Archive > 02 January 2009

Orioles Waiting on Kawakami

» 02 January 2009 » In mlb prospects » 4 Comments

Updated, Jan 2: The rumor of a final offer from the Orioles to Kawakami has been debunked — Pete Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun has the details. I should note at this point that it was only Sanspo that ran this report, other Japanese sources have said simply that Kawakami and the Orioles are “deep in negotiations“.

Sanspo has published a report saying that the Orioles have made their final offer to Kenshin Kawakami, and are waiting for a response. According to the article, the O’s have concerns about the health of Kawakami’s throwing shoulder, and are offering an incentive-laden deal. Agent Dan Evans is holding out for a higher base salary. Given that it’s an incentive-laden deal, I’d speculate that it would be a short term contract as well. The concerns over Kawakami’s arm are a bit eyebrow-raising for me; Kawakami missed time with a strained back and an undisclosed minor injury last season, but had otherwise been pretty healthy recently.

Rumors persist that the Orioles are interested in Koji Uehara as a starter, and Baltimore was the only club to show any interest in catcher Ryoji Aikawa at all.

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Old News: Iwase to Remain with Chunichi

» 02 January 2009 » In npb » Comments Off

This information has been out there long enough for me to link to an English source.

Hitoki Iwase, who earlier in the offseason declined to file for free agency, signed a four-year deal to remain with Chunichi. His salary in the first season of his contract will pay him 430m yen ($4.73m at today’s exchange rate), with salaries to be renegotiated yearly afterward. But according to Iwase, money wasn’t the driving issue:

”I realized that I am not cut out to pitch overseas,” said Iwase. ”I originally joined this club because I liked it and the environment suits me. I’m determined not to let the team down and to make sure that I fulfill my role in games we can win next year.”

Given the weak market for MLB relievers this season, Iwase did well financially, at least for the first year of his contract. We’ll see how the deal looks in a few years. Iwase will be in his late 30’s by the time the deal ends, making him likely to be a lifelong Dragon.

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Top 10 Stories of 2008

» 02 January 2009 » In mlb, nichibei, npb » 4 Comments

Every new year begins with a list about the old one. Here’s my 2008 list of notable events in Japanese baseball.

10. Ichiro Reaches 3000 total NPB/MLB hits; has 8th consecutive 200-hit season
Ichiro has started his MLB career with eight straight 200-hit seasons, tieing Willie Keeler’s century-old mark for most consecutive 200 hit seasons. Ichiro has also surpassed 3000 hits in his NPB/MLB career and needs three more to surpass Isao Harimoto’s record for Japanese players (3085).

9. Daijiro Ohishi keys surprising Orix turnaround
Orix was 21-28 when manager Terry Collins quit on May 21. Ohishi took over and led the team to a 2nd place finish with a 75-68-1, including a 55-40-1 mark while he was at the helm.

8. Kazuhiro Kiyohara Retires
Kiyohara finally succombed to injuries after being in the national baseball spotlight since the early 80’s, first as a high school star, then as a 22-year NPB veteran.

7. Hideo Nomo Retires
MLB pioneer retired in June after being released from the KC Royals and failing to hook on with another team. He was last seen coaching for the Orix Buffaloes in the team’s fall camp. 

6. Junichi Tazawa signs with Boston
Tazawa became the first consensus first-round draft pick to forgo professional baseball in Japan for a career in America.

5. Bobby Valentine and Chiba Lotte agree to part ways after the 2009 season
After a series of disagreements, Bobby V and Chiba Lotte agreed not to renew the manager’s contract beyond 2009.  Bobby took the Marines from being a perennial doormat to being a perennial contender, while also serving as one of the top advocates for Japanese baseball.

4. Hisashi Iwakuma edges Yu Darvish for the Sawamura
Iwakuma won 21 games  for the also-ran Rakuten Eagles to take his first Sawamura Award & Pacific League MVP. Darvish was more dominant by some measures but had to settle for second best in ’08.

3. Seibu beats Yomiuri for Japan Series Title
 In a return to form for both teams, the Lions beat out the Giants in a closely fought, 7-game Japan Series. Seibu remarkably won the Series just two years after losing ace Daisuke Matsuzaka to the Red Sox.

2. Team Japan Disappoints in the Olympics
Japan’s NPB star-studded team couldn’t beat Korea, Cuba, or the USA and finished out of the medals for the first time since the 2000 games in Sydney. The performance led to Senichi Hoshino’s departure as the Japan National Team manager. 

1. Sadaharu Oh Retires from Field Duties
 Oh retired as field manager of the Fukuoka Daiei/SoftBank Hawks after 14 years on the job. Oh led the Hawks to Japan Series titles in 1999 and 2003, and a Japan Series appearance in 2000. Oh will remain with the Hawks in a front office capacity.

Honorable mentions: So Taguchi becomes the latest NPB vet to win a World Series Ring; 2008 crop of Japanese MLB imports mostly disappoint; Hiroki Kuroda thows a gem against the Braves; Hisayoshi Chono refuses to sign with the Chiba Lotte Marines in the hopes of being drafted by the Giants

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