Friday, December 22, 2006

NPB Roundup: It's not easy being Glynn

Oh man, I meant to have another set of Japan pictures up tonight for Friday Foto, but I got pretty sidetracked, so instead, you get a roundup, and some pictures tomorrow, hopefully! Funny thing is, a few of the pictures are actually relevant to this roundup.

Why? Because the Fighters signed Ryan Glynn!! And the set I'm going through was of a game with Lotte rookie Naruse pitching against Rakuten pitcher Glynn at Chiba Marine Stadium. Whee!

Yeah, I'm psyched about the Fighters picking up a Rakuten pitcher. Why? Because Ryan Glynn was basically the best starting pitcher on the Eagles this year, and much better than he was perceived, although I think Kanehisa Arime might have been close if he hadn't been mishandled. Glynn was 7-7 with a 3.95 ERA, striking out 121 and walking 36 in 127.1 IP, giving up 15 home runs for a FIP ERA of 3.82, a WHIP of 1.45, and a K/9 of 8.55 to go with a 3.36 K/BB ratio. Pretty awesome peripherals, even with the atrocity that was Rakuten fielding this year. And that'd make the Fighters rotation something like Darvish, Yagi, Kanemura, Glynn, and... Masaru Takeda? Ejiri? Ken Miyamoto? Who cares, it'll be awesome! Still probably not Softbank quality, but I like it a lot! When the 2006 season started, the rotation was honestly my biggest concern with the Fighters; now the biggest concern is going to be getting a bat to replace Ogasawara.

Speaking of which: Glynn is the third foreigner signed by the Fighters, if I'm counting right, with them picking up Andy Green and Brian Sweeney a couple of days ago. So that really leaves only one open foreigner spot, which raises the question that's been on my mind pretty much since the end of the Japan Series: Whither Fernando Seguignol? A man, a plan, a pair of switch-hit homers, Panama?

Of course, this raises something pretty funny to anyone who speaks Japanese: How on earth will they differentiate "Green" and "Glynn"? Yes, on the back of the uniforms they appear different in English, but on the scoreboards and everything else it presents a problem: due to the fact that there is no difference between the R and L sounds in Japanese, Glynn is グリン and Green is グリーン. The only difference is a split second in how long you hold the vowel sound in "gu-ri-n". But, it seems Glynn vetoed having "Ryan" as his player name, probably because it is a real last name, and team supervisor Shimada said that "Andy" sounds too weak as a name (for a big slugging foreigner, I guess).

As for Ogasawara, he will apparently continue to do publicity for the Ogasawara Islands, as he has been doing for several years, though he had to check with the Giants and everyone else to make sure it was okay. I wonder if the Giants oendan will work "Ogasawara-mura ni wa iruka ga iru" ("There are dolphins at the Ogasawara Islands!") into his cheer song, and whether Giants fans will start to wave inflatable blue dolphins during his at-bats. Sigh.

And speaking of ex-Fighters, if you thought Shinjo pretending to be in a boy band a few weeks ago was bad enough, people in Japan will soon be seeing cardboard standups of him all over the place with a new commercial campaign he's in, looking all "respectable" or something. Scary.

The other ex-Tiger ex-Fighter outfielder Tomochika Tsuboi is going to negotiate re-signing with the Fighters, although on his blog he mentions he's still thinking of going to the MLB, but since it'd just be a minor league deal if anything, he's got reservations about the whole thing. I really like Tsuboi, a lot -- but I don't think he'd actually make it to the bigs if he came over here. He's got less power than Shinjo and an equivalent arm, though he can slap singles around pretty well. However, he's a bit fragile and simply can't stay healthy for an entire season, which is why he got released in the first place.

Hmm. So Kei Igawa showed up in NYC "with hair shorter than Johnny Damon's but probably a little longer than Yankee standard," also pictured here. He was surprised by the amount of cars in NYC. There won't be an official press conference to introduce him until mid-January, either. It looks at a glance that number 29 is open on the Yankees, though they also list two people as number 27, so who knows.

Also, Hankyu Airlines wants to start a Matsuzaka-Igawa tour special, saying how Boston and New York are only an hour apart by plane. Getting Japanese tour groups to the stadiums should be no problem, but I wonder how on earth they actually intend to acquire *game tickets*...

Ichiro is apparently back in Japan and training with Munenori Kawasaki, in an Orix training facility in Kobe. Kawasaki is glad that he started to become friends with Ichiro during the WBC, and regards him like an older brother. All things considered, Ichiro's about as perfect a mentor as Kawasaki could have; they're both lefty hitters with similar builds who use their speed well, and also share the "face of the Pacific League" syndrome, though I don't think Mune-rin is quite at the icon status Ichiro was at the same age.

As for other young Hawks players, Tsuyoshi Wada just signed a deal to be making 2-oku yen next year, or about $1.6 million, which is pretty huge relatively. I mean, Kazumi Saitoh -- you know, that guy who won the Sawamura and beat Matsuzaka for the pitching triple crown -- just renewed his contract for next year, so he'll be making 2.5-oku, or about $2.1 million. Anyway, to celebrate, Wada posed in a really funny Mr. Moneybags sort of picture. Then afterwards he went to go dress up as Santa Claus and play with kids. Tough life, I guess.

And as for old people signing contracts, Kimiyasu Kudoh -- who's about as old as they come these days -- is being re-signed, but at a 40% reduction in salary to around 1.6-oku yen (what on earth is a "deferment hibernation"?). To be fair, when you're signing a guy who'll turn 44 during next season, it's unclear exactly how much money he should really be asking for, even if he is basically Japan's version of... hm, he's 44 years old and left-handed; he's the active leader in wins, IP, strikeouts, Japan Series rings, and just about everything else you'd expect for a guy who's been pitching for 25 years. My god, 11 Japan Series rings, and that's not a joke -- 8 with Seibu between 1982-1992, another with the Hawks in 1999, and then two with the Giants in 2000 and 2002. That's unreal.

Speaking of the postseason, they are changing the rules back so that there's no one-game advantage in the playoffs, and the Central and Pacific Leagues will have the exact same format. If there is any karmic justice in the world, the Hawks will place #1 in the Pacific League and then get beaten out in the playoffs yet again -- just to show that changing the rules to suit your team is always going to be a bad idea.


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