April 2, 2012
Dodgers fireballer Jansen
You might not have heard of Kenley Jansen. But he is well known to Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes, Robinson Cano and their teammates on the Dominican Republic's 2009 World Baseball Classic team. A catcher at the time, Jansen made one of the big plays in the Netherlands' upset that sent the DR team packing. He nailed Willy Taveras trying to steal second in the ninth inning.
These days he does his damage from the mound. A 24-year-old Dodgers setup man, Jansen used his powerful arm to become one of the guys hitters hate to face. Hitters swung at and missed his fastball 39 percent of the time last season, the highest percentage in the majors according to STATS, as he struck out 16.1 per nine innings, breaking a mark Carlos Marmol set in 2010.
Darvish positioned well
Los Angeles Times
The top candidate, given his spot in the defending American League champions' starting rotation, a $100 million-plus investment and potential worldwide appeal, is Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish.
The 25-year-old right-hander from Japan is in the hands of respected pitching coach Mike Maddux and Hall of Fame owner Nolan Ryan.
Reporters who've crossed paths with Darvish have come away less than impressed with his surly behavior.
Darvish, whose father is Iranian, lacks the charm of Lin or Tebow, but he's well-positioned to burst upon the scene in a significant way and capture the attention of the ESPN marketing machine.
Rangers have a star
The Rangers invested more than $111 million into Yu Darvish, so it's hard to categorize the best pitcher in Japan as "little known."
But Darvish is somewhat unknown to casual baseball fans, and the public knows little about his background. So if and when he be asserts himself for the Rangers, Darvish has an opportunity to emerge as a transcendent sports star.
And that's what the Linsanity/Tebowmania was all about. Folks who couldn't name another player on the Knicks or don't know the Broncos from the Bills know the names "Lin" and "Tebow."
Darvish, with an Iranian father and Japanese mother, has a unique background that the national news media will love. He is charismatic, talented and he's pitching in a major market.
Chen could lift Orioles
The Orioles need a savior, so why not Wei-Yin Chen? The Taiwanese left-hander has earned a spot in the starting rotation, and if he does anything positive, maybe he can capture Baltimore's affection. He is already big in his home country and he has pitched in Japan. Winning with the Orioles, who have had 14 straight losing seasons, would be a great national story.
He doesn't have the name recognition of a Tim Tebow, but he's not far behind a Jeremy Lin. He's already popular in Taiwan and Japan, and he'll be well on his way to national stardom if he can boost this struggling franchise into a winner. America loves a winner, especially one who lifts an entire franchise and city.
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