Hisashi Iwakuma re-signs with Rakuten Golden Eagles

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The A’s won exclusive negotiating rights for Japanese right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma earlier this winter, but they were unwilling to meet his lofty contract demands and the 29-year-old has now re-signed with the Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball.  This according to Jason Coskrey of The Japan Times.

Iwakuma turned in a quality 2.81 ERA over 201 innings in 2010 for the Golden Eagles, equally strong numbers in 2009, and he had a career year in 2008 when he posted a 21-4 record and 1.87 ERA to win the Pacific League MVP.

He should draw a ton of interest next offseason if he again tries to test the MLB free agent waters and he may find a club that is more willing to pay him big money.

Iwakuma was asking for a salary of $11-$12 million per season in his negotiations with the A’s.  Because of the pricey $19.1 million posting fee, Billy Beane and Co. were only willing to offer a four-year deal worth a total of $15.25 million.  That fee has since been returned.

Must-Click Link: Remembering Eddie Grant the first major leaguer to die in combat

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As you get ready for Memorial Day weekend and whatever it entails for you and yours, take some time to read an excellent article from Mike Bates over at The Hardball Times.

The article is about Eddie Grant. You probably never heard of him. He was a journeyman infielder — often a backup — from 1905 through 1915. If you have heard of him, it was likely not for his baseball exploits, however: it was because he was the first active baseball player to die in combat, killed in the Battle of the Argonne Forest in October 1915.

Michael tells us about more than Grant’s death, however. He provides a great overview of his life and career. And notes that Grant didn’t even have to go to war if he didn’t want to. He was 34, had the chance to coach or manage and had a law degree and the potential to make a lot of money following his baseball career. He volunteered, however, for both patriotic and personal reasons. And it cost him his life.

Must-read stuff indeed. Especially this weekend.

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.