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Today, the Chicago Cubs introduced newly signed reliever Kyuji Fujikawa, who received a two-year, $9.5 million deal (with a 2015 team option). He got the jersey treatment and everything, complete with a fair bit of Japanese media (the hidden value in signing Japanese stars). The introductory press conference, at which Fujikawa spoke via a translator, offered a number of interesting bits about Fujikawa and the plans for the 2013 season. (Quotes available here and here, among other places.)

Among them, from Fujikawa …

  • On choosing the Cubs after visiting Chicago and Wrigley Field: “From that day on, in my head it was Cubs, Cubs, Cubs.” Love it.
  • On being a veteran on a young team: “I know that the team is very young. I am a veteran. I will try to led the young players, as well, and try to compete to win for the Cubs. I know what they’ve done last year, and hopefully we can do better next year. I’d like to be part of the building process for the Cubs future.”
  • On the possibility of being “flipped” at the Trade Deadline (paraphrase): “I don’t care, and it’s up to the team.” Well that’s candid.
  • Fujikawa added that he doesn’t plan to pitch in the World Baseball Classic so that he can instead focus on Spring Training with the Cubs.

And from Jed Hoyer …

  • On Fujikawa’s stuff working in MLB: “He’s been known in Japan as a guy who can really pitch with his fastball, which is really important. He’s not a guy who tricks you. He actually comes right after guys. Guys who rely too much on trickery can often be guys the league figures out quickly. And our hope certainly is that because he pitches with his fastball, he’ll be able to pitch to a game plan and be able to establish himself and have a nice run.” My gut tells me that Japanese relievers have had a better time adjusting to MLB than starters, but I have to do some research to back that up.
  • On the plan for Fujikawa vis a vis Marmol as the closer: “Our goal is to have the best bullpen possible, and you don’t have a good bullpen by having one good pitcher throwing the ninth inning. [Marmol] goes into the season as the closer. Our goal is to have a seven-man-deep bullpen of good arms, and Kyuji certainly adds to that.” I still think the Cubs would gladly move Marmol this offseason if the right offer came along, but Jed’s right: a good bullpen has several guys that *could* be closer material.

And from Theo Epstein …

  • On Fujikawa being wooed as a closer: “[Fujikawa] said: ‘My job is not closer, it’s setup guy- to help the team win and do what the manager asks of me. And that’s the only time it came up in the whole discussion.” So, apparently the Cubs didn’t need to make any closer-related promises to land Fujikawa, which is excellent. Of course, his deal includes a great deal of closer-related incentives, so it’s still on everyone’s mind. But that might mostly be about 2014.
  • On Fujikawa as a flip candidate down the line: “Our primary goal is to have him here as part of the solution. We’re a big believer in his talent, as well as his character, so we think he be a positive influence on our younger pitchers and will be a real stabilizer for our bullpen. We’re not signing him at all with the intent to trade him. Obviously, we’ll see what happens. Hopefully the team performs well and he’s pitching very important games for us.” I think it really is plausible that the Cubs view the possibility of contention in 2014 as realistic, and wanted to make sure to have someone like Fujikawa in place when that time comes. That said, if he dominates, the team sucks, and suitors come calling in July, we’ll see what’s what.
  • JoeyCollins

    Wow everything you would want to hear. Hes fine being the setup guy and with possibly being traded. Not sure how the front office pulled this one off but im glad they did.

    • John (ibcnu2222)

      They must have revealing pictures of him or something.

  • Featherstone

    I’m actually really curious to see what Kyle thinks of the acquisition as he was the most vocal advocate of a large bullpen overhaul.

    • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com/ Kyle

      I’m pretty happy about it.

      • Featherstone

        Would you please share a bit of your thought process on the signing? How was the contract in terms with the market? Do you believe he will successfully make the transition to the MLB. I dont think anyone believes he’ll maintain the numbers he held in Japan, but do you think he’ll be average? above-average? elite?

        • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com/ Kyle

          I expect him to be a slightly above-average reliever, something in the 3.60 ERA (or whatever your preferred ERA substitute may be) range. He’s got ordinary velocity, plus control and decent breaking stuff.

          If you presume he’ll hit the performance bonuses, then his deal is pretty close to what guys like Affeldt and League got, so it seems in line with the market.

  • Bazfan1234

    In regards to his adjustment to MLB, I do think relievers have an easier time adjusting, for example Hideki Okajima was great his first three years. I think he will be fine with the adjustment.

    My concern, and it is from the small sample size of available video, it looks like he was able to overpower most hitters in Japan by throwing his fastball and not necessarily locating it. Some fastballs he was able to locate perfectly on the inside or outside corner but from the video, he did throw many fastballs right down the wheelhouse at 92-94, he will get shelled if he tries that.

  • daveyrosello

    Love this signing from Theo and Jed. We will need a nickname for Fujikawa.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      How about K – yuji. Like, emphasize the K, you see, because hopefully he’ll be accumulating Ks.

      • ETS

        [img]http://cdn.memegenerator.net/instances/400x/18462291.jpg[/img]

        • Featherstone

        • Featherstone

          [img]http://memegenerator.net/instance/31481100[/img]

      • Muck

        We can have our own K-Rod. But better

    • http://www.opportunity.org Seamhead

      Koo Foo?

    • DarthHater

      K-Fudge, definitely.

      • BFiddy

        K Foo

    • Richard Nose

      The Tsunami.

  • When the Music’s Over

    I often get the feeling while reading Hoyer and Epstein quotes that they think everyone audience isn’t capable of reading between the lines or combing through their often pre-fabricated dodgy/evasive answers, and therefore stupid. That or they do know, and don’t care. Could be a combo of the two.

    • Hee Seop Chode

      I think it’s more the latter. I think they understand we want to see a WS, and the other night notwithstanding, don’t care how the Cubs get there.

  • Ted

    Great move by all involved.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the possibility of being flipped excited him. He’s 34 years old and just starting in the MLB so he doesn’t have much time to play for a winner. On the off chance the Cubs don’t meet playoff expectations, he can be shipped in July to a team that’s already proved to be a competitor (and usually legit competitors just want some bullpen help for the stretch while the fringey competitors are the ones looking for SPs/lineup bats/etc.).

    • KidCubbie

      He’s 32

  • Mikelach13

    Is it bad karma to introduce a Japanese pitcher on the anniversary of Pearl Harobor?

    Just sayin’

    • Spriggs

      I don’t know about Karma, but it is definitely ironic.

      • college_of_coaches

        …and maybe even a little irenic.

        • Spriggs

          Well done!

    • ETS

      Like

    • hardtop

      i think we’ll be fine as long as he doesn’t pitch on august 6th… or 9th…

  • MightyBear

    “A date which will live in infamy.”

  • Diamondrock

    Long time lurker and fan of the site here. I’ve never posted before but since I used to live in Kobe (one of the two major cities in Japan’s Hanshin region) and am a big fan of Japan’s Tigers, I thought I’d chime in.

    It doesn’t surprise me at all that Fujikawa would be attracted to playing for the Cubs. I went to a number of Tigers games at Koshien Stadium (near Osaka) and as the oldest baseball stadium in Japan it really does feel a lot like Wrigley. I imagine Fujikawa will feel right at home.

    The baseball cultures are also quite similar. The Tigers’ main fan base is in Osaka, Japan’s “second city” and the Tigers have a long history of championship droughts. But their supporters are widely known for being the most devoted, fanatic, and obsessive fans in a country where people take their baseball very seriously.

    Fujikawa should fit right in.

    • Hee Seop Chode

      Thanks for the interesting break down.

    • FFP

      like

    • Tommy

      Thanks Diamondrock – I’m a fan of the guy already now!

  • http://bleachernation.com lou brock lives

    Why don’t we go the Colorado Rockie pitching model & continue to sign guys coming off injury & being put on pitch counts of 70-75 pitches. Accumulate 7 or 8 guys like that & let Marmol, Fujikawa, & Camp or Russell finish up the games.
    We already have 3 guys coming off injury in Garza, Baker, & Feldman – add McCarthy & Villanueva or Jackson to go with Wood & Samardzija & we’ve got the makings of a pretty decent staff.

    • King Jeff

      That didn’t work out very well for Colorado.

  • cubchymyst

    I hope he performs well and is part of the cubs for the next 4-5 years. Grilli is a 36 year old who was looking at a 2 year deal. There is no reason to think this is a sign and flip candidate by the Cubs.

  • Byron Browne

    Are the Cubs ever going to sign a player that someone won’t suggest “flipping him at the deadline?”

  • mudge

    They should sign Hamilton and flip him at the deadline.

    • JR

      They should give Greinke a one year $60 million contract and flip him at the deadline.

      • santos toupe

        funny, however for the cubs to trade him we would have to eat most of the contract, sound familiar.

  • Believe in 2015

    I guess I never thought about this but say the Cubs get off to a great start in 2013. Are they more likely to keep Garza and sign him long term?

    • calicubsfan007

      @Believe: I really think that will depend on three things: 1. If the Cubs sign any more starting pitchers (McCarthy, Sanchez, etc.) 2. If the Cubs sign someone like Bourn or Hamilton 3. How the Cubs start their season. I don’t think a decision will be made on Garza until the deadline. Whether they sign or trade him will really dictate the Cubs present and future plans.

    • Rcleven

      The question of Garzas health must be determined before any thought to an extension.
      If healthy, can he be signed without a no trade? What kind dollars is he looking for? What will the length be?
      I could easily see Garza being extended for three more years if terms and dollars are right.

  • http://bleachernation ferris

    sori and 15mm to phi for min. leaguers defretus an rodrigues, 2 young arms w/ upside but nt in phils top ten,close though.

  • Tim

    I say Luis valbuena and Soriano to the bears for jay cutler and Brandon Marshall

  • MightyBear

    Here’s one for BN nation to chew on and I’m going to post this on the message board as well:

    It’s a week before the All Star break and surprisingly to everyone on this site but me, the Cubs are playing pretty well, not great but better than expected. They’re 40-42 and 5 games back of the Cardinals, Reds AND Brewers who are bunched at the top of the division. The pitching has been better than expected Garza, Baker and Feldman are all pitching well. Marmol is pitching lights out in the bullpen and Soriano and DeJesus are off to good starts. Castro and Rizzo are lights out but Stewart who was playing well at 3b has blown out his knee and is out for at least 2 months, probably for the year. The Cubs have holes at 3B and the bullpen. Here’s the question:

    Are the Cubs sellers or buyers? Do Theo/Jedi go for help and try to get to the playoffs w/o giving up the farm or do they stick with the “Plan” and trade Marmol, Baker, Feldman, Garza, etc their “flippable assets”?

  • DarthHater

    More thoughtful discussion of the how-to-rebuild debate from John at Cubs Den:

    http://www.chicagonow.com/cubs-den/2012/12/lack-of-big-name-fas-doesnt-mean-cubs-arent-trying-to-win/

    • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com/ Kyle

      I don’t mind the idea that they can try to put a competitive team on the field without big-name FAs. I don’t love it, but I can live with it.

      They just need to do a much better job than last year of trying to do that. Emptying the bullpen without adding anything to replace the lost pieces, handing 3b to some random scrub when there were better options, handing 1b to whatever you could find lying around at AAA.

      If you’re going to do this approach, you need to really maximize all 25 roster spots. They’re about halfway there, halfway through the offseason. They still need:

      1) Another RH OF to complement DeJesus/Schierholtz (or just get a real CFer)
      2) A good RH utility infielder
      3) One more really good reliever, preferably left-handed.
      4) One more starting pitcher

      They need to make good choices on all four of those spots.

      • When the Music’s Over

        I still don’t understand where the offense is going to come from on this team, especially if Soriano is dealt.

        • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com/ Kyle

          There’s not going to be any offense. Pitching and defense has some potential.

          • Rcleven

            Now you sound like me.

          • When the Music’s Over

            What happens if/when the pitching is dealt?

            • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com/ Kyle

              Probably what happened last year.

              Maybe not quite as bad if guys like Bowden and Cabrera really are stretched out and waiting at Iowa and not sucking.

  • Tyler

    Jon Heyman saying Brandon McCarthy signed with the D-Backs.

    Fooey.

    • KidCubbie

      God D@!%. The one player i was sure we were gonna get.

      • Tommy

        That is a downer.

        • KidCubbie

          For sure. I think he would have been better than Sanchez. I wouldn’t have minded a 3-4 year deal for McCarthy.

          • cjdubbya

            Esp. at under $8M/yr.

          • Spencer

            McCarthy will receive a $2.5 million signing bonus and annual salaries of $4 million and $9 million, the source said.

            That’s just so so cheap. For reals. Shoulda got him.

            • DarthHater

              I just threw up my koolaid. ;-)

            • MichiganGoat

              There had to something about his medicals that really scared off the FO or this means we are ready to pursue Sanchez at any cost.

              • hardtop

                goat, im usually with you, but this sounds an awful lot like the koolaid talking. is it conceivable they just f#cked up? it’s admirable you have so much faith in thed hoystein but isnt at least possible they aren’t making all the right moves?

  • http://www.sportsdanny.com Dan

    They aren’t trading him – I hate that someone asked this question at an introductory press conference…Sort of rude reporting…”So you just signed a contract, how do you feel about being traded”…It’s dumb and should not be part of the story.

    • cRAaZYHORSE

      Really? Its the Cubs way at the moment, unless something changes why hide the truth. Did he get a NO trade Clause – doubt it. …… Oakland always seem to trade its closers? its a fair question under this front office.

      • King Jeff

        One. That’s the number of free agents that they signed last year that got traded, one. I don’t see how that makes it a trend, or the “Cubs way”. Paul Maholm, that’s it, he’s the only player to date that the Cubs have signed and traded at the deadline. When this became standard operating procedure, I’d love to know.

  • http://bleachernation ferris

    we will do more, just acting like oakland an waiting to pick apart he left overs…..

  • MightyBear

    Im with Kyle and the boys on mccarthy. Theo and jed shouldve offered more and signed him.

    • Frank

      Unless something scared them off, or he just didn’t want to come here, I’d have to agree. Seems like that’s an offer we should’ve been able to beat.

      • DarthHater

        Yep.

    • hardtop

      what the f@ck are they doing?????

      I’m not impressed…again.

    • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com/ Kyle

      I actually didn’t love him as much as a lot of people did. Would rather him than nothing, but there are still some not nothing alternatives out there I like as much or more.

  • Whiteflag

    Ditto.

  • jediwarrior

    The DBacks signed McCarthy today giving them pitching the Cubs could only dream of right now. Would you trade Castro for Bauer, Skaggs, and possibly Corbin or Bradley? Might need to include a little something more to get Bradley, but that would be okay also.

    • cubspong

      I was wondering the same thing when I read that the DBacks are looking for a shortstop. Could Peralta have some sort of impact on the deal as well? It looks like they have a good 3b prospect (Davidson) along with the good pitching prospects in their system.

  • Brad

    Are you serious we couldn’t even step up and get Brandon, what a let down. I guess our next pitcher will be some trash like kazmir

  • MichiganGoat

    Alright I avoiding the site tonight the cries over the McCarthy deal is already becoming drafting so everyone enjoy this “sheep” will not comment – cheers. But this consider that this FO did its diligence with McCarthy so either 1-he never wanted to sign with the Cubs 2-his medicals are scary or 3-they are focusing on a different FA, but have fun and rage away.

  • MichiganGoat

    Alright I’m avoiding the site tonight the cries over the McCarthy deal is already becoming deafening so everyone enjoy this “sheep” will not comment – cheers. But this consider that this FO did its diligence with McCarthy so either 1-he never wanted to sign with the Cubs 2-his medicals are scary or 3-they are focusing on a different FA, but have fun and rage away.

  • MichiganGoat

    Stupid phone, double posting

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