Robert Whiting wrote one of my favorite baseball books ever in You Gotta Have Wa. Now he has the inside story of Bobby Valentine’s final days as the manager for the Chiba Lotte Marines.
On level it wasn’t personal, it was just business: the team and the
parent company was losing money and they just couldn’t justify paying
Valentine’s salary anymore. Fair enough. Happens all the time. But the manner in which the team’s ownership went about ushering Valentine out the door was something new altogether. It all got started when some fans didn’t take kindly to the news that the team’s owner, a man named Setoyama, wasn’t going to keep Valentine around:
Setoyama supporters within the organization, stunned
by the reaction of the fans, began a stealth smear campaign intended to
sully Valentine’s reputation. They whispered that he was taking
kickbacks from foreign players, that he had recruited one gaijin player
from a local bar, and that he had hired his own son to design new Lotte
uniforms, while collecting a hefty royalty on their sale.
They also claimed that he had sexually harassed Lotte
female employees, that he was anti-Japanese and even racist, noting he
used terms like “the f—–g Japanese way.”
The smears were untrue, and they were motivated by a desire to quell fan backlash over the team’s failure to extend Valentine’s contract and to maybe, just maybe, get Valentine to quit early and save the team some money. When some within the organization questioned whether such a strategy would work, the team’s owner was revealed to have said that “the fans are like carp, they will eat anything you feed them,” and “if we have unworthy fans like this, let’s just move our home stadium. It’s just a bunch of stupid Chiba fans anyway.”
This article is the first of a four-parter, and if the rest of the installments are this good, it’s definitely going to be a must read. In any event, it’s the sort of thing that will put the various and sundry atrocities of the Royals and Pirates ownership in perspective.
Former Tigers infielder Casey McGehee has reportedly signed a one-year deal with the Yomiuri Giants of Nippon Professional Baseball, according to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.
It’s the fourth move the corner infielder has made in the last two seasons after seeing short-term stints with the Marlins, Giants and Tigers. He signed a minor league deal with the Tigers prior to the 2016 season, providing the club with some infield depth behind 24-year-old Nick Castellanos. When Castellanos hit the disabled list in August with a broken hand, McGehee was recalled from Triple-A Toledo for a 30-game stint and slashed .228/.260/.239 with one extra-base hit in 96 PA. His career batting line (.258/.317/.384 over eight seasons) isn’t too shabby, but his age and a long history of knee injuries puts a damper on his potential.
McGehee last appeared in the NPB circuit in 2013, when he signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles. He spent the bulk of his season at the hot corner, batting an impressive .292/.396/.515 with 28 homers in 590 PA and appearing in the Eagles’ first and only championship run to date.
The deal comes with a club option for 2018, Rosenthal reports, though no figure has been specified.
Free agent left-hander Rich Hill is rumored to be entertaining a three-year, $40+ million offer from the Dodgers, reports Peter Gammons. The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo corroborated the report, adding that Hill could receive somewhere between $46 and $48 million from his former team.
Hill, 36, pitched to a 2.12 ERA and 3.91 FIP in back-to-back stints with the Athletics and Dodgers in 2016. While a chronic case of blisters on his pitching hand limited the frequency of his starts, he still figures to be one of the most productive and noteworthy starting pitchers on the market this winter.
The Orioles, Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers and Astros have all been mentioned as potential suitors for the left-hander’s services, though Orioles’ GM Dan Duquette said the club has yet to make a play for Hill and ESPN’s Jim Bowden pointed out that the Red Sox are less involved in trade talks than other interested parties.