One of the fringe benefits Hanshin trying to get out of bringing in Kenji Johima is some additional scouting intelligence on pitchers in MLB organizations. Aside from Jeff Williams, Hanshin's only sustained import success over the last several years has been righty Scott Atchison, who is leaving the team this offseason. After Atchison, Jerrod Riggan was good while he lasted and Darwin Cubillan had his moments, but that's pretty much where it ends.
Sports Hochi Osaka has a list of candidates Hanshin is looking at, compiled presumably with Joh's input:
- Ryan Rowland-Smith
- Chris Jakubauskas
- Bobby Keppel
- DJ Carrasco
I can't believe that the Mariners would move Rowland-Smith, but Hanshin has the right idea with him. Carrasco spent a year in Japan with SoftBank and didn't have a favorable experience, so I'd be surprised if he came back. Jakubauskas and Keppel sound about right.
Sanspo adds a few more names to the list, most of which we've seen before:
- Brad Thomas
- Juan Morillo
- Jo Jo Reyes
- Wil Ledezma
- Charlie Haeger
The only new name on this list is Haeger, who is an interesting candidate. We don't see a lot of knuckleballers in NPB.
In related news, Hanshin has announced that they are cutting ties with Jeff Williams, Scott Atchison, Kevin Mench and Aarom Baldiris, while moving to retain Craig Brazell and Kai-Wen Cheng. None of this is really news either, except that Williams has come out and said that he wants to return to the team after rehabbing for the next year. He'll be about 40 if he can return in 2011, but here's hoping he can come back and end his career properly.