The Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics will open next season in Japan with a two-game series at the Tokyo Dome on March 28 and 29. Major League Baseball and the players association said the series will be dedicated to assisting rebuilding in Japan following this year’s earthquake. It’s the fourth season opener in Japan and the first since the Boston Red Sox and Athletics played in 2008.
“The Seattle Mariners are proud to represent Major League Baseball and open the 2012 regular season in Japan against the Oakland Athletics,” said Mariners President Chuck Armstrong. “More Mariners games have been televised in Japan over the past 10 years than any other MLB team, so the fans there will be familiar with us. This will be a memorable experience for our players and our organization.”
The Athletics will be the home team, the Mariners the “road” team. Seattle and Oakland had been scheduled to play there in March 2003, but the series was scrapped because of the U.S. invasion of Iraq the day before the clubs were to depart.
This time around though this series could feature a pair of Japanese stars, the Mariners Ichiro Suzuki and Athletics Hideki Matsui, who is eligible for free agency.
Oakland Athletics Hideki Matsui hit his 500th professional homer and drove in three runs to lead his team over the Detroit Tigers 7-5 last night. Matsui has hit 168 major-league homers after hitting 332 for the Yomiuri Giants to join the 500-homer club.
“I’m happy to get it over with, and it is even better that it helped us win a game,” Matsui said through an interpreter. “It isn’t like I’ve been aiming for this, because I don’t really combine numbers from Japan and here. To me, they are two separate leagues.”
Oakland manager Bob Melvin disagreed.
“I don’t care that it is split, or how many he hit where,” he said. “It is still the major leagues here and the major leagues in Japan, and it is quite a feat by a fantastic player.”
What do we get for ten dollars?
Racists or funny? You decide.
With Major League Baseball Opening Day just 20 days away its time to prepare yourself on who to draft for your fantasy baseball team and Sports Grind Entertainment is here to help you. We’ll provide you with a few list of things you don’t do on draft day and what to keep your eye on in the season but first we are going to breakdown each position everyday starting with the catchers.
The catcher position is not one your going to find a whole lot of power from but looking for a player that is going to be solid as rock in the consistency department. Your not looking to draft catchers extremely early in the draft but don’t miss out by waiting to long. At the end of the year normally the fantasy teams sitting at top the rankings had an above average catcher they could just plug into the lineup from day one and never worry about. If your searching the waiver wire all season long for a catcher, its because you made the mistake here in at the draft.
Now lets move into the rankings. It’s easy to write that you should draft American League MVP Joe Mauer or Boston Red Sox’s Victor Martinez or Atlanta Braves Brian McCann but lets face it, everyone can’t get the best. If they do end up on your roster you’ve surely made a few people jealous.
Breakout Player: Mike Napoli, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
- Napoli has come up through the Angels organization and steady increased his plate appearances and the amount of time he’s seen behind the plate each season. Even playing in a part time role Napoli has managed to crank out 20 home runs the last two seasons and his highest plate appearance being that of 382. Another plus for Napolis is that he definitely with see all action against opposing lefties since he hit .330 against them last season. He could even get days off behind the plate and stay in the lineup at the DH spot when Hideki Matsui needs a day off.
Sleeper Player: Baltimore Orioles, Matt Wieters
- Wieters came up to the majors May 29 and did a respectable job as Baltimore’s starting catcher. He is a talented young hitter and should come to improve. In just a 169 game minor league career he hit 32 home runs. He spent most of last season batting in the seventh or eighth spot while getting adjusted to the big leagues but is likely to move into the fifth spot or fourth spot in the everyday lineup.
Risky Player: San Francisco Giants, Bengie Molina
- Molina did hit 20 home runs last season but at 35 the questions of his body being at risk for injury is highly of concern here. Add to the fact the Giants are waiting for any sign to turn the page and hand over the responsibilities to future, Buster Posey. He’s gone from top prospect to starter waiting to be and that’s not a good sign for Molina.
Slipping Player: Los Angeles Dodgers, Russell Martin
- Martin is only 27 but seems as if he’s playing with a body of 38 year old. Martin has led National League catchers in at-bats for three consecutive years, but all the wear and tear behind the plate is taking its toll and catching up to the All-Star. Martin’s body may fall him taking him out of the game before it was meant to be. Don’t look for a 20 steal season from Martin ever again either.
Be sure to come back tomorrow for the preview of first base.
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have signed World Series MVP Hideki Matsui to serve as DH for one-year at $6.5 million, possibly marking the end of the Vladimir Guerrero era with the Angels.
The former Yomiuri Giants and New York Yankees hit .274 last season with 28 home runs, and that kind of production in the DH spot should really benefit them, who are relying on Kendry Morales, Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter, and now Matsui to carry the team in production. The Angels have Juan Rivera in left field and Bobby Abreu in right field but if Matsui’s knees are in good shape, he could see time when Rivera or Abreu need a day off.
The 35-year-old left-handed-hitter has enjoyed a prosperous career in the United States with a .292 batting average with 140 home runs and 597 RBIs over seven Major League seasons with the Yankees. And he’s coming off a season in which he had .274 batting average, 28 home runs and 90 RBIs while also posting a .367 on-base percentage and .509 slugging percentage.
Matsui, like Guerrero, is nearing the end of a storied career and, combining Japan and the United States, is 133 hits shy of 2,500, 28 home runs shy of 500 and 14 RBIs shy of 1,500. And in the Majors, he’s 23 hits shy of 1,000, 84 games shy of 1,000 and two doubles shy of 200. He’s also the first player since former closer John Wetteland in 1996 to switch teams after being named World Series MVP.
I gotta admit I have been neglecting my responsibilities when it comes to offering Sports Grind Entertainment feelings about all the moves happening at the Winter Meetings in Indianapolis. Instead I’ve just been siting on my fat ass and watching as fan and enjoying that Christmas always comes early for this O.G. baseball fan. So I’ll start off by tossing the ball around the diamond with the blockbuster trade that going the hot stove burning.
The three team deal had the New York Yankees receiving All-Star center fielder Curtis Granderson. The Arizona Diamondbacks received right-hander Edwin Jackson and right-hander Ian Kennedy. The Detroit Tigers acquired the most players in getting lefty reliever Phil Coke and prospect Austin Jackson and right-hander Max Scherzer and left-hander Daniel Schlereth.
I’ll go by win-loss record in breaking down each team involvement, so first up is the World Series champion Yankees (103-59) who acquired Grandson. He’s a web gem in the outfield who’s only 28 and adds another left handed bat to an already dangerous lineup. Granderson hit .249 with 30 home runs, 71 RBIs and 20 steals. But to acquire Grandson the Yankees gave up Kennedy who has been hit with the injury bug but is fairly young and has only pitched 59 innings in big leagues. Coke is also another young arm sent packing, he was the Yankees primary left-handed reliever for 2009. The Yankees dug into their farm system and sent their best prospect rated by Baseball America Austin Jackson away.
My prospective is that this move signals that they are unlikely to re-sign both Johnny Damon and World Series MVP Hideki Matsui and might have bailed on too much youth but these are the Yankees so you can almost guarantee they will always be movers and shakers if they see an area of weakness in the future.
The Tigers (86-77) are next up to bat and keep in mind that this ball club forced a one game playoff with the Minnesota Twins. Detroit received a young left-handed Coke to help out an already strong pitching staff and Austin Jackson to eventually take over for Grandson. They reeled in a strikeout machine in Scherzer who is a number two starter on most clubs but could be pushed as far down as fourth with the Tigers, he struck out 174 batters in 170 1/3 innings. Detroit also received Schlereth, the son of former NFL lineman Mark Schlereth, who has a mid-90s fastball and could be the Tigers future closer or slot in to be the setup man.
The Tigers did give up a web gem outfielder in Grandson but where able to shed his $23 million contract over the next three years and the arbitration-eligible Edwin Jackson. In return received a plethora of young talent on the mound and a possible replacement for the center field spot.
Coming in last in this trade as well as the National League West is the Diamondbacks (70-92). Arizona received All-Star Edwin Jackson who is World Series tested and fails to the number three starter behind aces Dan Haren, Brandon Webb. and replacing the young arm of Scherzer with Kennedy. Edwin Jackson finished the season with a record of 13-9 with a 3.62 ERA and 191 strikeouts in 214 innings, his best ever in MLB.
The Diamondbacks might have given up two young arms but a huge reason why the team fail to the lows they did last year was the season ending injury to Webb after one start and the lack of run production. While the bats haven’t been address yet, the pitching staff didn’t take a nosedive.
Yankees: Winners/Tigers: Winners/Diamondbacks: Winners
The Yomiuri Giants defeated the Nippon Ham Fighters 2-0 to win the Japan Series in six games, the franchise’s 21st Japan Series title. The Seibu Lions, last season’s winners, are a distant second with 13 championships. The Giants is the former club of New York Yankees World Series MVP Hideki Matsui, who batted .302 with 332 homers and 889 RBIs while with the team for 10 seasons. It was the first Japan Series title in seven years for the Giants, the last year Matsui was there.
Catcher Shinnosuke Abe drove in the game-winning run to help the Giants defeat the Fighters who was named the Japan Series MVP after the game. Abe doubled over the head of center fielder Yoshio Itoi to give Yomiuri a 1-0 lead in the second inning at Sapporo Dome. Tetsuya Matsumoto hit a two-out single and scored on an Atsunori Inaba error in the sixth inning to make it 2-0.
Yomiuri starter Shun Tono threw just 14 pitches in the first inning before being struck on the hand while attempting to field a liner back to the mound by Shinji Takahashi, he was replaced by Tetsuya Utsumi. Utsumi threw 4-2/3 scoreless innings to pick up the win. Utsumi didn’t expect to get a second chance to redeem himself after after giving up four runs in 2 2/3 innings in Game 2 in the Japan Series but he responded like a champion when he was given the opportunity.
Utsumi, who got the win, and relievers Kiyoshi Toyoda, Tetsuya Yamaguchi and Daisuke Ochi helped get the ball to closer Marc Kroon in the bottom of the eighth with runners on first and second with two away. Kroon took over for Ochi and retired Tomochika Tsuboi to get out of the jam in the eighth.
Kroon gave up a lead off double to Tomohiro Nioka in the ninth and allowed pinch runner Kazuya Murata to reach third later in the inning. But he struck out Atsunori Inaba and Shinji Takahashi to nail down the four-out save. It was Kroon’s third save he earned in the championship round.
“We were able to execute our ‘winning pattern’ today with Kroon closing for us,” manager Tatsunori Hara said. “In the end we are No. 1, and it felt great to be tossed in the air during the doage.”
The New York Yankees are Major League Baseball’s World Champions after winning Game 6 of the 105th World Series 7-3 over the Philadelphia Phillies, who I wrongly predicted to win in 5 and keep the championship in the National League.
I admit my MLB postseason predictions where my worst ever and about as foul as that after taste from vomiting, utterly nasty, Ryan Howard, and I will go sit somewhere till pitchers and catches report in February.
I am glad to see the core four back on top especially Derek Jeter and the best closer of all time Mariano Rivera. Captain Cheeseburger Sabathia welcome to the champion stage, you deserve it. If the Yankees didn’t win it all, then Mark Teixeira you would be enjoying an ass ripping for not producing at all during the postseason with your bat. You didn’t bring the bat but you did bring the five fingers covered in gold, credit for shining in another area of your game when the bat went ice cold.
Brain Cashman your a champion once again but your off season surely doesn’t get any easier with some tough decisions lingering on free agents Johnny Damon, Andy Pettitte, and World Series MVP Hideki Matsui, who didn’t make those decisions any easier.
A big congratulations to Alex Rodriguez, the 2009 season really was all about you, now your a World Series champion, and no one can take that off your resume.
Hey lets not forget Chien-Ming Wang is a champion too.
As for the Phillies, great job, I do wish you could have given me one more night of baseball but you didn’t. That club option on Cliff Lee is without a doubt gonna be picked up. It’s a shame that Cole Hamels pretty much checked out on the season back on June 14 and that Jamie Moyer got hurt right as the season pretty much ended, he would have been a nice option.
You know it’s coming so lets just say Brad Lidge you blow in every way known to mankind, I hate you, I hate you, I hate you.
Congratulations to George Steinbrenner and his New York Yankees on their MLB record 27th World Series title. Get well Boss.