WTNYNovember 21, 2003
Foreign Friday
By Bryan Smith

A few odds and ends on a Friday. I have AL Central OPS reports below, and I'll post AL East, along with news on a transaction if need be. I fully expect that to be Tino Martinez becoming a Devil Ray, when I'll get the chance to write 500-1000 words bashing the Devil Rays. Ahh...good times.

First, a little foreign news. Kaz Matsui, the next big-name player to come overseas, announced he is surely coming to America. This wasn't headline material, as it was seen coming. I wrote earlier the rumors to the New York teams were idiotic, and he'll end up on the West Coast, or Baltimore. Yesterday I said he'd be good in Seattle, likely hitting forty doubles in the two-hole.

Fellow Japanese middle infielder, Tadahito Iguchi, announced he will wait a year to pursue the Major Leagues. I wrote about Iguchi a few weeks ago, and speculation had been he would land with the New York Mets. He broke out in 2003, and will use next season to build on his breakout season. Next year, he'll have the title of the best Japanese import of the year. This season, he's the third best foreign player.

That is, of course, because Korean first basemen Lee Seung-yeop is right behind Matsui. Seung is in town this week, disappointed he is yet to receive a contract offer. He'll be putting on a show in Los Angeles, hoping the Dodgers offer some dough. He's a very good fit there, and Lo Duca could play first vs. left-handers to ease Lee into Major League play. I mean, Hell, he can't be worse than Fred McGriff!

Finally, the Padres spend $300,000 yesterday to retain negotiating rights of Japanese closer Akinori Otsuka. A look at the last three seasons for Otsuka, thanks to japanesebaseball.com...

2001: 26Sv 48G 42H/56IP 82K/15BB 4.02ERA
2002: 22Sv 41G 22H/44.1IP 54K/3BB 1.28ERA
2003: 17Sv 51G 31H/43IP 56K/5BB 2.09ERA

It looks like the days are gone when Otsuka pitches multiple innings, so he'll really be used in the set-up role next season. I don't know if this means Rod Beck is gone or not, but my guess is yes. Beck will catch on somewhere, with my gut telling me Chicago, Boston, or Oakland. Otsuka obviously has fantastic control, but his numbers aren't quite as dominant as Kaz Sasaki's were. But Sasaki's impact was huge, and I think this is a nice attempt by Kevin Towers, who is pulling every cord to improve this team.

40-man rosters were due by yesterday at midnight, so next week I'm hoping to write an article on the best Rule V options available. Walter Young, a solid first base prospect of the Pirates, didn't make Pittsburgh's forty, so the Baltimore Orioles claimed him on waivers. Solid pick-up, but the Pirates will be fine at first base since Ryan Shelton or Doumit will have to move there. Nothing strikes me as surprising off the bat, but my weekend job is to find some solid available players. That and fan suggested articles coming next week.

Big day for college recruiting yesterday, and if I knew anything about college baseball, I'd be happy to pass it on...

My prediction of Sheffield to the Yankees is a gimme, and the Danys Baez situation is the most confusing in baseball. There really is a flaw if Mark Shapiro can pay him near the minimum next year. But if so, nice loophole find by Shapiro...

I have to admit, that's all, except for some OPS reports below. Enjoy...

Minnesota Twins
Doug Mientkiewicz- 851, 757, 843
Luis Rivas- 681, 697, 689
Christian Guzman- 814, 677, 676- Three down
Corey Koskie- 850, 815, 845
Jacque Jones- 752, 852, 797
Shannon Stewart- 834, 813, 823
Torii Hunter- 785, 858, 763

Chicago White Sox
Frank Thomas- 1061, 833, 952
Paul Konerko- 856, 857, 704
Robbie Alomar- 956, 707, 682- Three down
Jose Valentin- 845, 790, 776- Three down
Carlos Lee- 789, 843, 830
Carl Everett- 761, 772, 876- Three up
Magglio Ordonez- 915, 978, 926

Kansas City Royals
Brent Mayne- 678, 619, 651
Mike Sweeney- 916, 980, 858
Desi Relaford- 836, 713, 691- Three down
Joe Randa- 693, 767, 800- Three up
Rondell White- 900, 666, 829
Carlos Beltran- 876, 847, 911

Cleveland Indians
Matt Lawton- 797, 741, 763
Milton Bradley- 620, 723, 922- Three up

Detroit Tigers
Brandon Inge- 453, 599, 603- Three up
Dmitri Young- 831, 787, 909
Bobby Higginson- 812, 762, 689- Three down

Recap time. Here are the players who have very positive indicators from the last three years:

Carl Everett- OF- Free Agent
Joe Randa- 3B- Free Agent
Milton Bradley- OF- Indians
Brandon Inge- C- Tigers- Might break .610 next season

And for those with negative tendencies:

Christian Guzman- SS- Twins
Robbie Alomar- 2B- Free Agent
Jose Valentin- SS- White Sox
Desi Relaford- IF- Royals
Bobby Higginson- OF- Tigers

Have a good weekend and check back if anything worthy of note happens...