Orioles GM Dan Duquette has proven that he’s serious about scouting outside the United States. On Monday, the Orioles reached an agreement with another Asian pitcher, Chen Wei-Yin of Taiwan. The Orioles signed Japanese lefty Tsuyoshi Wada in December.
As Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com reports, Chen is a 26 year old left-hander who throws in the low-90s and went 8-10 with a 2.68 ERA in 25 games with the Chuncichi Dragons of the Nippon Professional Baseball League. He pitched for the Chinese Taipei national team in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics and won the ERA title with the Dragons in 2009 posting a 1.54 mark.
While Chen provides more depth for the Orioles rotation, I personally am always leery of any player making the jump to the Major Leagues. Chen will be facing the best of the best in the toughest division in baseball. He’ll be pitching in a foreign country, eating different food, learning another language, moving away from his friends and family and trying to learn an entirely different league. It’s a lot to take on and it’s the reason that I would have re-signed C.J. Wilson over bidding on Yu Darvish if I were Nolan Ryan.
But I’m not.
Assuming Chen makes those adjustments, he finds himself in the mix with Jeremy Guthrie, Tommy Hunter, Jake Arrieta and Zach Britton. Kubatko thinks that Wada will be “pushed to the bullpen” with Brad Bergesen and Dana Eveland, while Brian Matusz and Chris Tillman start the season at Triple-A Norfolk.
It’s sounds good on paper; sending the two struggling starters from 2011 down, adding help to the front of the rotation with Chen and hoping that Arrieta and Britton return to their early season form. But, I still think they need more.
Yesterday, BSR’s Mark Brown highlighted candidates that are still on the market for Baltimore during what has been a quiet offseason. The guy I would like to see them target is Edwin Jackson as he’s not only the best remaining starting pitcher, but a guy that eat up some innings, give up about 3.5 runs per game and put the ball on the ground.
The Orioles can’t assume that all of their pitchers will remain healthy or lean on their young guns like they were forced to in 2011. A log jam in the rotation is a good thing and since their ace is a guy that only won nine games last year, I’d say they shouldn’t get too comfortable with their current roster.