Orix righthander Kevin Beirne has been picked up by the Marines for 2006,
the team announced Thursday. It is reportedly a one year, 100 million yen
(about $850,000) deal and there was no signing bonus. Beirne becomes the
stand in for departed Lotte lefty Dan Serafini, who is now with the Buffaloes.
At this point in time, it would appear that the advantage is with the Kobe
squad, especially since it is likely that Beirne will be used in the bullpen.
The main thing that Beirne gives them, though, is that Softbank has a real
hard time with him, as his ERA against them in 2005 was 0.51 in three games.
Beirne will join the team at its spring camp in Geelong, Autralia.
Nippon Ham According
to Hochi Sports, teh Fighters are close to a deal with former Chicago
Cubs utilityman Jose Macias.
Nippon Ham would like to get their
hands on much touted Komadai Tomakomai High School pitcher Masahiro Tanaka,
who has broken Daisuke Matsuzaka's strikeout record, but so do a lot of
other clubs. In the event that Tanaka either refuses to sign with the team
or they lose a lottery drawing for him, they may go to a Hokkaido 17 year
old, Yusuke Uemura, with a 90mph fastball.
Orix It was announced today that the Buffaloes will play a game with the Tigers on March 4th and the Giants on March 11th at Osaka Dome, where former Orix manager Akira Ogi will be honored. Called "Thanks Ogi Day," former Giant Kazuhiro Kiyohara, now Orix' first baseman, says that he is definitely going to be up for those contests game not because he hates the Giants or Tigers, but because he wants to do well for Ogi's sake. Part of the profits from those games will go toward building a monument to the man who gave the world Ichiro Suzuki, one each at Osaka Dome and another at Kobe Green Stadium
Also on the Ogi tip, Nikkan Sports said today that the respiratory arrest that killed him was due to lung cancer.
Rakuten Manager Katsuya Nomura verbally nuked prodigal Swallows pitcher Kazuhisa Ishii today, using a particularly rude grammatical turn of phrase to accuse the former Dodgers lefthander of using the Golden Eagles interest in him to try to raise the salaries offered by other teams. Ishii called Nomura to tell him that he was going to turn Rakuten's offer down. Nomura, in the course of that conversation, asked Ishii if he had his heart set on the Swallows from the outset and Ishii responded that wasn't the case. But Nomura thought that Ishii was dissembling and characterized Ishii's relationship with Yakult catcher/manager Atsuya Furuta as "homo." Nomura also exhibited an intent to retaliate against Ishii if they can get him in the batter's box while also asserting that Ishii just wasted everyone's time.
Let's hope that the NPB Commissioner will make Nomura's wallet a little lighter and suspend him for such childish remarks. It is one thing to posit that Ishii was using Rakuten to drive his price up, which may or may not be true, but then to resort to sixth grade level name calling and threats hurts the image of the game.
In a staff meeting with team coaches,
Nomura was presented with a list of 40 possible slogans for the 2006 season
that had been formulated by the club's public relationshi department and
rejected the lot. No word on what the front office will about that, whether
they will devise new catch copy (advertising headlines) or will
impose a slogan from above. Nomura also told his coaches that they must
follow the same dress code that he laid down for his players, which bans
mustaches, beards and dyed
Seibu The Lions are based in Tokorzawa, Saitama Prefecture, so the mayor of that locality has requested that Seibu add Tokorozawa to the name of both the club and its ballpark. Seibu has been mulling over several naming options for the area it plays in, including my favorite, the Saitama Lions.
Leftfielder Kazuhiro Wada, who will be playing the same position for Japan in the WBC, said that he was having a hard time getting a grip on the major league ball becuase the surface of the ball is slick and the seams aren't very high. But aren't they going to rub the balls up with mud before the games in the WBC like they do in MLB? If so, Wada shouldn't have a problem.
Softbank Manager Sadaharu Oh has returned to Japan after attending a baseball-related party at the Japanese Consulate in Seattle and indicated that all starting positions on the WBC team are up for grabs. "I will use the players who are in the best condition, " Oh told the press. The Japanese WBC contingent will train at Fukuoka Dome (now called Yahoo Dome, but I hate naming rights).
Young players at the team's dormitory will be seing a lot of lamb on the menu this season, as well as ostrich. Why? The Hawks' nutritionist, Akiko Takemoto, insists that ostrich is low in fat and high in protein and iron and tastes very good. If any of you know any ostrich farmers, you might want to give them a ring, since they are looking into suppliers right now.