Matt Murton

Some notable numbers from Japan: Central League stats

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Every so often I like to see how some old friends are doing in Japan.  We’ll start with a scan through the Central League numbers and then move on to the Pacific League tomorrow.

Wladimir Balentien: .345/.430/.718, 14 HR, 27 RBI, 2 SB in 142 AB
Tony Blanco: .220/.306/.441, 7 HR, 17 RBI, 0 SB in 127 AB
Craig Brazell: .240/.284/.370, 4 HR, 15 RBI, 0 SB in 146 AB
Joel Guzman: .142/.200/.217, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 0 SB in 106 AB
Brett Harper: .259/.345/.435, 6 HR, 22 RBI, 0 SB in 147 AB
Kenji Johjima: .189/.243/.326, 5 HR, 13 RBI, 0 SB in 132 AB
Matt Murton: .277/.319/.358, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 0 SB in 173 AB
Alex Ramirez: .268/.315/.465, 9 HR, 26 RBI, 0 SB in 157 AB
Rusty Ryal: .219/.260/.260, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 0 SB in 73 AB
Terrmel Sledge: .278/.337/.488, 9 HR, 28 RBI, 0 SB in 162 AB
Chad Tracy: .235/.293/.336, 1 HR, 19 RBI, 0 SB in 149 AB
Josh Whitesell: .287/.393/.574, 6 HR, 15 RBI, 0 SB in 94 AB

– Balentien is setting the pace for everyone in his first year in the Central League. He not only leads the league in hitting, but he has five more homers than anyone else. Only Kazuhiro Hatakeyama, at .618, is within 200 points of his .718 slugging perentage.

It’ll be interesting to see if Balentien stays in Japan after this. In 511 major league at-bats with the Mariners and Reds from 2007-09, he hit .221/.281/.374 with 15 homers. However, at 26 (27 in July), he’s still young enough to entice major league teams if anyone believes he’s taken a real step forward.

– Murton broke Ichiro Suzuki’s single-season hit record last year in his first year in Japan, but he hasn’t been nearly as successful so far this year.

– Failed former top prospect Joel Guzman hit .279/.344/.519 with 33 homers and 98 RBI with the Orioles’ Double-A club to earn the gig in Japan, but he hasn’t been able to capitalize.  He’s fanned 44 times in 106 at-bats for the Chunichi Dragons.

Jonathan Albaladejo: 1-0, 2 Sv, 0.42 ERA, 24/6 K/BB in 21.1 IP
Tony Barnette: 1-0, 1.93 ERA, 19/3 K/BB in 14 IP
Bryan Bullington: 2-0, 2.45 ERA, 46/12 K/BB in 55 IP
Seth Greisinger: 1-2, 4.12 ERA, 10/6 K/BB in 19.2 IP
Clay Hamilton: 1-4, 6.68 ERA, 14/10 K/BB in 32.1 IP
Randy Messenger: 2-1, 2.34 ERA, 29/14 K/BB in 34.2 IP
Tomo Ohka: 0-1, 15.00 ERA, 3/3 K/BB in 6 IP
Dennis Sarfate: 1-1, 11 Sv, 2.18 ERA, 28/2 K/BB in 20.2 IP
Mike Schultz: 0-0, 1.06 ERA, 7/11 K/BB in 17 IP
Jason Standridge: 2-2, 3.20 ERA, 28/17 K/BB in 39.1 IP
Carlos Torres: 0-1, 8.16 ERA, 9/9 K/BB in 14.1 IP

– I always thought Albaladejo would turn into a perfectly useful major league reliever, and it’s a shame no one chose to claim him off waivers before the Yankees could ship him to Japan over the winter.  That transaction netted the Bombers a cool $1.2 million.

– Bullington, the one-time No. 1 overall pick of the Pirates, ranks eighth in the six-team Central League with his 2.45 ERA.  As will become even more obvious when we look at the Pacific League numbers tomorrow, offense is well down in Japan, too.

Yordano Ventura’s remaining contract hinges on the results of his toxicology report

DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 24: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals pitches against the Detroit Tigers during the first inning at Comerica Park on September 24, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports provides an interesting window into how teams handle a player’s contract after he has died in an accident. It was reported on Sunday that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura died in a car accident in the Dominican Republic. He had three guaranteed years at a combined $19.25 million as well as two $12 million club options with a $1 million buyout each for the 2020-21 seasons.

What happens to that money? Well, that depends on the results of a toxicology report, Rosenthal explains. If it is revealed that Ventura was driving under the influence, payment to his estate can be nullified. The Royals may still choose to pay his estate some money as a gesture of good will, but they would be under no obligation to do so. However, if Ventura’s death was accidental and not caused by his driving under the influence, then his contract remains fully guaranteed and the Royals would have to pay it towards his estate. The Royals would be reimbursed by insurance for an as yet unknown portion of that contract.

The results of the toxicology report won’t be known for another three weeks, according to Royals GM Dayton Moore. Dominican Republic authorities said that there was no alcohol found at the scene.

Ventura’s situation is different than that of Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, who died in a boating accident this past September. Fernandez was not under contract beyond 2016. He was also legally drunk and cocaine was found in his system after the accident. Still, it is unclear whether or not Fernandez was driving the boat. As a result, his estate will receive an accidental death payment of $1.05 million as well as $450,000 through the players’ standard benefits package, Rosenthal points out.

Spring training will be slightly shortened in 2018

SCOTTSDALE, AZ - MARCH 15:  General view of action between the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants during the spring training game at Scottsdale Stadium on March 15, 2014 in Scottsdale, Arizona. The A's defeated the Giants 8-1. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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The Associated Press is reporting that the spring training schedule will be shortened by two days starting in 2018. That change comes as part of the new collective bargaining agreement, which was agreed to last month.

Specifically, the voluntary reporting date for pitchers, catchers, and injured players has been changed to 43 days before the start of the regular season, down from 45. For the rest of the players, the reporting date is 38 days before the start of the regular season, down from 40.

The change goes hand-in-hand with allowing teams 187 days, rather than 183, to complete their 162-game regular season schedule.

While just about everyone seems to be in agreement that the spring training exhibition schedule is too long, team owners are likely very hesitant to shorten that part of the spring schedule because it would cost them money. So they’re just allowing players to arrive to camp a couple of days later.