Cubs sign lefty RP Hisanori Takahashi

Cubs sign lefty RP Hisanori Takahashi

The Cubs made a minor signing today but it could end up being a very useful one.

With the loss of Jeff Beliveau, the team had only one lefty in the bullpen in James Russell.  The Cubs may have fixed the situation with the signing of former Angel and Pirate Hisanori Takashi to a minor league deal.

Takashi, 37, stands just 5'10" and weighs 175 lbs.  As you might expect, he's more of a change speeds, mix and match type, using an 87-89 mph fastball and a full array of pitches to get hitters out.  The best of those pitches is his change-up.

He appeared to have a bad year on the surface, posting a 5.54 ERA, but a closer look shows it wasn't all that different from his career numbers.  Takashi had some bad luck when it came to stranding runners, allowing 40% of those baserunners to score as compared to 28% the previous season.  He also had an uptick in the percentage of flyballs that left the yard, causing his average of HRs allowed per 9 innings to go up from 0.93 to 1.43.

In the end, Takashi's peripherals were the same, even a bit better.  The FIP was almost exactly the same in 2012 (3.93) as it was in 2011 (3.94), when he put up a 3.44 ERA  His xFIP, which normalizes for HRs, was even better in 2012 (3.79) despite the inflated ERA.  Moreover, the strikeouts per 9 IP (9.3) were a career high, while the walk rate (2.5) was a career low.  There was a lot to like about his 2011 season, even if the results didn't show it.

Bill James' projection for 2013 looks for him to rebound from an unlucky season.  He has him pegged for a 3.38 ERA and a strikeout/walk ratio o 8.2/2.8 per 9 IP.

What we can expect from Takashi is a guy who can get lefties out.  He's held them to a .238/.283/.381 line in his career.

This is a good under the radar signing that does not take up a spot on the 40 man roster, yet Takahashi has a good shot of making the Cubs this spring as the only lefty RP behind Russell with any MLB experience.  The Cubs reportedly had their eye on J.P. Howell as well, but Takahashi has put up better peripherals, and appears to have better control and strikeout ability.  He could end up having the better season next year.


Filed under: Free Agency

Tags: Hisanori Takahashi


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  • Solid signing, but I'm still puzzled about why Beliveau was put at risk. Isn't he the type of guy that our front office says you cannot have enough of? And since Takahashi is 37, and only signed to a minor league deal, you would have to imagine he is going to have some competition to at least be a safety net in case he doesnt look up to par come spring. Add all of these factors up, and I think either Rusin or Raley is going to be tried in the bullpen, or maybe even both. While they can serve as rotation depth right now, that might be what is considered to be their ceiling in this organization, so you might as well see if either one of them has what it takes to be a loogy.

  • In reply to elusivekarp:

    The DFA of Beliveau had me confused as well. They had to know they were going to lose him. Young LHPs don't make it through waivers. Only explanation to me is they like Rusin and Raley better and that at least one of them ends up in the bullpen.

    As for Takahashi I like the signing. Better than his numbers. Should at least be a good LOOGY.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I certainly agree that the only explanation is that they like both Rusin and Raley better than Beliveau. But they might be looking for the long term rather than for the upcoming season. Both Rusin and Raley have the potential to be starters in the majors, while Beliveu has been a reliever just about all his career. In their attempts to increase long term assets, they seem to have decided that the overall potential value of the two is higher than the overall potential of Beliveau.

    Personally, I would have cut Rusin, but for some reason, Ricketts wanted Epstein and his crew to run the team, rather than me. Foolish on his part, but he IS the owner.

  • In reply to elusivekarp:

    Ulitmately, I think Beliveau's inability to throw strikes is what cost him his roster spot. I think the FO office is a firm believer in throwing strikes and if you can't do that, you go away.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    I agree to an extent but Beliveau had shown the ability to throw strikes in the minors -- and that is a quality that Texas values as well, yet they had no problem scooping up Beliveau. I doubt the Cubs wanted to lose him, they just got stuck in a bad spot with the roster and ultimately must have figured Rusin or Raley could fulfill the lefty RP role better.

  • And maybe not a bad guy, with 3 years of MLB experience, to have in spring training - and possibly Chicago - to help Fujikawa adjust to the big leagues.

  • In reply to TokyoCraig:

    I thought about that too. They're both in their 30s and vets of the NPB, could be that the Cubs had that in mind.

  • Nice signing. Low risk too with it being a minor league deal. What happens to these kind of minor league spring training invitees if they don't make the team? Are they depth at AAA or are they released or what? Nice to think of, say, Takahashi and Wade being down there as back up if a couple of the big team's pen guys need to move over to starters after the trade deadline next year.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    They can be sent down to AAA, though some vets have out clauses that allow them to become FAs. As far as I know, this is a straight minor league deal but my guess is Takahashi was hold he'll get every chance to make the team.

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    Once again, we are trying to acquire talent without surrendering any, including 40-man spots. This doesn't get done if we have to clear a 40-man spot right now. It's "only" money, which we have.

    Seems like we are going with a "wall" strategy for building a bullpen; i.e., throw several arms against the wall and see what sticks. This is appropriate for a rebuilding team

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Agreed. No sense spending big on a FA at this stage. Bullpen numbers can be difficult to project anyway, so sometimes it's worth just picking up some good arms. Cubs have acquired quite a few guys who throw strikes.

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    McJedstein loves those 30+ Asian relief pitchers, don't they?

  • In reply to Ken Roucka:

    John Wayne had a love for French leading actresses during a certain period of his movie career....Claudia Cardinale, Capucine,.....both were excellent choices for the Duke.

  • In reply to Ken Roucka:

    I'd say he likes pitchers who throw strikes and he's going to find them wherever he can.

  • Age has never been a factor for lefthanded relievers. If you can get a good lefthanded hitter out in a game situation you be on the roster for some major league team.

  • One of the biggest problems about Cubs fans is they fall in love with certain players......Jeff Beliveau was one of those players that many rooted for....but in all honesty, Jeff was not the player for Theo's team......a LHP who can throw strikes and get people out is more important than a nice guy like Jeff..............Travis Wood could be the long man out of the pen if he cannot stay in the starting pitching rotation.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    I don't know if anyone is in love with him, just that nobody wants to give up a rare commodity -- a young LHP who misses bats -- for nothing. I'm quite sure that stung Theo as well. Why is there the assumption that they didn't want him? Of course they did. They just didn't have enough room for everyone and somebody had to go. Texas also likes strike throwers (who doesn't, really?), they picked up Beliveau. The answer is not easy.

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    In reply to CubsTalk:

    I think you'd have to look hard and long to find a Cub fan that "fell in love" with Jeff Beliveau. I thought he had otential to be a solid LOOGY. He barely pitched enough to fall in love with him.

  • I like this signing , a nice solid signing and a good insurance. Fujikawa throws strikes, and while not great , he's solid. I like Beliveau but until he shows he can throw strikes on a regular basis, its' always good to have a fall back plan.

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    I like Fujikawa but still disappointed in losing Beliveau.

    I'm going to have to say that Ian Stewart better perform this year. First they give up Tyler Colvin and DJ LeMahieu, then they had to waive Beliveau to make room for him on the roster. That's 3 young potential role players they lost for this guy. I hope he proves he's worth it.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I completely agree. Beliveau struggled a bit in the majors, but most guys do. In the minors, Jeff averaged 11.6 strikeouts-per-9-innings and 0.6 home runs allowed-per-9-innings. No one wants to lose that guy, righty or lefty!

  • They still have to reduce their roster by a couple of spots. They didn't lose Beliveau strictly because of Stewart. They would probably have had to cut him to make room for Schierholtz or the next guy.

    The fact is that the Cubs are at the point where, whenever they add someone to the 40 man roster, they have to cut someone that they, as well as many of us, don't like to lose. In spite of snide comments that half the roster is terrible, is there anyone on the roster that everyone would agree was of less value than Beliveau? some would perhaps say Lendy Castillo, but I suspect that there would be others that would rather keep someone with a 95 mph fastball than a LOOGY. And Castillo may well be the next to go anyway.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    Things don't remain static like that. Wouldn't necessarily remain the same scenario.

  • All pitchers need to throw strikes, but I can't think of an occasion when it is more important than when a lefthanded specialist is brought in to get an out with game on the line.

  • Speaking of left handed pitching...are there any current rumors about interest in Manny Parra?
    I think this is an intriguing option for the Cubs to explore.
    I suppose he will probably require a major league contract.

  • Not to get off-topic here but I've been giving a lot of thought to our near to medium term OF situation and I'm beginning to sense that a significant move may occur before season's start.

    First off, the group we currently have assembled, even assuming Sori stays, is pretty sub-par. Secondly, there isn't a ton of help in the FA mkt next offseason. Thirdly, our top OF prospects are either highly questionable(BJax, Szczur) or a bit of a ways off(Almora, Soler).

    Taking these factors into account, along with the fact that the timeline for an earnest attempt at competitiveness is pointing towards '14, I think a move for a discounted Bourn or J Upton makes some sense. They certainly wouldn't be blocking anyone.

    If you look closely at our current group , nobody projects to be part of the picture, in a meaningful way, after this season. Sori is a binary proposition: if he performs well this yr, he'll likely be moved; if he struggles, CHC will likely eat all of his remaining 1yr. DeJesus is and always has been a stopgap. BJax , at this point, looks like a complement to the "core" rather than an integral part, even assuming he can cut his K rate.

    The question becomes which guy do you prefer, cost and profile considered. It seems we have a solid pipeline in place for IF help in the near future, not so much for the OF.

  • I heard Profar is now available via trade which could effect a chance at Olt. They are talking about him as a piece for Price orStanton.

  • I don't see why we would want Bourn as anything other than a stopgap. Two years at 6 or 7 per year, maybe.

    I would love to get Justin Upton at a large enough discount. But why would Arizona give him to us at a big enough discount to make him desirable?

  • Bourne would cost a draft pick. No way we sign him as a stop gap. Either they think he's part of the core for 5yrs or they avoid him. The latter seems most likely.

    We just don't have the trade chips to acquire Upton right now.

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Even more than a draft pick -- it costs us the money associated with the slot. Appel could very well be the Cubs pick, at which point looking at "creative financing" is going to be important.

  • All of this signing just to have a fire sale in July

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    In reply to LRCCubsFan:

    They could not sign anyone, not make any trades, and take years longer to rebuild. That seems to be the Astros' plan.

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