Tag Archive > Mac Suzuki

NPB Bullet Points: Scales, Melian, Arakaki, Sugano

» 28 June 2011 » In mlb prospects, nichibei, npb » 2 Comments

Updates on some NPB Tracker favorites and a name that long-time Baseball America readers will find familiar.
  • Bobby Scales is on his way to Japan to play for Nippon Ham. I had Scales on my list last offseason, and again a couple weeks ago, so it’s safe to say he’s an NPB Tracker favorite. According to Nikkan Sports, Ham intends to use him to fill the gap left by the currently injured Kensuke Tanaka.
  • Another NPB Tracker favorite, Nagisa Arakaki, is rehabbing a ni-gun with an eye toward his first ichi-gun appearance in over two years. Arakaki is scrapping his once-feared slider.
  • The other day I happened across a news item saying that former Yankees prospect Jackson Melian is active in Japan with the independent Kobe Suns, who are managed by former Major Leaguer Mac Suzuki. He’s only hitting .175 though.
  • Here’s a pic of the scouting contingent at Tokai University pitcher Tomoyuki Sugano’s last game. The group included scouting representation from at least one MLB team. Sugano is high on Yomiuri’s radar for this season’s draft.
  • Yet another NPB Tracker favorite, Junichi Tazawa, failed to last a full inning in his first appearance off the DL. Tazawa gave up six runs in 2/3 of an inning.
  • Shame on me for not finding the English-language Hanshin Tigers Page and including it in this year’s blogosphere post.

Continue reading...

Tags: , , , , ,

NPB Bullet Points: Koshien, College Ball, Auctions

» 06 August 2010 » In amateur baseball, npb » 10 Comments

Lots going on tonight, let’s jump right in.

  • With Koshien underway, I’d like to once again endorse the Goro Shigeno blog as the premier English destination for Koshien coverage. Video is available online here (requires MS Windows), and since many games are played early in the day it should be a little easier to enjoy them on this side of the Pacific.
  • If you’re unfamiliar with Koshien and Japanese high school baseball, I recommend checking out the film Kokoyakyu, which can be purchased on dvd or viewed via Hulu.
  • As I type this, Japan is playing Korea for the bronze in the World University Baseball Championship. Yuki Saito surrendering a grand slam in Japan’s last game against America cost Japan a shot at the gold. I tried to get into this tournament, but the number of blowouts made it hard to follow. As I type this, Japan is holding a 9-0 lead over Korea.
  • NPB is auctioning off signed, game-worn All-Star jerseys for charity. I haven’t looked through all of them, but Yu Darvish’s jersey figures to fetch the highest sum, with a current bid of 524,000 yen ($6130 at the current, awful exchange rate). If loyal reader EJH wants to purchase Masataka Nashida’s jersey, he’ll only have to beat a bid of 71,000 yen.
  • Mac Suzuki is making a return to Calgary Vipers of the independent Golden League.

And on a final, non-baseball note, August 6/7 marked the 65th anniversary of the World War II atomic bombing of Hiroshima. I was glad to learn this morning that for the first time, the United States sent an envoy to Hiroshima’s annual memorial ceremony. I visited Hiroshima and the Peace Memorial Museum in 2003, and it was a moving experience that really cemented my already strong opposition to armed conflict. Despite the fact that the conventional firebombing of Tokyo caused more damage than the atomic bomb, Hiroshima is certainly the more striking example of the cost of war. Today it’s one of the nicest cities in Japan, and I’d recommend visiting to anyone, for both the historical significance and the civic beauty. Today is also a good day to remember Langdon Warner, the American Harvard historian who is credited with convincing the US government to spare Kyoto and Nara from serious attacks.

Continue reading...

Tags: ,

Agents in Japanese Baseball

» 20 June 2009 » In international baseball, npb, sports business » 2 Comments

With the draft over in the United States, the next focus will be on teams negotiating with agents to reach agreements for the players starting their professional careers. Agents occassionally get the national spotlight for some negotiations and have become a big part of sports business and the baseball world, which has led to a paradigm shift in professional sports.

On the other hand, in NPB, player agents are still a fairly a new idea and agents are known as Dairinin (representative). One agent that comes to mind, having received national attention is Don Nomura (the son of  Sachiyo Nomura, and step-son Rakuten Golden Eagles manager Katsuya Nomura). He was involved in negotiating a minor-league deal for Mac Suzuki and was a big part of Hideo Nomo crossing the Pacific.

Although agents are starting to be recognized, NPB still has a closed culture toward accepting the role of the agents. An agent needs to be a licensed lawyer or certified as an agent by MLB, or pass the exam that the Players Association provides. They also need to register with NPB in order to take part in a player’s contract negotiation. In order to register as an agent, the candidate must read the rules and apply downloading the materials from this page.

The biggest difference in the role of agents between MLB and NPB is that an agent can only represent a single player. This restriction reduces the appeal to become a player  agent as not many people will be able to live off of the five percent commission from one player.

Surveys have been taken by the Players Association in the past to look at what the players actually think about agents and if they would like to utilize an agent in the future (The Results from 2000). Players were still hesitant to embrace the idea of using agents, as only 2.2 % (14/633) of the players answering the surveys stated they would definitely like to use one.

However in recent years with agents being well-known for representing players negotiating for major league deals, the idea of agents is gaining ground with the players. A new development we’ve seen is established lawyers adding player representation to their resumes. “Lawyer Kitamura Joining the Baseball World” is one famous recent example.

Unless the rules change to allow agents to be a bigger part of the sport, it is hard to imagine an icon like Scott Boras appearing in the NPB world. However, as agents are becoming more trusted from the players, the opportunities for sports agencies should grow. Notably, Hisashi Iwakuma signed a deal with IMG in December, 2007.

Continue reading...

Tags: , , , , ,

Armada Introduces Irabu

» 19 May 2009 » In international baseball » Comments Off

The Long Beach Armada of the independent Golden League formally introduced Hideki Irabu on May 18. Sanspo quoted Irabu as saying, “I want to feel the joy of standing on the mound and have fun out there. I’m excited”. Sanspo also has a couple of photos of Irabu in his jersey and at the press conference. That’s Long Beach manager Gary Templeton on Irabu’s left in the second picture, and a guy who kind of looks like actor Ray Liotta on his right. Irabu is scheduled to make his first game appearance on June 5.

Last month, Long Beach’s Golden League rival Calgary Vipers announced the signing of Mac Suzuki as well (thanks to reader Dave G for the tip), so we’ll have two of the Japanese MLB pioneers in the same indy league this year. Ironically, along with Hideo Nomo, Irabu and Suzuki hold an ownership stake in the independent Elmira Pioneers, who currently participate in the New York State Collegiate League. So we have a couple of guys who own a team in one league playing in another.

Continue reading...

Tags: , ,

The Tazawa Penalty

» 22 October 2008 » In mlb prospects, nichibei » 4 Comments

By now this is old news, but this is one of those posts that I started drafting, got interrupted, and haven’t had the time to get back to until now. Better late than never.

So, to get caught up, “the Tazawa penalty” is a new rule banning Japanese players who have opted out of the NPB draft to sign internationally from joining an NPB team for up to three years after leaving their international organization. The idea is make top Japanese amateurs think twice about bypassing NPB for MLB by eliminating the assumption that they have an easy path back.

Though I haven’t found anything concrete on this, I’m guessing the rule will be in effect from Tazawa forward, so Robert Boothe shouldn’t have anything to worry about if he wants to pitch in Japan in the future.

Tazawa has commented on the situation: “Personally I only thought about going to America. I wasn’t thinking about the next person, so this is something I have to apologize for”.

It feels like this is kind of a sour grapes move by the NPB establishment and they’ll eventually get over it. There is some historic precedence to suggest that they will: the cases of Hideki Irabu, Kazuhito Tadano, Hideo Nomo and Mac Suzuki.

Irabu is perhaps the most informative example. Prior to being a bust with the Yankees, Irabu was under contract with the San Diego Padres, whom he refused to play for. At the time, the NPB establishment felt that they had been embarrassed by Irabu’s antics and said that he wouldn’t be allowed back in, but Hanshin signed him for the 2003 season. He won the fans over with a strong start.

Kazuhito Tadano was a top college pitcher who went undrafted because of his appearance in an adult film. The story was that NPB teams were worried about their images, but a couple of years and MLB appearances later, the Nippon Ham Fighters had gotten over it and selected Tadano in the second round of the NPB draft.

There was severe backlash against Hideo Nomo after he pulled his retirement stunt to make it to MLB, but it didn’t take too long for him to turn that around and he’s now widely recognized as one of most significant figures in Japanese baseball over the last 20 or so years, along wth Ichiro. I’m not aware of similar backlash against Mac Suzuki, but when he decided he was ready to move to NPB at least two teams (Yakult and Orix) were interested in drafting him, and Orix did draft and sign him.

So my gut feeling, and my hope, is that this new rule basically amounts to an idle threat. Instead of threatening Japanese nationals like this, I’m hoping to see a little more effort to make signing and playing in NPB more appealing, and at the same time, investing a more in developing young talent, particularly young international talent.

Continue reading...

Tags: , , , ,