While I don’t won’t to speculate on the future of Masahiro Tanaka, MLB.com posted this video which touches on the topic.
As mentioned in the video, small-market clubs seem to be fine with letting Japanese players wait until their service time is over. I agree with that sentiment, although it’s a bit unfair that talented players in Japan are forced to wait until after their prime playing years to make the jump to the Major Leagues. However, it’s a problem that Japanese players have to deal with. The players themselves need to fight for a shorter but reasonable servie-time, something that NPB (and MLB) teams are loath to do. From the vantage point of NPB, NPB clubs, and NPB fans, restricting the movement of Japanese ballplayers away from foreign leagues (i.e., MLB) protects the domestic league and market.
The legendary Isao Harimoto, in a recent episode of the sports section of the Sunday Morning show, called Tanaka selfish for his desire to leave his team and teammates for the Major Leagues.
My prediction: Something will happen in the eleventh hour allowing Tanaka to play in the MLB.
The Chunichi Dragons are considering signing former Boston Red Sox outfielder Manny Ramirez. Last season I reported that the Rakuten Golden Eagles had looked into the possibility of signing Ramirez, but that came to nothing as he signed with a Taiwanese club and later a minor league deal with the Texas Rangers. Although Ramirez failed to get a call-up, he can still hit, though not for power. He hit .259 at Round Rock and .352 in Taiwan. Ramirez is not going to fooled by off-speed pitches, and if the Dragons let Manny be Manny and don’t expect him to hit over 20 home runs, then he should do well–though he will probably give new manager Motonobu Taneshige a lot of stress as Manny starts kicking balls or intercepting cut-offs in the outfield. The press in Japan is reporting that it’ll take about $300-200 thousand to sign him. Not a bad!
If I were the Dragons I would sign him and see how things work out. I believe he can still hit for average and provide the occasional home run, though he’ll be a disaster on defense.
These are two videos I found on Youtube. Enjoy!
The legend of Masahiro Tanaka has just gotten bigger. No sane major league manager would let their ace pitcher throw 160 pitches one game and close it the next, but this is Japan and the reasonable and logical are thrown out the window for a good story, etc.
After giving up a single, Tanaka struck out a struggling Hayato Sakamoto, got John Bowker to ground out, leaving former major league player Jose Lopez in his way. Lopez singled to right. With runners at first and thrid, Tanaka used his split-finger to bring the Eagles to a dramatic Japan Series victory. Wow!