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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Japan News: Balentien apologizes, ready for camp

Swallows, my pride.

A contrite Tokyo Yakult Swallows slugger Wladimir Balentien, who earlier this month was arrested on domestic violence and false imprisonment charges, spoke directly to the organization, teammates and fans during a press conference on Wednesday at the team’s office in Tokyo.

The outfielder, who is out on bail, was granted permission on Jan. 24 by a Florida court to travel to Japan and arrived in Tokyo on Tuesday night, and will join the team for training camp, which starts Saturday in Urasoe, Okinawa Prefecture.

“I’m here in front of you guys today because, first of all, I just want to apologize to my fans, I want to apologize to the Yakult Swallows fans, I want to apologize to the organization, the Yakult Swallows, and I want to apologize to my teammates for all the stuff that’s going on.

“I’m glad I’m here today on time for starting spring training. I’m going to do my best this year—try to be [the best] player I can and help my team to win a lot of ballgames this year. Those are my goals,” said Balentien, who will be in his fourth year in Japan.

Balentien, who last year broke Nippon Pro Baseball’s single-season home run record by hitting 60, was just glad to avoid being tardy to camp.

“I feel great because that was what I was worried about—just trying to be on time and be able to start camp on time with all my teammates,” said Balentien, who surpassed Sadaharu Oh’s 1964 record of 55 homers that was later equaled by Tuffy Rhodes and Alex Cabrera.

Repoz Posted: January 29, 2014 at 06:41 AM | 14 comment(s)
  Beats: japan

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

MLBTR: Yuniesky Betancourt To Sign With Orix Buffaloes

Free agent infielder Yuniesky Betancourt has reached agreement on a one-year contract with the Orix Buffaloes of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Betancourt, soon to turn 32, is represented by Miami Sports Management.

Last year, spending most of his time at first and third for the Brewers, Betancourt checked in with a .212/.240/.355 line and 13 home runs in 409 plate appearances. Betancourt has played nine MLB seasons, registering a cumulative .261/.285/.388 slash line in 4,278 plate appearances. He has not maintained an OPS of over .700 since the 2007 season, and both Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference credit Betancourt with a cumulative sub-replacement level contribution over his career to date.

JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: January 28, 2014 at 10:21 PM | 7 comment(s)
  Beats: japan, japanese baseball, yuniesky betancourt

Friday, December 20, 2013

Nikkan Sports: Rakuten is going to acquire Kevin Youklis

Link is a tweet citing an article in Japanese. Translated via Google, it says Youkilis “only played 28 of the game there is also a failure of the waist this season.”

Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: December 20, 2013 at 02:50 PM | 52 comment(s)
  Beats: japan

Monday, December 16, 2013

MLB reaches agreement with NPB on Revised Posting System

The Office of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball (MLB) announced today that it has agreed to terms with Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) on revised protocols for the posting system shared by the leagues. MLB’s Executive Council approved the new agreement today.

Swedish Chef Posted: December 16, 2013 at 06:30 PM | 56 comment(s)
  Beats: business, hot stove, japan, mlb, nbp

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Japan Times: Prolific hitter Murton no lock for NPB return

The Murton Parka! Time for another revival?

Will Matt Murton return for a fifth season with the Hanshin Tigers?

Or maybe move to another NPB team?

Or give the majors another try?

Reports indicate Murton was uncertain about where he will play next year as he left Japan for the U.S. on Oct. 22 following the expiration of his contract with Hanshin.

Given the history of foreign position players who found success in Japan and then attempted a comeback in the majors, it would seem trying to return to the big leagues may not be such a good idea. Most gaikokujin (and even the Japanese hitters, for that matter) who looked to put up the same or better numbers in the MLB wars after careers in Japan did not come close.

...Murton, at 32 and with four seasons in Japan under his belt, has a chance to join several other foreigners as a 10-year player here. That list includes former stars Boomer Wells, brothers Leron and Leon Lee, Tuffy Rhodes, Alex Cabrera and the still-active Alex Ramirez.

All the above realized they had found their place in Japan and never thought they could go back to the majors and play nearly as well as they did for their Japanese teams.

Murton is coming off a productive season as Hanshin’s cleanup hitter, having batted a Central League fourth-best .314 with 19 homers and 85 RBIs. His four-year batting average with the Tigers is .312, compared with the .286 he had compiled over five MLB seasons with the Cubs, Oakland and Colorado, mostly as a part-time player. He led the Central League in hits in 2010, 2011 and 2013.

Repoz Posted: November 02, 2013 at 09:21 AM | 22 comment(s)
  Beats: japan

Monday, October 28, 2013

Changes coming to MLB bids for Japan players

The MLB Commissioners Office and Nippon Professional Baseball are closing in on a posting agreement that the sides are optimistic will be in place by Nov. 1, two sources told The Post.

The best pitcher in Japan, Masahiro Tanaka, is expected to be posted this offseason, and the Yankees are likely to be aggressive in trying to win the post.

There had been speculation the system would undergo radical changes, with perhaps even the teams with the three highest posting bids all gaining the rights to negotiate with the players. I have been told there will be alterations in the process, but still only one team will win the post and have exclusive negotiating rights.

It is possible, as a way to give the player more power to chose his destination, he might get to pick a singular team from, say, the top two or three bidders.
The posting system was created mainly to give Japanese teams a way to get paid if they agree to let a player go prior to free agency (Japanese players need nine years of service to gain free agency to come to the States). In the process up to now, interested MLB teams gave a sealed bid and the high bidder was awarded an exclusive 30-day period to sign the player. If no deal was struck, the player stayed in Japan and no second American team received an opportunity to sign the player.

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 28, 2013 at 09:31 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: japan, masahiro tanaka, nippon professional baseball

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Jim Kaat: Will we finally get The Real Deal?

Kaat Said: Orientalism.

A couple of short stories about Asian pitchers and Irabu: I was announcing Yankee games in the mid-90s when I said over the air, “I wonder if we’ll ever see an Oriental position player in the Major Leagues?” Dion James was playing for the Yankees at the time, and told me about an exciting 19-year old named Ichiro Suzuki who had a chance to be the first. We all know that story. Big fan of Bernie Williams from watching Yankee games in Japan. Wears number 51 because of that.

So, I get a letter about a week later from an Asian baseball fan. Not a malicious letter but scolding me gently for referring to Asian players as “Oriental.” He said, “Noodles and rugs are Oriental, not people. We are Asians.” Fortunately for me, he put his phone number in the letter, so I called him.

We had a pleasant conversation and I told him I certainly didn’t intentionally say “Oriental’ as a slur or condescending remark. It was said innocently out of ignorance. He understood. I asked him if he would be watching the next game we televised. He said he would. He was a huge baseball fan and was complimentary of our telecasts on the MSG Network. I asked if he would please watch and listen in the top of the 4th inning. He said he would.  I took the opportunity to clear up the Oriental/Asian situation.

...So, I’lll be keeping a close eye on Yu Darvish and see if he is finally the one to be able to challenge and dominate our bigger, more powerful big league hitters. For his and the Rangers’ sake, I hope he does. It will be good for the game and the Rangers profit and loss statement!

Repoz Posted: January 21, 2012 at 07:20 PM | 17 comment(s)
  Beats: announcers, history, international, japan, media, rangers, yankees

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Fox: Morosi: Darvish, Texas agree to six-year deal

Apparently there’s an opt-out for Darvish after the fifth season.  All seems fair enough.

The Texas Rangers and Japanese pitching star Yu Darvish have agreed on a six-year contract, the team announced Wednesday.

The deal is worth close to $60 million, one major-league source confirmed to FOXSports.com. It does not include deferred money.

Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 18, 2012 at 07:38 PM | 57 comment(s)
  Beats: japan, rangers

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Brewers sign Japanese slugger Norichika Aok

This “slugger” hit four home runs and slugged .360 in 643 PAs. In Japan.

The Milwaukee Brewers have signed three-time year contract with a club option for 2014.

The Brewers won the negotiating rights to Aoki on December 19.
The 30-year-old Aoki has played his entire eight-year professional career with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows, batting .329 with 84 HR, 385 RBI and 164 stolen bases in 985 games.

The Central League batting champion in 2005 (.344), 2007 (.346) and 2010 (.358), Aoki won the CL Rookie of the Year award in 2005. He is also a six- time Golden Glove Award winner.

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 17, 2012 at 08:11 PM | 5 comment(s)
  Beats: brewers, japan

Monday, January 16, 2012

Oakland manager Melvin excited about Japan series

The Athletics and Seattle Mariners open the regular season with a two-game series at Tokyo Dome on March 28-29. Many hoped the series would feature a showdown between Matsui and countryman Ichiro Suzuki, but Melvin said the A’s likely wont be re-signing the 37-year-old free agent Matsui.

“Matsui was a great fit for us last year and we all loved having him on our team,’’ Melvin said at a press conference on Monday to promote the series. “But this year it doesn’t look like a fit for us based on the personnel we have going forward.’‘

...Suzuki also had a down season in 2011. For the first time in his career, He failed to reach 200 hits - finishing with 184 - and hit a career-worst .272. Other numbers were lower too, including on-base percentage, infield hits and home runs, while he struck out a career-high 69 times.

Former Seattle star Ken Griffey Jr., who now serves as a special consultant to the Mariners, said he expects Suzuki to bounce back this season.

“Ichiro is going to be fine, you can ask these two guys (Melvin, Wedge) if a guy had 184 hits they wouldn’t be complaining,’’ Griffey said. “But you are looking at a guy who is a special athlete. He had one hiccup in his career and come this time next year we won’t even be talking about this. He is going to come into this season determined and with a little fire.’‘

Hiccup?...That was a freakin’ Dave McNally tally if ever!

Repoz Posted: January 16, 2012 at 07:06 AM | 7 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, international, japan, mariners

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Nakajima, Yankees unable to reach deal

The Yankees announced on Thursday that they were unable to sign infielder Hiroyuki Nakajima, who will instead continue to play for the Seibu Lions of Japan’s Pacific League.

“We unfortunately could not come to an agreement with Hiroyuki,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said in a statement. “We wish him the best of luck during the upcoming 2012 season.”

The Yankees acquired the rights to negotiate with the 29-year-old Nakajima through the posting process on Dec. 7, offering a reported $2.5 million bid that gave them 30 days to speak freely with Seibu’s shortstop and team captain.

Sayonara!

Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: January 05, 2012 at 08:18 PM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: japan, yankees

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Yahoo: Passan: Rangers win bidding for Yu Darvish

The Texas Rangers won the rights to negotiate with star Japanese right-hander Yu Darvish by placing a record $51.7 million bid in a posting auction, sources told Yahoo! Sports.

Darvish’s team in Japan, the Nippon Ham Fighters, will accept the bid, which means the Rangers have 30 days to negotiate a contract with Darvish. If they cannot work out a deal, Darvish would return to Japan for the 2012 season and the Rangers would be refunded the posting fee.

Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 20, 2011 at 05:12 AM | 82 comment(s)
  Beats: japan, rangers

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Nationals do not bid on Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish

The identity of the team that won the right to negotiate with Yu Darvish has yet to be revealed, but it was not the Nationals. Washington did not submit a posting bid, according to multiple people with knowledge of the situation, opting to stay on the sideline of a sweepstakes that will cost whomever lands the Japanese superstar upward of $100?million.

Damn it.

By the way, there’s another wonderful WaPo headline for Andy. Time to go back to grammar school.

Dan Evensen Posted: December 18, 2011 at 04:18 AM | 7 comment(s)
  Beats: business, international, japan, nationals

Brew Crew reportedly wins negotiating rights for Aoki

Hardly seems fair that large market teams like the Brewers can just replace their MVP left-fielder with a three-time batting champ.

The Brewers reportedly submitted a winning $2.5 million bid to negotiate with Japanese outfielder Norichika Aoki, a three-time Central League batting champion with the Yakult Swallows.

According to a tweet by Yasuko Yanagita of Hochi Shimbun, the Swallows announced that they accepted the Brewers’ bid for Aoki. The Brewers now have negotiating rights for Aoki for the next 30 days….

The 5-foot-10, 170-pound left-handed hitter slipped to a .292 average and four homers in 2011, after going for career highs of a .358 average and 209 hits in 2010. He was the 2005 Central League Rookie of the Year, batting .344 in his first full season.

Aoki will turn 30 on Jan. 5, and could join a Brewers outfield that includes Ryan Bruan, Corey Hart, Nyjer Morgan and Carlos Gomez.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 18, 2011 at 03:58 AM | 8 comment(s)
  Beats: brewers, japan

Friday, December 16, 2011

Japan Times: Asao, Uchikawa win league MVP awards

This news is actually a couple of weeks old, but I’m posting it mainly because I thought people might be interested to know that a set-up man, Chunichi Dragons reliever Takuya Asao, won the MVP Award in Japan’s Central League. After the controversy about Verlander’s MVP win, and some writers questioning whether pitchers should be eligible for the MVP at all, it’s interesting to look overseas and see not a starting pitcher, not a closer, but a set-up man walk away with the hardware…

“I can’t believe it,” Asao said at a news conference.

...

Asao played a vital role out of the bullpen for the pennant-winning Dragons, making 79 appearances and recording 45 holds. He finished the season with 10 saves, 100 strikeouts, a 0.41 ERA and didn’t allow a single home run in 87? innings on the mound.

“I was determined to do my best the entire year,” Asao said. “I didn’t believe I would ever be named MVP. I’m really surprised.”

vortex of dissipation Posted: December 16, 2011 at 07:15 PM | 5 comment(s)
  Beats: awards, international, japan

Orioles sign Japanese lefty

Wada relief.

rlc Posted: December 16, 2011 at 08:49 AM | 5 comment(s)
  Beats: japan, orioles

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Yahoo Sports: Passan: Darvish bidding process is a cloak and dagger affair

The deadline for bids on Darvish is today at 5 pm (eastern time).  Passan makes the whole process sound like executives have spent several years in Australia bulding up an immunity to iocane powder just for this moment.

The Texas Rangers, for example, have told rivals they’re cash-poor this offseason. A TV deal that will net them $80 million annually doesn’t kick in until 2015. The purchase price of the team for the ownership group – jacked up in an auction by Mark Cuban – wound up tens of millions of dollars higher than expected and sucked up the $90 million signing bonus Fox Sports delivered. And the TV contract itself wasn’t nearly as lucrative as Chuck Greenberg, the club’s deposed CEO, purported it to be.

To which one GM said: “Yeah, right.”

And another executive said: “They’re sandbagging.”

Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 14, 2011 at 04:02 PM | 66 comment(s)
  Beats: blue jays, japan, nationals, rangers, yankees

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Bill Conlin: Rollins in the Cards

I once had a fleshy Conlinesque druncle who’d freak out whenever I’d flick juice-less, hence disposable, boogers his way at the dinner table. Strange man.

When I’m King of the World . . .

Manager Mike Scioscia likes to run. He has a lineup filled with rabbits, including Erick Aybar and two of the game’s fastest players in outfielders Peter Bourjos and Millville’s Mike Trout, 19.

With that kind of speed in front of him, if Trout is ready to lead off or bat No. 2, Pujols might drive in 150 runs.

Ah, but what has the Pujols signing done for a Rollins re-signing that seemed close to dotted-line time until the Angels surfaced as the “Mystery Team” that had been lurking in the shadows while the Cardinals and Marlins tried to wrap him up? No doubt it will get him a fourth year and a better price from the Phillies. Or, horror of horrors, the Cardinals, who just saved themselves $250 million, go all in and decide to upgrade their shortstop situation with the best infielder out there? Could happen. Be very afraid.

When I’m King of the World . . .

Phils will dive into the deep end of the International talent pool just to see what it’s like . . .I’m talking a big, expensive, defecting Cuban five-tooler like Yoenis Cespedes, who is said to be the centerfield equivalent of 106 mph power arm Aroldis Chapman. They say the 26-year-old has the opposite-field power of Vlad Guerrero and the size and running speed of No. 1 prospect Trout. And all he wants is $30 million, a bargain considering you don’t have to pay a “posting” bounty to Fidel Castro, the way suitors for Japanese phenom Yu Darvish must pay the Nippon Ham Fighters just for the right to negotiate with their gas-pumping righthander.

Repoz Posted: December 10, 2011 at 02:25 PM | 4 comment(s)
  Beats: cardinals, international, japan, phillies

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 12-7-2011

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, December 8, 1941:

CHICAGO, Ill., Dec. 7—“It is impossible just now to say what effect the war will have on baseball,” said William E. Benswanger, president of the Pirates. “I do not know any more about it than the other fellow, but one thing is very certain at this time: We must keep our heads cool and keep our feet on the ground.”

The Pittsburgh executive had a radio installed in his suite…it was his intention to hear a concert on the air this afternoon, but shortly after tuning in the news of a naval engagement was flashed and Bill spent the remainder of the day listening to reports of hostilities at sea.

Bummer. The guy just wanted to hear some tunes, man.


Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Japanese astronaut plays baseball in space

They found the ball Pujols hit off Lidge.

cardsfanboy Posted: December 06, 2011 at 05:56 PM | 16 comment(s)
  Beats: international, japan, media, television

Friday, December 02, 2011

NPB hopes Japan will take part in 2013 World Baseball Classic

Japanese baseball owners on Thursday said they want Japan to participate in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.

“We’ve been having peaceful and cooperative talks with WBC organizers. For Nippon Professional Baseball, we want Japan to take part,” said Rakuten Eagles owner Toru Shimada.

Shimada headed a negotiating team representing Japan’s 12 pro club owners, who were seeking a bigger share of the profits from the WBC, during talks in October with Major League Baseball, the tournament’s organizer.

Gamingboy Posted: December 02, 2011 at 03:32 PM | 4 comment(s)
  Beats: international, japan

Seattle Times: Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik says he’s “aware” of Japanese shortstop Munenori Kawasaki

But wouldn’t someone named Kawasaki want to play for the Swallows? And wear number 61?

Last night, Japanese shortstop Munenori Kawasaki of the champion Softbank Hawks announced at a press conference that he was becoming a free agent. Then, in an interesting twist, he told Japanese media that he wants to play in the major leagues, but only for the Mariners so he could team with Ichiro.

Not everyday the Mariners are flat out handed a free agent with zero competition. Especially one from Japan who won’t require a posting fee.

But would the Mariners want him?

vortex of dissipation Posted: December 02, 2011 at 02:10 AM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: japan, mariners

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Samsung Lions win Asia Series

Samsung Lions pitcher Jang Won-Sam yielded only one run in the final game of the 2011 Asia Series baseball tournament Tuesday as his team beat Fukuoka Softbank Hawks 5-3.

The right-handed starter allowed five hits to the Hawk batters and struck out three others before he was replaced in the seventh inning during a playoff attracting more than 4,000 fans in the Taiwanese city of Taichung.

The UEFA Champions League it isn’t, but it still is, to the best of my knowledge, the highest-quality league of baseball champions outside of the Caribbean World Series (and even then, it probably is higher quality than the Carib WS, since so few MLBers go there anymore).

Gamingboy Posted: November 29, 2011 at 09:35 PM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: international, japan

Divorce may delay Yu Darvish’s major league arrival

How much Darvish could get in a contract with a major league team would be of interest to everyone involved if he is soon to be divorced.

That Darvish, 25, and his actress wife Saeko, 27, are involved in divorce proceedings has been no secret in Japan for about a month and has been a hotter topic in the entertainment industry press than on the sports pages. Married on Nov. 11, 2007 (Darvish wears No. 11), they have two children.

Saeko, when asked about the divorce at an event promoting a book project last week, told reporters, “Well, hmm, there is still a ways to go.”

Asked if she expected a resolution by the end of the year, Saeko said, “I do not know the answer to that either.”

Obviously, it would be in Saeko’s best interest to reach a settlement after Darvish’s name is on a new multi-year contract worth more than the roughly $4.2 million he made last season.

Darvish is coming off an 18-6 season and has a 1.99 career earned run average over his seven seasons with the Fighters, but this year’s 1.44 ERA was a career-best. He allowed 156 hits in 232 innings this year, striking out 276 and walking 36.

Yen digger !

Shoebo Posted: November 29, 2011 at 02:00 AM | 24 comment(s)
  Beats: japan

Monday, November 28, 2011

Japan’s oldest baseball club in turmoil at top

An in-depth look at turmoil that has hit the Yomiuri Giants. Let’s just say this: It involves GMs suing, the corporate owners beings called tyrants and all of that fun stuff.

Gamingboy Posted: November 28, 2011 at 05:53 PM | 6 comment(s)
  Beats: japan

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