Show me the Money!! 2009 Edition

With the pre-season schedule now underway, I thought we’d take a look at the results of this year’s salary negotiations and see who’s getting paid what in Tokyo this year (note: all salary figures are given in multiples of a million yen, eg ?40M = ?40,000,000):   


The Big Boys


aoki-ysNorichika Aoki – The main man around these here parts, Aoki was rewarded for another stellar season in 2008 with a ?40M  raise to ?260M. Which makes him the highest earner on the Tokyo books, and every yen of it is fully deserved.


miyamotoShinya Miyamoto – The veteran shortstop and Swallows “captain” saw his coffers swell to the tune of ?220M, up from 2008’s ?185M. This substantial raise probably came about due to: a) the man’s leader/veteran status on the team and, b) the fact that he had an excellent 2008. Many people, myself included, thought Shinya was on the decline but he proved us wrong, hitting above .300 for the third straight year last season. Though it has to be said his range at short is decreasing year by year, the 38 year old is still an important part of the team.

 IshikawaMasanori Ishikawa – Ahh, little Masanori. 2008 was a big year for Yakult’s 29 year old Junior High School student look-alike. Staff ace Seth Greisinger had left for money and concubines  pastures new at the end of 2007, and that left Tokyo needing an ace around which to build their starting rotation under new pitching coach Araki. Well, who should step up to the plate to fill that void but Ishikawa, transforming himself from a dependable and reliable starter, to a CL ERA title winning (2.68 in 2008) staff ace. And he was duly rewarded for his toils with a whopping ?60M pay raise (the largest on the team) to take his earnings to ?155M. And again, fully deserved. Now lets keep up that good work in 2009 please wee man. 

tateyamaShohei Tateyama – Utility pitcher and sometime starter brought into the rotation part way through 2008 to plug the gap left by dabbler-in-drugs Daniel Rios. And when he arrived in the rotation boy did he perform. Firmly established himself as the no.2 starter at Yakult with a rock solid performance on the mound (12 wins, 3 losses, 2.99ERA), and alongside Ishikawa, became one of the two rocks around which an ever changing starting rotation orbited. Tateyama saw his salary skyrocket from ?62M in 2008, to ?100M in 2009. Big up to Shohei, and I’m sure he’ll further cement his reputation in 2009. 


Ryouji Aikawa Ryoji Aikawa – Yakult’s first ever free agent signing, I’ll repeat that, Yakult’s first ever free agent signing, Aikawa comes the short distance from Yokohama to Tokyo, after a failed attempt to go to the MLB (no-one was interested). And earning ?100M for the year, the catcher becomes the last of just five players to equal/top the ?100M barrier at the Swallows. Aikawa will look to establish himself in the Tokyo lineup, and give the birds stability behind the plate not seen since the tenure of Atsuya Furuta.  


The Movers and Shakers


matsuokaKenichi Matsuoka – One of the revelations of 2008, Matsuoka finally found his niche after three unremarkable years with the organization. Forming a formidable trio out of the bullpen with Oshimoto and Lim, Matsuoka was arguably the star man of that trio last year. 65 appearances, 71 1/3 innings, ERA 1.39. I need say no more. He was rewarded for last year’s excellence with a ?28M rise to ?44M this year. Look for that salary to skyrocket in 2010 if he puts in a repeat performance in 2009. 

oshimoto1Takehiko Oshimoto – After coming to Tokyo as part of a three man trade from Hokkaido at the end of 2007, Oshimoto really showed Nippon Ham what they were missing last year. Takehiko firmly established himself as the set up man for closer Lim, and despite getting wobblier as the season went on, finished with an ERA of 3.34 in his 67 appearences/72 2/3 innings of hard work. All that sweat (and boy does the man sweat) was worth it in the end as he saw his salary inflate to ?49M from the ?27M he earned in his first year with the Swallows. 

lim-in-actionChang-Yong Lim – For sake of completeness I’ll list him here, Lim saw his pay rise a modest amount from ?44.5 to ?55 for this year. That’s a raise of ?318,000 for each of his 33 saves in 2008. Again, as with Matsuoka, expect his salary to rise significantly higher if he has a similar 2009.


igarashiRyota Igarashi – The perennially popular “rocket-boy” and Yakult’s former closer (37 saves in 2004),  Igarashi saw a return to form in 2008 after four years of a mixture of injury, lack of form/confidence and long spells on the farm team. Igarashi staked his claim to be the fourth rock-solid arm out of the bullpen, as he started to show the form that had made him so popular in the first place. 44 appearances, 43 2/3 innings with an excellent ERA of 2.47 saw his pay rise to ?84M, up from ?54M. Just as an indication of how much Igarashi’s star has fallen of late, he earned a whopping ?164M in 2005. 

tanakaHiroyasu Tanaka – After his breakout year in 2007, Beavis had another solid year in 2008, establishing himself without any doubt as the starting second baseman at Jingu. Hiroyasu saw his purse for 2009 swell to ?75M from ?48M.


iharaYasushi Ihara – Another guy who came to the fore in 2007, speedster Ihara finally found a home out in leftfield last year (despite some disastrous attempts to play third) and, like Tanaka, hit just under the .300 mark in 2008. Ihara saw a ?25M raise to take him to ?50M for this year. 


Hatakeyama Kazuhiro Hatakeyama – Came out of four years of obscurity in 2008 to help out the team when he was called upon, and became a fixture at first base (and sometimes third) for the birds. Rewarded accordingly with a?23M raise (from a paltry ?9M) to take him up to a respectable ?32M.


keizoKeizo Kawashima – Came to Tokyo as part of the same trade that brought Oshimoto here, little Keizo was rewarded for a decent first year with the club with a salary of ?25M, up from ?9.6M.



FukuchiKazuki Fukuchi – Another 2008 new face, Fukuchi came to the Swallows as compensation make-weight in the free agent signing of pitcher Kazuhisa Ishii by the Seibu Lions. And boy how he proved himself to be more than a mere “make-weight” in 2008. Known for his speed, the outfielder promptly took the CL base stealing title with 42, but added more to his game too. Kazuki proved himself to be an excellent fielder and batter, hitting .321, with 155 hits, 61 RBIs and scoring 74 runs. But he’s now added to his pocket too, with a whopping ?49M raise to ?80M.


The Losers


guielAaron Guiel – Many were surprised that Guiel was resigned by Tokyo after an abject 2008 that was blighted by injury. That is until they looked at how much they resigned him for. He earned ?120M in 2008. He’ll earn?44M in 2009.


kidaMasao Kida – Veteran Kida looked like he was going to be shut out by new manager Takada in the first half of 2008, but he was used more and more as the season progressed, ending up with a 3.05 ERA to show for his 19 appearances. That scarcity of innings though meant Masao saw his purse fall ?12M to ?40M.


ishii-hHirotoshi Ishii – Longstanding Yakult servant and former ace closer (37 saves and 1.95ERA in 2005), a shoulder injury has threatened to destroy the man’s career. Hopefully he’ll see some service in 2009, but he’ll have to make do with a little less money, down ?26M to ?40M (he earned ?150M in 2006)


shiroishiNoriyuki Shiroishi – Yakult’s very own “no speed, no power, no skill” triple-threat saw his stock fall ?7M to ?29M.



miyadeRyuji Miyade – Lanky utility man, who has never quite filled his potential saw his salary fall ?10M to ?38M.




The New Boys


New Swallow Ricky Barrett (left) Ricky Barrett – ?46.5 M





lee-signs-for-yakultHye-cheon Lee – ?76M




Tokyo this hard-hitting infielder from Arizona. Jamie D’Antonia – ?47.5M  





And last, and by all means least……..


Not meDavid Watkins – From not nearly enough in 2008 to not nearly enough in 2009.

About David Watkins

David is a baseball bothering Brummie who spends a fair portion of his life fretting over the Tokyo Swallows and the WORLD'S GREATEST FOOTBALL TEAM, Aston Villa. He completes the quartet of abusive sporting relationships by being a die hard New York Knicks and Mets fan. You can find him on twitter: @yakulto

  • Shouldn’t you be in “The Losers” section?

  • It baffles me that regulars coming off a good season and with a career ahead of them (Keizo and Hatake) would be making less than Shiroishi and Miyade, respectively.

    Shiroishi has the sweetest deal in the world. 21 at-bats in 41 games, no walks, a .048 average, 1 hit (a double), and a fielding prowess that gives Tokyo that powerful 8 men on the field feeling and he loses only ?7 million? He’s still getting ?29 million? Am I missing something? Did he have a 40/40 season that I just never noticed, or does he have something on Kurashima? Blackmail is the only explanation.

    Ramirez wasn’t worth a multi-year contract, but Shiro-flaming-crap-ishi is worth as much as a starting regular?

    Poor Yakult, they’re clueless. Hire a manager who hasn’t managed for 24 years and was absolute crap then, refuse the best hitter in the country a multi-year contract, send him and the best pitcher in the country to your arch-rivals, pay your bench warmers like regulars, and lose money on a starter on roids who pitched like a roided-up. . . um. . . like a roided-up crap-pitching thing.
    A recipe for success!

    I’m a wretched, god-awful player. Couldn’t dig a grounder out of the dirt if it was sitting still and could strike out in tee-ball. I wonder what they’d pay me. I figure I’m worth a good ?20 million by the formula they’re using.

  • flick

    Great stuff!!
    LOL@Hiroyasu=Beavis. Is this a common analogy, or did you just make it up??

    I am proud to say that I saw Shiroishi’s lone hit of the season live at Skymark Stadium against the Buffaloes. It probably goes without saying that the Birds lost that one.

  • Hi flick.

    I believe that Beavis was a nickname originally given to Hiroyasu by his Swallows teammates (I expect the foreign contingent came up with it…..).

    It is rather apt.