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.

The St. Louis Cardinals announce their first Pride Night

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The St. Louis Cardinals announced today that they will hold their first Pride Night on August 25th.

A lot of teams have Pride Nights, but it’s worth noting that the Cardinals are holding one given some bad press — some fair, some unfair — they have received in recent years when it comes to matters of diversity and inclusion.

Earlier this month the club received criticism from the LGBT community due to Lance Berkman’s presence for the team’s annual Christian Day, given his past comments about transgender people and his participation in a Houston political campaign over access to public restrooms. Recently, a former Cardinals minor league player claimed he left baseball after enduring anti-gay comments from his coaches and teammates.

As club president Bill DeWitt III noted in the official announcement however, the Cardinals have hosted LGBT groups in the past. He says that the club is eager to “remind fans that everyone is welcome at Busch Stadium.” He notes that the event will raise money for the PrideSTL Scholarship Fund which, in DeWitt’s words, “help courageous students in our community.”

Nice move, Cardinals.

Johnny Cueto expected to opt-out of his deal after the season

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Johnny Cueto signed a six-year $130 million deal with the Giants prior to the 2016 season. In his first season he went 18-5 with a 2.79 ERA and 198 strikeouts in 219.2 innings, helping lead the Giants to the playoffs. This season has been rocky for Cueto — he’s got a a 4.42 ERA in 15 starts and has battled blisters — but they’ve been far rockier for the Giants overall, as they sit in last place in the NL West and have the second worst record in baseball.

Many suspect that the Giants will either rebuild or, at the very least, restructure some in response to this nightmare year. If so, they’re likely going to be doing it with Cueto, who Jon Heyman reports is going to opt-out of his deal:

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Johnny Cueto is planning to opt out of his contract at the end of the year, but he would listen to any extension offer . . . Cueto has $84 million to go over four years. It would probably take an injury or major slump for Cueto not to opt out. But it makes sense that he will.

Heyman says the Giants are not inclined to give him an extension, so expect to see Cueto on the free agent market three days after the World Series ends, which is the deadline for him to exercise his opt-out rights.