For American ballplayers in Japan: uncertainty

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The crisis in Japan is not a baseball story, but baseball is Japan’s biggest sport and this is a baseball blog so to the extent there is anything worthwhile about those two worlds intersecting, I’m inclined to link it.

The latest: a story about former Blue Jay Randy Ruiz, who plays for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, who call Sendai — Japan’s hardest-hit city — home.

The Golden Eagles weren’t immediately affected by the earthquake/tsunami, as they were playing several hundred miles away at the time. But Ruiz’s account gives us at least a small glimpse into what’s going on with foreigners in Japan to play baseball.  Confusion mostly. Hard decisions about whether to stay or go.

Stuff about American ballplayers in Japan is not essential reading given how serious the situation is on the ground, but it’s interesting all the same.

Phillies, Jake Arrieta having a “dialogue”

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No, not like a Socratic dialogue, in which each side, in a mostly cooperative, but intellectually confrontational manner interrogate one another as a means of testing assertions and finding truths, though that would be an AMAZING thing for baseball players and teams to do. Rather, low-level talks about possible interest in Jake Arrieta, baseball free agent.

Arrieta is probably the top free agent still available, now that Yu Darvish, J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer have signed. Philly has money — it’s a big market — and could use a pitcher, but Jon Heyman, who, much like Plato did for Socrates, reported the dialogue, says they’re not looking to go long term with anyone.

It may make sense for Arrieta to take a so-called “pillow contract” and come back on the market in a year, but if he’s willing to accept a one-year deal, there are a lot of teams other than Philly who may offer one, and you’d have to figure Arrieta would prefer to pitch for a team more likely to contend.

Dialogues are cool, though. You should go have one over lunch.