What's more amazing than the differential in price between the Redsox and Matsuzaka (over 111 million dollars) and the Rays with Akinori Iwamura (just over 12 million) is the difference in national media coverage.
I guess the four letter network known as ESPN only likes to talk about Japanese players if they involve the Yankees or Redsox (Northeast bias? Please...no such thing) I suppose I'm naïve for thinking that the `Worldwide Leader' would include the cities of Tampa and Yakult into their fray. Shame on me for thinking the 13th largest television market in the United States would get disrespected to the point where they don't even mention they won a bid over the Redsox amongst others for possibly the best position player to come out of Japan since Hideki Matsui.
This isn't going to be a long rant about ESPN and their blatant disrespect towards our `Devil Dogs' but rather an observation. The item about the `world leader dies sized' coverage of Daisuke Matsuzaka in comparison to `a man just found a penny' coverage of Akinori Iwamura is the people involved.
Akinori has been described as the personality of the two, the man dyes his hair on a weekly basis, he smokes a pack and a half of cigarettes a week (okay, team trainers...break him, fast.) he goes by the nickname of Top Gun (other nicknames that are okay by us : Maverick, Iceman, Cougar, ect.) even the Japanese media has compared Akinori more to that of American media poster boy Johnny Damon rather than Hideki Matsui. So why is it that the much more reserved `Dice Man' is the getting all the attention again?
Ken Rosenthal (see Patrick's post below for even more opinion) reports that free agent second baseman Marcus Giles declined a Rays offered 3 year deal. The length of the deal is perplexing but he also reports the deal that he should be signing any hour now with San Diego is considerably less than the annual salary he would've made in Atlanta this season.
The more interesting tidbit from Rosenthal's offering last night was the report that the Marlins were enamored with B.J. Upton, and the Rays so against Upton for Ricky Nolasco that they talked to the Mets about getting involved and adding some young pitching to the pot. In return the Mets would've received Jorge Cantu, the Marlins B.J. Upton, and the Rays Nolasco and something from New York. The conversation died between the two National League East foes and never actually reached the Rays.
Personally I can't see a deal where both B.J. and Cantu are deal at once. One or the other makes sense, that allows Iwamura to slide into the starting lineup for good, both would leave at least one infield spot empty (I'd assume Aki would play 2b in that occurrence unless, like Jake mentioned to me earlier this week, a guy like Ronnie Belliard were to sign here, leaving Aki at 3b.)
Detroit pitcher Jeremy Bonderman signed a 4 year, 38 million dollar extension yesterday, a load more than Jeff Francis' 4 year, 13 million extension signed a little over a month ago. One wonders what Scott Kazmir will now ask for as the Rays and Kazmir's agent Brian Peters sit down to begin talk on their extension. If the Rays could lock down Kazmir for 4 years within the 40 million range it would shut some people up who bash the Rays for not spending money to keep their players (which is a false argument to begin with)
No news on the David Riske front, which is shocking to me, guys who have a mid 3 ERA after a career of pitching in the American League, and is only 29 should be a hot commodity on this market, no? The only rumor I've read is we're interested in him, apparently we're the only ones as teams like Cleveland have filled their bullpen, the Mets chose Mota, and his 50 game suspension, to solidify their pen, the O's bought nearly every reliever, ect. If the Rays land Riske I'd say this was a damn fine off-season that improved the areas we needed: bullpen, defense, and less useless / valueless vets.
From Bill Chastain's latest mailbag, concerning Josh Hamilton:
The best part about our Buccaneers having a poor season? It gets the local media off the Rays backs about `NOT SPENDING CASH, THEY WILL NEVER COMPETE WITH THE CASH!!!!' rants that always grace the sports pages this time of year.
Who would've thought we'd see a day when Toby Hall, Danys Baez, and Lance Carter find jobs before Aubrey Huff. The mighty have certainly fallen and in retrospect while the Huff deal may not turn out to be a poor return, we probably could've had a lot more if Lamar would've made a deal before being canned. I'm not one much for looking back and being regretful of past moves, especially Chuck Lamar's, but one must wonder what we were offered `back in the day' for Huff when he was a legit cleanup / 4 hitter. Maybe one day someone will write a book about it...