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[4/28/2014] Rakuten Eagles interested in John Bowker, closing in on deal

by on Apr.28, 2014 @ 11:08 am, under NPB

According to a number of reports, the Rakuten Eagles are talking to thirty-year-old outfielder John Bowker and may be close to finalizing a deal, pending the results of a physical.  Bowker is appealing to the Eagles because he of his experience in the NPB (he spent two seasons with the Yomiuri Giants).

Andruw Jones has shown decent power with six home runs so far this season, but has struggled with consistency.  Kevin Youkilis was brought in this year to fill the hole left by the departing Casey McGehee, but was taken off the active roster on Saturday with a heel injury.  There are also concerns about his back over the course of the entire season.

Bowker can play the outfield and first base.  He will most likely fill in for Youkilis for the time being, but could also provide the Eagles with additional options down the road -- insurance in case of injury or to help shake things up.  He will most likely bat fifth in the line-up.

Source: Nikkan Sports 4/28/2014, Sports Hochi 4/28/2014, Sponichi 4/28/2014

[UPDATE 4/29 @ 1:27pm]

Bowker could arrive in Japan within the next few days -- he is already in the process of getting his visa and will fly over as soon as everything is ready.  A contract with the Eagles will be finalized once he passes his physical in Japan.

Source: Nikkan Sports 4/28/2014

5 comments on “[4/28/2014] Rakuten Eagles interested in John Bowker, closing in on deal

  1. muratafan

    If you read the interview with Youkilis, it was pretty obvious that his Rakuten stop was his last. Kevin didn’t appear to have a whole heck of a lot left in the gas tank and at least Bowker is hungry. McGehee was a diamond in the rough since he was young and hungry (wanting to prove he was worthy of an MLB contract – which he got). I dreaded the signing of Youkilis – especially for that money! I won’t second guess the lack of signing of Pena, I thought he was done as well. HOWEVER….Dae Ho Lee was available for pretty much the same price (although Lee may have commanded a multi-year deal, which he got from Softbank).

    My Eagles desperately need some pop. With Oka-wari Kun back with Seibu, it won’t be long before the Eagles will be the team with the fewest home runs. 2 very good starters (Norimoto, Karashima), two up-and-down starters (Mima and Mori) and a solid bullpen (especially with Falkenborg) and some pop will mean an ‘A’ class finish and probably 3rd place.

    That’s what I love about the Pa-League, there is so much parity that a single ‘breakout’ or ‘surprise’ season can really carry a team to the top. This year is no exception and the only guarantee that I can see is that Softbank is a shoo-in for the playoffs and everything else is up for grabs. Seibu is not out of it by a long shot. If Nakamura can stay healthy, there’s no reason they can contend for the final playoff spot. It’s going to be a long – but good – season!

    1. Gen Post author

      I’m not sure if Lee would have gone to Rakuten for the same money. Playing for Softbank means living in Fukuoka, which means he can travel to and from Korea fairly easily and quickly. I think that may have been a factor for Lee.

      I think Pena would have been an interesting option. I was actually hoping the Eagles would sign. Even with the risk, he would have cost a lot less.

  2. muratafan

    While I am disappointed that the Eagles didn’t sign Pena, I can only say that with 20/20 hindsight. When Orix signed him, I pretty much yawned. But this month has been unreal and it has certainly vaulted Orix from an also-ran status to a contender very quickly. I knew Orix had a solid bullpen with Sato and Hirano and two very good starters in Kaneko and Nishi, but I thought where would the offense come from? They lost Baldiris and Gotoh and Dae Ho Lee. Yet, due to Pena’s breakout month, it has made a huge difference.

    Personally, after reading up on Mejia, the Eagles perhaps should have gone for him and not Youkilis. Mejia is still young and has shown a really solid track record in AAA. Given the right chance, Mejia will probably do quite well.

    1. Steve Novosel

      Pena’s going to fade, I can pretty much guarantee it. He’s already slipped greatly since that first week of the season. Fortunately for Orix, their pitching is 100% legit.

      I thought the Youkilis signing was a terrible idea at the time, and it’s looking to be worse than I thought. Jones is looking more done than he did last year, which is saying a lot. I wish these teams would realize they’re better off signing the guys with a lot to prove than the big name guys at the end of their career.

      Surprised there wasn’t more of a push by other teams to sign Lee Dae Ho. I get that Fukuoka is close to Korea, but it’s not far by plane from anywhere in Japan.

      1. Gen Post author

        I think most teams may have given up on Lee the moment his name was linked to the Hawks. Location may not have been a huge factor, but I think it’s one of those things that can tip the scale if everything else is equal.

        I agree that the Youkilis signing was bad. I think in the end, it was all about name value. After losing Tanaka and McGehee, the Eagles probably felt they had to sign a big name.

        I agree on Pena as well. I don’t see him keeping his current pace up over the course of the entire season either. It’ll be interesting to see if he can keep his PA/BB and PA/SO at the same levels. It’s possible he’s seeing the ball better this season and is more comfortable at the plate though.

        PA/BB: 2012 14.49, 2013 11.40, 2014 7.43
        PA/SO: 2012 3.90, 2013 3.29, 2014 4.52

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