In the Mariners world, Japanball has an article about Johjima showing up in Seattle last night. He'll be presented in a press conference this week sometime, and will be at Fanfest next weekend. I love some of the quotes from this article, though:
Johjima, who has signed a three-year deal that will make him the first Japanese catcher in the majors, added he hopes to overcome the language barrier through his enthusiasm.
"I want to talk with pitchers to gain trust. Even if they don't understand what I say, they'll know I'm eager to communicate. I've heard Jamie Moyer likes wine, so I've decided to drink wine too," Johjima said.
Johjima also mentioned speaking to Shiggy, and speaking of Shiggy, the rumours around Westbay-san's forums are that Shiggy is retiring, which isn't inconceivable. However, as far as we know, he hasn't officially made any decision yet, and some of the Japanese tabloids just jumped the gun. Whoops.
(EDIT> Okay, apparently Shiggy has now formally announced his retirement. Seriously, I'm sure he'll be able to find some work -- his "other" skills (people skills, language skills, baseball knowledge) are way too valuable these days.)
Kazuhisa Ishii is going to play for the Yakult Swallows again next year. It's really not surprising, given that he played on the Swallows before and grew up near Tokyo. The Fighters (and Eagles) did make him an offer -- and that makes me wonder whether the geographical distance to Sapporo (or Sendai) is akin to the geographical distance to Seattle when it comes to luring free agents.
Remember the other day I was complaining about Seung-Yeop Lee getting released by the Chiba Lotte Marines? Well, they went ahead and re-signed Franco and Pascucci, which is good, but their replacement for Dan Serafini is apparently Kevin Beirne? What? Oh, and to add insult to injury, Lee signs with the Yomiuri Giants. To put this in perspective, it'd be like if... hmm. It'd be like if the White Sox said to Paul Konerko, "Hey, thanks for helping us win that World Series. By the way, the contract we're offering you for next year is exactly the same as the salary you're making now," and Paul Konerko said, "Screw you, I'm going to go play for the Yankees," and the Yankees said "Okay, but we're basically going to pay you the same salary too. But wait! We'll give you a signing bonus to make it seem like more, okay?"
Um, yeah. Stupid Giants.
Hey, so stuff happened on this side of the Pacific too. For example, the Mets traded
Oh yeah, and the Red Sox are trading for Coco Crisp, which I'm a little confused about. Huh. It sounds like a better deal for the Red Sox than anything, but who knows. I do wonder about the part where the Indians might try to trade Rafael Betancourt or Arthur Rhodes to the Phillies for J-Mike, though. The Phillies could use more bullpen help and do have a ton of excess outfielders, it's true. Either way, I blame Theo Epstein, now that he's officially back with the Sox again and all. The other good part about this is that maybe the "Reed to Boston" rumors will finally stop once and for all.
(EDIT> Well, if the rumors that it's Crisp, Riske, and Bard for Marte, Shoppach, and Mota are true, maybe it's not a better deal for the Red Sox. Whoa.)
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim naming trials continue, as the city of Anaheim would really like them to return to using "Anaheim Angels" to describe the team. Quite frankly, so would I -- it's been a year of making fun of the name switch now, and the jokes have gotten old. At least the Angels have done some productive things in the last few weeks, signing all of their arbitration-eligible guys, most recently Scot Shields to 1 yr / $2.1 million, and Brendan Donnelly to 1 yr, $950k. Well, that's good -- Shields doubles his salary, and given how generally awesome he is, I'm happy for him. Donnelly used to be one of my favorite pitchers too.
As far as other players I like go, there's an article about Mark Grudzielanek suggesting he switch his nickname to "Stubblebeard". As if that wasn't funny enough, the article's full of words like "grit" and sentences like "He's a ballplayer."
Hm, I think that's about it. Well, except maybe for Ozzie Guillen becoming an American citizen on Friday:
In his own engaging and unique style, Guillen quipped that one of the questions on the exam was to name the mayor of Chicago. Guillen's response was "Ozzie Guillen." Even Mayor Richard Daley would have a tough time marking that particular answer as incorrect.
Oh, and in that other sport, the thing I have been joking about for several weeks, a Seahawks vs Steelers Super Bowl, is actually going to happen. See, I lived in Pittsburgh for 8 years before moving out to Seattle, so this is pretty crazy. As a matter of fact, the funniest part is that there'll be a couple hours where I'll basically know exactly how far from a television set all of my friends are. Actually, no, the funniest part is how many people actually can spell "Roethlisberger".
I'm not really sure who I'd be rooting for, either, mostly since I'm really not that into football in general. I suspect in a Pirates-Mariners World Series I'd root for the Mariners, but in a Phillies-Mariners World Series, my head would just explode and I'd end up in the hospital for a week comatose. I'd wake up and ask, "Did we win?" and be told, "Yes," and then have to ask, "Which we?"