Hanshin Hankyu Holdings held a general stockholders meeting on Thursday. 4,753 people attended the meeting that last about two and a half hours.
Three points were brought up by individuals regarding the Hanshin Tigers.
A middle-aged woman: "I do not feel that enthusiasm from Matt Murton this year. What is his contract situation for next season?"
A middle-aged man:
[Sports Hochi quote] "I have gone to Ni-gun games and they bore me. ... [The team] does not develop young players and instead brings them in from the outside. All we have are a bunch of high-priced players like [Kenji] Jojima and [Hiroyuki] Kobayashi. And they do not perform. It is like we are holding on to bad debt. ... I do not care if we are weak. Even if it takes five or ten years, I want to see young players develop. ... I am sure everyone feels the same way." Followed by applause.
[Sanspo quote] "I have a request, maybe it is a complaint, for the Hanshin Tigers. Lately, this team has not developed any young talent. ... I have watched Ni-gun games and there is nothing of interest. The players are not vocal. Some of it seems very similar to Yutaka Wada at the Ichi-gun level, but he is still new. I do have complaints, but I will restrain myself. Ni-gun manager Haruki Yoshitake is in his second year. I feel the young players are not developing. The year before last, Katsuo Hirata was the Ni-gun manager. And before that Akinobu Okada*. Back then, the players were alive and vocal. They excited us with their play on the field. And young players developed. ... Take [Kenji] Jojima and [Hiroyuki] Kobayashi for example. They are not producing. They are paid a lot of money. I can not help but feel we are just holding on to bad debt. Everyone else agrees with me, right? Right?! ... I am very worried about what this team will be like next year, the year after, five years, ten years from now. I would like to see the Tigers develop young talent for a bright future."
* Sanspo points out it was actually Ikuo Shimano
A man: "I asked if I could get a few game schedules for the stationmaster's office at Osaka Umeda Station back in February and was turned away because it was still too early. I think that may be one of the reasons why there has been a drop in attendance."
Team president Nobuo Minami responded as follows:
[Sports Hochi Osaka quote] Ideally, we would use the draft to improve our farm system. I am very sorry that our bad season has caused such concern for even the stockholders.
[Sponichi quote] I apologize for the poor season our team is having. ... I understand that the best thing for the team would be develop the talent we draft. Our younger players were blocked from advancing to the next level because of veterans, but that will get more opportunities now. I will take your opinions to heart and apply them to running this team.
With regards to Matt Murton:
Murton is a perfectionist. But he is panicking a little because pitches he thought were balls are being called strikes. After games, he will spend an hour watching footage, he is doing his best. Last year, he started to turn things around at about this time. I still have hope he will turn it around [this year].