On Wednesday, the Fighters traded Naoto Inada, Suguru Matsuyama, and Yataro Sakamoto to the Baystars for Takeharu Katoh, Takahiro Matsuka, and Yuta Sekiguchi.
This trade seems REALLY weird to me and as usual I think the Baystars got the better deal, just like two years ago with the Yakult 3-on-3 trade (where they got a hot young infielder and two young relievers, all players in their mid-20's, and we got a lefty starter, a middle reliever, and a utility guy, all in their early 30's, all of whom are now gone from the team). At least this time we gave up two older guys and a younger guy for one older guy and two younger guys, but I'm still not sure what exactly we need another outfielder for? I guess trades are always hard on the fans in some ways -- we get attached to guys and it's difficult to see them leave. I still haven't gotten over Yohei Kaneko getting released, after all. At least there isn't quite as much ridiculous movement as there is in the MLB...
Dear Naoto Inada:
It is really hard to believe you aren't going to be wearing a Fighters uniform next year. From the moment you took a running somersault into the camera well (in what I will forever call "The Epic Battle of Naoto vs. The Cameraman) during the 2007 Japan Series, you became somewhat of a cult hero among Fighters fans. However, it's true there really isn't anywhere for you to break into the lineup as a regular right now, especially with Ei-chan and Shinji at the corners... still, you were a great player to have around, a fantastic moodmaker type, and we Fighters fans will be a bit sadder to not have your smile around next year.
Personally, I'm still going to be wearing my yellow Naoto bracelet with my Fighters gear anyway, but I don't know if I'll come to Yokohama to see you or not. Yokosuka, maybe :) Though I suppose if you got uniform number #5, then I could start wearing my old Takuro jersey again!
Lots of love and thanks for the memories,
Deanna the Marinerd
Back at the beginning of the season, when Mariko first started bringing Moe-chan with her to the park, everyone insisted she had to decide on a favorite player. As a teenage girl it seemed obvious she would just pick some good-looking guy, but she hung out after the games and talked to a bunch of you to get a better idea of who you were. When she showed up with a Matsuyama jersey and signboard and all, I said "Ah, you decided! Why Matsuyama?" and she said that of all the players she talked to, she thought you were the nicest guy and she thought you were working very hard and were very serious about your game.
I only talked to you that one time back in May, and only a little, but from watching you play I have to agree with her assessment: you definitely have a fine baseball spirit within you.
I do wonder what'll happen to Mariko and Moe next year though, given they were devout supporters of you and Yohei, and now both of you are gone :(
I think it's great you can go play in Yokohama since it's your hometown and all, though I don't think you will look good in Searex teal, so get your butt up to ichi-gun ASAP!
from Deanna (the crazy gaijin)
I can't believe it, but you were supposed to be last remaining player from the 3-on-3 trade with Yakult two years ago. Hajime retired and became a coach, and Shaggy Shugo decided Hokkaido wasn't really his style. Meanwhile Yakult has Keizo Kawashima kicking butt in the left infield, and Takehiko Oshimoto being his usual Everyday Oshi self, and even Yoshitaka Hashimoto had a good season over there. Grumble.
So, it pains me to think that you and the others will go to Yokohama and be awesome, but in reality I do wish you the best, especially due to your Urawa Gakuin roots and Saitama pride. Now rather than hanging out with your kohai Sunaga and Imanari over with the Fighters, you can hang out with crazy Kizuka-sempai. I'm actually kind of jealous! :)
See you again someday... maybe...
Deanna (the crazy gaijin)
Dear Takeharu Katoh,
You know, you were the winning pitcher in one of the first Baystars games I ever saw after moving to Japan... but since then I am fairly sure I haven't seen you do anything. Also, the Fighters have recently had bad luck with pitchers named Katoh. But, well, we must have traded for you for a reason, so I hope you can come here and do some good. Being from Yamagata, maybe Hokkaido will be good for you? We can only hope.
Dear Yuta Sekiguchi,
Hey, I actually saw you play this year with the Searex, but didn't have much of an opinion on you. Yet. Looking forward to seeing you at Kamagaya next year.
Dear Takahiro Matsuka,
I am really happy you are joining the Fighters, to be honest -- I've been a closet fan of yours for quite a while, the same way I go to watch Tokyo University's baseball team play and secretly cheer for them to win, even though I know it's so unlikely. I have been calling you "the smartest guy in baseball", being as you are the 4th man in NPB history to have graduated from Todai and also to play at ichi-gun. It is unclear whether this is more because Tokyo University does not attract students with baseball talent, or because anyone who graduates from Todai probably has better long-term career choices than "pro baseball player", and are unlikely to be unsucky enough to get drafted anyway... but either way, you are very special, and I wish I'd worked up the nerve to talk to you before. You can definitely expect to get stalked by a random weird gaijin this year, I promise.
Also, do you speak English? I know Todai has a ridiculous English section on their entrance exams... I'm just curious, it's fine if you don't.
I look forward to harrassing you this year! Baseball nerds unite!
Deanna the Marinerd