Tag: Takashi Saito

MLB: How Horrific 8.9 Earthquake & Deadly Tsunami Are Effecting Japanese Players

It’s time we all take a breather from worrying about the sports themselves and focus on the players involved. This article is written with the intent of recognizing that there are bigger things that we should be focusing on at this time in the world rather than sports. On 3/11/2011 an unprecedented 8.9 earthquake rocked the country of Japan. It brought devastation, injuries, life loss and widespread panic but that was only the beginning.

After the earthquake hit, a gigantic 23 foot tsunami tore throw the coastal areas of Northeastern Japan. The waves pushed inland as much as six miles in certain spots devouring everything and anything in their way. We are reminded how strong the forces of nature that are out of our control truly are. If you are reading this article now, then please take a moment of silence to meditate on this tragic event and to pray to God for the safety of Japan and it’s people.

We hope the worst is now in the past but danger still looms as nuclear meltdown is the newest concern in Japan thanks to damage at three nuclear power plants inflicted by the mega-quake and powerful tsunami. You may be asking yourself, “How could this terrible, horrific event possibly tie into sports?”

In this gigantic melting pot known as the United States of America, the land of the free and home of the brave, we have taken in many Japanese athletes as our own and have grown to respect them in the process. We have looked up to them, we have cheered their names and now it’s time we reach out and send our condolences to them, their families and their friends. Our hopes and prayers are with you and we are thankful to have you all here competing in our nation. May God Bless America, God Bless Japan and God bless the whole world.

Here is a brief slideshow that points out all active major leaguers that come from Japan. Be sure to pray for all of Japan and it’s people but say a special prayer for these major leaguers and their families as they take time away from baseball to focus on this tragedy.

Begin Slideshow

Takashi Saito Signs with the Milwaukee Brewers

The Milwaukee Brewers are leaving no stone unturned as they head into the 2011 baseball season. They already addressed their starting rotation in a major way when they acquired both Shaun Marcum and Zack Greinke via trades.

Now, they are addressing their bullpen.


Saito will help the Brewer bullpen

The Brewers signed RHP Takashi Saito to a one-year contract on Tuesday. Saito can earn $3.2 million in 2011 based on roster and appearance bonuses.

This is yet another good acquisition by GM Doug Melvin.

Since Saito arrived from Japan in 2006, he has been one of the top relievers in baseball. In his five years in the Major Leagues, Saito has a 2.19 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 11 K/9, and 2.8 BB/9 in 299.1. The guy just knows how to pitch.

Saito will be 41 in February and shows no signs of slowing down. Last year with the Atlanta Braves, Saito had a 2.83 ERA and struck out 11.5 batters per nine innings in 54 innings.

The former Brave, Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodger will join John Axford and Zach Braddock in the back end of the Brewers’ bullpen. Saito will certainly help a bullpen that was one of the worst in baseball last season.

If there is one issue with Saito, it’s that he battled some shoulder tendinitis at the end of last season. However, Saito did pass his physical with the Brewers, so I will assume those issues are behind him.

As for the Brewer fan already dreaming about April, picture this scenario. Greinke for seven, Saito for the eighth and Axford comes in to close things out.

Brewers win and George Webb frozen cheese curds for everyone!!!

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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Takashi Saito Signed by Brewers as Milwaukee Adds a Piece to Its Pen

Veteran reliever Takashi Saito has agreed to a one-year deal with the Milwaukee Brewers, according to the team’s spokesperson.

Saito will be 41 years old when next season arrives, which leaves fans wondering why any team would want to sign him.

It’s because of the fact that he has been very effective and a reliable pitcher out of the bullpen. For example, last year with the Atlanta Braves, he posted an ERA of 2.83 in 54 innings.

Saito was later released after the season due to the fact the Braves needed to clear some money and already had a strong bullpen. It wasn’t because of performance.

Although he isn’t the go-to guy he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers anymore, he can still get guys out. He is one of the players in the league today that just show they can be effective and show no signs of aging.

The Japanese pitcher will most likely be the setup guy for the Brewers’ closer, John Axford.

With the additions of solid shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt and ace Zack Greinke already this season, and now the addition of a good reliever for the bullpen in Saito, it looks as if the Brewers are looking at a playoff run.

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Trying To Fill Remaining Chicago Cubs Needs on a Shoestring Budget

The Cubs managed to get Carlos Pena for only $5 mil this year ($5 mil deferred until 2012) and stole Kerry Wood for $1.5 mil.  Factoring in arbitration raises though, they only have a few mil left to work with, so what are the rest of the possibilities for the Cubs offseason?  In this article I’ll look at free agent possibilities and later will look at trade possibilities:


The position players all look set and will probably break down to 13 people:

Starting lineup:   Castro, Colvin, Byrd, Ramirez, Pena, Soriano, Soto, Dewitt

Bench: Fukudome, Baker, Barney, Hill

As always, no great leadoff options and Hill’s offense is nonexistent.  Having said that, Fukudome makes  a more than capable backup in case Soriano continues his 3 year decline or Colvin suffers from the sophomore slump.  I like Baker in a platoon at 2B with Dewitt but not crazy about Pena playing everyday as he’s always struggled against lefthanders….an average lineup at best, unless Ramirez rounds back into a 110-RBI threat in his contract year.

Possibilities: Not much affordable that’s still out there since the Cubs already missed the boat on a couple of possibilities.  SF only paid $1 mil for Pat Burrell to come back and I would’ve offered $2.5 to make him the right-handed part of a RF-platoon.  They could still go out and get Reed Johnson back for $1.2 mil to spell Tyler Colvin against left-handed pitchers and provide late-inning defense for Soriano.  In the infield, what about Cristian Guzman as a superutility player and right-handed platoon option?  He does have a .329 avg and .816 OPS against left-handed pitching the last 3 years, so you could play him at 2B and Jeff Baker at 1B for 6 innings until the other team’s bullpen comes in.….if Bill Hall can get $3 mil, I might offer this to Guzman only if the club can’t afford to get anybody else on the roster.  Otherwise, might offer Mike Lowell $1 mil to be the platoon 1B option and bat off the bench.

Current Grade:  C


Starting rotation: Zambrano, Dempster, Silva, Wells, Gorzelanny

Say what you will, but Zambrano managed to turn around his season once he was back in the rotation for good, and Dempster has continued to surprise me by throwing  great innings for a 3rd consecutive year. Wells and Gorzelanny are average starters for the back end and Silva’s always an injury risk.

Possibilities: I see Casey Coleman getting lots of average fill-in innings once again. Although I’d prefer having a low-base guy like Brandon Webb or Chris Young waiting in the wings, I see them signing for more with other clubs….if you can’t get either of them, Kevin Millwood’s stock has never been lower so you could probably get him for just $2 mil plus incentives….this might all change if Andrew Cashner looks good as a starter during spring training and unfortunately I don’t see them trading Silva now while the free agent market looks as bad as it does for teams looking for pitchers….

Current Grade: C+


Bullpen: Marmol, Marshall, Wood, Grabow, Cashner, Samardzija, Maine

The late innings look good and I expect Grabow to bounce back as a decent middle reliever (although a really expensive one at $4.8 mil…..)  This is Samardzija’s last year and the club is paying him $3.5 mil so I expect him to get his final shot at a bullpen spot in spring training.  Scott Maine impressed down the stretch last year so lets hope he doesn’t turn into another pumpkin like Esmailin Caridad and Justin Berg did this year after their 2009 stretch runs……

Possibilities:  This is the one area where I think the Cubs will probably make their remaining moves. Middle-relief is thin again and they could probably use a left-handed specialist.  I might offer Joe Beimel $2.25 mil annually to fill that role, and if he turns the club down offer $1.5 to Lance Cormier. Strangely, Cormier is a right-hander who has been better against left-handers, with a 3-year OPS-against-lefthanders of .686.  Brian Fuentes, Octavio Dotel, and Jon Rauch will probably all cost $4 mil or more, so I would take a flier on Takashi Saito.  Strangely, this guy continues to fly under the radar but there have been few relievers in the last five years that have been as good as this guy if you really crunch the numbers. He’s terrific against left-handers and even better against right-handers.  Many teams will try to lowball him with incentive-laden deals due to his advanced age and injury concerns, but I would offer a deal guaranteed to blow away the competition: 1-year, $3.5 mil guaranteed, with vesting option for 2012 based on innings pitched.

Current Grade:  C+


Final free agent possibilities: 

Player                                   Role                                                                                       Contract

Reed Johnson                   4th OF against LH pitchers                                              1 year, $1.2 mil

Mike Lowell                        1B against LH pitchers and RH bat bench                1 year, $1 mil

Kevin Millwood                 5th starting pitcher                                                           1 year, $2 mil guaranteed

Joe Beimel                          LOOGY relief specialist                                                   2 years, $2 mil in 2011

Takashi Saito                      right-handed relief, 7th inning                                     1 year, $2.5 mil with $1 buyout


Total cost in 2011:  $8.7 mil


Ultimately, the everyday lineup and starting rotation still aren’t great but the bullpen and bench are a little better.  That might be all we can hope for this offseason before some of the big contracts (Ramirez, Fukudome, Silva, Grabow, Samardzija) come off the books after 2011…

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Why Was Takashi Saito Released by the Atlanta Braves?

At the age of 40, Japanese right-handed reliever Takashi Saito gave the Atlanta Braves a very solid season in a year in which they desperately wanted to win it all, knowing that legendary manager Bobby Cox was going to retire after the season ended.

In his sixth Major League Baseball season, Saito posted the following stats:

Games played: 56

41 hits in 54 IP

69 Strikeouts

2.83 ERA

It’s a wonder, then, that the Braves released the dependable reliever.

Maybe it was because he will be 41 years of age heading into the 2011 season, but why wouldn’t you take that chance of another great pitching season from a veteran guy?

That’s no excuse to release Saito.

With the questionable decision by the Braves front office, it certainly is a great chance for the other 29 MLB teams to get him through free agency.

Saito can pitch for a contender like the Boston Red Sox or just be a veteran presence on a young squad such as the Pittsburgh Pirates.

As his value appears to have decreased, he also won’t be as expensive as the $3.2 million salary he got in 2010.

But this still raises the question: why did Atlanta let go of him? Are they just planning to rebuild, since even with Bobby Cox managing they could not win a world championship?

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Roy Halladay More Than Just a Starter: Doc’s Case for NL MVP

Roy Halladay is the presumptive favorite for National League Cy Young after leading the Philadelphia Phillies to an NL East title. But what about his candidacy for the MVP award?

Baseball pundits generally disqualify starting pitchers from MVP consideration because they only play in a fifth of the games. While this is true, it doesn’t mean that some pitchers aren’t just as valuable as the game’s best hitters.

MVP’s are typically offensive players, but there have been several pitchers to win the award. The last was Dennis Eckersley in 1992, a season in which the righty recorded 51 saves. The last NL pitcher to win the award was Bob Gibson way back in 1968. So can Halladay become the first pitcher in almost two decades to take home the award?

Let’s examine his case.

First, the numbers.

In 2010, Halladay is 21-10 with a 2.44 ERA and 1.04 WHIP. He has thrown 250.2 innings and struck out 219. He has nine complete games, four shutouts and a perfect game. His ERA+ is 166 and his WAR is 6.9.

He’s only made 33 starts so he’s averaging 7.6 innings per start. In other words he’s doing the jobs of both a No. 2 starter and a primary set-up man, at the same time.

To illustrate this let’s try to deconstruct Halladay’s stats using two players for comparison instead of just one. Here are two Atlanta Braves pitchers whose combined numbers closely resemble Halladay’s.

Tommy Hanson: 10-11, 3.33 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 202.1 IP, 182 H, 75 ER, 14 HR, 53 BB, 173 SO

Takashi Saito: 2-3, 2.83 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 54.0 IP, 41 H, 17 ER, 4 HR, 17 BB, 69 SO

Now, if we combine them, we get Tommy Saito. Let’s compare this fictional pitcher to Halladay

Tommy Saito: 12-14, 3.23 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 256.1 IP, 223 H, 92 ER, 18 HR, 70 BB, 242 SO

Roy Halladay: 21-10, 2.44 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 250.2 IP, 231 H, 68 ER, 24 HR, 30 BB, 219 SO

Tommy Saito registers a combine ERA+ of 157 to Halladay’s 166, and a WAR of 3.2 to Halladay’s 6.9.

Halladay generally has better numbers than this pitcher, but not by a significant margin. So the question becomes how actually valuable Halladay is to his team?

If both Hanson and Saito were taken off the Braves roster, it is more than likely that Atlanta would struggle to maintain a winning record let alone challenge for a playoff spot. If Halladay suffered an injury that kept him out for the entirety of the 2010 season, where would Philadelphia be now? That’s a question Phillies fans hope they never have to answer.

Of course the fact that Halladay alone does what it takes two good players to do is a testament in itself of his value. His 6.9 WAR trails only Joey Votto (7.3), Albert Pujols (7.3), and Ryan Zimmerman (7.1) in the National League. 

He may not be the MVP this year, but he doesn’t belong very far behind the company of Votto, Pujols and Carlos Gonzalez. Give Doc his due and put him on the ballot. 

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Jonny Venters: The Atlanta Braves’ New Closer?

From the third week of May to the All-Star Break, when the Atlanta Braves were rolling, Billy Wagner was one of the best closers in baseball.

Over that approximate two month stretch, the 39-year-old southpaw was 16-for-17 in save opportunities while collecting one win in a total of 23 appearances.

However, since the dawn of the second half, Wagner has blown four saves in 13 chances (and given up a go-ahead, solo homer in a non-save situation—a game the Braves would lose).

But, hey everybody goes through rough stretches, right?

Well, there is reason to believe that might not be the case here.

When you consider the fact that Wagner blew a grand total three saves in the season’s first three-and-a-half months, you have to wonder if fatigue could be catching up with him.

And when you consider further that all of his chokes, if you will,  have come either pitching on either zero or only one day’s rest (and the one day came after a high-stress BS in Florida), fatigue definitely looks as if it could be the culprit in this sudden drop-off.

Now, when the Braves assembled the 2010 club, the solution to this problem was simple: give Wags the day off and let Takashi Saito close out the game.

But now that option is, essentially, out the window.

After Saito suffered a hamstring injury in Los Angeles earlier in the season, the Braves have used the 40-year-old Japanese righty sparingly, at best, and almost never in back-to-back contests.

And if the issue with Wagner is going to be going to be going in back-to-back games, it simply doesn’t make sense to run Wagner-Saito-Wagner-Saito when save situations, hypothetically, in four straight games (or maybe that’s just me—I just am not fond of a straight-up closer rotation since you’d basically be losing one reliever every night).

So, I am proposing a sort-of John Axford-like solution with 25-year-old phenom lefty Jonny Venters.

If you don’t know who that is, I’ll offer this explanation: he’s the dude that essentially took Trevor Hoffman’s job in Milwaukee.

Venters, who has a 1.09 ERA and 17 holds in 57.2 innings out of the Braves ‘pen (and only one homer allowed, to boot), has been one of the best relievers in baseball against both lefties (.183 BAA) and righties (.163 BAA) as he has worked batters over his 96 mph sinker and late-breaking slider in late and (usually) close situations to the tune of 65 strikeouts (to 25 base on balls).

While he lacks closing experience, his arsenal definitely reeks of closer stuff.

And even though Venters (who has gone back-to-back games too many times to count) has been a key cog in the middle-relief role in Atlanta, until Wagner (who has sang Venters’ praises—that’s why I think he’d be at least somewhat cool with this sort of set-up) shows the ability to become a consistent threat to slam the door on nightly basis, Venters needs to get chances in the ninth.

By sliding Wagner down into seventh and eighth inning roles (when the game won’t be put out of reach if he gets shaken up) to work on his ability to go back-to-back or rest up, and giving Venters the near-every night job of shutting the door, the Braves, in my eyes, are giving themselves a better shot at finishing games unscathed.

That doesn’t mean Wagner gets completely kicked to the curb, though.

He would get to spell Venters occasionally and would be given the opportunity to get his job back if he performs well in set-up work (which should be the case if he gets fired up over this sort of demotion).

And if he does win the closing job back, his batteries should be re-charged from what would almost surely be a reduced workload.

Granted, the lack of “adrenaline” could make Wagner a liability any earlier than the ninth.

But even that doesn’t seem to be doing the trick for ol’ No. 13 right now.

For me, it’s an experiment worth taking a stab at—you really lose nothing by inserting a younger, equally dynamic arm into the ninth inning fold.

And if Wagner gets pissy, hey, he’s retiring after this season, anyway, right?


Shifting the load at the back of the ‘pen, on paper, makes the Braves a better team—simple as that

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