Eri Yoshida, for those of you who don’t know, is the Female knuckleballer who played for the Kobe 9 Cruise of the Japanese independent leagues last year. She went 0-2 in 11 games. Having obviously conquered Japan, she’s now aiming her flutterball at the United States, saying on her blog that she’s going to pitch in the Arizona Winter League this January.
Though not much in the way of real baseball talent takes part in the Arizona Winter League — if you’re worth a damn you’re in someone’s spring training camp then — I’d still expect her to get shelled. Not because she’s a woman, but because she’s a seventeen year-old knuckleballer. If all it took to compete with a knuckleball was the willingness to throw one, lots of high schoolers without any velocity would be throwing them. Heck, I would have been all over that back in the day.
They’re not, however, because a knuckleball takes a lot in the way of touch, practice and experience to get right. And even if you get a respectable one, you have to be able to keep them honest with an occasional fastball or something. Even Wakefield does that, with a fastball that would be pretty darn good for a lot of seventeen year-olds. Call me crazy, but I can’t see Yoshida possessing respectable enough gas to throw a get-me-over pitch when the knuckler isn’t dancing.
But I do love knuckleballers and I do love crazy publicity stunts, so I’ll be rooting for Erin Yoshida.
(Thanks to Ron of Baseball Over Here for the link)
This is more significant for basketball fans than baseball fans, but Magic Johnson is taking over basketball operations for the Los Angeles Lakers. Dan Feldman over at PBT has the full story on that.
For our purposes, you probably know that Johnson is part of the Dodgers ownership group. Anthony McCullough of the L.A. Times got comment from the Dodgers, saying that despite his new full-time job, his status with the Dodgers will be unchanged:
Maybe I’m alone in this, but I’m not entirely certain what Magic does with the Lakers, so the first clause in Kasten’s comment may be doing most of the heavy lifting here.
Jon Heyman reports that the Nationals are closing in on a deal with catcher Matt Wieters. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that it’s a two-year deal. UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal reports that the deal is for two years, at $21 million. There is an opt-out for him after year one. He will get $10 million in 2017 and, if he returns in 2018, he’ll get $11 million.
Wieters was not expected to go this long without signing, but his market, which many thought would be robust, never materialized. The Nats had been rumored to be interested for months, but they were apparently waiting to swoop in late and get what one presumes will be a bargain.
Wieters, 30, finished last season hitting .243/.302/.409 with 17 home runs and 66 RBI in 464 plate appearances. The Nationals currently have Derek Norris and Jose Lobaton, so who falls where in the catcher fight in Washington is unclear, but one presumes that Wieters getting a two-year deal puts him at the top of the depth chart.