6th inning with the Bengals 8-3 ahead. The 6' 6" right hander pitched 3 innings allowing 3 earned runs on 2 hits and 2 walks. Tata struck out one batter and kept the Rangers from scoring until the 9th when he loaded the bases before being pulled. Fernando Rodney allowed a double to Ian Kinsler, clearing the bases and making the score 10-6.

Tata was a 16th round pick from Sam Houston State in 2003. He's crept under the radar in his three complete Minor League seasons with stops at Oneonta, West Michigan and Lakeland - all at single A. Even though it's an improving system, Tata has been rushed to the big club and could have done with at least a full year at AA. He was ranked No.7 by Baseball America in 2005, coming from nowhere. His 13-2 record and .239 opponents batting average stood out last year. He fanned 134 in 155 innings and his BB/SO ratio improved. Tata has a solid Major League fastball - topping out at 94mph - but has a ways to go in developing his curve and off speed pitch.

Tata might be slated for a Minor League assignment to get more work.

Baseball Cube

Move on

This is how we learned about Sunday's terrible events. A text message from brother Donut as we sunned in Croatia.

It's over. There's no need to discuss the controversy any more. Here at Donutball, we've accepted the result. It's a huge disappointment.

On the other hand, the sobering thought is that Tottenham managed to take just four points (all from draws) off of the top 4 teams in the Premier League. That's not to suggest that over the season 4th place wouldn't have been the fair conclusion. It does point out that no matter how far Spurs have come this season - from mediocrity to respectability to achievement - there is still some way to go.

Donutball has - and this haunts us - been consistent in the assessment that Spurs are not ready for the Champions League. Well, that's come to pass.

We need to get over the disappointment and realise that next season will be tougher. But, a top 6 place is again the goal as will be a UEFA Cup run and a better performance in the domestic cup competitions. There will be greater strain on the squad. This season the team played the minimum amount of matches possible: 40 (38 in the league, one in each of the domestic knock-out competitions). It will a much higher tally next season. So, there's work to be done strengthening the squad.

Though the club's appeal to the league failed, there is good reason for pride. Martin Jol has put together an exciting, entertaining and competitive team.

The final word goes to Spurs chairman, Daniel Levy.

A recurring theme is the pride you all felt in our 'heroes' on the pitch on Sunday and that you are looking forward to our return to Europe. It has been a great season and we should refuse to let this mar the achievements of it and the optimism with which we will now greet the new season.

Oh, and fuck the Arsenal.

03 May, 2006

Timing is everything

With immaculately bad timing, Donutball takes a short break. We'll miss the battle for fourth place in the English Premier League.

It's off to here:

But, we'll be back next week to resume our series on MLB debuts, check out Alexander Smit's progress (looking ugly) and ruminate on Wayne Rooney's metatarsal.

Bad news in July also. Managed to book a break in the U.S.A. during the World Cup finals. Will be here on the day of the final.