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Kenji Johjima Is Interesting, Delusional

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:

I had to make a few adjustments here. In the MLB, we make sure the pitchers pitch what they want to pitch. Back in Japan, a lot of catchers have the authority to call the games. That's kind of different. I had to make some adjustments there.

...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.

What makes the difference is that I can practice what I want to practice more this year (in Peoria). There is not much teasing or hazing that I had last year, because I'm not a rookie any more.

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.

First of all, playing back in Seattle - the fans are great. They are very passionate and supportive. I think it was because of their support that I played so well last year. I want to thank them first. When you compare the fans and the games, it's different, because the fans in Japan use a lot of instruments. That makes it kind of loud. You can barely hear the ball being hit by the bat. The way you see things and how things happen is different. Over here, you hear more of the game of baseball. I feel very natural playing over here and playing in MLB.

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 know how my manager a lot better as well. Knowing how he plays baseball, I can adapt better this year.


If you can promise me that you're not a scout for the Anaheim Angels, then I can tell you. Basically, I only try to go for the fastball. That's a pitcher's fastest pitch. I try to look for the fastball and respond from there.

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.

I think Seattle is one of the best cities for Japanese. We have a big community back in Seattle for Japanese. We have a lot of markets. There's nothing to complain about Seattle. The fans are great too. The reason I chose Seattle was to give my best on the field was because of my family support. We loved Seattle. There's nothing to complain about. Period.

Go fuck yourself, Player A.