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Hong-Chih Kuo Skirts Pile, Proceeds Directly To Bullpen

Yesterday, while artificial giants brought an official end to another season of concussing one another, we talked a lot about free agent reliever Hong-Chih Kuo. The Mariners were linked to free agent reliever Hong-Chih Kuo, see, and a later report went so far as to say the Mariners were expected to sign him.

Rumor was, there was a small handful of West Coast teams sniffing Kuo to see if they liked it. One of those teams was probably the Angels, since the Angels have long been searching for help in the bullpen. How could the Mariners compete with the Angels as a potential free agent destination? Here's how, courtesy of Dylan Hernandez:

Source: Former #Dodgers reliever Hong-Chih Kuo has signed a one-year, major-league contract with the Seattle #Mariners.

Guaranteed money is how. Given what he went through in 2011, it would've made a lot of sense for Kuo to end up signing a minor league contract. The Mariners made a commitment, and while I'll freely admit that this is speculation, I wouldn't be surprised if that's what put the Mariners over the top. One notes that this signing isn't yet official, but that isn't reason to believe that Hernandez's source is wrong. We knew about Kevin Millwood before that was official. We knew about Munenori Kawasaki before that was official. We learned about Darren Ford from his sister, and so on. It's just about an absolute certainty that Kuo has signed, and that all that's left is troubleshooting the fax machine, or writing up the press release.

Or identifying somebody on the 40-man roster to ditch. As Kuo is signing a Major League contract, the Mariners will have to make room, seeing as how their 40-man roster is currently full. Mike Wilson is one option to go. Cesar Jimenez is another option to go. The Mariners could return Rule 5 pick Lucas Luetge, I think. It shouldn't be hard to fit Kuo in. If it were hard to fit Kuo in, that would imply that the Mariners have too much high-level talent. Good news!

With the Internet being what it is today, and since we heard about Kuo before, I don't really have much in the way of new material for this. Most of what needs to be said about Kuo has already been said. I guess nothing really needs to be said about Kuo. "Need" is one of those words on which people carelessly trample like a Mount Rainier wildflower. If you're all about volatility and high potential reward, Kuo's a neat fit. He could be terrible, like he was last season. He could bounce back from his anxiety and his elbow problems and be amazing, like he was the season before. Kuo could quite literally pitch to either extreme, and I'd much rather the Mariners sign a guy like this than, say, a guy like Jamey Wright or Luis Ayala. The upside is considerable, and the downside is practically irrelevant. If he's bad, oh no, the Mariners might miss the playoffs!

Since I've little more to say, here are a few Kuo factoids:

Dodgers trainers referred to him as "the Cockroach" because he kept coming back and nothing could kill him. He's fought through several elbow issues. He's fought through shoulder issues. He's fought through anxiety. This article from 2010 says Kuo needs six or seven hours of prep each day before he can pitch. The thing about cockroaches is that if you step on them they die. They make a mess but they are dead. So hopefully Hong-Chih Kuo doesn't get stepped on.

Hong-Chih Kuo hit a home run, in 2007, off of John Maine. Here is proof. Hong-Chih Kuo has more home runs against John Maine than the Giants do. He hit it on the first pitch. The pitch before, Maine allowed a home run to Matt Kemp. The pitch before that, Maine allowed a home run to Wilson Betemit. Hong-Chih Kuo has a higher career OPS than Michael Saunders.

On Kuo, in a story from June 2007:

Tsao said he faced Kuo a few times in high school but never gave him any pitches to hit.

"I wouldn't throw him any strikes, because he was always trying to hit a home run," Tsao said. "He still reminds me about his team winning the championship."

According to Hit Tracker, Kuo's home run had a distance of 431 feet. That's longer than any home run ever hit by Jose Lopez. That's longer than any home run ever hit by Dustin Pedroia. That is a legitimately tattooed home run. That is a home run worthy of a bat flip.


For his career, after getting ahead 0-2, Kuo has one walk and 136 strikeouts. That walk was issued to Adam LaRoche with the bases loaded.