May 14, 2008
In mid-April, following this memorable Joe Borowski collapse, I added Masa Kobayashi in a head-to-head league. It was really just wishful speculation, since Rafael Betancourt was already owned.
Immediately after that transaction, another owner posted the following message:
They didn't call it "Kobayashi Theatre" for nothing when he used to close in Japan. You've just inherited the Japanese Borowski. Ganbatte!
Normally, such mocking is not to be taken seriously. But in this case, it was coming from a guy who's actually an international scout based in Taiwan. He has some credibility. "Japanese Borowski" is not exactly a ringing endorsement.
This is worth mentioning because Kobayashi picked up a save for the Tribe last night. Brandon discussed the specifics in Closing Time. The 33-year-old Kobayashi lowered his ERA to 1.93 and his WHIP to 1.13. He now has 11 Ks and two walks in 18.2 innings. He's also coaxed twice as many grounders as fly balls, and his .290 BABIP raises no flags whatsoever.
On the surface, and even on the subsurface, he seems great. Looking only at this year's numbers, he might appear to be the best ninth-inning option that Cleveland has, even when Borowski returns from the DL.
Yet this is also a buyer beware situation, and not just because Betancourt is still the Tribe's closer. Kobayashi simply didn't put up numbers in Japan that are comparable to what he's doing in the majors right now. Last season, he was just 2-7 with 35 Ks in 47.1 innings. He had an ERA of 3.61 and a WHIP of 1.37.
Still, there's a lot of enthusiasm for Kobayashi in the fantasy community today. As of 12:30 pm Central, he'd been added in 5,044 leagues. It's a save thing. But the nicest thing I'm willing to say about Kobayashi is that I'd much rather own him than Joaquin Benoit.
(Yeah, that was a waste of an add. He's already been kicked to the curb. Benoit was awfully lucky to esacpe the eighth last night. Here's the key highlight. As the announcers mention, that was the exact same pitch that Johjima hit out of the park the night before. Incredible).
If you're among the Kobayashi adders, it's probably the same sort of speculation I engaged in earlier this season. So, um...ganbatte.
But I'm not dropping Betancourt in any leagues. He was warming up in the eighth last night when Cleveland's lead was 1-0, and sat back down when it became a non-save situation after Garko's homer. (Don't you wish more managers would do that?) Betancourt is still the guy.
Well, at least until the American Kobayashi returns...