Think Blue

Obsessing over the Dodgers' minor league system so you don't have to.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Domo Arigato, Mr Kuroda

The Dodgers have finalized a deal with free agent RHP Hiroki Kuroda, signing him for 3 years for a total of $35.3 million, according to the team's website. Kuroda, who will turn 33 in February, is coming off his 11th season with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp in which he posted a 12-8 record with an ERA of 3.56.

How does he compare to the free agent pitchers that the states has to offer and what should Dodger fans expect from him? I'll look at his stats, as well as his scouting report and video, to try to determine what the Dodgers and their fans can look forward to over the next three years.

Strengths

Kuroda attacks hitters with a fastball that sits in the 90-91 mph range that he can spot to both sides of the plate, along with a mid 80s forkball, a changeup and a shuuto (a slider that breaks backwards). His delivery is similar to Daisuke Matsuzaka's, though he doesn't have a windup and it's less exaggerated. He pitches from a high 3/4 angle that allows Hiroki to generate a good downhill plane on his pitches which should result in a good amount of groundballs. His control is excellent, as he's walked 445 batters in 1700 career innings.

Weaknesses

Kuroda's age works against him, as he'll be 35 at the end of his contract. He's been called a power pitcher in some scouting reports, but he's more of a finesse/control guy and profiles as a #4 starter. To keep lefties off balance, it would serve Hiroki well to develop a slider or cutter that he can work in on their hands. He's not a great strikeout pitcher, as his career 6.65 K/9 would indicate, so he'll depend on his defense to be effective. He's also coming off elbow surgery to remove bone chips and he's pitched 200 innings just twice in his career.

Summary

Kuroda helps to shore up the rotation and the Dodgers don't have to sacrifice a draft pick to sign him. While his ceiling isn't as high as Matsuzaka's, he should serve as a quality #4 and provide much needed depth. Hiroki's HR totals in Japan were inflated due to a hitter-friendly home park, so it shouldn't be a problem long term. All in all, it's a good signing that can allow Ned Colletti to concentrate on filling the bench and the bullpen.

Extras

Here is video of Kuroda pitching in the NPB All Star Game this past season:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WAq8Jfx0rYo&feature=related

This clip is 5 years old, in which Kuroda faces Hideki Matsui:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cekkzbHot_I

2 Comments:

  • At 5:25 AM , Anonymous Ricardo Marini said...

    They should give Kent a day off when Kuroda starts and let Hu or Abreu play at 2nd.

     
  • At 3:44 PM , Blogger Jared said...

    I'm thinking Abreu will make the team out of ST, with Hu starting the year in Vegas. Abreu should get playing time when Lowe and Kuroda start, and depending on how well Nomar and LaRoche produce early in the season, he could see some time at third base.

     

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