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Major Free Agents for 2008

Discussion in the NPB News forum
Major Free Agents for 2008
Nikkan Sports publish a list of the major players who will be free agents after the 2008 season. There are a couple of big names that several MLB teams are salivating over:This list was compiled along with an article talking about the Mariners' Yamamoto-scout, who started the whole "Darvish will be posted after 2008" rumor last week - which only Sankei Sports bothered to run. Since he was visiting Chunichi's camp, he was talking about having a mark on this year's free agent "treasures" Kawakami and Iwase, as well as the Giants' Uehara.
Comments
Re: Major Free Agents for 2008
[ Author: Guest: Guest | Posted: Feb 12, 2008 7:28 PM ]

"Salivating"? A bit of a stretch.
Re: Major Free Agents for 2008
[ Author: TimMac | Posted: Feb 13, 2008 1:02 AM ]

Not at all. If Iwase decided to head to MLB the wallets would be opened. Iwase's record speaks for itself and teams would be fighting and paying for the privilege of having him anchor their bullpen in '09. Also with the current shortage of quality starting pitching both Kawakami and Uehara would be highly sought after, although not at the same level IMO as Iwase.

I believe that the 2008 off-season between free agents and postings has the potential to be a record breaker in terms of player movement to MLB.
Re: Major Free Agents for 2008
[ Author: BigManZam | Posted: Feb 13, 2008 10:49 AM | CLM Fan ]

Nioka seems like he'll stay in Japan, as his power numbers are greatly helped by the dimensions of Tokyo Dome. He'd also probably be like Kaz Matsui and have trouble transitioning to grass infields.

I don't know what Kinjoh will do. He has a great arm and can play anywhere in the outfield, but his batting average has gone down recently and he's never had much power. I could see him starting on a low level club or being a #4 outfielder on a contending team. He's probably going to stay in Japan, though.

The interesting position player is Ibata. He's been having issues with the Chunichi front office and has personally stated he believes he's the #1 shortstop in Japan. An ego that big could possibly be tempted to go to MLB. His arm is good enough to be a Major League shortstop and his defensive instincts are top notch. You just have to worry about the turf to grass transition, like with all Japanese infielders. Furthermore, Ibata's speed is still very good and he draws a lot of walks. He'd probably be lucky to hit a couple homers in MLB ballparks, though. I'd say he'd be a great #1 or #2 batter for any team lacking a good shortstop.

The most likely scenario is for Yomiuri to release Makoto Kosaka to sign Ibata and give him that jersey number 6, and have him at either shortstop or second base. If he goes to short, Nioka will probably convert to outfield or third. Of course Nioka could also just refuse that and use his free agency to sign with another team. It'll be interesting to see develop.

With Araki gaining free agency, we could even see the Golden Glove combo sign with another team together. I don't think we should rule that possibility out.
Re: Major Free Agents for 2008
[ Author: Deanna | Posted: Feb 13, 2008 12:18 PM | NIP Fan ]

I like Kinjoh and Aikawa both a lot, but I think their best bets are just to stay in Yokohama.

The idea of Arakibata signing elsewhere is really depressing to me, but there's definitely something up with Chunichi's front office that's making so many players unhappy lately. What's weird is, they've got plenty of outfield depth and even some pitching depth, but I'm just not sure they have much in store for a post-Arakibata infield. Hmm, maybe they can sign Kosaka!

(I honestly do, by the way, believe that Ibata is the best shortstop in Japan, defensively at least. Yeah, he's got an ego, but he's really just a joy to watch. The idea of splitting up the Chunichi middle infield is just a sad thing. There's no way Araki can go to the majors though, honestly.)

And I would definitely call the scouts and bloggers and all "salivating." It's really ridiculous.
Re: Major Free Agents for 2008
[ Author: BigManZam | Posted: Feb 13, 2008 12:56 AM | CLM Fan ]

Uehara looks like he may enjoy even better numbers in the US if you take a look at his WBC performance and his great control. Top level control pitchers like Uehara tend to do really well in MLB, as Major League batters destroy mistake pitches.

Takashi Saitoh also said that the harder and higher mounds in MLB helped his success. We all saw what Uehara did at PetCo Park against Korea in the WBC. His fastball had a lot more life and he threw something like over 85% strikes right on the black. If he can keep his body together, I'd say he could do very well in North America.
Re: Major Free Agents for 2008
[ Author: NipponHam11 | Posted: Feb 14, 2008 7:16 AM | SFT Fan ]

Starting pitchers are a real question mark for making the Japan-to-MLB transition. Nomo was good for a few years then got old fast before having a minor resurgence with the Red Sox and Dodgers in the early 2000's. Kaz Ishii was never really cut out for MLB to begin with, but he still put up some good numbers with the Dodgers. Let's not even go near that train wreck known as Mac Suzuki.

Bullpen guys usually have better success because MLB hitters don't see them as much as starters, and as such there's less of a book on them. Hasegawa and Sasaki with Seattle are prime examples, as well as Takashi Saitoh and Okajima.

As to where Uehara might fit in, he wants to be a starter, and I'll bet that the MLB team he signs with will respect his wishes, and this great control I just read from BigMan sounds like Uehara could be very good (I didn't see the Korea game, but I did see the final against Cuba).
Re: Major Free Agents for 2008
[ Author: Guest | Posted: Feb 16, 2008 3:50 AM ]

The NPB has to do something to prevent the big players from going to MLB. It seems like the MLB is eating the NPB alive.

And are NPB teams trying to get after big MLB players (instead of career minor leaguers)?
Re: Major Free Agents for 2008
[ Author: Jbroks86 | Posted: Feb 16, 2008 6:57 AM | SFT Fan ]

- The NPB has to do something to prevent the big players from going to MLB. It seems like the MLB is eating the NPB alive.

Let's go to what Darvish said after Matsuzaka left to MLB this past season [International Hearld Tribune]:
I think we have to be creative. If all the players and people in the front offices have a positive attitude, I don't think the game here will lose its popularity.
If the league is creative they can rebound from losing big name players. If the league would reform the flawed draft system to include more rounds, add more minor league levels, extend the minor league season, et cetera then the league be more able to replace those stars who left to MLB, since with these reforms the league will be able to better find future stars in the making.

- And are NPB teams trying to get after big MLB players (instead of career minor leaguers)?

I'm sorry, I've never been a big believer that NPB teams should go after big name MLB players, since more times than not they seem to be a big bust (in the case of Tony Batista) or are more likely to view playing in Japan as a short term opportunity and not learn to become part of the game in Japan.

I'd rather go after those 4A type players who are stuck between AAA and the majors than throw millions on big name MLB players who won't usually be in playing in Japan long term. Also, NPB teams are never going to be able to compete with MLB teams for elite MLB players in terms of salary.
Re: Major Free Agents for 2008
[ Author: Guest | Posted: Feb 16, 2008 1:28 PM ]

I would not consider a .263 batting average with 27 home runs and 90 RBIs a "big bust" (Tony Batista), but I understand your point.

But I really don't think the NPB is going in the right direction.

Same thing happened in hockey (I'm from Canada, so...).
When Russian players started to come over to America to play in the NHL, the Russian league was left with nothing, and they have never recovered.
Re: Major Free Agents for 2008
[ Author: Jbroks86 | Posted: Feb 17, 2008 8:38 AM | SFT Fan ]

- I would not consider a .263 batting average with 27 home runs and 90 RBIs a "big bust" (Tony Batista)

It depends on what you think Batista's production was worth? Was his production really worth 5.2-oku yen? With that amount of money I would want more consistent production out of a player.

- But I really don't think the NPB is going in the right direction.

I have no argument there, that NPB is going in the wrong direction, but I don't believe that it is the case of being because of top players going to MLB. If the league, as I said, can be creative in keeping the game popular and reform the draft system and minor league system they would be more able and develop future potential gems in the rough.

As is, the current draft has too few rounds, and there is a lack of sufficient minor league teams and games. By enacting these proposals, the league would give itself more of a chance. But of course, since it is too simple to understand, the NPB upper brass will never do it.
Re: Major Free Agents for 2008
[ Author: BigManZam | Posted: Feb 17, 2008 11:30 AM | CLM Fan ]

I agree with your statement that players going to the Majors won't kill NPB. If I were a normal Japanese person with no interest in baseball, all those players getting big time press all the time would actually get me more interested in the Japanese product. Like you said, though, the lack of player development makes replacing those great players even tougher.

Hiroshima is a perfect example. They lost star players to free agency and now the team is just barely above what would've been their farm team a few years ago. There needs to be more young players and more at bats. The more time NPB wastes with their current farm system is just going to be a deeper hole for them to crawl out of when more players leave for MLB.

Power numbers down on the farm are terrible. You can see a guy win the home run title with 10 homers sometimes. I think the reason for this is that NPB teams draft mostly pitchers. Any fielders they draft are drafted for their speed or defense so they can become role players. Teams rarely want to waste draft picks on power prospects because they will usually be very rough around the edges and a liability in the field. Takahiro Arai is a perfect example.

NPB drafts way too many pitchers for their own good, but most Japanese amateur position players are usually just seen as players not good enough to be pitchers. Why waste a draft pick on a player who wasn't even the best on his team?

I'm not saying NPB needs 50+ rounds of drafting each year or four different levels of development. All they need are two farm teams for each team, packed with players who will play for a full season. Let the upper level be the old guys fighting for a spot on the roster with young up and coming players in their mid to late 20s. Let the lower level be the kids fresh out of high school and college with a few experienced mid-20s players mixed in. Sending a 19 year old in to bat against a 35 year old veteran fighting for his livelihood is just not balanced.
Re: Major Free Agents for 2008
[ Author: torakichi | Posted: Feb 16, 2008 5:43 PM | HT Fan ]

- Are NPB teams trying to get after big MLB players (instead of career minor leaguers)?

Could NPB afford them?
Re: Major Free Agents for 2008
[ Author: Guest: puddin head | Posted: Feb 17, 2008 3:43 PM ]

There was chatter about guys like Sosa, Bonds, and Piazza possibly going to NPB but nothing ever happened.

As for me, I appreciate guys like Alex Ochoa, who were considered "marginal" major leaguers because they didn't do steroids, getting an opportunity in Japan and becoming good team players. I recently read a blog targeted at Mets' fans where someone wrote that Ochoa was a great prospect who's "power never developed," which in 1997 meant he didn't do 'roids. Thank goodness baseball in Japan is clean.

Good luck to Fukudome this year, I think it helps the image of the Japanese game when guys can go to the majors and be successful.
Re: Major Free Agents for 2008
[ Author: Jbroks86 | Posted: Feb 18, 2008 4:14 AM | SFT Fan ]

- There was chatter about guys like Sosa, Bonds, and Piazza possibly going to NPB but nothing ever happened.

It's because there was never no interest or real intention to even go to Japan on the player's behalf. The chatter either started through the mind of over-reactive imaginations whose job is to sell newspapers (see the latest Darvish rumors) or to try and get MLB teams to sign them by issuing empty threats of playing overseas when none of those players above have the intention to play for the amount of money that NPB teams will pay them.
Re: Major Free Agents for 2008
[ Author: Guest: Lotte Fan | Posted: Feb 17, 2008 9:07 PM ]

If the trend continues with Japan losing their best players to MLB, then NPB will have a slight problem. Still, many in Japan enjoy seeing Japanese players in MLB, too. I was wondering why MLB's salaries are so much greater than NPB.
Re: Major Free Agents for 2008
[ Author: Jbroks86 | Posted: Feb 18, 2008 4:06 AM | SFT Fan ]

- If the trend continues with Japan losing their best players to MLB, then NPB will have a slight problem.

Like I have said many, many times before, it isn't players going to MLB that is hurting NPB. It's the fact they can't think of creative and innovating ways to reform the player development system to better find new players and further development them. If they can find these new stars of tomorrow, then the league can better replace Matsuzaka, Fukudome, Kuroda, etc.

- I was wondering why MLB's salaries are so much greater than NPB.

It's simple, the MLBPA is way more powerful than the JPBPA (the Japan Professional Baseball Players Association) will ever be and has numerous lawyers working on its side. For instance, they broke down the old MLB reserve system leading to free agency. The MLBPA has endless amounts of resources at its disposal.

The Japanese counterpart to the MLBPA, for the most part, has been a pushover.
Re: Major Free Agents for 2008
[ Author: Guest: Lotte Fan | Posted: Feb 18, 2008 10:50 PM ]

- [...] The MLBPA has endless amounts of resources at its disposal. [...] The Japanese counterpart to the MLBPA, for the most part, has been a pushover.

I have heard most teams in Japan, especially the Pacific League side, have trouble making money. Many teams are in the red year after year. What would be the best way for the Japanese teams to be start making more money than they do now? After all, if the teams are not rich they will not have the money to pay the best players.
Re: Major Free Agents for 2008
[ Author: Christopher | Posted: Feb 19, 2008 10:40 AM | HAN Fan ]

The Pacific League has suffered from the lack of a draw or even an ability to create a rivalry like the Tigers/Giants. Conservative and even inept management has not helped and the Pacific League has fallen far behind the Central League. This will take some catching up and some increase in spending. Better marketing and facilities will help but merchandising and regional identities need to be further developed. This also needs to be coupled with changes in Japanese working practices (if people are working until 9 or 10 pm everyday how can they get to games?). It's a complex problem with no easy or quick solution but the market is out there.
Re: Major Free Agents for 2008
[ Author: DaClyde1 | Posted: Jul 12, 2008 1:46 AM | OBs Fan ]

What needs to be repeated is that NPB teams just aren't set up as profit-making ventures. They're almost completely viewed by the companies that own them as extensions of their marketing departments and exist for the sole purpose of getting more exposure for the company's brands. The "league" office is almost non-existent, and there's no real effort to market NPB itself as a brand the way MLB is run.

I think until someone buys one of the NPB teams and orients it entirely around building the team itself as a business, rather than just an offshoot of another enterprise, nothing will change. By and large, the people running the teams from a front-office perspective simply aren't baseball people.

Sure parallels could be drawn with Tribune owning the Cubs or Turner owning the Braves, but those teams weren't run as advertising vehicles for their owners' respective media empires, they were run as professional baseball clubs.
Re: Major Free Agents for 2008
[ Author: TimMac | Posted: Feb 19, 2008 12:24 AM ]

Very simple, MLB is swimming in cash. I certainly won't disagree that the players association had a large bearing on the results we see today. But again, if the cash wasn't there they wouldn't be getting their share of it. Licensing, television rights, gate revenues, stadium deals, the Internet, MLB.com, MILB.com, and on and on. MLB even went after the fantasy game industry last year. MLB is a huge business, and a very successful one at that.
Re: Major Free Agents for 2008
[ Author: Guest: Lotte Fan | Posted: Feb 20, 2008 9:07 PM ]

Japan is a wealthy country and there are lots of people in Japan, so it is not far fetched to assume that NPB's salaries should be as competitive as MLB's. I agree though. MLB is very good at marketing themselves. If there is one thing NPB could learn from MLB it is probably how to market it better.

I am an NPB patriot and I have to admit I am a little worried if the best players keep going to MLB once they are eligible for free agency. Obviously I want my best players to stay with my team.
Re: Major Free Agents for 2008
[ Author: torakichi | Posted: Feb 21, 2008 6:53 PM | HT Fan ]

- Licensing, television rights, gate revenues, stadium deals, the Internet, MLB.com, MILB.com, and on and on. MLB even went after the fantasy game industry last year. MLB is a huge business, and a very successful one at that.

I think TimMac makes a good point. Isn't it TV rights and other licensing that funds pretty much all professional sports? If you have a large TV market, you will attract advertisers and their moolah.

Certainly Japan is a wealthy country and there are lots of people here, but apparently not enough of us watch NPB games on TV. I know that there was wailing and gnashing of teeth a few years ago because the Giants' TV audience was growing smaller. I'm not sure what's happened since then, but if that trend is continuing, then there's little chance baseball salaries are going to increase that way.

What does it mean when, in terms of free-to-air terrestrial TV, the nationwide networks show only part of the games and a regional broadcaster like Sun TV shows them in their entirety?
OT: Expanding TV Market
[ Author: Christopher | Posted: Feb 22, 2008 4:43 PM | HAN Fan ]

I would say it indicates a move towards regional identification and a fragmentation of the market. It also probably means that teams which can command a strong regional presence will also be able to be shown on national TV. Others will only appear as opponents of the big teams, but without the regional presence will not make the cut in their own right. Poor marketing and bad working practices are both working against NPB and it is difficult to see some of the smaller teams establishing themselves and becoming more watchable than they are now.
OT: NPB Popularity
[ Author: Guest: Lotte Fan | Posted: Feb 21, 2008 10:14 PM ]

Speaking of Lotte and other Pacific League teams, the attendance is much greater now than it used to be 10 or 20 years ago. Compared with before, the Pacific League has a gained tremendous amount of popularity. It was unthinkable that Lotte would ever play in a packed stadium in Kawasaki. Now in Makuhari the stadium does get packed at times.

Hanshin too plays for a larger crowd now compared with before. Even during the legendary year of 1985 when Hanshin fever swept the country, Hanshin did not attract as many fans as they have done in the past few years.

However, I have heard that the TV ratings of Giants games have dropped now compared with say 10 or 20 years ago.
Re: Major Free Agents for 2008
[ Author: YankeesDaily | Posted: Feb 28, 2008 8:42 AM ]

Thanks for posting this. It's good to know about Japanese players that could make an impact in the USA.

YankeesDaily
Re: Major Free Agents for 2008
[ Author: Guest: Wheelhouse | Posted: Jul 12, 2008 12:40 AM ]

Any updates on 2008 Free Agents or potential postings?
  • What kind of season is Tomohiro Noika having?
  • How close is Histoshi Tamura, and has he had a good season?
  • Is Shinnosuke Abe still the best catcher in Japan, and how close is he to making the jump?
  • Could Hitoki Iwase have a change of heart and go to the US next year after opting to say in Japan last off-season?
Any info is greatly appreciated!
Re: Major Free Agents for 2008
[ Author: Deanna | Posted: Jul 13, 2008 1:17 AM | NIP Fan ]

Uhh, wow. You should ask about Kazuhiro Kiyohara too while you're at it. Err, Kioyahra, that is.

Tomohiro NIOKA got injured pretty much on Opening Day and the only thing about him in the news lately is that he was caught cheating on his wife, or something to that effect.

HITOSHI Tamura suffered a pretty bad injury when he collided with Yuya Hasegawa back in April and has also been out of action since then.

Shinnosuke Abe was never the best catcher in Japan to begin with.

Iwase is going to get hit by the Chunichi Calendar Curse this month. (Maybe.)
Re: Major Free Agents for 2008
[ Author: Guest: Wheelhouse | Posted: Jul 14, 2008 10:20 AM ]

Thanks for the info, I think.

I have yet to see a site that publishes current season stats, so it's pretty tough to get information. Would you care to enlighten me on who the best catcher is in Japan (if not Abe), and what kind of season Abe is having? I can't imagine that any catcher can match his offensive production the past few years, and I was speaking from a purely offensive perspective

I have no idea what you mean by your comment on Iwase.

Any info on other potential free agents/postings?
Re: Major Free Agents for 2008
[ Author: Jbroks86 | Posted: Jul 14, 2008 2:04 PM | SFT Fan ]

- I have yet to see a site that publishes current season stats, so it's pretty tough to get information.

While it's not in English, the NPB [in Japanese] website still gives you their stats. It's all in Japanese, but I don't know a word of Japanese and can read all of the stats fine.

- Would you care to enlighten me on who the best catcher is in Japan (if not Abe), and what kind of season Abe is having?

Tomoya Satozaki is in my mind considered the best catcher in NPB this year. You can see his stats here. [NPB Official Site- in Japanese] Abe [NPB Official Site- in Japanese] has really struggled, batting .262 with 8 HR's and 33 RBI.

Over the past few years (minus 2006), nobody has matched Abe's offensive potential. Though counting this year, Abe's stock has fell a lot.

- I have no idea what you mean by your comment on Iwase.

If you didn't notice, Deanna's comment was a sarcastic reply to the many "When is Iwase going to MLB?" questions here. Many of the regulars here get tired of answering the same old questions of when so and so NPB player is coming to the majors and would appreciate if they would search the forums first before expecting us to do all of their research for them.

As for Iwase, this topic should tell you all you need to know. None of us here are quite sure what Iwase's intentions are after the season. My suggestion to you is that you watch the forums for any information regarding his future status.
Re: Major Free Agents for 2008
[ Author: Guest: Wheelhouse | Posted: Jul 15, 2008 12:09 AM ]

- While it's not in English, the NPB [in Japanese] website still gives you their stats. It's all in Japanese, but I don't know a word of Japanese and can read all of the stats fine.

Yea, I'm aware of the site but I do find it tough to read. It's a real shame there isn't a site that lists that info in English.

- Tomoya Satozaki is in my mind considered the best catcher in NPB this year. [...] Abe has really struggled, batting .262 with 8 HR's and 33 RBI. Over the past few years (minus 2006), nobody has matched Abe's offensive potential. Though counting this year, Abe's stock has fell a lot.

Thanks for the info on Abe and the heads up on Satozaki. I had a hard time believing that any catcher could touch his offensive numbers from the past few years.

- If you didn't notice, Deanna's comment was a sarcastic reply to the many "When is Iwase going to MLB?" questions here. [...]

I certainly picked up on the sarcasm!

I understand how repetitive posts can be annoying, but in fairness, the link you posted is from November of 2007! I do find it hard going through these forums because topics regarding postings/free agents seem to get spread out between this forum, Nichi-Bei, and the Rumor Mill. Perhaps a seperate tab could be created to make it easier for people to see this information and thus reduce new posts on the subject?

I thought this was the most relevant post to put my query under (as opposed to starting a new post) and since there was no updates since February I thought others might be interested as well.

I certainly appreciate your info and help Jbroks. I like having an idea who is possibly coming to the MLB in the near future so I can start to follow these guys more closely while they're in Japan - and I'm sure I'm not alone.
Re: Major Free Agents for 2008
[ Author: Deanna | Posted: Jul 15, 2008 10:57 AM | NIP Fan ]

Actually, the Calendar Curse was not sarcasm at all, but something I've mentioned several times along the course of the season. Basically, the last few months, every month, the poster boy on the Chunichi Dragons 2008 calendar has had something very bad happen to them.
  • April: Kenshin Kawakami, got hammered and sent down to the minors
  • May: Masahiko Morino, suffered a freak injury while running to field a ball in center field
  • June: Hirokazu Ibata, injured his leg while running home, played on it for a week longer and exacerbated the injury
For the record,
  • July: Iwase
  • August: Tyrone
  • September: Nori and Araki
  • October: Masa and Tatsunami
So, if Iwase makes it out of July I'll consider the curse broken, but given how shaky he's been lately I'm really not so sure.

As for the rest of them, I did think it was pretty funny having someone ask "how's their season going?" of two guys who hadn't played in over two months due to injury.

And yeah, I would rank Satozaki over Abe, though actually Tanishige is a far better catcher than either (but not in offense).
Re: Major Free Agents for 2008
[ Author: Guest: Wheelhouse | Posted: Jul 17, 2008 11:49 PM ]

I noted the players last year (along with many others) as guys who could potentially be making the jump in '09 due to previous high production/age and just wanted to see how they were making out this season. Of course I had no idea they were injured because, as mentioned previously, there is no place to get current stats in English, and while I've tried to find these players (and others) on the Japanese site, I find it impossible to navigate for obvious reasons.

It's really a shame this information isn't available in English, as I believe there is interest out there for it and would help expand the fan base for the Japanese leagues.

Anyway, back to the point of the discussion - any other players who should be on the radar as potential free agents/postings?
Re: Major Free Agents for 2008
[ Author: Deanna | Posted: Jul 18, 2008 11:46 AM | NIP Fan ]

There are English boxscores from every game of this year on this very site. I think if you just went and looked at a week or two of Giants games or SoftBank games it wouldn't be hard to notice that neither of those players has been playing. (But also, if you type "Hitoshi Tamura" into the search box here, you will get the Injury Bug Biting Tamura? link on the very first page.)

The English language newspapers (Yomiuri, Asahi, Times) in Japan actually do a pretty good job of covering this stuff -- Daily Yomiuri, in particular, has everything about the Giants (for obvious reasons).

As for jumping players, [this space intentionally left blank].
Re: Major Free Agents for 2008
[ Author: Guest: Wheelhouse | Posted: Jul 19, 2008 4:26 AM ]

if you don't plan on addressing the topic of the post and are that annoyed by the question, then why are you even reading the topic, let alone making numerous sarcastic replied to it? There seem to be plenty of other posts that you can spread your wit in.
Re: Major Free Agents for 2008 - Abe
[ Author: Guest: Jim Allen | Posted: Jul 17, 2008 12:29 AM ]

- Shinnosuke Abe was never the best catcher in Japan to begin with.

I have to differ with that. Although Johjima was better and Abe has had years when you'd think he was auditioning for the Hawks because he couldn't throw his grandma out trying to steal second, he has been consistently at the top.

He led all NPB catchers in win shares in 2002, 2006, and 2007. Johjima led everybody in 2003, 2004, and 2005 and his seasons were bigger. Satoh is a very close second to Abe in terms of value. Yano is a little farther back which is pretty impressive.

I think one would have to consider Abe as one of the best.
Re: Major Free Agents for 2008
[ Author: No.1BayFan | Posted: Jul 14, 2008 3:47 PM | YOK Fan ]

I can't believe Nikkan forgot to add Miura Daisuke to this list. I mean those rumors of him bolting for Hanshin next season should make you think.
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