After some speculation to that end, former St. Louis Cardinals starter and Dave Duncan reclamation project Brad Penny has signed a one-year contract to play in Japan's Pacific League for the Softbank Hawks of lovely Fukuoka, shirking an MLB pitching market that's been hard enough on veterans to leave Roy Oswalt and Edwin Jackson to one-year deals. Penny, who is still an enormous white guy who throws hard, could become a folk-hero out there if he plays his cards right, but one thing is for certain: He will have his own theme song.â†µâ†µ
Japan's fans are famously more—demonstrative than we are, which means that the Hawks' cheering section, complete with a small band, will no doubt come up with something to play for Penny while he hurts himself hitting a grand slam.â†µ
Suggestion: The Dancing with the Stars theme might be a little too soon.â†µ
Penny's odds will be better than they used to be for a bounceback season, if his goal is a return to America; last year Japanese baseball experienced a 1968-style Year of the Pitcher after a change to the way the baseballs were made sent hitting into a major collapse. Yu Darvish is good, but he's probably not as good as that 1.44 ERA he had last year, for instance.