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12/16/2002 Archived Entry: "Japanese Baseball News: Nakamura, Matsui Edge Closer to MLB"

Mets and Nakamura Approaching Agreement

According to Sports Nippon, the New York Mets have made a proposal to Kintetsu Buffaloes free agent third baseman Norihiro Nakamura for two years at $3 million a season plus another $2 million per in incentives as well as $200,000 for living expenses. Moreover, if he meets those incentive targets, an option for a third year would automatically kick in. The same paper also indicated that Nakamura agent Masami Shigeta left the negotiating session in an exultant mood.

The Japanese sports daily is positing that the Mets success in unloading the almost totally unproductive Rey Ordonez and allowing Edgardo Alfonso to skip to the Giants gave them the headroom to improve their chances of landing Nakamura. Should all the ins and outs of the incentive clauses be successfully settled, Sports Nippon thinks that the burly Osaka native will indeed be changing his address to New York.

Nakamura spent today playing in a charity golf tournament held at the Chiba Country Club, hacking alongside Seibu Lions ace Daisuke Matsuzaka, posting an 85. He also said that his stomach is churning over the negotiations with the various ballclubs who want his services.

Cashman: Matsui Negotiations Going Smoothly

Yankees GM Brian Cashman said that negotiations for Hideki Matsui are progressing. Furthermore, he wouldn't be taking the Christmas holidays off, which means that it is possible for Matsui to have everything settled by December 25th, which is his goal. Cashman, though, also emphasized that he is in negotiations with other players (read: Cliff Floyd) other than Matsui. Matsui's former boss, Yomiuri Giants manager Tatsunori Hara, said he would recommend that Matsui sign with the Yankees due to their working agreement with Yomiuri as well as the team's tradition.

Cashman also got some good news form Boston in that in the wake of acquiring Jeremy Giambi and desperately needing bullpen help, they are most likely going to pull out of the bidding for Godzilla. However, Sankei Sports continues to insist that the Dodgers, who, even if they are trying to unload payroll, have big pockets of their own and are indeed interested.

That interest is probably going to come to naught, as a Newsday report asserts that the current thinking among MLB execs is that Matsui will throw his lot in with the Yanks for a three year, $20 million pact. The Pasadena Star News also believes that the Dodgers have the inside track on Floyd, which would make it more vital for George Steinbrenner to get a Matsui deal done.

Oh Lands in Dominican Republic

Daiei Hawks manager Sadaharu Oh landed in the Dominican Republic this weekend and threw out the first pitch of a winter league game Sunday in the capital city of Santo Domingo in front of a capacity crowd. The "world famous Oh," as he's referred to in Japan, commented, "I was surprised at how exciting the game was. I might have to come here every year." After meeting with the president of the country today, Oh will be going to take a look at the academies of the L.A. Dodgers and the Hiroshima Carp as he continues his scouting trip.

Hot Shots....

Cubs outfielder Angel Echevarria has come to agreement with Nippon Ham, according to Sports Nippon. He will rake in $800,000. Nice move by the Fighters....Yomiuri veteran Kimiyasu Kudoh revealed today that he will be training with Randy Johnson in Phoenix in January....Yakult reserve infielder Chihiro Hamana, 33, asked the Japanese press to publicize the fact that he is looking for someone to marry. Now with that done, let's see if it brings any results....Yokohama infielder Hirofumi Ogawa had his salary reduced by $15,000 to about $550,000. In addition, that team's number four draft choice, Takeharu Kato, a righthanded sidearmer, holds a P.E. teacher's license, Sankei sports disclosed today....Orix's sponsor for its minor league club decided not to renew their contract with the team due to cost cutting and thus the name of the minor league side will revert from Serpas Kobe to just Orix....Sankei Sports hints that the Philadelphia Phillies are interested in Kazuo Matsui thanks to remarks that manager Laarry Bowa made: "all I've heard are good things about him," the fiery field boss offered....Hanshin Tigers manager Senichi Hoshino is saying that he is expecting big things out of his first two draft choices, pitchers Hirotaka Egusa and Naohisa Sugiyama. If they can help him in the bullpen he might have something, but I think Egusa is still a year or two away....Daiei backup catcher Masanori Taguchi earned a $44,000 raise to about $170,000. However, another substitute catcher, Koji Bonishi, got taken down $40,000 to approximately $175,000....Chunichi Dragons hurler Kenta Asakura was awarded $225,000 raise to about $310,000. Needless to say (but I'll say it anyway), Asakura was very gratified....Swallows southpaw Hirotsugu Maeda, who was terrible last season, absorbed a nearly $50,000 reduction to $225,000. Ex-Swallows submariner Kazumasa Takahashi has caught on with Hitachi Seisakusho in the Japanese industrial leagues....Rick Short will wear number 44 with Lotte....Former Toei Flyers, Nankai Hawks, and Hanshin Tigers righty Takenori Emoto celebrated his tenth year as a member of the Japanese Diet. He also moonlights as a baseball commentator. Emoto won 113 games (against 126 losses) with a 3.52 ERA in 11 pro seasons....According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Cubs prospect Hee-seop Choi may train with Ichiro next month near Seattle....

Quote of the Day

The quote of the day comes from Larry Stone at the Seattle Times, who, when noting the inactivity at the MLB winter meetings in Nashville before Sunday, remarked, "Forget about the Hot Stove League....the winter meetings had been more like a broken down toaster oven."

Matsui a Wanted Man

See story at: Japan Times Article

Matsui Talks May Heat Up After Winter Meetings

See story at: Japan Times Article

University of Tennessee Beats Cuban Youth Team 2-0

See story at: Baltimore Sun Article

Canada Loses First Game at Women's World Baseball Championships

See story at: Canadian Press Article

Today in Japanese Baseball History

This report is for December 16th and on that date in Japanese baseball history in 1975, Taiheiyo Club Lions manager Shinichi Etoh resigned. Leo Durocher was then announced at Etoh's successor, but the ballclub and Leo the Lip couldn't come to an agreement on a contract and former Nishitetsu infielder Masakazu Kito was tapped for the post instead.

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