Show me the Money!! – 2010 Edition (Part 1)

It’s that time of year again. Spring camp has begun, and the players are all gearing up for another season of sweeping all before them (well, the Giants players are anyway.) The salary negotiations are done and our heroes in the Tokyo uniforms now know how much they will be earning to follow the instructions of a numbnut for another season. And so do we, so let’s take a look at who’s earning what in 2010 and why.

In the first of a three part series, we’ll be covering the big guns on the Tokyo books (aka the 100,000,000 yen club):

All salaries are listed in multiples of  a million Japanese yen (e.g., 5M = 5,000,000 yen) . Also, please note that the stated salaries are merely estimates by Japanese sports media.

The Big Boys

Norichika Aoki – Despite a slow start to 2009 Aoki still came up with the goods last season. While that slow start kept his average down at just above .300, he still racked up over 160 hits and registered a team high OBP of .400.

He is without doubt the main man in Tokyo, so much so that the Swallows changed his uniform number from 23 to 1 in a not so subtle attempt to push the outfielder as the new “Mr.Swallows”.

Our new No.1 saw a 20M yen raise this year as he will pull in a team-high 280M in 2010. And every yen of it is fully deserved. Let’s just try not to think about his inevitable posting to the MLB that will come sooner rather than later.

Shinya Miyamoto – Like fine wine, Shinya just gets better with age. Last season saw him not only remain a key man with both the bat and the glove, but also saw him put in a super-human performance down the stretch, as he contributed despite a hand injury that would have benched lesser men.

In short, my respect for this gentleman can swell no further, and if I had my way he’d see a huge raise in 2010. As it is, he’ll have to make do with the same 22oM yen he saw last year, due to (I would imagine) a multi-year agreement struck in 2009.

Shohei Tateyama –After arguably his best season yet in 2009 (16-6/3.39), Shohei was rewarded with a (mere) 10M raise to take his earnings to 110M yen.  In the opinion of this fan the man deserves way more money than that. Plus the decision to make Tateyama the captain of the pitching staff for this season does beg the question of why he couldn’t be given a tad more cash, especially given the fact that. . .

Masanori Ishikawa – received a 25M raise, the highest (yen raise) on the team. He will be taking home 180M yen this coming year. His performance last season wasn’t quite up to the level of Tateyama (13-7/3.54) but it’s hard to say he doesn’t deserve the spoils of his labour. Without both him and Tateyama, god knows where this team would be.

Chang-Yong Lim – Entering the final year of a three year contract (with the team taking their option for the third year) Tokyo’s star closer saw his salary finally rise to something approaching his true worth. After taking home a mere 55M in 2009, a season which saw him make a whopping (and team-high) 57 appearances (to the tune of a 5-4-28/2.08 record), the Korean will take home a more respectable 146M in what will most likely be his final season as a bird. If it is to be his last year, hopefully he’ll go out on a high and won’t be worked quite so needlessly hard this season (Takada, I’m looking at you.)

Ryoji Aikawa – Rounding out the 100M club is 2009 free-agent signing Aikawa, the man who finally restored a bit of quality to the Swallows post-Furuta catching position. He had a decent first year with the club, and will look to consolidate on that this season. He will be earning the same 100M salary that he took home last year, as he enters the second year of the three-year deal that brought him to Tokyo.

So that’s the top six earners out of the way, and in part 2 we’ll take a look at the other players who came out ahead in the salary negotiation stakes.

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