This afternoon ESPN hosted a chat with our catcher that's unfortunately now behind an Insider wall, but since I left the window open all afternoon I've still got the full text in front of me (No, I don't have an Insider account, because, why would I? The last thing ESPN needs is positive reinfocement). A few of the relevant bits:
...and yet, to this day we still hear people complain about Kenji's pitch-calling, and how he ruined Felix's season by having the wrong gameplan. It's all nonsense. Think about how often you see pitchers shake off a catcher's sign and then reconsider who's really in charge on the field. Kenji wasn't the one oozing with testicles and over-confidence, demanding that batters only strike out on fastballs; that was Felix, trying to show off how hard he can throw. Okay, yeah, Kenji probably should've had a talk with him early in the season in an effort to encourage better pitch selection, but for one thing, there aren't any rooms in Seattle big enough to hold that many translators, and for another the fastball-first mentality pervades the entire organization, and Felix couldn't listen to Kenji if everybody else around him disagreed. Anyway, the point is it's silly to criticize Kenji's pitch-calling for being the reason behind Felix's high ERA. While technically speaking he's the guy who puts down the fingers, he's not the guy in charge, and there's only so much he could've done.
Take that, people-who don't-think-Ichiro deserved-the-ROY-because-he-came-from-Japan. If Mike Hargrove forgets your name and Eddie Guardado lights your shoes on fire, you're a rookie.
That makes sense, if by "passionate and supportive" Kenji means "indifferent and wooden". I like how he goes from saying Seattle has really awesome fans at one point to "Japan's were louder, it's really quiet here" later in the same paragraph. This guy played in road games, right? You talk about low expectations. If the Mariners actually compete this year and Safeco draws legitimate crowds, Kenji might faint from overstimulation.
I'm glad that Kenji has a sense of humor. I'm also interested by his actual answer to the question (which dealt with how he approaches the pitcher in the batter's box). Now, I didn't hit in high school - only pitched - so I can't be sure, but I wonder how many people share his approach. Is that what everybody does? Is it different for every player? What effect does it have on Kenji's final stats? It doesn't make him out as a guess hitter, which is nice, but it also makes him sound pretty aggressive, which his stats bear out. Although practically impossible, it'd be awesome to get a whole bunch of players to share their respective approaches, and then compare their stats to see what causes lead to which effects. How does Kenji Johjima's plan of attack differ from Jim Thome's? This is the kind of stuff I'd love to hear about.
Go fuck yourself, Player A.