Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The newest #99: Hyun-Jin Ryu

If Hyun-Jin Ryu has any sort of similar impact that the last guy wearing #99 had upon his arrival to Los Angeles, then the Dodgers just struck gold again.

The Dodgers continued their incredible makeover from cash-strapped to makin' it rain in under one year by officially signing Korean lefty Ryu to a six-year, $36 million contract on Sunday, barely beating the deadline.  That's in addition to the $25.7 posting fee just to negotiate with him, and it's nearly $62 million committed to a guy who hasn't even pitched an inning in the majors.

But the Dodgers have the cash, so they made it happen.

Here's what we do know about Ryu.  He's only 25, but has already enjoyed a great career in Korea.  He's actually pitched in Dodger Stadium before as a member of the Korean national team for the 2009 World Baseball Classic.  Scouts have commended him for his presence on the mound, command of his pitches, and ability to put a little something extra on it when needed.

Let's hope that's all true, because if it is, then the Dodgers have a very deep starting rotation.  What helps is that the Dodgers have found similar success with pitchers from overseas in the past.  Nobody will ever forget Hideo Nomo's unbelievable first year, but let's remember that Chan Ho Park and even Kaz Ishii were very good as well.  So, it's been done before in a pitcher's park like Dodger Stadium.

With the addition of Zack Greinke to team featuring Clayton Kershaw at the top, Ryu figures to be added in the 3-4 slot around Josh Beckett and Chad Billingsley.  Don Mattingly could go righty-lefty through his rotation if he goes Kershaw, Greinke, Ryu, and Billingsley/Beckett.  He's got plenty of time to think about that.

A lot will be written about the Dodgers spending nearly $209 million on two starting pitchers, and rightfully so.  It could be a great thing for LA, as the Giants have shown once again that fantastic starting pitching and just enough hitting can lead to a championship.  And kudos to Ned Colletti for strengthening a rotation that needed to be tweaked.  Or in this case, injected with some completely new life.

Of course, this could also backfire, as Ryu pitches more like Kei Igawa.  You don't remember him?  Well, ask any Yankee fan about him, and I'm sure the answer will be interesting... and colorful.

Here's to hoping that the #99 jersey has some of that Manny Ramirez 2008 magic left in it.  Then we can see Ryuwood, or something like that, take over Los Angeles.

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