Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker tweeted an article a few hours ago reporting that Japanese submarine pitcher Shunsuke Watanabe intends to pitch in the United States. The article is in Japanese, but I take Patrick’s (and Google Translate’s) word for it.
You may remember Watanabe from the 2006 World Baseball Classic. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, the pitching motion certainly will:
That is some serious submarine action. Dan Quisenberry looks down from Pitching Valhalla watches that and says “damn.” Chad Bradford, when reached for comment, presumably said “dude, that’s nuts.”
But optics are one thing. Baseball significance is another. And as far as that goes, well, eh. I dunno. At this point in his career Watanabe does not exactly profile as someone who is gonna do well here. He’s 37 for one thing. For some reason he only pitched in six games last season for Chiba Lotte, which could suggest an injury. Either way, though, Newman says his velocity is only in the 70s. While he has deception on his side he doesn’t strike guys out at all. Really: over the past few seasons he’s struggled to reach three Ks per nine innings.
And if he doesn’t deceive hitters? According to his Wikipedia page, back in a 2004 exhibition David Ortiz hit a 525 foot home run off him, which was the longest ever homer hit in the Tokyo Dome.
Anyway: could be interesting. Could amount to absolutely nothing. But you’re gonna want to watch him pitch if he does make the jump.
The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.
Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.
Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.
As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.
Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.
Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.