Archive > 07 January 2009

Marines Offer Iguchi 3 Years

» 07 January 2009 » In npb » 1 Comment

I actually have an English report of this one — Chiba Lotte has offered 2nd baseman Tadahito Iguchi a 3-year, 600m yen contract. That’s $6.6m against a still weak greenback. Iguchi is unlikely to top that offer in MLB, and sounds like he’s seriously considering taking it:

”I feel like there are a lot of expectations of me. I feel gratitude that I can receive this offer even though I was injured last year. I feel Lotte’s sincerity,” Iguchi said. ”I want to play for a club where I feel needed. I haven’t decided yet, but I would like to decide as soon as possible.”

Sanspo ran this shot of Iguchi and team president Setoyama together.

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Ballparks of Japan

» 07 January 2009 » In npb » 8 Comments

Partially inspired by the River Ave. Blues header image, check out these Google Maps images of some of Japan’s ballparks. 

Central League

  • Yokohama Stadium, home of the Yokohama BayStars. That’s artificial turf there.
  • Koshien Stadium, home of the Hanshin Tigers. Old, offseason image here.
  • Hiroshima Civic Stadium, soon to be replaced home of the Hiroshima Carp. Note that the Genbaku Dome (原爆ドーム) is a short distance southwest of the stadium. The Genbaku Dome was the only structure fully encompassed in the atomic bomb blast that wasn’t destroyed.
  • Meiji Jingu Ballpark, home of the Tokyo Yakult Swallows. The smaller baseball field is the No. 2 Jingu Ballpark, used for college and amateur baseball.
  • Tokyo Dome, and it’s predecessor Korakuen, both home to the Yomiuri Giants, Nippon Ham Fighters, and others. 

Pacific League

  • Yahoo Dome, home of the SoftBank Hawks. Note that the roof opens, but they only played one game with it open last year.
  • The unfortunately named Kleenax Stadium Miyagi, home of the Rakuten Golden Eagles. This is an old image, Rakuten has fixed it up quite a bit.
  • Skymark Stadium, the Kobe home of the Orix Buffaloes. This is my favorite ballpark in Japan. It’ll always be Green Stadium Kobe to me.
  • Chiba Marine Stadium, home of the Chiba Lotte Marines. Zoom out to see how close it is to Tokyo Bay.


  • Nagano Olympic Stadium, built for the 1998 Nagano Winter Games, now home to the independant BC League’s Shinano Grandserows.
  • Starfin Park in Asahikawa, Hokkaido. Named for early NPB ace and hometown hero Victor Starfin. The Yomiuri Giants played a few games at Starfin Park last season.
  • Matsuyama Bocchan Park is out in the sticks but occasionally hosts NPB games. It’s day job is hosting the home games of the Island League’s Ehime Mandarin Pirates.
  • A snow-covered Fukui Stadium, home of the BC League’s wonderfully named Fukui Miracle Elephants. 

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Reaction to Uehara’s Agreement with the Orioles

» 07 January 2009 » In mlb » 2 Comments

I found out about Koji Uehara’s signing with the Orioles the same way everyone else did, via the incomparable I think much of the Japanese media found out the same way I did, as there was a raft of reports referring to the same Baltimore Sun article that Tim linked to. 

Strangely, Uehara’s agreement with Baltimore hasn’t exactly been front page headline news on the Japanese websites I frequent. Ichiro playing catch got the top billing on Sanspo, while Nikkan Sports and Sponichi had the news buried among other links. Nikkan Sports, however, does provide some new information with this quote from Uehara:  “now we’re working out the finer points, so I can’t comment beyond that”. 
Word is that the Uehara agreed to an incentive-loaded two-year deal worth $10m. Rumors of a deal at that base salary first appears about a month ago, at the start of the winter meetings. If Uehara can stay healthy, I think he’s a good bet to outperform other pitchers signed at that price. Baseball contracts are a fickle thing; it wasn’t that long ago that Baltimore signed noted injury risk Danys Baez to a 3-year, $18m contract.
I wrote an bullish profile on Uehara back in July. With the benefit of an additional couple of months of observation and the knowledge that he’s going to Baltimore, I’ll temper my expectations just a bit. I pulled this quote from Keith Law off of Tim’s post:

In an ideal environment — National League, non-hitters’ park — he could be a midrotation innings-eater because he’ll allow so few baserunners. In the American League, he’d be more of a fourth starter, but would have to have some luck keeping the ball in the park to keep his ERA under 4.00.

I actually think that Uehara will be susceptible to baserunners because he’ll be around the plate so much. More troubling is that the HR ball was unquestionably his weakness in Japan, and he’s going to the most HR-friendly park in MLB. On the other hand, he’ll have two good outfielders behind him in Adam Jones and Nick Markakis, which suit his flyball tendencies. And even though he got rocked in his last appearance in the Japan Series, prior to that he put together a string of seven excellent starts. 

Uehara was one of my favorite guys to watch in Japan and I’m glad he’s finally getting the chance to fulfill his dream of playing in America. I’m looking forward to seeing him play in the States, and seeing if his trademark excellent control translates to MLB success.

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