Sons of Bill Simmons

Rumors involving Boston Sports, Celebrity Gossip, and Humor

Red Sox Set To Sign Junichi Tazawa

Posted by Mike on November 25, 2008


From the Dallas Morning News:

I’ve talked with somebody familiar with Tazawa and the general thinking inside the baseball industry is that he’s signing with the Red Sox and everything else is just for show. There is some thought, in fact, that he already has a deal in place with the Red Sox. This is just me thinking, but the talk of the Rangers and other offers may be just chatter to get the Red Sox to sweeten their official offer.

The person I talked with suggested Tazawa’s fastball is more in the 87-90 mph range. My guy indicated the fastball may hop a little higher for an inning, but tends to settle back into this average/just below average range. It makes him sound a lot more like Kaz Fukimori, the relief pitcher the Rangers gambled on last year who was a big league failure, or Kameron Loe, who just left for Japan. Based on the report I got, Tazawa sounds a little like a tiny version of Tommy Hunter. Right-handed, average fastball, above average breaking stuff, 22 years old (Tazawa is four weeks older, five inches shorter and about 80 pounds lighter than Hunter).

From Gordon Edes:

And the Boston Red Sox, according to numerous reports coming out of Japan, appear to be the preferred choice of Junichi Tazawa, a 22-year-old right-hander from an industrial semipro league.

If Boston does indeed sign Tazawa, no one should confuse this with the second coming of Daisuke Matsuzaka, who was Japan’s best pitcher when the Red Sox won the rights to him with the highest bid in Japan’s posting process.

Matsuzaka has become a staple of the Boston rotation, winning a team-high 18 games this past season. Tazawa is a work in progress who probably will begin in the minor leagues.

“His fastball is a tad above average,” one veteran Pacific Rim scout said Monday. “His breaking balls are fine. The best thing he’s got going for him is that he has a real samurai warrior makeup, kind of like a young [Hiroki] Kuroda”

Published reports in Japan have pegged the Rangers’ offer as a four-year, $7 million deal. There have been conflicting reports on the Red Sox’s offer, one saying Boston had offered $6 million, the other $3 million. Craig Shipley, Boston’s vice president of international scouting, said, “We do not comment on amateur free agents.”

This past season, he went 10-1 with a 1.02 ERA and led Nippon Oil to its first industrial league title, winning four games in the tournament and was named MVP. In his last corporate tournament, which recently ended, Tazawa did not allow an earned run in 20 2/3 innings, although he gave up the deciding hit in a semifinal loss.

From Boston Herald:

Most reports seem to concur that Tazawa is leaning heavily toward accepting the Red Sox’ offer, with some suggesting that the former Nippon Oil starter is only days away from making a decision and soon could be in Boston for a physical.

One major league scout from an AL Central team said recently that he personally clocked Tazawa at 94 mph. Other reports say that he tops out in the low 90s. He also reportedly throws a plus curveball, changeup and splitter


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