Uehara might not be best fit for O's
January, 7, 2009
Baltimore desperately needs starters -- their rotation before reaching a preliminary agreement with Koji Uehara was Jeremy Guthrie and four guys with the initials T.B.D. -- but is Uehara really the best fit for the Orioles? Uehara tends to work around the plate with good command of average stuff and, like many Japanese pitchers, throws his fastball in the upper half of the zone, which will make him susceptible to the long ball. This combination was the main red flag on Kei Igawa, and Hideki Irabu and Tomo Ohka were also extremely homer-prone in the U.S. Uehara's advantage is that his command is better than that of any of the other three pitchers, and he does pound the strike zone, issuing just 195 walks in 1,549 career innings in NPB. Camden Yards has, over the past few years, played as a good home run park. So it's a bad fit for Uehara, whose greatest weakness is going to be the long ball. The signing also means Uehara has to face two of the best offenses in baseball, the Yankees' and Boston's, eight to 10 times; both lineups are patient and feature plenty of power, and it's possible that Tampa Bay's will be in that discussion by the end of the year. The Orioles do need starters, but Uehara will have to be extra-precise to succeed in that environment.