I honestly wish I could do more than just read articles and translate / summarize them. I wish I could witness events firsthand, interview people myself, and dig for stories that people would want to read. Instead, I scour the headlines for interesting stuff and translate the ones I really think people will want to read, and the ones that sound legitimate. But today there were a few that I think will rock the boat a little, no matter their validity. The following stories were taken from Sanspo.com and paraphrased or translated by me. Nothing of my own added in, no check into their truthfulness or accuracy. Take them for what they’re worth, folks.
1) Hankyu-Hanshin Electric General Shareholders’ Meeting
At the shareholders’ meeting on the 16th in Umeda, amidst general questions about railroad companies, a few questions were asked about the baseball club as well. One older man said, “It’s the team’s 80th anniversary and they are awful. I don’t think fans will keep coming to games. I think you should hire Okada as manager next year, what do you think?” referring, of course, to former manager Akinobu Okada.
The reply was: “There have been a lot of painful games up to this point, and we have caused concern to many people. But Wada brought the team through the Climax Series last season and has a track record. The team is 30-33 and just 2.5 games out of first with a full 80 games to go, so we are not even thinking of replacing the manager at this point.”
Another guy wearing a Tigers jersey said, “I wish they would do better. The worst part about the team is that we keep bringing in players from the outside. Why not raise up better players from within the organization? I want to see them win by drafting and training players well, not by purchasing good free agents.”
Yet another talked about the draft as well, specifically saying he wanted the team to draft Tomoya Mori (now with the Saitama Seibu Lions) two years ago, and what the GM was thinking. No answer was printed in the press.
2) The Post-Murton Years Will Start in 2016
The club revealed on June 15 that it will not plan to re-sign Matt Murton next season. GM Nakamura will make a trip to the US in July in search of a new foreigner who could replace him for next year. The current slump combined with his US$3.9 million salary are the breaking points. Should the manager find an outfielder that he likes on this trip, it would mean the team is cutting its ties with Murton.
As he continues to struggle through this slump (batting .248 and 0 HRs through 63 games), the team is exploring other options but trying to care for Murton at the same time. It seems they are looking beyond this season and ahead to 2016.
A team executive commented, “Obviously his numbers at this point do not live up to the salary he is being paid.”
The plan is for GM Nakamura and Manager Wada to meet after Interleague play ends and discuss the team’s current state of affairs. The GM was planning to leave for the US at the end of July, but now chances are it will come a little earlier in the month, a team representative said. Whether or not Nakamura will be able to find someone better than Murton, who has a strong track record already, will be a true test of his scouting eye.
Murton returned to the starting lineup in Game 3 of the Orix series, getting two hits, but that did not put anyone at ease. Obviously with 80 games to go this year, his fate is not yet sealed, but he will have to go on an impressive hitting spree in order to convince the team to keep him on beyond this season.
3) Team Will Try to Keep Messenger, Oh
Messenger is in the second year of his 2 year 500-million yen contract, which is significantly lower than Murton’s. He struggled earlier this year and was dispatched to the farm team, but has since thrown 24 consecutive scoreless innings, and it appears the team is looking to sign him on for next season.
Meanwhile, the team seems interested in bringing back second-year closer Oh, but if he demands a huge raise on his two year 600-million yen deal, it will leave the team with a difficult decision to make.
First baseman Mauro Gomez signed a two year 200-million yen contract last offseason with 2016 being the club’s option.