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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Killing Salvador Perez

Erik Kratz is the Maytag man of baseball.

Salvador Perez’s personal experience of the 2014 season was akin to wandering into a time machine and going back 40 or 50 years. The 24-year-old Royals backstop started 143 games at catcher, the most in the majors, was a defensive replacement in three more, and then added another 15 starts in the postseason. That total of 158 starts was the most by any catcher in at least a century and represented the kind of workload that was a regular occurrence for players such as Johnny Bench, but that teams have largely decided is not in their best interests.

Ned Yost and pals can’t be faulted for riding Perez hard. The playoffs last four rounds nowadays, and you’re not going to start Erik Kratz in a key game if you can help it. What makes the whole thing curious is the team’s consent or acquiescence in the matter of Perez going off to Japan with a team of all-stars to catch yet more games. With two more games caught and the possibility of five more to come, Perez is on the verge of going where no major league catcher has gone before. In 1968, Randy Hundley of the Cubs started 156 games for the Cubs and entered late in four other contests for a total of 160 games played. Assuming each player had a like number of spring training squats, Perez may finish his tour of the Pacific Rim as the catcher to have put the most mileage on his odometer in a single year.

The funny thing is it may not matter, at least, not in the near term.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: November 13, 2014 at 02:41 PM | 29 comment(s)
  Beats: japan, royals, salvador perez

Tokyo Portion of 2014 Japan All-Star Series OMNICHATTER

Discuss anything coming from the MLB tour of Japan here. Games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday live at 4 AM Eastern and then shown again on tape delay during the night. All games on MLB Network and MLB.TV.

Gamingboy Posted: November 13, 2014 at 01:16 PM | 5 comment(s)
  Beats: japan, omnichatter

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Jimmie Foxx’s Home Video Shows 1934 Baseball Tour of Japan

——- .  -... . .-.—.  .. ...  .- -  2:52.

Gonfalon Bubble Posted: November 11, 2014 at 06:11 PM | 8 comment(s)
  Beats: babe ruth, history, japan, lou gehrig

Monday, November 10, 2014

2014 Japan All-Star Series OMNICHATTER (Nov. 11 and 12)

(The link is to Yakyu Baka, a blog on Japanese baseball)

Okay, so, just in case, here’s a OMNICHATTER thread for the MLB tour of Japan. All games are on MLB Network and MLB.TV.

Exhibition Game (Koshien Stadium): MLB All-Stars (Chris Capuano) vs. Yomiuri/Hanshin Combined Team (Atsushi Nomi), Nov. 11, 4 AM ET (9 PM ET reair).

Game 1 of Japan All-Star Series (Kyocera/Osaka Dome): MLB All-Stars (Matt Shoemaker) vs. “Samurai Japan” (Kenta Maeda), Nov. 12, 4 AM ET (9 PM ET reair)

チャッターアップ!

Gamingboy Posted: November 10, 2014 at 02:37 PM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: japan, omnichatter

Friday, November 07, 2014

Tohoku field of dreams: Sanriku Railway forms baseball team in disaster-hit town

More general manager news.

Sanriku Railway Co. and food giant Nestle Japan Ltd. announced Nov. 6 that they have teamed to form an amateur baseball club in Miyako, Iwate Prefecture, to invigorate the region still rebounding from the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake….

To be called Sanriku Tetsudo Kit Dreams, the team will be made up of 29 players from Sanriku Railway staff members and local residents living near the railway lines.

Miyako Mayor Masanori Yamamoto was named manager of the team and Seattle Mariners pitcher and former Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles standout Hisashi Iwakuma has been tapped to be general manager.

“We want to inject our energy into supporting reconstruction (in the Tohoku region) through the team,” Iwakuma said at a Nov. 6 news conference in Tokyo.

Greg Franklin Posted: November 07, 2014 at 02:51 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: international, japan, mariners

Cano, Puig head Japan All-Star Series roster

Originally Harper, Pujols and Adam Jones were going to go too, but obviously they/their agents/their teams decided otherwise. All games will be on MLB.tv and MLB Network

PITCHERS (14)
Jeff Beliveau, Rays
Jerry Blevins, Nationals
Chris Capuano, free agent
Randy Choate, Cardinals
Jeremy Guthrie, Royals
Tommy Hunter, Orioles
Hisashi Iwakuma, Mariners
Mark Melancon, Pirates
Franklin Morales, free agent
Hector Santiago, Angels
Matt Shoemaker, Angels
Jose Veras, Astros
Tsuyoshi Wada, Cubs
Rob Wooten, Brewers

CATCHERS (3)
Drew Butera, Dodgers
Erik Kratz, Royals
Salvador Perez, Royals

INFIELDERS (7)
Jose Altuve, Astros
Robinson Cano, Mariners
Alcides Escobar, Royals
Evan Longoria, Rays
Justin Morneau, Rockies
Eduardo Nunez, Twins
Carlos Santana, Indians

OUTFIELDERS (2)
Dexter Fowler, Astros
Yasiel Puig, Dodgers

INFIELDERS/OUTFIELDERS (3)
Chris Carter, Astros
Lucas Duda, Mets
Ben Zobrist, Rays

 

Gamingboy Posted: November 07, 2014 at 11:44 AM | 12 comment(s)
  Beats: international, japan

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Japan Today: Fanatic fans oblivious to sleazy side of Koshien high school baseball

My local sports team can beat your local sports team.

Whatever else you may think, opines Jitsuwa Bunka Taboo (Oct), Koshien high school baseball is, in reality, nothing more than the club activities of certain high schools that are organized into a national tournament. So what is it, the magazine wonders, that makes grownups such fanatical enthusiasts for this “sport” that they want to watch it on TV all day long?

“Reisei ni kangaete Koshien ni miryoku ga nai” (if you think about it calmly, Koshien has no appeal), reads the subhead that follows.

Greg Franklin Posted: August 21, 2014 at 02:56 PM | 7 comment(s)
  Beats: high school, japan, training, yankees

Thursday, August 14, 2014

How Japan Finds American Baseball Talent

Now, Lopez’s job is to find current Triple-A players who look capable of clicking the same way. He sees every Independent League team at least twice over the course of a season. He completes his first circuit before July, attempting to see everyone in case the BayStars need midseason reinforcements. In the second half, he starts cherry-picking players at the positions that he, Kakazu, Yates, and GM Shigeru Takada expect to have to fill the following season. Eventually, Lopez becomes a quasi stalker, shadowing the player or players he thinks would be the best fit. “It gets tricky because they get called up or they get sent down,” Lopez says. “I’ll fly to a city and go to the park and, next thing you know, he’s been sent down or called up. So you’ve got to follow him, but that’s part of the scouting gig.” Trips to Japan are also on the itinerary, always during spring training and often during organizational meetings at the end of the year.

Lopez is primarily looking for pitchers, outfielders, and corner infielders. Catchers are problematic because of the language barrier; middle infielders are less desirable because they lack power. As Lopez puts it, “If you’re going to bring a foreigner over, why not bring someone who can hit home runs?” The sweet spot for pitching is “a guy that has good command and spots the ball, [and] can throw 90-92.” Lopez would love to sign someone with nastier stuff, but he knows he’s shopping at the outlet store, where every item has a flaw. “If we go any [faster],” he says, “they’re probably in the big leagues anyway.”

The BayStars use statistics to supplement their scouts’ reports. “For us, the most important factor in evaluating players is scouting reports by [Lopez and Yates], whose opinions we trust most,” Kakazu says. “With that said, we do take stats into consideration. We have analyzed the past performances of recent foreign players and how their Triple-A and MLB stats correlate to their NPB stats, so that we can predict how our candidates might do if they come to Japan.”....

ESPN analyst Dan Szymborski offered a theory via email. “The players from the US that translate the best over there are kind of the opposite ones to the NPB guys who do well here,” writes Szymborski, who created the ZiPS projection system, which translates stats between leagues to forecast the performance of foreign players. “The ‘three true outcomes’ guys fare the best — take any fourth/fifth outfielder type that’s a fringe major leaguer with good power and they have a reasonable shot at success there. Brad Eldred, Wladimir Balentien, Wily Mo Pena aren’t surprising success stories over there. My hypothesis is that a baseball culture that still has a bias against strikeouts and for putting the ball in play/pitching to contact is a good fit for guys like that, that are fairly easy outs when you go right at them.”


Thursday, May 22, 2014

ESPN: Yankees Hooked On Japanese Candy

The New York Yankees’ hoarding of a foreign candy started in spring training. One minute there would be boxes of the colorful sweets in the Tampa clubhouse; the next, they would be gone.

Since then, the epidemic has grown. The candy is now showing up in the clubhouse at Yankee Stadium and on the road, most recently at Wrigley Field. The candy is called Hi-Chew. “It is kind of a mix between bubble gum and a Starburst,” said David Phelps, who might pop one or two before his start against the White Sox on Thursday night.

Hiroki Kuroda is the Walter White of the Hi-Chew Yankees. Kuroda, who is not a paid endorser of Hi-Chew, was asked by the Japanese company to distribute the high-calorie, fruity sweets to his teammates. From there, the addiction has taken hold.
. . .
There is debate about who is the most addicted. Kuroda said it was CC Sabathia. Others think it is the relievers like Shawn Kelley, but it has slowly grasped the whole team. “I can’t say that I haven’t had any,” Joe Girardi said.

Utility man Kelly Johnson held out for a while, but even he now has succumbed. “I was probably one of the last ones to try it,” Johnson said. “It was probably like two weeks ago that I tried my first one. The next three days, I probably ate about 50 of them, but I wouldn’t put myself in the addicted category.”

Will there be sufficient supplies to last the first-place Yankees the entire season?

The Yankee Clapper Posted: May 22, 2014 at 06:10 PM | 8 comment(s)
  Beats: addiction, food, hiroki kuroda, japan, team chemistry, yankees

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.

Dan Lee is some pumkins Posted: December 07, 2011 at 11:40 AM | 36 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history, international, japan

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

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