Friday, April 8, 2011
Koji should inspire O's to find more Asian pitchers
You see it every time Koji Uehara takes the mound.
The Japanese (and Asian) values of discipline and quiet integrity. Uehara hasn't walked a batter in 35 appearances and is third all time in appearances without a walk. He throws strikes and isn't afraid of contact. If you beat him, at least he gave you his best. But he will not beat himself by giving you a free base.
While watching the Japanese team win the last two World Baseball Championships, as well as seeing the South Korean advance deep into both WBC's, it became obvious to American fans that many Asian players share Koji's values when it comes to baseball. And after watching what Uehara has done the last two years in Baltimore, GM Andy MacPhail should be kicking in every door trying to find the next Uehara.
In a bullpen filled with pitchers who are prone to high numbers of base on balls -- especially Michael Gonzalez and Kevin Gregg, who are both being paid to be the closer -- Uehara is quietly collecting a modest contract and delivering results.
Uehara has his drawbacks, namely his frailty, which can include the slightest injury or inability to adapt to heat and humidity, but when healthy, Uehara has performed at the highest level possible.
I don't know who the next big Asian pitcher would be. Maybe Yu Darvish, who seems destined to sign with the Yankees and Red Sox.
But MacPhail should be working day and night to find out who that next pitcher is. And for proof of that, he needs to look no further than under his nose at Uehara.