I’m not sure why we didn’t see the Yanks connected with Japanese reliever Kazuo Fukumori before, but according to Newsday, they’ve announced their intentions to Alan Nero, Fukumori’s agent. You may remember Nero from this past week, when he approached the Yankees about a long-term deal for client Chien-Ming Wang, but cowered from making the first offer. Anyway, they’re supposedly one of 10 teams in on the righty, though I’m sure Nero is counting every team that has even a passing interest.
I’m not sure what to make of Fukumori. His strikeout rates are all over the place — it seems he’s either around 4.50 per 9 innings, or over one per inning, which has to give pause. For instance, he struck out 36 in 75 innings in 2005, and recorded a 3.57 ERA. In 2006, he struck out 55 in 58 innings, to an ERA of 2.17 ERA. In 2007, he kept his strikeout rate up — 33 in 36 innings — but had a 4.75 ERA.
Here’s a scouting report, courtesy of MLB Trade Rumors:
Might have emerged as a top-flight closer on a better team, but best years may have been wasted playing for expansion Rakuten Golden Eagles. Still, saved 21 games and was an All-Star in ’06. ERA jumped nearly two runs in 2007, but still saved 17 and maintained a strikeout per inning ratio. Has a formidable slider that tails toward right handed batters. Could emerge as a nice sleeper considering the number of solid closers possibly headed to the U.S.
Through all this, though, he’s always had a poor walk rate, which immediately has me saying “pass.” He also managed to toss only 36 innings last year, after having totals of 60, 48, 63, and 58 from 2003 through 2006. There’s just too much inconsistency there. If I want a guy who’s going to walk the farm, I’ll throw Bruney in the bullpen. He seems like he could do just as well as Fukumori at a far lesser cost.
MLB Trade Rumors also cites a source that says the Yanks think they’re in the lead for Ron Mahay (purple monkey dishwasher). We’ve heard rumors of Mahay seeking a three-year between $9 and $12 million. Once again, I’m not so keen on signing someone so old and so inconsistent to a long-term contract.