Around the Central League: December 28, 2011

A lot has happened since the end of the season a little over a month ago.

Happy holidays everyone! Hope that everyone out there has had a chance to spend some time with loved ones.

This is the first of what will likely be an on-again, off-again column detailing what’s going on with Tokyo’s competition in the Central League.

Chunichi Dragons

  • Morimichi Takagi took over as Chunichi’s new coach following the team’s defeat in the Japan Series last month. Apparently he wants everyone to refer to him by his first name as part of his kinder, gentler, more lovable Dragons approach to running the team.
  • RHP Maximo Nelson re-signed with the club for one year (roughly 80 million yen).
  • After four seasons of mostly second string service, Masaaki Koike (31) declared free agency and rejoined his former team, Yokohama.
  • Signed free agent Takeshi Yamasaki (43) to a one year deal reportedly worth 30 million yen. 2012 will be Yamasaki’s 26th season of professional baseball in Japan.
  • Reliever Takuya Asao re-signed with the team for 260 million yen. He was the first ever league MVP who hadn’t started a single game.
  • RHP Wei-Ying Chen is now a free agent and is looking for an opportunity to play in the majors.
  • First baseman re-signed for 130 million yen.
  • Starting pitcher Enyelbert Soto re-signed for approximately 39 million yen.

Yomiuri Giants

  • The team saw it’s season ended by crosstown rival, Tokyo!
  • Former Yomiuri General Manager, Hidetoshi Kiyotake, filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the Yomiuri Giants, Yomiuri Newpaper Holdings, and Yomiuri’s chairman and chief asshole, Tsuneo Watanabe. This came after Kiyotake was sued by the team and the newspaper about 10 days earlier.
  • Free agent Alex Ramirez decided to leave the team in search of a better long-term playing time situation. He eventually signed with Yokohama.
  • Tatsunori Hara re-signed as the team’s manager. It was a two-year deal.
  • Backup catcher, Kazunari Tsuruoka, declared free agency.
  • Saburo Omura also declared free agency and returned to his former team, Chiba. Only two players before him left the Giants after only one year.
  • Signed RHP Scott Mathieson to a one-year deal worth a reported one million dollars.
  • Signed free agent infielder Shuichi Murata from Yokohama. The two-year deal was worth around 500 million yen.
  • Lured starting pitcher D.J. Houlton away from Fukuoka Softbank with a two-year 375 million yen deal.
  • Re-signed pitchers Romero and Gonzalez.
  • Hired former NPB player, Fernando Seguignol, as the team’s scout in North America.
  • Signed free agent starter Toshiya Sugiuchi away from Fukuoka Softbank.

Hanshin Tigers

  • Akinobu Mayumi stepped aside as manager of the club.
  • Yutaka Wada signed a contract at the beginning of December to manage the Tigers for the next three seasons.
  • Decided to keep Robert Zarate on an ikusei contract for next season.
  • Re-signed overpriced infielder Takahiro Arai for three years at around 250 million yen per year.
  • Closer Fujikawa decided not to exercise his right to domestic free agency and opted for a one-year deal. He apparently wants to play in the majors after next season.
  • Shortstop Toritani also decided to stay with the team and is looking forward to earning his international free agency next season. He has not ruled out a move to the majors in 2013.
  • Starter Randy Messenger re-signed with the team. It was a one-year deal worth roughly 1.5 million dollars. The team apparently has a club option for 2013.
  • Re-signed Matt Murton to a one-year deal worth around three million dollars. It was reported that the contract includes a club option for a second year.
  • Brazell is owed two million dollars for next season, the last year of his two-year contract.
  • Secured Jason Standridge’s services for another year and it will cost the team 1.5 million dollars.
  • Traded 27 year-old pitcher Keiji Uezono to Tohoku for 28 year-old pitcher Shingo Matsuzaki.
  • The team is requiring Brazell to check in with regular training updates. He showed up at spring training this year nearly 30 pounds overweight, so they decided to tighten the screws on him during the off-season this time around.
  • Mizuno will be designing Hanshin’s new uniforms, and it was reported that they will be shown to the public in late January.

Hiroshima Carp

  • Back in November, both Kenta Kurihara and Jun Hirose decided not to declare free agency.
  • Kurihara signed a one-year deal for 160 million yen that is ass-heavy with production-related incentives. He can reportedly earn a 400 million yen bonus if he drives in at least 110 runs. He signed a one-year deal because he’s interested in earning his international free agency option. There is a chance that he’ll test the MLB waters after the 2012 season.
  • Hirose signed a three-year deal worth 60 million yen a year.
  • The Carp signed OF Nick Stavinoha (29 years old) to a one-year deal. He has spent his entire pro career in the St. Louis Cardinals organization.
  • They also signed RHP Kam Mickolio who had been released by the Diamondbacks following the 2011 season. He signed a one-year deal.
  • Ikusei pitcher, Wilfreiser Guerrero, was released.
  • Pitchers Giancarlo Alvarada and Mike Schultz were released.
  • Announced that veteran Takuro Ishii will be a player/coach next season.
  • Starting pitcher Bryan Bullington re-signed with the team for 133.75 million yen. It’s a one-year deal.
  • Closer Dennis Sarfate also signed a one-year contract worth 90 million yen.
  • Infielder Brian Barden re-signed for 65 million yen.
  • The Carp are REALLY, REALLY, REALLY hoping that Hiroki Kuroda will come back from MLB and pitch for them next season.

Yokohama BayStars

  • The Yokohama Bay Stars were purchased by DeNA and named former Tokyo manager, Takada, as their GM.
  • Manager Takao Obana was sent packing.
  • The team flirted with 500 year-old pitcher, Kimiyasu Kudo, for a while and actually offered him a job as a player-manager. But then Takada was given the GM job and put the kibosh on the whole thing.
  • Kiyoshi Nakahata was announced as the club’s first manager under the DeNA banner. He signed a two-year deal.
  • Signed outfielder, and former Tokyo Swallow, Alex Ramirez who just finished up his fourth year as a Yomiuri Giant. It’s a two-year deal worth at least 350 million yen per year.
  • Lost third baseman, Shuichi Murata, to the Yomiuri Giants.
  • Brent Leach was released.
  • Pitcher Clayton Hamilton was retained despite his 7.18 ERA over 36.1 innings for the top team.
  • Pitcher Brandon Mann also had his contract renewed.
  • Yokohama shipped 27 year-old catcher, Shingo Takeyama, to Saitama in exchange for infielder Taketoshi Goto (31).
  • Yokohama posted workhorse reliever Hiroki Sanada, but he wasn’t bid on by anyone in MLB (because he isn’t really that good).
  • Brett Harper was also let go despite putting up OK numbers in 2011.
  • Big-hitting Termel Sledge was released.
  • The new Baystars logo looks horrible. The worst part is that ‘DeNA’ is written in a bigger font than ‘Yokohama’. UPDATE: These newer ones are a little better.
  • Yomiuri free agent, Kazunari Tsuruoka, re-signed with his former team, the Yokohama BayStars. He signed a two-year deal worth a total of 90 million yen.
  • Signed Chunichi free agent and former BayStar, Masaaki Koike, to a two-year contract worth 40 million yen per year.
  • The team is planning on debuting new uniforms next season.
About Christopher Pellegrini

Christopher is a budding sabermetrician and long-time supporter of Tokyo’s more lovable team, the Swallows. He has publicly volunteered, several times, that he plans to buy the team at some point in the future. When he finally runs the joint, it is likely that he will fine any player who swings at the first pitch or sac bunts (unless it’s a pitcher, of course). Follow him on Twitter: @chrispellegrini