According to various media reports, Norichika Aoki will be undergoing the biggest tryout of his career today
at Maryvale Baseball Park in Arizona. Slated for Sunday, it should be starting any moment now.
Attending the tryout will be Doug Melvin, Milwaukee’s GM, as well as Ron Roenicke, the team’s manager, and several other coaches and scouts.
What does this mean for the Swallows?
As discussed recently, Aoki signing with the Brewers is not a sure bet. Aoki may be willing to sign for peanuts, but the Brewers may try to lock him in for too many years. Posted NPB players have not had that much success locking down decent deals this off-season, so it should be interesting to see how Aoki and Darvish pan out.
Let’s imagine for a moment that Aoki agrees to a deal with the Brewers and is not playing for Tokyo this season. That would likely mean Ueda, the 2011 minor league MVP, getting the first shot at taking over Aoki’s spot in center.
But if for some reason things don’t work out with Milwaukee, then Aoki slots back into the leadoff role with a bunch of punch behind him. Aoki will truly be in a contract year (it will be the second and last chance for the Swallows to post him), and he’ll be followed by Tanaka, Milledge, Hatakeyama, Balentien and Kawabata (if he’s healthy). That’s a decent blend of speed, pop and run scoring if you ask me.
I hope the Brewers remember that they’re already over budget and can’t afford a player that they didn’t really seem to care about to begin with (they don’t have a scout in Japan).
But…I hope he does well today. I’m sure we all do. He’s been gunning for this opportunity for a while, and the front office was happy enough with him that they posted him a year early. Of course, that will look like an incredibly astute move in hindsight if the Brewers can’t work something out with Aoki, and we get our center fielder back for 2012.
But if that’s not the case, and Tokyo gets to console it self with a measly US$2.5 million posting fee, then that opens the way for even more competition on the team.
Miyamoto seems to be on his way out–at least that’s the way he’s talking now. So in addition to the hole in the outfield, there could be some extra space for the Araki’s and Yamada’s of the world to start jostling for real infield playing time. Hopefully Miwa enters the scrum as well.
Anyway, good luck to you, Mr. Aoki. Show ’em what you’ve got.
Update [4:30PM, Jan 9th]
As reported by Yakyu Baka and NPB Tracker, Aoki had a workout with Milwaukee officials down at the team’s spring training facilities in Arizona. The workout apparently gave the Brewers people a chance to evaluate Aoki’s arm, bat and speed on the base-paths.