Show me the Money!! – 2010 Edition (Part 2)

In the second part of our annual look inside the wallets of the Tokyo players, we have a look at those who will be better off in 2010.

Part 1 can be found here.

Other winners

Aaron Guiel – After an injury blighted sub-par 2008 season, many fans thought they’d seen the last of our blonde Canadian in a Tokyo uniform. But they (fortunately) hadn’t as he was re-signed with a mammoth 76M paycut in 2009. Keen to prove his worth, Aaron had his best and most consistent season yet for the Swallows, hitting .267AV/.367OBP/.533SLG/27HR while bringing home 80RBIs for good measure. The consummate professional both on and off  the field, Aaron could have easily walked away from the team/Japan when things were not going well in 2008. He didn’t, and proved himself in 2009, earning a new two year deal worth 90M in the first year with incentives.

A good bit of business for the birds there and I for one will be delighted to see Guiel back in a Tokyo uniform this year.

Jamie D’Antona – Jamie’s first year in Tokyo was, after a slow start, a great success.  Hitting .276AVG/.327OBP/.486SLG, D’Antona’s main strength was his clutch hitting, bringing home 83RBIs to go with his 21HR, as he found a knack for coming up with the big hits (as did Guiel, a most welcome improvement he brought to his game last year).

These figures were all the more impressive given the fact that he was in and out of the team for the first month or so of the season as he found his feet, was sidelined for a month in August due to injury, and found his playing time limited down the stretch due to our esteemed manager (allegedly)  trying to prove a point.

Well, thankfully Takada came to his senses (or the pro-D’Antona members of the front office won out) and Jamie will be back in 2010. He signed a new deal worth 73M plus incentives (up from 47.5M) with the club holding an option for the second year.

Another fine bit of business for the Swallows. especially given that stats have shown that the foreign pairing of Guiel and D’Antona came up with over 35% of the teams “big hits” in 2009, the highest for any team’s foreign contingent in the Central League.

Kazuki Fukuchi – Entering his third year at Tokyo since his move from Seibu, Kazuki has successfully made the transition from Lions’ bench-warmer to Swallows’ key man. And more power to him. Blisteringly fast on the base paths, Fukuchi led the CL in steals in 2009 with 42 stolen bags. A very respectable average of .270 shows he’s not just a fast pair of legs and decent fielding ability in the outfield have also furthered his standing at Yakult.

All of which means his coffers will swell by an extra 10M yen in 2010 as he takes home 90M.

Yoshinori Sato – Despite having the “softest hands in yakyu” which hindered the little man’s appearences last season, Yoshinori still posted a respectable 3.50ERA for the year. Let’s just not dwell on his 5-10 record shall we?

With those blisters and control issues still holding him back, 2010 will be a big year for our baby-faced starter, as he will look to make good on his undoubted potential and cement himself as a key man the rotation for good.

He will have an extra 9M yen to help him do just that as he’ll be taking home 26M in 2010.

Yuki Tanaka – One of the undoubted success stories of 2009, former Orix man came to Tokyo on a developmental player contract after being discarded by his former team after a shoulder operation. He impressed on the farm team so much early on that he was signed to a top-team contract, and ended up playing a key role in stabilising a rotation whose only constants were the big two of Ishikawa and Tateyama.

He ended up making 19 appearances, pitching to a 5-6/3.40 record. Initially thought to be only able to pitch 5 or so innings due to his shoulder, Yuki’s stamina improved dramatically as the season progressed, culminating in a superb complete game victory against Hiroshima. Hopefully his shoulder troubles will remain a thing of the past (though some issues seem to have resurfaced in spring camp….).

And he has been rewarded with a healthy 16M rise in salary, and will be earning 24M in the coming season.

Hiromitsu Takagi – Another of the success stories from last year, Takagi came into the starting rotation during the latter part of the season, as injuries and poor form hit the pitching staff. He ended up playing a key role in the recovery from Tokyo’s summer slump and ultimately successful push for a playoff place, ending up with an ERA of 1.64 to show for his 12 appearances along with 4 wins (his first wins as a pro).

Hiromitsu’s season ended up on a low however as he became one of the legions of players to be struck down with the flu come playoff time, which left the Swallows seriously short of depth just when they needed it the most.

Takagi will earn 17M yen this season, up 9M yen. Hopefully he will consolidate on the promise shown last year and will be given opportunities to contribute once again.

Keizo Kawashima – The perfectly unspectacular KK will see his salary rise by 10M yen this season, up to 35M for the year.

Now I may be being harsh here (well ok, not maybe), but given that the main way he seems to contribute to the organisation is being popular with the ladyfolk (he’s small and cute you see) and thus no doubt contributing handsomely to merchandise takings, the reason that he continues to start so many games and has gotten such a pay jump must be due to one or all of the following:

  1. He came from the Fighters, as did our “manager”, a manager who likes to look after his own.
  2. He and the “manager” have a “special” relationship (maybe Takada likes ’em cute……?).
  3. (As suggested by  Tsubamegun reader Rob) Takada likes his walk-on music (a cover of Toto’s Aftica) so much he keeps putting him in the lineup so he has something to occupy his mind during games, as it sure as hell is not occupied by baseball.

Of course I’m (kind of) jesting, but i’m not sure why Keizo saw a 40% pay rise while others didn’t. He hit the same .255 in 2009 that he did in 2008 (his first year with the birds), though he did increase his homer tally (by 8 ) to 12 last season.

Whisper it: could we have ourselves another Shiroishi on our hands…….?

Yoshiyuki Noguchi – Speedy back-up infielder who saw more playing time that ever in 2009, and continued to impress as he chalked up a .263 average. Rewarded with a 6M pay hike to 16M yen.

Yuji Onizaki – Came into the team late in 2009 as the infield injury list lengthened, Onizaki was simply a wonderful surprise as he racked up a .356AVG/.408OBP/.533SLG batting line in the 15 games he featured. He saw his 2010 salary rise 3M to 14M yen.

Shinichi Takeuchi – Another backup position player (usually 1B or OF) who more often that not produces the goods when called upon, Takeuchi will see his salary rise 7.5M to 25M yen.

So those are the guys who should be buying us all beers at Jingu this year. In part 3 we’ll be taking  a look at those who’ll probably appreciate us buying their drinks, the losers in the salary sweepstakes.

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