A bit of a shocker here.
Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that talks have “broken off” between the A’s and Japanese right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma.
The A’s bid $15 million in early November for the right to negotiate exclusively with Iwakuma, but Slusser says that he was looking for “Barry Zito type” money and Oakland declined to take that risk. Zito landed a seven-year, $126 million from the Giants before the start of the 2007 season.
Iwakuma, 29, posted a 2.81 ERA in 201 innings this year for the Rakuten Golden Eagles. He had a career year in 2008 when he registered a 21-4 record and 1.87 ERA to win the Pacific League MVP.
The righty will head back to Japan for 2011. If he again posts great numbers, he could try to break into Major League Baseball next winter.
Oakland traded starter Vin Mazzaro to the Royals this fall for outfielder David DeJesus with the idea of making room in the starting rotation for Iwakuma. They do have some depth, but it’s quite possible that GM Billy Beane will be active on the free agent market this winter in order to fill the hole left by Iwakuma’s decision. If the A’s don’t add a starter, Bobby Cramer, Josh Outman and Tyson Ross will probably battle for the final rotation spot in spring training.
Padres starter Jered Weaver lasted just two-thirds of an inning in Wednesday afternoon’s Cactus League appearance against the Royals. He yielded four runs on three hits, throwing 31 pitches before getting pulled. His spring ERA now sits at an ugly 10.13.
Weaver said he’s been dealing with a “dead arm” since his last bullpen session, but added he’s dealt with the issue in previous springs, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
The Padres signed Weaver to a one-year, $3 million contract last month. The right-hander is coming off of the worst season of his 11-year career. His fastball averaged a career-low 83 MPH and he put up a 5.06 ERA with a 103/51 K/BB ratio in 178 innings.
Earlier, Craig wrote about Dan Duquette’s dogwhistle language in his criticism of Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista. We have some more dogwhistling, this time coming from Tigers (and Team U.S.) second baseman Ian Kinsler. Via Billy Witz of The New York Times:
I hope kids watching the W.B.C. can watch the way we play the game and appreciate the way we play the game as opposed to the way Puerto Rico plays or the Dominican plays. That’s not taking anything away from them. That just wasn’t the way we were raised. They were raised differently and to show emotion and passion when you play. We do show emotion; we do show passion. But we just do it in a different way.
The goal of the World Baseball Classic, created by Major League Baseball, is to promote baseball across the globe. It’s players like Puerto Rico’s Javier Baez who are doing the best job in that regard, not boring white guys from the U.S. Potential baseball fans are not swayed into liking the sport when a player hits a home run and solemnly puts his head down to stroll the bases. They get excited and energized when players show emotion, flip their bats, celebrate. Baez did more to make baseball appeal to new and lapsed audiences with his premature celebration tag than the entire U.S. team has done this tournament.
Furthermore, it is hypocritical to want to diversify the sport’s audience while squelching incoming cultures.
Jim Leyland also got in on the action:
Go Puerto Rico.