Monday, October 23, 2006

And the 2006 Sawamura Award Winner is...

...exactly who it should be: Kazumi Saitoh, of course.

With Toshiya Sugiuchi winning it last year, that makes it two consecutive years for Hawks pitchers and three out of four if you count 2003 when Saitoh tied with Kei Igawa for the award.

(The Sawamura award is essentially the Japanese version of the Cy Young, named after the legendary pitcher Eiji Sawamura who died in combat in World War 2.)

Realistically, there was no reasonable way it should have gone to anyone else and I was delighted to hear it was a unanimous choice. (So was Saitoh, it appears.) I think the only other pitchers who were anywhere near fulfilling the standards for the award were Chunichi's Kenshin Kawakami and Seibu's You-Know-Who (if Kei Igawa hadn't been so inconsistent early on, he might have been in the running too), and Saitoh was just plain better than both of them, with his unreal 1.75 ERA in 201 IP, 205 strikeouts, and 18 wins, good enough for the PL pitching triple crown as well.

In addition to the picture of a delighted Saitoh at the Hawks workout camp currently going on, I also saw that Kenji Johjima came by to visit his old teammates.

In other random news of pitchers, Jamie Moyer signed a 2-year extension with the Phillies for $10.5 million. Now, I like Jamie and all, and I think he'll be a great influence on guys like Cole Hamels. I'd like to think he'll actually still be effective through his age 45 season just because that'd be just plain COOL. But if not, isn't that an awful lot to be paying for a pitching coach veteran influence?

And completely randomly, I found a page with all the NPB draft picks back to 1965 and I've been looking through them with morbid fascination. You have to wonder what sort of lousy luck the Fighters had to not only lose out to Seibu on the 1998 draft lottery for You-Know-Who but to end up with Kazunari Sanematsu as a #1 pick instead. (Really... I don't hate Sanematsu, I swear, but the best thing he ever did for the Fighters was bringing us Hideki Okajima in a trade this spring.)

I'm planning to stay up liveblogging the Japan Series again tonight. It's neat that both the World Series and the Japan Series are tied at 1-1, I think.

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