GQ Men Of The Year 2009

MLB teams have until Friday to bid on negotiating rights to star Japanese pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma

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Two months ago Japanese pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma was said to be interested in leaving the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles for MLB and now the Kyoda News reports that he’s officially been “posted” as an available player.

According to the report, MLB teams “will have until Friday to submit sealed bids and the highest paying club will win the exclusive right to negotiate a contract with the player, upon approval of the price by his Japanese club.”

In other words, Iwakuma could shake up the offseason market before free agency even officially begins.

Iwakuma is a 29-year-old right-hander with a 2.81 ERA and 153 strikeouts in 201 innings this season. His best year came in 2008, when he went 21-4 with a 1.87 ERA to win the Pacific League MVP. He’s considered by many to be the second-best pitcher in Japan behind phenom Yu Darvish and multiple teams figure to submit a bid of at least $10 million for the exclusive negotiating rights, particularly since the free agent market for starters is underwhelming beyond Cliff Lee.

When he was pitching for Japan in the World Baseball Classic last year one AL scout called Iwakuma “very impressive across the board” and told Baseball America that he “would step into any rotation in the majors right now” and “might be the No. 1 [starter] for half the teams in the majors.”

Video: Undercover David Ortiz drives a Lyft in Boston

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David Ortiz did one of those “Undercover Lyft” spots for, well, Lyft, in which famous people disguise themselves while driving passengers around. Yes, they’re ads, but they’re still pretty funny. At least this one was.

Best parts: (1) the woman who says she has two David Ortiz shirts to which Undercover Ortiz responds, “actually, all my shirts are his shirts”; and (2) when Ortiz agrees with someone that baseball games are “so loooong.” Oh, and at one point he tells a woman who said she was going to the Red Sox game that night that he was too. After he unmasked himself, she explains his own joke to him. Which, ooohhkay.

In other news, people who take Lyfts in Boston either don’t watch much baseball, because Ortiz’s costume is NOT very concealing, or else they simply don’t look at their Lyft driver while in the car, at all.

Scouting in Venezuela: “Someone is going to get killed. It’s just a matter of time”

MIAMI - MARCH 14:  Venezuela fans cheer with a country flag while taking on the Netherlands during round 2 of the World Baseball Classic at Dolphin Stadium on March 14, 2009 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
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Ben Badler of Baseball America has a story about how major league scouts who cover Venezuela are unhappy with the rules imposed upon them by the league. Rules, they say, which unreasonably prohibit them from scouting Venezuelan players in centralized, team-controlled locations or, alternatively, flying them to team facilities in the Dominican Republic or elsewhere.

The result: international scouts are forced to travel all over Venezuela to evaluate prospect. And, given how destabilized and dangerous Venezuela has become, they believe their safety is at risk:

“MLB’s rules that limit our ability to travel a Venezuelan guy to the Dominican Republic, that limit our ability to get them in a complex at different ages, all these rules are solely contributing to the risks that all of us are taking traveling from complex to complex, facility to facility in the streets,” said one international director. “Someone is going to get killed. It’s just a matter of time, and it’s on MLB when it happens, because they’re the ones who created these rules.”

As Badler notes, Major League Baseball itself has moved its annual national showcase out of the country due to safety concerns. It will not, however, relax scouting rules — which seem arbitrary on their surface in the first place — in order to make the job of international scouts safer.

It seems that Rob Manfred and the league owe their employees better than this. Or at the very least owe them an explanation why they don’t think they do.