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November 26, 2011

Another name to consider: Chen Wei-yin

The Orioles are expected to soon sign South Korean submariner Chong Tae-hyon giving them one Asia-born player on their 40-man roster.

Like every big-league team, the Orioles are also closely watching to see if 25-year-old right-hander Yu Darvish will be posted by his club in Japan. The Orioles have scouted Darvish multiple times for several years, and so there is interest there.

I’m just not sure they’d pony up the sum needed to land Darvish if he is posted – the estimate is that it would take roughly $50 million to win the post and a similar figure to sign him.

While that waiting game continues, there’s another name from Japan’s league you should keep in mind: Chen Wei-yin, a 26-year-old lefty with the Chunichi Dragons.

Because he is Taiwanese and not Japanese, his length of contract with the Nippon Baseball League was negotiated in his deal. So he can declare his free agency this Dec. 1 – that’s the date that others can as well, including right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma – and it’s expected Chen will.

He won’t cost a posting fee, and one industry source has said that at least a dozen teams will kick the tires on Chen, who has a lanky 6-foot frame but can hit the low 90s with his fastball.

The Orioles have scouted him previously, including in October, and there definitely is some thought about making Chen the club’s second import from Japan’s pro league – depending on price. My sense – and that’s all it is -- is that the Orioles would be more likely to make a run at Chen than a Japanese veteran such as Iwakuma (who was posted last year but did not agree to terms with the Oakland A’s) or soft-tossing lefty Tsuyoshi Wada.

Chen was 8-10 with a 2.68 ERA in 164 2/3 innings over 25 games (24 starts) this year. He was limited some by an injury in 2011, but is considered one of the better young pitchers in Japan.

It will be interesting to see if new executive vice president Dan Duquette makes a splash in Japan/Taiwan after grabbing the Orioles first South Korean.

If so, the press box at Ed Smith Stadium next March could get mighty full.

Posted by Dan Connolly at 6:00 AM | | Comments (12)


I don't care where he is from. If he can pitch we need him.

I wouldn't be opposed to trading Guthrie and Gregg and $5Mil to the Reds for Yonder Alonso plus another young player. And then signing as many of those Japanese free agant pitchers as possible. Heck, bring back Koji, too.

If we started to win, we'd suddenly have a huge Japanese fanbase.

I'm hopin' the O's might bring back Koji since he struggled in Texas. It's a much better feeling seeing Koji stroll to the mound than Gregg.

We need players.... They cost money. Let's see if Mr. Angelos does his part for us to be a contender this year.

The scouting reports on Wada and Iwakuma are relatively the same save for one thing, one is a lefty.

They both supposedly top out around 90-91, both throw a fastball, a sinker/forkball type pitch like Koji, and both throw some sort of slider/curve. Both are control artists, both capable of striking out batters, but also prone to getting hit often and hard at times. Pretty much two Koji clones.

If Koji has shown us anything at all it should be that with precise control and the ability to throw strikes, you can get people out with 89-90MPH stuff.

At this point with the relative health and lack of quality of the rotation, the Orioles shouldn't be counting out any talent they can get their hands on. I know Iwakuma is looking for a fairly healthy payday and that is one reason he probably didn't sign with the A's. I'd be curious to see what they offered him.

Like last year, too many things have to go right for the Orioles to be a contender in 2012. I'm not talking about off-season acquisitions, but during the season, and frankly, it is too much to ask for. Put it out of your minds.

What they need to do is build the foundation for contending in future years, and not just one year, but several. That takes time. MacPhail got the process started, but it only progressed so far. What he built, Duquette needs to improve upon that. That means shoring up the system, and a renewed emphasis on player development. Signing Fielder, while a sexy move, does not do that.

And, yes, it would be nice to obtain Alonzo, but Walt Jocketty should have his head examined if he made that trade. Guthrie and Gregg? Whaddaya kidding me? Please.

The time is now to be realistic with renewed patience. There are some good things going on here, but time is needed to go forward.

Keep the faith, my brothers and sisters.

I agree with Bruce about trading Guthrie, Gregg and $5Mil to the Reds for Yonder Alonso but I don't think the Red would consider it enough of a return. I say this because teams like the Rays and A's can offer much better quality pitching in return for Alonso. It would be great X-mas if Orioles could exchange marginal veterans for a quality young player to add to the foundational core of Wieters, Jones, Zach Britton, Dylan Bundy, Manny Machado, Jonathan Schoop, and Jake Arrieta .

Come again ken?

What process did AM start during his FIVE years?

Was it the minor league ranking?
The international efforts?
The overall major league talent?
The W/L record?

How many games were the O's away from Toronto ken? Not NY. Not Boston. Not TB ken..... Toronto?

How about attendance ken? Did that improve?

But I hear ya... Let's just be patient. Why not? We were during the AM era....

....which of course worked out nicely... right ken?

"Come again ken?

What process did AM start during his FIVE years?

Was it the minor league ranking?
The international efforts?
The overall major league talent?
The W/L record?

How many games were the O's away from Toronto ken? Not NY. Not Boston. Not TB ken..... Toronto?

How about attendance ken? Did that improve?

But I hear ya... Let's just be patient. Why not? We were during the AM era....

....which of course worked out nicely... right ken?"

Hahahaha good one Wayne! Completely true statement.

I won't be surprised a bit if the O's are very aggressive in the Asian market this offseason. Duquette was supposed to have connections in Asia when the O's hired him, Buck was also quoted saying that Duq came to his interview with a plan of action. I'm thinking Asia is a big part of Duq's plan.

The Asian market is the fastest place to find AAA ready or ML talent. I frankly would look for the O's to be aggresive in bidding for Darvish if he gets posted. And Chen and Wada are a pair of lefties that throw strikes, wouldn't that be a nice change of pace, a lefty specialist out of the pen that throws strikes? Or a second lefty to pair with Britton in the rotation?

One thing for sure, Buck wants strike throwers, that was one of the most endearing things about Koji, the guy could give up a bomb and had the guts to throw a leadoff strike to the next batter.
I'd take him back from TX in a heartbeat.

I'd take the O's current ML roster over the one that McPhail found when he got here. Upper minors still devoid of a lot of legit talent, but the Frederick roster was frankly loaded with talent. I'd have to say even Bowie's roster was better at the end of the year too.

The Spring Training facility is a big plus, and Sarasota is a great base to run a season long instructional and rehab programs which was a black hole in the O's player development program before.

McPhail was an astute trader, I can't name one trade where he got fleeced.
He leaned heavily on picking up players with which he had a history from the Cubs, just like Buck has an affinity for ex Rangers. But McPhail's biggest fault was being too plodding in the FA market, he often waited the market out til there was nothing of value left.

McPhail didn't fail to spend money, he just spent it on guys that he could get to sign 1 & 2 year deals. So he didn't make a big impact in the FA market, but he didn't saddle the O's with any bad contracts either. Some teams at the top of the heap are saddled with some terrible deals that are going to become problems down the road.

McPhail probably should get props for some of the deals that he didn't sign that us arm chair GM's thought he should have.

In the end the product on the field didn't improve this year, and it was the year the young pitching should have bloomed, but overall the organization is in a better place then when McPhail took the job.


I agree with a lot of what you said. Andy was excellent with his trades including the small ones like getting Andino from the Marlins. I also think Troy Patton could be a key cog in the BP now that he is healthy, as Andy said this kid had really good stuff when he was rising up in the Astros farm system. He also did very well with his numerous deals with Texas.

I agree that the organization is better because of Andy when you factor in that he was instrumental in the ST home which was HUGE and like you said, he didn't saddle the team with bad contracts plus they actually signed their draft picks.

I do feel that he messed up on V Mart. A perfect guy to play either 1B, DH plus be the backup catcher. Andy offered him the same as the Tigers, but when you are as bad as the O's, you have to offer more money. I wonder if 2 mil a season more would have landed him? Take Lee's deal and throw that into the offer for V Mart and now you have a legit hitter in your lineup plus every Tiger player said V Mart was the guiding voice in the clubhouse for the youngsters and the vets. Andy was smart enough to not offer two year deals, but there are still question marks at 3B, 1B, DH, LF and 2B plus a rotation that in my opinion, has to add two veterans to go along with Guts, Hunter and Britton instead of HOPING Arrieta comes back and giving him a spot in the rotation.

It seems like every year, the O's don't have a backup plan and don't bring guys in to fight for jobs, but rather they give them to unproven kids and then we are left to wait again till next season.

Hard to believe there are those who still praise a regime that took over a 69-win team and in four years built a 69-win team. This was the same regime who had "grow the arms" as part of its mantra, yet only eight runs were shaved off (868 to 860) in runs allowed while "buy the bats" saw runs scored drop 756 in 2007 to 708 in 2011.

The only testimony the above stats truly provides is how good Showalter really is -- to be able to get the same number of wins when the runs scored, runds against differential is 40-worse.

But, hey, he left this organization -- we do know who "he" is, right? -- in much better shape because of, ummm, let's see, oh yeah, the farm system. Right. While double-A Bowie improved 2½ games from 2007 to 2011, triple-A Norfolk plummeted 13 games to an astonishingly poor 56-87 record.

And for sure we need to praise the guy who didn't do enough for the trades and signings he didn't do. Well, praise me, too. I didn't make those trades or signings either. Hot dog, I'm good.

Looking ahead, we as good and loyal fans need to be patient over and above all else. And there's good news on that front, too. Between 2007 and 2011, attendance dropped by more than 400 thousand of those adopting a patient wait-and-see attitude.

Oh, I could take the matter of ponying-up $50 mil in order to try to sign the Whirling Dervish for another $50 mil seriously and say the Orioles could spend that money more wisely on something known as a difference maker. Why bother when $8 mil can be tossed at a handful of yesterday's news items to round out the roster?

And the other Asian players? The Orioles do their best bidding in an empty room.

Better yet, let's be patient and praise the current regime -- we did hire somebody, right? -- for what they're about not to do as the club clings to stagnation. Go O's, but please take your time. If the World Series is really such a big deal, why do they have one every year?

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About the bloggers
A Baltimore native, Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 14 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 10 seasons, including the past six with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Steve Gould is an assistant sports editor for The Sun, overseeing Orioles coverage. The Columbia native joined The Sun as a sports copy editor in 2006 after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for a lot longer than Steve Gould has been on this earth. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer. If you want more of his insight on the Orioles and other sports issues, check out his personal blog -- The Schmuck Stops Here.

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