Jan
28

Kuroda speaks for first time since joining Yankees

By

The Yankees officially announced the Hiroki Kuroda signing — a one-year, $10MM contract with a full no-trade clause — earlier this week, and yesterday he spoke publicly for the first time since agreeing to come to New York. “[The Dodgers] were unable to ever make a formal offer, I couldn’t wait any longer,” said Kuroda to Dylan Hernandez. The right-hander confirmed he received offers from several teams but only seriously considered the Yankees and the Hiroshima Carp, his former team in Japan. He turned down more lucrative offers to wear pinstripes.

“They have an incredible tradition,” said Kuroda of joining the Yankees. “They contend for the championship every year. I wanted to play for a team like that. When you get to my age, you don’t know how much longer you can pitch and I wanted to experience that before my career ended.” Kuroda never got to pitch in the playoffs in Japan, and the Dodgers qualified for the postseason only twice in his four years there. “To be a part of a team like that is something I will be proud of.”

Kuroda also spoke briefly about his relationships with Russell Martin, Clayton Kershaw, and Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt. Hernandez says that Kuroda’s wife and two school-age daughters will remain in Los Angeles while he is in New York this summer, and he’s preparing for 2012 as if it will be his last season. “There will be a lot of change,” he said. ““Not only a baseball player, but also as a person, I think this will be an important year for me.”

Categories : Asides

81 Comments»

  1. Slamalamadingdong says:

    After Cliff Lee, its nice to hear people still want to come to the Yankees.

    • gageagainstthemachine says:

      More importantly, it’s nice to hear they want to come to the Yankees to be a part of the historic tradition. Turned down more money to be a Yankee. I love this guy already!

      • Paul VuvuZuvella says:

        Just wait till he tries Kyoya and Kajitsu (couple of the best Japanese restaurants in NYC and on earth.)

        • Craig Maduro says:

          Not saying this just for the sake of being disagreeable, but he did spend the first 30+ years of his life in Japan. Isn’t it likely that he’s had some incredible Japanese food in his lifetime – to the point that he wouldn’t be blown away by those restaurants?

          I don’t know anything about those two spots, so they could very well deliver some of the best Japanese cuisine on Earth. However, it’s like if we went to Tokyo (or another city on par with NYC) and went to their “best burger spot”. Could we expect to be blown away by something that we’ve grown up on and most likely had some incredible versions of? Just asking.

          Damn, now I’m hungry…

          • Paul VuvuZuvella says:

            Point taken. Trust me, they are spots that make you think you were instantly beamed over to Kyoto. Been to both and have traveled through Japan. My opinion is the Best of the Best Japanese restaurants are in NY, not Tokyo and the best of the best French restaurants are in NY, not Paris etc. etc. etc. I may write a song about it … Something like “if I can make it there, I’m going to make it….anywhere.” ;). These two will make him homesick for sure. Not saying there aren’t more great Japanese restaurants in Tokyo than in NY. Saying that the Über Best of the Best of anything is in the Über best city on Earth and that’s NYC baby. Went to what was supposed to be a great Japanese restaurant last night in LA and it wouldn’t even make my Top 10 in NYC. There is no place on par with NYC in my opinion.

            • Craig Maduro says:

              Kinda makes me wish I was back in the Big Apple.

            • Plank says:

              Tokyo has the most 3 Michelin star restaurants of any city in the world, Japan has the most of any country (by far), and Kyoto has the most stars per capita.

              • Paul VuvuZuvella says:

                I’ve always found Japanese restaurants, no matter where they are, to receive “grade inflation”. Zagat invariably gives Japanese restaurants 23 or higher on food if the food is good, but they are tougher on cuisine from other countries. Same for Michelin.

          • Urban says:

            I’m also guessing that L.A. has some excellent Japanese restaurants because of the large Japanese population.

            I do know that some of the best Asian-fusion and Chinese food I’ve had is in the San Francisco region, although I can’t speak for the Japanese food.

            My guess is sticking to the major cities, international travelers can always find very good authentic food. Now as to what Yu Darvish is going to do in Arlington is anyone’s guess. If he doesn’t like BBQ, Mexican or Tex-Mex (all quite tasty down there) he may collapse on the mound by June between missing home cooking and the heat. : -)

            • Plank says:

              Authentic food isn’t just from having populations and chefs from that a specific region or country, it’s also about the food. I have an American chef friend who owns some restaurants here in Seoul. He says he can’t make everything he wants on his menu since he can’t get access to a lot of the ingredients he wants. I would imagine there are a lot of specific ingredients that can be found fresh in Japan that aren’t commonly grown in the NY or LA area.

              I know it’s the case for western food in Seoul.

    • gerald williams says:

      I like him already!

  2. toad says:

    I like the guy already.

  3. Drew says:

    Everyone says this stuff when they first sign. Didn’t the Braves offer AJ more money after 2008? I will like this guy when he proves he can pitch in the AL East.

  4. BMcP says:

    Another self-imposed vow of silence? Things are getting weird…

    • Mykey says:

      Yeah, what’s going on with this? First Pineda and now Kuroda?

      • gc says:

        Nothing to see here. The deals were not made official until they passed their physicals, and that process took longer than usual because they were both out of the country. No sense in talking about anything until everything is official.

  5. Matt DiBari says:

    This is gonna be such a great move.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      Even if it was their only pitching move this off-season, I always thought it was the perfect one to make. Barring something completely unforseen, this is one year of a solid veteran, better than Garcia, who knows what he’s doing out there. It’s a year’s less of extra pressure on the young guys.

      • Matt DiBari says:

        I said it before, in the short term, I’m more excited about Kuroda than Pineda.

        Obviously Pineda for the next five years should be awesome, but I think Kuroda might be better in 2012.

      • CJ says:

        I like Kuroda as #2, Nova, Pineda, Hughes. Let Pineda start the season with favorable match ups vs back end starters for more run support less pressure more confidence. The veteran Kuroda can protect Pineda.

        • Craig Maduro says:

          That advantage only lasts for the first few turns through the rotation. I suppose that could be enough for a young pitcher breaking into life as a New York Yankee, but others do tend to overemphasize this “theory”.

          • Robinson Tilapia says:

            Yeah, I agree. Pitchers pitch out of turn all the time.

            However, they themselves may ascribe some value onto it we don’t. Who knows.

            My nonsensical rotation order would go CC/Nova/Kuroda/Pineda/???, FWIW.

            • CJ says:

              Tim Lincecum Madison bumgarner and Ryan vogelsong all won 13. Matt Cain 12. Lincecum was 13-14, below .500! Sure the Giants don’t score many runs but score even less when facing the aces of other teams.

          • CJ says:

            There are a lot if theories that statisticians don’t agree with but that takes the human element out of sports. Look at the run support nova had in 2011 while Cc was almost always matched up with shields/price, Beckett/Lester all season which he should be as a true ace. I also believe in batting order position and protection, anything that gets a hitter more fastballs (hitters love em) matters see: Curtis granderson in 2 hole.

            • Craig Maduro says:

              I’m with you on lineup protection, but not quite there on rotation order playing a huge role in success. Up to this point I’ve more or less dismissed it, so maybe it is something worth looking into a little bit more. I would have to check, but I feel like there were several times when CC went up against a scrub or Nova or Burnett went up against someone’s ace or No. 2.

            • Ted Nelson says:

              There is no stats vs. real life. Stats are a way to quantify real life. If they’re not quantifying what’s really going on they have no value. And most things in baseball can be quantified.

              This is something that’s really easy to quantify. If your contention is that #1s face #1s more often… just look at who they faced. If your contention is that offenses score fewer runs when their ace is on the mound regardless of who is pitching… see if there is a statistically significant difference between the number they score and the number you would expect based on their offense and the opposing pitcher(s).

              Even if your contention is that W-L record impacts pitcher moral in a way that impacts performance… you can study that statistically.

              If you think Granderson got more FBs last season… that data is available on fangraphs.

              • CJ says:

                Good stats from a pitcher hitter quarterback golfer comes from confidence. Talent without the confidence destroys players.

                • Ted Nelson says:

                  Again… if a W-L record that is better/worse than the performance builds/destroys confidence in a meaningful way… it will be obvious statistically. Look back at guys who had W-L records out of line with their performance and see how they did going forward.

                  Causation is pretty much impossible to prove with confidence. I don’t think you’re going to find any general trend for such an individual thing. Some people will become discouraged by boos/losses and other people will use it as motivation. I’m going to guess that the majority of the time the motivated and talented guy will stay motivated enough to more or less succeed in just about any MLB circumstances (it’s not like these guys are witnessing war crimes)… and the equally talented guy who can’t handle a few losses and a few hits off him wasn’t mentally cut out for a long MLB career.

                  • CJ says:

                    If MLB players were asked which statistic is most important to him and most indicative of how well he’s pitching or hitting Wins RBI and Runs scored would top the list. Most probably never heard of FIP and probably count walks and strikeouts and probably pay more attention to pitch speed MPH than they should. Of course I’m not saying that Lincecum or Felix thinks they are bad pitchers when they win 13 instead of 20. The human element confidence/trying too hard can be seen in the streaky nature of player performance, especially baseball.

                    • Ted Nelson says:

                      How many MLB players have you asked? You may be right about their statistical knowledge, but just saying it doesn’t make it true.

                      If MLB players are so dumb that they don’t realize run support and defense play into pitcher wins… or that different parks have different dimensions… they don’t have the intellectual capacity of 10 year olds. I think you are seriously under-estimating them. I believe they know enough to grasp these simple concepts. They might not have a better way to quantify it than looking at simple stats, but I believe they’re aware YS has a short porch in right and pitching for a strong offensive team is generally going to inflate your win total.

                      And if it doesn’t impact their play… who cares? If Felix doesn’t pitch worse this season because he was 14-14 last season and not 20-10… why does it matter? If you think it does impact their play, study the data.

                      Streakiness can have a mental aspect… but it can also be physical and luck driven.

        • Jimmy Page says:

          Pineda is 6’7″ does he really need to be protected?

  6. Dropped Third says:

    Hes saying all the right things… I really want this guy to have a good year, i think hes curcial to our playoff chances

  7. Monterowasdinero says:

    Kuroda and Swish laying it all on the line in a one year di$play of their be$t ba$eball.

    • mt says:

      Swish’s walk year should be interesting – hope he can handle the pressure and not try to overdo it. I have some concerns.

      • Mike Axisa says:

        He was playing for a contract last year and did just fine.

        • bpdelia says:

          Well Mike come on playing to have an option picked up isn’t the same as playing for your only shot at a massive gargantuan pile of long term free agent money. Probably the last big contract you will get.

          That being said i don’t buy the whole contract Yeats thing. Good players play well. Bad players play bad, average players play average and i don’t think contract status factors in aside from maybe a player fighting through injuries ala bit more when its a walk year. There are as many guys who had fluke disaster walk years as there are who had fluke monster walk years.

          For Thekla’s most part guys walk years are basically the same as their Jon walk years aside, again, from maybe trying to play through injuries to up their percieved durability.

  8. Paul VuvuZuvella says:

    Bold (and dumb) prediction: Hiroki wins more games this year than Yu.
    Yes, Iknow wins are a team stat.

    • William says:

      If Kuroda is going to outwin Darvish, he need to out pitch him. Remember, the Rangers have a superior defense than the Yanks, and their offenses are neck and neck.

    • Krazziness says:

      Not that dumb – Kuroda is a proven veteran, Darvish has the potential, but at this point is a glorified prospect.

    • Rainbow Connection says:

      Yu will be (mostly) matched up against #1′s, right?
      Will Kuroda be matched up against 2′s or 3′s?

      • Urban says:

        I wouldn’t be surprised if over the course of the season the match-ups of #1s, 2s, etc. basically falls apart. I would expect the #1s to draw stronger opponents (meaning more 1, 2 and 3s as opposed to the back end), but I’m not so sure. That would be an interesting study.

        We do know that in the case of Whitey Ford that Casey Stengal did manipulate his schedule, holding him back to facer the tougher competition. He’s one of the few where this has been verified.

    • CJ says:

      Wins are a team stat but pitchers are team players, wins are a very important statistical measure for the player himself. Most pitchers would rather win 20 with a 3.75 ERA than win 13 with a 2.75. Most pitchers never heard of all the peripherals and exotic statistical measures

      • gc says:

        And you’ve done an exhaustive study on this? Done some polling of actual pitchers, have you? Seriously, I get what you’re trying to say but you really do talk out of your ass a LOT. You couldn’t possibly know what these pitchers consider important or what they think of when evaluating their own performance each season, yet you try to pass it off as if you know. Enough already. You’re embarrassing yourself.

  9. TheMissile says:

    I agree. You gotta love anyone who turns down more money, especially in this day and age, to wear pinstripes. Can you blame them? The only thing he contradicted himself on is where it was said he looking to play “as if it were his last year”. Normally players go for the money in that sense, but hey I respect him even more there.

    • Craig Maduro says:

      I’m not sure that should be clarified as a “contradiction”. I see what you’re saying, most players heading into what they know is their last year will try to make the most money. He could feel that he has plenty of money though and a career after baseball to fall back on. If that is the case, it might make sense for someone to choose to play for a team like the Yankees.

      For that matter, any other team for whatever sentimental reason(s).

    • Urban says:

      I suppose it depends on how much more money. If the Washington Nats offered him $10.2 million that’s not really enough to be signficant in the decision-making process, especially since he would have a greater chance of making that up on the Yankees with postseason shares.

      Or, “more money” might mean someone offered him a two-year deal for $16 million. That’s more money, but a lower AAV and since he may only want to play one more season it has no meaning, yet he would be truthful.

      I’m not trying to talk down Kuroda’s intent. I think his first choice would have been to remain a Dodger for convenience, but if that wasn’t available, I do believe he wants to play for the Yankees more than any other team, but he wanted to also get his money for this year, so they came close enough.

      The Yankees brand is the most well-known in the world when it comes to baseball, and probably just about any sport. It signifies winning. It’s a bit amazing to travel internationally and see the Yankee logo on hats, shirts, etc. only to find out the people wearing them aren’t Americans. (For whatever it’s worth, I haven’t encountered any people wearing Red Sox logo internationally who didn’t turn out to be Red Sox fans from the States. Who would want to wear a logo designed to look like smelly socks?? Okay, fine, my Red Sox disgust is now showing!).

      Anyway, my point is he probably would like to retire to Japan and be able to say he was a NY Yankee. That would have far more signicance in a country like Japan, which loves its baseball, tradition and winning. Yankees or the Nats? Not that hard.

    • Steve (different one) says:

      I would think someone in their last year, who has made plenty of money already, would be after a ring, not a little more $$.

  10. Billion$Bullpen says:

    This was the main move I wanted this off season. This guy is a serious professional guy who wants to win and win this year. I still am not a fan of the Montero / Pineda deal, hope I am proven wrong on that.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      Right attitude to take. Even if you weren’t happen with the deal, you root for the guy on your team to do the best job possible.

  11. Jimmy Page says:

    Kuroda is full of shit

    • Paul VuvuZuvella says:

      Not sure if you’re kidding, but kind of harsh. One thing to be “full of shit” and another to have experience with big city media and how to properly insert cliches into well scripted interviews/press releases.

      • LiterallyFigurative says:

        To say Kuroda is full of shit is to say that these press conferences are full of shit. All this scripted cliche spewing makes me not even watch. I just want to watch the games, all the other stuff is bull.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      You played with both David Coverdale and the Black Crowes. #reputationtarnish

    • Rainbow Connection says:

      All MLB players are. They go where the money is.

      • Urban says:

        Yes, I agree with that 99%. I don’t think all players take the absolute most money.

        Andy Pettitte could have put himself on the open market his last two seasons, declared he only wanted a one-year contract, and he could have done better than the two deals the Yankees gave him. He declared it was the Yankees or home. He left some money on the table.

        Jon Garland last year took $5 million from the Dodgers, also refusing to negotiate with other teams because he wanted to pitch for the Dodgers.

        Cliff Lee took the highest AAV (higher than the Yankees offer), but he did leave guaranteed money on the table, and he never allowed the Yankees to counter the Phillies offer. He did leave some money on the table.

        Supposedly (now we’re in dangerous territory), the Nats offered Mark Teixeira more guaranteed money than the Yankees. I can believe it seeing what they did with Werth, yet if it was within a few million, I can see why Tex went to NY.

        There comes a point when it’s not just the most dollars, but it’s gotta be close for the players to take a little less.

        • Ted Nelson says:

          Yeah, I think it’s a combination of money and situation. Especially for a guy who has already pocketed 10s of millions even after paying his agent and taxes like Kuroda has.

  12. Chad Gaudin the Friendly Ghost says:

    I had a friend (a Sux fan, of course) try and tell me that landing Kuroda and Pineda was no big deal because they weren’t very good pitchers. They were ‘sub par pitchers in sub par divisions’.

  13. Yabba Dabba Doo says:

    I HIGHLY doubt that this is the fist time Kuroda spoke since becoming a Yankee.

    That seems like an unnecessary vow of silence, if true.

  14. Yabba Dabba Doo says:

    I HIGHLY doubt that this is the fist time Kuroda has spoken since becoming a Yankee.

    That seems like an unnecessary vow of silence, if true.

  15. GotJesus says:

    That’s a long time to go without speaking…

  16. AC says:

    Who offered him more $$ than 10 million? I never read that at all anywhere

    • Urban says:

      And where would you hear this? We didn’t even hear the Yankees had offered him $10 million until he had accepted the contract, and he didn’t accept the contract, we wouldn’t have heard that the Yankees had offered him $10 million. We would hear rumors. Rumors should be ignored in most cases.

      And, as I noted above, “more money” could mean a multi-year deal, but for less money per year.

      We’ll never know. We never do.

  17. AC says:

    I was under the understanding that he was asking for more and finally came down on his asking price. Always wanted 1 year deal anyway.

  18. AC says:

    Urban. 2nd post on this thread said it nice to hear he turned down more $$ to come to Yanks. Really? I never read that or heard that rumor. He wanted 1 year deal. Not many people take less to stay here with Yanks.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      The article itself says he turned down more lucrative offers. Of course, more lucrative could also mean 2 year deals with lower or similar AAVs.

      When you hear a rumor either someone put their job in jeopardy by leaking information they weren’t supposed to, or the information you got was strategically planted in the ear of a media person. If it’s not true Kuroda and his agent are probably adhering him to the NYC fan base. If it’s true I don’t see much incentive to leak from the team that failed to sign him (he just took less money because he thought their organization was second rate), or Kuroda if he intended to sign with the Yankees all along.

      Kuroda might have gotten more money offered by, I don’t know, Baltimore or some other crappy team and “come down” in price to be on a winning team rather than a losing team. And/Or to be in NYC instead of wherever else.

    • Steve (different one) says:

      Is it that hard to believe someone may have offered $10.5M? Still a steal.

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