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Fukudome

Discussion in the Rumor Mill forum
Fukudome
What MLB player would compare to Fukudome? And will someone give me a rundown on Yuki Saitoh? I read an article saying he could be the next Pedro Martinez. Is he the next Matsuzaka craze? And is he better than him?
Comments
Saitoh and Fukudome Scouting Report 2007
[ Author: Guest: Matthew | Posted: Mar 11, 2007 2:37 PM ]

Kazumi Saitoh, elite, 6' 3", 200 lb., 29 year-old, right hander, has for the last few years been the best pitcher in Japan; yes, even better than Matsuzaka. Saitoh does not have quite the same velocity that Matsuzaka possesses, but he is larger and more durable than his contemporary despite a shoulder injury a few years ago. He has also outshined every pitcher in Japan to win the Sawamura Award (Japan's Cy Young) three of the last four years. He uses a unique windup where he leans in, pauses, brings his hands over his head (similar to Hideo Nomo in that regard), and then briefly stops as he gathers his weight above his plant leg before delivering his pitch (something he and Matsuzaka have in common). When he is really dealing, his follow-through has drawn comparisons to the high-leg kicks of Pedro Martinez and Justin Verlander. As his out pitch, Saitoh uses his devastating forkball, to compliment his fastball (93 mph), slow 12-to-6 curve, slider, and a shuto (reverse slider).

The guy is in his prime and is easily the most polished pitcher in Japan. Saitoh has two more years on his contract and will likely be posted after the 2007 season to avoid free agency. Since he is two years older than Matsuzaka, his posting fee should not be quite as high. Expect him to be posted at $30-35 million and earn around $10 million annually.

Kosuke Fukudome, 5-tool, 6' 0", 187 lb., right-handed hitting 30 year-old, has for years been considered the most complete and advanced offensive talent in Japanese baseball (think J.D. Drew potential). Fukudome has a fantastic glove and arm in right field, which he often showcases by effortlessly gunning down would-be scorers at home. Fukudome possesses intangibles to go along with his tangibles that would make him an impact player on any major league team. He is among the top in virtually every statistical category. This domination helped lead him to the 2006 league MVP. At this point, he has shown little interest in the majors because his Chunichi Dragons look to contend in 2007, but he has stated that that will change when he earns his free agency after the 2007 season. He will look to make around $15-18 million annually.
Re: Saitoh and Fukudome Scouting Report 2007
[ Author: Christopher | Posted: Mar 15, 2007 8:02 AM | HAN Fan ]

Both are fine players, but perhaps the superlatives are a bit overdone. For example, I would rate Koji Uehara above Saitoh and Tomoaki Kanemoto above Fukudome.
Re: Saitoh and Fukudome Scouting Report 2007
[ Author: Deanna | Posted: Mar 16, 2007 4:22 AM | NIP Fan ]

Err... what? Fukudome's almost ten years younger than Kanemoto. Hence to any of these MLB people, there's just no comparison there. While Kanemoto's been amazing considering his innings/games streaks, and his age, Fukudome's this good and he's entering his prime now, so people would expect him to have a few more of these monster seasons, rather than to possibly go into a decline.

Uehara's had a longer history of being pretty good, but I think he's been losing some steam over the last few years, whereas Saitoh's been just gaining momentum and becoming better and better.

On the other hand, I don't see where this writer says that "Saitoh will be posted to avoid free agency," when he only has 5.1 years service time so far and thus wouldn't be a free agent until sometime in the 2010 season.

(And yeah, that's the wrong Saitoh anyway, but in all honesty, I like the Yuki Saitoh on the Carp better, or at least I'm not sick of hearing about him.)
Re: Saitoh and Fukudome Scouting Report 2007
[ Author: Christopher | Posted: Mar 16, 2007 9:37 AM | HAN Fan ]

I fail to see the relevance of his age. Remember how old Kuwata is and the fact that he's playing in MLB. Also look how much the Tigers offered Kanemoto to retain him. Kanemoto never expressed any wish to play in the MLB, and so what MLB thinks isn't really a factor anymore (though I am sure he could have done so if he had wished) - not everyone wants to go to MLB. No doubt Fukudome has more years left in him than Kanemoto, but that doesn't alter the fact that one can rate Kanemoto higher than Fukudome.

Uehara is still far and above a better pitcher than Saitoh and has a proven record in the WBC. He does want to go to MLB and will attract more interest than Saitoh. As for the wrong Saitoh - yes I know it was.
Re: Saitoh and Fukudome Scouting Report 2007
[ Author: Guest: Anonymous | Posted: Sep 20, 2007 10:46 AM ]

Christopher, you are obviously a Hanshin fan. That could be the only rationale you could have to rate Kanemoto over Fukudome. The most obvious reason being that Kanemoto hasn't thrown out a base runner anywhere in the last 5 years, and he also runs around in the outfield looking lost. I fail to see how you could compare a 5 tool player such as Fukudome, to a 1 tool player like Kanemoto.
Kanemoto vs. Fukudome
[ Author: Christopher | Posted: Sep 21, 2007 7:54 AM | HAN Fan ]

Kanemoto is renowned for being able to take hits in the outfield and throw runners going for home out. Most players do not chance his arm. His catching skills are awesome as well, and his work rate amazing. Fukudome is lazy by comparison and does not have the all round drive that Kanemoto possesses.

Kanemoto could have gone to MLB but expressed no wish and would now be too old. As I mentioned above, one can rate Kanemoto above Fukudome, but equally one can rate Fukudome above Kanemoto. It depends which criteria you wish to apply. For me, Kanemoto will always be the better player, but that does not negate Fukudome being a very fine player or that others might have different opinions.
Re: Saitoh and Fukudome Scouting Report 2007
[ Author: Guest: Matthew | Posted: Mar 17, 2007 12:30 PM ]

My bad on posting about the wrong Saitoh. I didn't read it carefully.

Deanna, read this carefully, this is Saitoh's contract:
[December 24, 2005]

Baseball: Softbank pitcher Saito signs 3-year, 750 mil. yen deal+

(Japan Economic Newswire) FUKUOKA, Dec. 24 (Kyodo) Softbank Hawks right-hander Kazumi Saito signed Saturday with the Pacific League club a three-year contract which is worth an estimated 750 million yen plus performance-based incentives.

Saito's annual salary expands to 250 million yen from his current 150 million yen, making him the highest-paid pitcher in club history. He was 16-1 with a 2.92 ERA in 22 games this year after matching a Japanese record with a 15-0 start to a season.

[...] signed 3-year deal worth $6.5M USD thru 2008 season in Dec. 2005 [...] he receives salaries of $2.1M each year in 2006 and 2007 and $2.3M in 2008 [...] he can earn performance bonuses [...]
Source: mlb4u.com

So again, after the 2008 Season, Saitoh is a free agent as things stand now. Again, he is only 2 seasons away from free agency and under most practices players are posted 1 season prior to their free agent year so the parent team can reap financial benefits. Or, they can walk for nothing at the end of their contract. I hope this clarifies things for you concerning Saitoh's contract status.

Saitoh is a free agent after the 2008 season.
Re: Saitoh and Fukudome Scouting Report 2007
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: Mar 17, 2007 1:56 PM | YBS Fan ]

I think you've misinterpreted what a three year contract means. That's just his current contract so that he'll be guaranteed that amount for three years, and the ball club doesn't have to deal with negotiation with him year after year. (Most players in Japan are under one year contracts.) The contract length has nothing to do with when the player will reach free agency. Free agency still takes 9 years (and being registered at least so many days for each season).

With the under-the-table money scandal shaking things up in NPB, there are talks of shortening the length of time to free agency. However, all parties agree that such a shortening would not apply to moving to MLB.

Finally, Softbank is a very stable, weathy company. Your arguement that teams should post players the year before they reach free agency to maximize profit only works if making money is the objective of the team. I don't think it is for Softbank. Counter-intuitive, I know. But much about the way teams run their clubs here is counter-intuitive.
Re: Saitoh and Fukudome Scouting Report 2007
[ Author: Deanna | Posted: Mar 17, 2007 5:22 PM | NIP Fan ]

Matthew, I saw that article when it came out. You've misunderstood how contracts work in Japan, but fortunately Westbay has beaten me to explaining it to you. I hope it clarified things for you concerning Saitoh's contract status.

I suggest you should only be condescending towards someone when you're actually right about the situation (and about which player you're talking about!)

I do wonder if there'll be a grandfathering-in of players if the free agent year requirement changes, although it sounded like even if it did change, it'd still be 9 years before a player could go to the MLB anyway.
Re: Saitoh and Fukudome Scouting Report 2007
[ Author: Guest: Matthew | Posted: Mar 18, 2007 5:03 PM ]

Well, from what I've read that is the case with Saitoh. I have read multiple articles stating that Saitoh is a free agent after 2008, but they could be wrong. But I would think Saitoh would want to pitch at the highest level (MLB) during his peak. A lot of financially stable teams have posted their players due to the players wanting to test themselves at a better level. If he has no interest in performing at the greatest level in America then the argument is moot anyways. He could be posted at anytime though and doesn't need to be a FA to do so, but the team must agree (as I'm sure you know). Again, my bad about the wrong Saitoh.
Re: Saitoh and Fukudome Scouting Report 2007
[ Author: Guest | Posted: Mar 15, 2007 11:04 AM ]

Matthew, you might have the wrong Saitoh. The guy I was referring to is around 18 years old or so. He just went to Waseda University.
Re: Saitoh and Fukudome Scouting Report 2007
[ Author: Jbroks86 | Posted: Mar 15, 2007 2:10 PM | SFT Fan ]

The Saitoh you're looking for is Yuki Saitoh, not to be confused with the Yuki Saitoh of the Carp. The Saitoh mentioned above is Kazumi Saitoh of the Softbank Hawks.
Re: Saitoh and Fukudome Scouting Report 2007
[ Author: Guest: Sooooo..... | Posted: Mar 20, 2007 9:27 AM ]

Hey guys, thanks for the updates for "other" Saito, but does anyone have anything on the Saito who just entered college?
Re: Saitoh and Fukudome Scouting Report 2007
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: Mar 20, 2007 10:31 AM | YBS Fan ]

- ... but does anyone have anything on the Saito who just entered college?

That would be "Yu-chan" or "the Handkerchief Prince." I've developed an alergy to articles about him (due to there being too many with no meat to them). But in a nutshell, he joined the Waseda team's camp in Okinawa (even though he hadn't yet graduated from high school). He's had his good and bad days. He finally graduated a few days ago, "without shedding a tear" according to a large number of articles.

Waseda keeps trying to figure out how to deal with the media - one day they have a line for the reporters to gather at to watch, the next they hide him away. (Yes, a lot of the press is about the press covering Yu-chan.)

Saitoh is scheduled to pitch against Chuo University this afternoon. His manager said that he'd like to see Yu-chan go "5 innings, 100 pitches" [Nikkan Sports - in Japanese] for his first open-sen (preseason game) appearance.

Would someone who can read Japanese like to setup a "Yu-chan Watch"?
Re: Saitoh and Fukudome Scouting Report 2007
[ Author: Guest: puddin head | Posted: Apr 8, 2007 3:42 PM ]

I think Fukudome could be just what the Philadelphia Phillies need, to get them over the hump. I can see the Philly papers now, Phive-tool Phukudome arrives in Philly!
Re: Saitoh and Fukudome Scouting Report 2007
[ Author: Guest: graeme | Posted: Apr 8, 2007 8:27 PM ]

Fukadome for $15-18 million? That is Manny Rameriz money, and not many other players. There is no way a major league team would pay an unproven in the big leagues rookie that kind of money. He is a real good player, don't get me wrong. But teams aren't going to pay that type of money. He has been playing in a AAA league.
Re: Saitoh and Fukudome Scouting Report 2007
[ Author: Jbroks86 | Posted: Apr 9, 2007 2:14 AM | SFT Fan ]

I have to agree, there's no way a MLB team is paying $15-18M annually for Fukudome. He'll probably get something in the range of $5-8M annually. At $15-18M annually, that would be even more than what Ichiro Suzuki, Hideki Matsui, and Daisuke Matsuzaka are making annually.
Re: Saitoh and Fukudome Scouting Report 2007
[ Author: Guest: Matthew | Posted: Apr 16, 2007 6:37 PM ]

Well, when Gary Matthews and Juan Pierre are getting paid about $10 million a year for a the next 4 - 5 years, it sounds like the market determines the price. I think Fukudome is worth more than they are. Drew is getting $14 million and he can't even stay healthy. The FA outfield market will likely be determined by Andruw Jones. So, who knows. It's just a guess.

Also, Dice-K's salary is adjusted for the posting fee, as was Ichiro's. Dice-K's annually salary, when considering the posting fee, is almost $17 million a year (w/o incentives). People couldn't believe Matsuzaka was posted for $51 million dollars (which doesn't count towards salary tax, but it does towards club profit). Most people thought $25-40 million was the highest Dice-K would post for. They were wrong and underestimated the market value, as I believe you are.

Also, Fukudome will not need to be posted. He'll for sure cost well over $10 million a year.
Re: Saitoh and Fukudome Scouting Report 2007
[ Author: Guest: Mike Plugh | Posted: Apr 18, 2007 10:12 AM ]

Jbroks86

You are off base on those numbers, I'm sorry to say. There are plenty of teams out there lining up to sign Fukudome to a $10+ million deal. The market for Japanese ballplayers is opening up with each hit that Iwamura strokes and every good moment that Kaz Matsui offers up for Colorado.

People now see guys like Matsuzaka, Ichiro, and Matsui and understand what the high end is. They have a middle ground now with guys like Johjima, Iguchi, Iwamura, and Kei Igawa. Even the low end guys like So Taguchi are solid contributors.

The precedent for contracts has increased, where you now see Matsui's original $8 million a year deal turn into $13 million. Ichiro will command a lot of money as well, and Fukudome's value is on the rise from where his sempai are leaving off. I'm guessing about $13 million per, like Matsui.
Re: Saitoh and Fukudome Scouting Report 2007
[ Author: Jbroks86 | Posted: Apr 18, 2007 11:46 AM | SFT Fan ]

Though you're forgetting that Boston got Matsuzaka for an apparent bargain of less than $10 million a season, with a 6 year $52 million contract, less than say Gil Meche. For example, Matsuzaka is only making $6.33 million this season.

Maybe, Fukudome can get a $10 million a year deal, as inflated as the market is. Though only Ichiro and H. Matsui are over the $10 million per year range. With all that said, I still have Fukudome going for around $8 million, maxing out around $9 million annually.

- The precedent for contracts has increased, where you now see Matsui's original $8 million a year deal turn into $13 million. Ichiro will command a lot of money as well, and Fukudome's value is on the rise from where his sempai are leaving off. I'm guessing about $13 million per, like Matsui.

Again, I'll grant you that the precedent for contracts has increased with the massive amount of money thrown at free agent pitchers and elite offensive players this previous off-season. But still, I have my doubts of a MLB team paying Fukudome per say $13 million annually. At $13 million a season, that would place Fukudome above the level of Ichiro and Matsui, which I just don't see happening. Maybe I'm wrong. Time will tell after this season.
Re: Saitoh and Fukudome Scouting Report 2007
[ Author: Guest: Mike Plugh | Posted: Apr 18, 2007 10:06 AM ]

I've already been on the Yuki Saito Watch [blogspot] for a while. Also, check out Matsuzaka Watch, Yu Darvish Watch, Uehara Watch, and Baseball Japan [all in English on BlogSpot].

Stay tuned to my work at Baseball Prospectus, too. I'm their Japanese baseball correspondent this season, and it should be featuring articles about every week.
Re: Saitoh and Fukudome Scouting Report 2007
[ Author: Deanna | Posted: Apr 19, 2007 1:52 AM | NIP Fan ]

What, no Masahiro Tanaka Watch?
Re: Saitoh and Fukudome Scouting Report 2007
[ Author: Guest: Mike Plugh | Posted: Apr 22, 2007 4:32 AM ]

Not yet. I want to see him establish himself a bit more before I go that route. Could happen though.
Re: Saitoh and Fukudome Scouting Report 2007
[ Author: Deanna | Posted: Apr 23, 2007 10:47 AM | NIP Fan ]

Wait, so Tanaka wins Koshien two years in a row, nearly wins it a historical three times in a row, then goes pro and pitches a complete game win against the Hawks (striking out 13) at the big-league level, and you think it's worth having a Yuki Saito watch but don't think Tanaka's "established" enough?

Well, that's okay, I also didn't really get why half of your "players to watch" this year were 38-year-old outfielders either, so maybe you're just on a different planet than I am.
Re: Saitoh and Fukudome Scouting Report 2007
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: Apr 23, 2007 5:53 PM | YBS Fan ]

I think that the main criteria for the Watches is the possibility of going to the Majors in the near future, not for watching Pro Yakyu (or amateur baseball) within Japan. Ma-kun (Tanaka) isn't going anywhere any time soon, so Major League scouts don't have to concern themselves with him for a number of years yet. On the other hand, Saitoh will be graduating in four years (and could hypothetically be picked up before then).

Our meaning of "Players to Watch" is a bit different. We want to watch exciting baseball. They want to know who the next Nomo or Ichiro is.
Re: Saitoh and Fukudome Scouting Report 2007
[ Author: Guest: Mike Plugh | Posted: May 1, 2007 12:47 PM ]

Honestly Deanna, I don't think Masahiro Tanaka is as good as Yuki Saitoh. Tanaka is not nearly the poised and mature player that Saitoh has become. Go back and watch that classic Koshien final again and tell me which player had confidence on his face and which looked a bit like a deer in the headlights at times.

I don't want to be knocking Tanaka here though. He's going to be a very very good pitcher for years to come, but Saitoh's upside is much higher to me.

As for the "38-year old outfielder" thing, I'm not sure where that comes from. In my piece for Baseball Prospectus highlighting players to watch, I chose the following list of pitchers and everyday players:

The Free Agents
Kosuke Fukudome, OF, Chunichi Dragons
Height: 6'0" Weight: 187
Bats: Left Throws: Right Age: 30

Koji Uehara, RHP, Yomiuri Giants
Height: 6'1" Weight: 187
Bats: Right Throws: Right Age: 32

Naoyuki Shimizu RHP, Chiba Lotte Marines
Height: 5'11" Weight: 187
Bats: Right Throws: Right Age: 31

The Posting Candidates
Kazumi Saito, RHP, SoftBank Hawks
Height: 6'4" Weight: 217
Bats: Right Throws: Right Age: 29

Yu Darvish, RHP, Nippon Ham Fighters
Height: 6'5" Weight: 187
Bats: Right Throws: Right Age: 20

Norichika Aoki, OF, Yakult Swallows
Height: 5'9" Weight: 170
Bats: Left Throws: Right Age: 25

Kyuji Fujikawa, RHP, Hanshin Tigers
Height: 6'0" Weight: 183
Bats: Left Throws: Right Age: 26


The Future
Yuki Saito, RHP, Waseda University
Height: 5'9" Weight: 160
Bats: Right Throws: Right Age: 18

Sho Nakata, OF, Osaka Toin High School
Height: 6'0" Weight: 207
Bats: Right Throws: Right Age: 18

Atori Ota, RHP, Teikyo High School
Height: 6'1" Weight: 200
Bats: Right Throws: Right Age: 18

Michael rightly points out that the "Watch" criteria is a future move to the Majors, but only peripherally. Yes, that is where the greatest interest lies with American baseball fans. I am doing my best to write articles that appeal to the demands of the market, while moving the genre in the direction of a broader appreciation for the non-MLB-bound players in Japan. You and I, and all of us here, love to follow Japanese baseball for the game itself, but there is a larger world of people who are only interested in the highest level of play in the world, MLB.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who follow AAA, AA, and A ball only to find out who is next for their Major League club. The same is said for those people wanting more about Japan as a AAAA farm system for the Majors. I provide writing for those people, but I always include the caveat that we can appreciate the performance of these athletes whether they come to the US or not.

The audience for my work often includes MLB executives looking for "prospects" and angles to understanding the Japanese game. It includes American newspaper and internet journalists who want to include something about Japan in their own work and need background or analysis. The audience also includes people in "fantasy keeper leagues" who want to put a hold on a top Japanese player that might be on his way. We can't underestimate the popularity of that facet of the game. Finally, and most thankfully, there is a core group of people who read because they just like Japanese baseball. It's a bit like being a Star Trek movie producer. You have to write to a broader appeal to raise the profile of the "brand," but often the loyal core audience is a little put off by the end product as a watered-down version of something they love.

Following what I do, you'll find something of both ends of the spectrum. I'm just incredibly stretched thin with a professional writing gig, a real job, 5 or 6 other blogs, a 4 month old baby, and other life things. If I had time to do a Tanaka Watch, Fukudome Watch, Aoki Watch, Atori Ota Watch, Koshien Journal, and the rest, I would do it in a heartbeat. I'd even do a Viana Welisson Watch if I had time.

Fortunately for all of us, there are enough excellent writers that all angles are covered.
Re: Saitoh and Fukudome Scouting Report 2007
[ Author: Jbroks86 | Posted: May 2, 2007 5:09 AM | SFT Fan ]

- Naoyuki Shimizu RHP, Chiba Lotte Marines

Shimizu only has slightly over 6 years of service time. [Player Profile - Sponichi in Japanese]. He be eligible for free agency sometime in 2009 or 2010.
Re: Saitoh and Fukudome Scouting Report 2007
[ Author: Jbroks86 | Posted: May 2, 2007 12:06 PM | SFT Fan ]

Also another name not mentioned above that's being mentioned as a possible MLB candidate is Dragons closer Hitoki Iwase, who's a free agent after the year.
Re: Saitoh and Fukudome Scouting Report 2007
[ Author: Guest: Mike Plugh | Posted: May 1, 2007 1:17 PM ]

By the way Deanna,

I wrote up a congratulations to Tanaka for that Hawks' performance at Baseball Japan on April 18th. I haven't been writing there that much with the Baseball Prospectus gig taking up a lot of my time, but I love Ma-kun, too. Honest!
Re: Saitoh and Fukudome Scouting Report 2007
[ Author: Guest: T Moore | Posted: Aug 11, 2007 9:46 AM ]

What is Fukadome's status? Will he make the free agent hump given his injury? Elbow right? How serious?
Re: Saitoh and Fukudome Scouting Report 2007
[ Author: Guest: Wrigley Guy | Posted: Dec 12, 2007 10:47 PM ]

Nice scouting report. Fukudome is left handed you dummy!
Re: Saitoh and Fukudome Scouting Report 2007
[ Author: Dan Miceli | Posted: Dec 13, 2007 9:35 AM ]

Wrigley Guy: If you are referring to the May 1st post of Mike Plugh, Fukudome bats left and throws right, as Plugh correctly states; albeit in an otherwise error-filled report. What is your point?
Re: Saitoh and Fukudome Scouting Report 2007
[ Author: Guest: Grant | Posted: Jan 17, 2008 10:41 AM ]

I realize that this is an old thread, but I just need to add this. It is not unusual for a Japanese ball player to bat left handed and throw right handed. A majority of Japanese players learn to bat as a lefty in order to give them a quicker route to first base.

KosukeFukudome.org
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