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Seattle Mariners and Oakland A’s to open 2012 season in Japan

by on Sep.29, 2011 @ 6:03 am, under MLB
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From MLB.com's Mark Newman:

On the final full day of the 2011 regular season, Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association announced that the 2012 season will open in another country for the sixth time -- with the Mariners facing the Athletics on March 28-29 in a two-game Japan Opening Series.

Japan Opening Series 2012 will mark the fourth season opener in Japan and the first since the Red Sox and A's played in '08 at Tokyo Dome, site of next year's openers. Since 1999, 10 clubs (Rockies, Padres, Mets, Cubs, Rangers, Blue Jays, Yankees, Rays, Red Sox and A's) have participated in international openers.

...

The two-game series in Japan will be dedicated to assisting in the rebuilding efforts across that nation. Japan continues a long recovery from the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami last March. The Japanese National Police Agency confirmed 15,805 deaths, 5,927 injuries and 4,040 people missing across 18 prefectures, as well as more than 125,000 buildings damaged or destroyed.

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Oakland A’s have more interest in Hisashi Iwakuma (RAK) than Tsuyoshi Wada (SOF)

by on Sep.24, 2011 @ 3:11 pm, under MLB, NPB
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Nikkan Sports reports that Oakland A's assistant GM David Forst said the team had more interest in Hisashi Iwakuma than Tsuyoshi Wada because they're more familiar with him and because they have a decent relationship with his current agent (Paul Cobbe).

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Rakuten Eagles: We didn’t post Iwakuma for the money

by on Dec.08, 2010 @ 1:48 pm, under NPB
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Hisashi Iwakuma was quoted as saying the following:

More than feeling disappointed, I'm feeling relieved.  I'll work towards helping this team win next year. ... I was really concerned about whether they really wanted me.  I hope that the posting system improves over time.

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Club rep Jun Yoneda spoke to reporters today and said that the Eagles were never in it for the money.

"It's really too bad [Iwakuma's] dream didn't come true," said Yoneda.  "On the other hand, the fact we won't be losing him is big for us.  It ultimately worked out for the best for us."

Yoneda then added, "It isn't as if we posted him in order to make money.  So it really isn't a big deal."

===

Don Nomura held a press conference in Sendai earlier today and said that the A's offer was low and that they weren't being sincere.  Nomura said that while the A's were hoping Iwakuma would break and take the offer, he advised Iwakuma not to accept because it would create a bad precedent for future players.

And while the A's did up their offer a little, Nomura said that they pointed to Iwakuma becoming a free agent next year as a reason for not raising their offer more.

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Daisuke Matsuzaka was apparently a little disappointed about what happened to Hisashi Iwakuma and said that the posting system likely needed some changes.

"Iwakuma became a sacrifice," said Matsuzaka.  "I'm sure he's feeling really disappointed / frustrated.  It almost happened to me.  But unless something like this happens, nothing will ever get done.  Now there's a reason to, at the very least, discuss the [problems in the posting system]."

Matsuzaka also suggested Iwakuma do his best next season so that he could go where he wanted (in the US) in 2012.

===

UPDATE: added comments from Iwakuma.

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UPDATE: Hisashi Iwakuma will return to the Eagles in 2011

by on Dec.07, 2010 @ 10:55 am, under MLB, NPB
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11:58pm JST

Comment from Senichi Hoshino:

He told me he was returning next season.  I'm not sure if I should be happy or not, it's a little confusing.

11:17pm JST

Some comments from various people:

Eagles' Pitching coach Ryoji Moriyama: It's got to be tough for Iwakuma, but for the team this is big.  I'd like him to do his best next season as an anchor in the starting rotation.

Iwakuma's step father and Eagles' Ni-gun Ikusei coach, Koji Hirohashi: It's too bad that his dream fell apart, and I'm sure he was shocked at first, but he'll be ok because he's pretty good at switching gears. ... [The A's] don't have what the Japanese call sincerity. ... As the father of my daughter, I hear [Oakland] isn't very safe, so it worked out.  You have to think positively.

2:36pm JST

Slusser tweets that the A's and Iwakuma simply couldn't get things done even thought they wanted to.  And it seems the A's also made it "...clear to Iwakuma that they'll have interest in him next year when he is a free agent."

10:55am JST

According to Susan Slusser's latest report, a deal between the Oakland A's and Hisashi Iwakuma appears highly unlikely.

A snip:

With four-plus hours to go before the deadline to sign Iwakuma, that's looking pretty unlikely; Beane said the sides have not talked today. A source in Japan told me this morning that talks continued - and technically, that was correct, because when the sides last talked, it was today, Monday, in Japan. Now it's Tuesday morning there, and no sign that Iwakuma and his agent, Don Nomura, are backing off their desire for $12 million per year; the A's are offering around $9 million with the posting fee included.

It's starting to look even more as if the A's will get their $19.1 million posting fee back, possibly to apply to another Japanese player - free-agent target Hideki Matsui.

Sports Hochi also adds that Iwakuma probably didn't help matters over the 24 hours so, especially after rumors started spreading that he already decided to stay in Japan and was planning on holding a press conference on the 8th to make it official.

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REPORT: Hisashi Iwakuma may have decided to stay with Eagles

by on Dec.06, 2010 @ 2:32 pm, under NPB
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It appears Hisashi Iwakuma has pretty given up on the Oakland A's and has decided that he'll be returning to the Rakuten Eagles next season.  At least that's according to a report that was filed by Sponichi (and Sanspo is carrying the same thing) at 12:04pm JST.

And according to an unnamed baseball source mentioned in the report, Iwakuma is planning on holding a press conference on the 8th to announce his decision.

Also included in the report is the following comment by A's GM Billy Beane:

We are in contact with Iwakuma's [agent].  The only thing I can say right now is to wait for the deadline.

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Things not looking good for Oakland A’s and Hisashi Iwakuma

by on Dec.06, 2010 @ 1:00 am, under NPB
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The SF Chronicle's Susan Slusser has tweeted a number of messages over the last couple of hours (here, here, here, and here) regarding Hisashi Iwakuma and the Oakland A's.  They essentially say the same thing: that talks between the A's and Iwakuma are not going well and that the A's basically have less than 24 hours left to strike a deal because they'll also need to squeeze in a physical before it can be made official.

I guess this means the Rakuten Eagles will have Iwakuma for one more season.  That could be a good thing as it'll give them another year to find another capable starter to fill Iwakuma's shoes once he leaves after the 2011 season.

It also means the Eagles should have a fairly decent chance of being competitive next season.

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NPB commissioner will continue to monitor Iwakuma negtiations

by on Nov.25, 2010 @ 3:44 pm, under NPB
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NPB commissioner Ryozo Kato told reporters that he will continue to monitor the Hisashi Iwakuma negotiations while also saying that it wasn't the NPB commissioner's place to judge how things were being handled.  According to the US - Japan Player Contract Agreement, the NPB commissioner is powerless to do much of anything with regards to the bidding process.  If there is a problem during the process, only the MLB commissioner has the authority to step in (article 13).

Don Nomura talks to USA Today about the posting system

by on Nov.24, 2010 @ 1:08 pm, under NPB
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It seems Don Nomura spoke to USA Today via e-mail the other day about Hisashi Iwakuma and the current posting.  The stuff about Iwakuma is basically rehash of things I've already posted, but there was an interesting part about the posting system.  Here's a snip about it from the article:

Nomura's solution to create leverage in negotiations is to take the three highest bids, make the average the amount of posting fee, which would be paid by which of the three teams is able to negotiate a contract with the player.

That might actually make sense for MLB clubs since it could help drop the posting fee.  And it would give players some more options.  But whether or not something like that would get instituted is an entirely different story.

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Has Hisashi Iwakuma given on playing in the Majors this year?

by on Nov.24, 2010 @ 9:21 am, under NPB
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11:34am JST

Perhaps he hasn't given up 100%.  A Nikkan Sports article is carrying the following quote from Iwakuma:

I can't get to down on this.  My agent told me that as part of the negotiation process, break downs do happen.  I'll wait with hope until the deadline.

9:21am JST

According to a report by Sponichi, Hisashi Iwakuma may have given up on playing in the Majors this year.

During yesterday's Fan Appreciation Day, Iwakuma apparently told teammates that it seemed as though he might be returning to the Rakuten Eagles next season.  He was also quoted as saying:

I just want to play for a team that wants me.  The only thing I was looking for [from the A's] is that feeling.  I am Japanese. ... I'll switch gears now.  It can't be helped.

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Rakuten: Hoshino, Tanaka would be happy to have Iwakuma back

by on Nov.23, 2010 @ 10:59 am, under MLB, NPB
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If Hisashi Iwakuma ends up returning to the Rakuten Eagles, he'll make Masahiro Tanaka, Motohiro Shima, and Senichi Hoshino happy campers.

Tanaka: "I don't want to be inconsiderate of Iwakuma's feelings, but for me and for the team, [having him around next year] is big.  He is our ace and whenever we pitch in the same series, I always take notes."

Shima: "I know he'll be able to win 10-15 games.  I think we'd also have a chance to win it all, so I'd do my best to play with him."

Hoshino: "I can't really be 100% happy until I hear it from the club, but I was in the middle of trying to figure out how to replace a [double-digit-win] pitcher."

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