The war below the surface is starting to bubble. We’re talking about last year’s batting champ, Matt Murton (33).
He took a benching for a few games this season when he lost some of his shimmer. He’s brought his average back up to .293 (as of Wednesday), but his lazy fielding in left field has caused problems within the organization. On top of that, he’s making an astronomical 450 million yen this season. A retired Tiger says, “His poor fielding has caused the pitching staff to grumble, and he’s not even hitting .300 this year. The club is also unhappy with his lack of home runs (7). Because of his high salary, it looks like they probably won’t renew his contract for next season.”
That’s where the Giants come in.
On the 19th against the Tigers, down 3-0 in the fifth, the bats exploded. They tied the club record for 10 hits in an inning, the league record for 6 doubles in an inning and put up 12 runs. But manager Hara said, “What caused a revival in our hitting? Hmmm… with the few games we have left… if it were still May or June we might call it that but now…” Indeed at the 112-game point, the team’s .241 average is still worst in the league. Just because they’ve hit well these past two games doesn’t mean they can be trusted.
Second Inning “Sales Pitch” Bomb
One cause is the import hitters. The two who came in last season – Anderson and Cepeda – and the two who joined the team this year – Francisco and Castellanos – all four have precipitated the team’s poor hitting.
Word is that the Giants are going to look even more carefully at imports around the league as they plan ahead for next season. Whether his defense in left field is lazy or not, there is no doubt that defending batting champion 3-time hits leader Murton is a prime target for these Giants.
It looks like Murton can feel it, too. Hanshin says he’s “hitting too few home runs” but on this day he hit an upper-deck monster shot to the left field stands in the second inning. The retired Tiger continued, “The only clubs that might be able to guarantee him a salary close to his current 450-million yen deal are the Giants, SoftBank and Orix. He’s almost 34 has no intentions of going back to the majors. If he moves from the wide expansive Koshien to the narrow confines of Tokyo Dome, he should easily be able to reach double digits in home runs. Surely he is taking his game up a notch when he plays the Giants as he did (on Wednesday) with that home run in order to show that he is worth the high price tag currently attached to him.”
The Tigers’ were reduced to tears as their lead (after Wednesday) is down to 1.5 games after taking a thorough beating in two straight games. Should Murton make an off-season move to the enemy Kyojin, the shock would be even greater.
Translator’s Commentary: This is a bunch of sensationalist nonsense. Yes, the future of the team’s most dependable import since Randy Bass is a concern, especially with his high salary and “underwhelming numbers.” But if you look at his stats over the past two months, you see a man on fire. He is not playing to impress the Giants or to improve his chances of signing a big off-season deal with another team. He is playing for the love of the game and the team he represents now. The story of where he plays in 2016 and beyond will continue to make headlines, rumors will continue to swirl and Tigers fans will continue to debate. But let’s give it a rest and wait at least until the offseason to start speculating. Shame on you, Nikkei Gendai, for stirring the pot in the middle of a key series. Hack journalism at its worst.