Baseball Card of the Week: Konichiwa, Bitches!

The Baltimore Orioles signed pitcher Koji Uehara to a two year, ten million dollar deal on Thursday.

Uehara, you may remember, was one of the two Japanese pitchers I profiled a while back whilst celebrating the Cards' previous signing of a Japanese player, a guy by the name of, um, well, I don't remember now. 

Just kidding. Katsuhiko Maekawa was the gentleman's name, and he is awesome. Well, maybe not awesome, but hey, you gotta start signing players somewhere, right? 

So anyhow, I was wondering to myself, "What does this contract to Uehara mean to the guy I really like, Kenshin Kawakami?" 

I then answered myself. "No idea, Aaron, but you should totally do something special for this Uehara cat. Also, we're running low on toothpaste. Pick some up next time you go out, would you?" 

"Sure thing, me. And hey, good idea on the Uehara thing. I wonder what I could do?" 

Well, Pinky, I'm going to do the same thing I always do. Koji Uehara, here's your Card of the Week

I'm not going to lie to you; I have no frigging clue who makes this card. I assume it's a 2000, given that it's celebrating a milestone from the 1999 season, but that's about all I can glean from it. You know what, though? That's probably enough. 

It's funny; I really like Kawakami a whole lot, and I really wanted the Cardinals to sign him. I also really liked this guy, though, and am a little disappointed to see him off the market. It's especially unpleasant, considering he signed with one of the worst organizations in all of professional sports, the Baltimore Orioles, and their lunatic owner, Peter Angelos. Sadly, that means that I now have to roundly dismiss Uehara, in spite of my previous affection for him. 

As to the other issue at hand, that of just what this contract may mean to any team pursuing Kawakami, DanUp has a nice bit about it at Viva El Birdos. He thinks that this may very well be a signal that Kawakami will find it much harder to get the third year he's reportedly been seeking. I agree with Dan's basic premise, that this contract does make it look like Kawakami may not get what he was originally seeking, but I do think that a third year, or at least something along the lines of a vesting option, will be necessary to bring him in. With the Braves and Metropolitans both involved in the bidding for Kawakami, I just don't think he'll end up with anything less than a two-years-plus an option of some sort. 

Now, as to whether or not I would think that's a wise avenue to pursue, I would have to say yes. I say yes for a couple of reasons, chief among them the fact that I think Kawakami would make the Cardinals a better team in 2009.

There are a couple other reasons to bring Kawakami in: It would immediately make the Cardinals a much more interesting landing place for future Japanese players when they decide to make the trip to American ball, and the excitement and novelty of an import like Kawakami might help to put asses in the seats next season, which is apparently a concern of Cardinal ownership. 

So congratulations to Uehara-san on both his new contract and the Card of the Week. It's a shame you're going to be playing for crazy people in an unwinnable division, of course, but hey, that's no need to be down. 

And Mr. Mo, if you're out there reading this (and I'm pretty sure that you aren't), go get Kawakami. It just makes sense. 

And this final note just for a bit of context: