Archive > 22 October 2009

Potential NPB Returnees

» 22 October 2009 » In nichibei, npb » 8 Comments

It looks like we could to see a wave of Japanese major leaguers make their respective ways back to Japan this offseason. I don’t expect all these guys to go back to Japan, but some of them will, and I’ve listed in order of probability of actually returning.

  • Kenji Johjima – appears to be headed to Hanshin, perhaps as early as the 25th.
  • Masahide Kobayashi – Hanshin, Orix, Yokohama and Lotte have all be mentioned as suitors for KobaMasa.
  • Yasuhiko Yabuta – Yabuta’s contract with the Royals quietly expired earlier in the month, and he hasn’t been in the news lately but I’ve seen both Yokohama and Lotte mentioned as interested.
  • Ken Takahashi – is weighing a return to Japan against taking another shot at MLB. Hiroshima seems to be the obvious destination.
  • So Taguchi — Orix wants to bring Taguchi back to where he spent the first part of his career.
  • Tomo Ohka — I think he’d rather stay in 3A than go back to Japan, but there has been speculation that Yokohama would have him back. Ohka started his career by the bay.
  • Hideki Matsui – For a while during the summer, it looked like both Hanshin and Yomiuri were going to go after Matsui, but his MLB stock has risen and that talk has mostly died down.
  • Akinori Iwamura – Aki has stated that his first preference is to remain in Tampa Bay, but Hanshin is reportedly interested in bringing him in. Since Yakult posted him they should still own his NPB rights, so I’m not sure if that move is feasible.

And as a special bonus:

  • Eric Hinske — Hinske wouldn’t be an NPB returnee, but the Hawks are reportedly interested in signing him this year. They had him on their list last offseason as well.

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Naoyuki Shimizu Thinking MLB

» 22 October 2009 » In mlb prospects, nichibei » 9 Comments

33-year old right-handed pitcher Naoyuki Shimizu cannot seem to brush off his desire for the challenge of MLB. Even though he’s going into the second year of a two-year contract with the Chiba Lotte Marines, he earned the option of opting out during the regular season.

Shimizu quoted in an interview, “My admiration for the Major Leagues has not changed. If all condition comes to term (I would like to challenge).” He earned international free agency rights in June, during the season. “The situation is completely different from the previous year. When I think about the rest of my playing career, I would like to absorb the different cultures.”

Last off-season other NPB teams showed interest toward the right-handed pitcher if he does opt out couple of the teams might again show interest, but Shimizu stated the only option after free agency will be to the Major Leagues. “If I declare for free agency I will go overseas. I love Lotte and they have served me well. I can guarantee 100 percent that I will not sign with another NPB team.”

In 2009, he appeared in 23 games (22GS) and posted a 4.42ERA. I couldn’t find many clips of him pitching, this one is up-close and you can see his delivery. His pitch chart from his most recent start can be checked here.

Shimizu will not cost a fortune for an MLB team as an international free agent and I can possibly see him latching onto a team as a back-end rotation candidate. We’ll see when he officially announces his intentions.

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Walk-Off Grand Slams, or, An Excuse to Write About Kintetsu

» 22 October 2009 » In npb » 8 Comments

The mid-week Climax Series games are played well past my bedtime (if anyone has a justin.tv archive link, please do share), but I am following along asynchronously as usual.

Nippon Ham won Game 1 of the second stage of the Pacific League’s Climax Series on a walk-off grand slam hit by Termel Sledge. Deanna live-blogged it and a clip is available on YouTube.

I can’t hear about a walk-off grand slam without recalling Kintetsu’s 2001 Pacific League clincher, which is my favorite walk-off of all time. How many other big games have been won on a walk-off grand slam?

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Okajima Changes Agents

» 22 October 2009 » In international baseball, mlb, sports business » 3 Comments

Hideki Okajima, who will be a free agent in the upcoming offseason is looking to re-sign (didn’t forget the hyphen this time) with the Boston Red Sox. To that end, he has dismissed agent Peter Greenberg and will be represented by Boston-based Joe Rosen.

Regarding the change, Okajima was quoted as saying “The agent and I were not on the same page regarding contracts. There was no specific communication done and I struggled to understand.” With the Red Sox showing strong interest in re-signing Okajima, he did not want to take any risks and went with a more established Boston-area guy. Okajima stated another positive point about Rosen is that, “he will be able to help me in community involvement as well.”

There seems to be no question that both sides are looking to reconnect and the change in agents shows how Okajima is committed to staying with the Red Sox. With the contribution of Okajima in his three seasons with the Red Sox posting a 2.72 ERA in 198 games, it should be a quick negotiation.

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