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Thanks to all readers of the “Baseball Bullet-In” for your e-mails and interest in Japanese baseball.

Following are some samples of what’s on some of your minds during this offseason, along with my comments.

Wayne: I am also more than a little confused as to why Brian Sikorski was released by the Yomiuri Giants.

I understand (manager Tatsunori) Hara wants to make a new start with “his” players, but releasing Sikorski, an extremely durable reliever who has proven over five years he can adjust on and off the field here, seems clueless to me.

If the Giants are so committed to rebuilding with younger players, why did they re-sign the washed-up Masumi Kuwata for 150 million yen for 2006?

The guy has been practically useless since his last good season in 2002.

Also, if you have some insight into what Marty Brown is going to do with the Carp’s foreign players for 2006, I’d like to hear it.

I can understand releasing Greg LaRocca from the standpoint he’s been so injury prone.

I don’t understand releasing Tom Davey, however. Davey played on a very cheap contract in 2005 — coming off a 2004 shortened by arm problems.

I think he would be another good fit for the Eagles — in addition to Sikorski. They would be able to deal with the antiquated antics of (Rakuten manager) Katsuya Nomura.

What was the reasoning behind the release of Cedrick Bowers by the BayStars?

Was it because of his late-season injury problems?

I thought he did a pretty good job for them. And he is a lefty starter to boot.

Patrick Hattman

Patrick: Kuwata has 172 career victories, and I believe the Giants think he can somehow get another 28 over the next two or three seasons, reach 200 and join the Meikyukai (Golden Players Club). He’ll have to pick up the pace, though; Kuwata’s win total in 2005 was zero.

I don’t know why Yokohama canned Cedrick, but it appears Rakuten is interested in obtaining him, and there are rumors the Orix Buffaloes are looking to possibly sign Davey and LaRocca.

As for Brown’s reasoning for the release of LaRocca, Davey and pitcher Kenny Rayborn, I’m talking to Marty and will have that for you next week.


Dear Wayne: If Japanese baseball were to expand, do you think it could be supported financially, and where would the teams be placed?

I would like to see one in Shikoku, another team in Niigata, or maybe Kyoto.

How about a return by Kintetsu, or at least another Osaka team?

What are your thoughts?

Roy Lew

Dear Roy: I think Japanese pro baseball expansion could work if done the right way. The leagues would have to add two teams each, making for a total of 16 clubs with two four-team divisions in the Central and Pacific.

I don’t think Kintetsu will come back, however, and I would not favor another team in Osaka.

My best bets would be Niigata, Hokuriku (with Toyama’s Alpen Stadium as the base and some games played at Kanazawa and Fukui), and Shikoku (Botchan Stadium in Matsuyama as the main venue).

I also like the idea of putting a team in Kyoto, but they would need a new stadium and, from what I understand, that would require special permission from the national government for construction in Japan’s ancient and sacred former capital city.


Dear Wayne: Regarding Central League playoffs, I would propose adding a Cup competition to be played between the top four teams after the end of the regular season.

This would include the league winner (the team that finished first) who would receive the CL pennant as before, and the next three finishers. (This year, for example, it would have included Hanshin, Chunichi, Yakult and Yokohama.)

There would be two semifinals followed by a final in which the Cup winner would be decided.

This would be followed by a playoff between the league winner and the Cup winner for the right to play in the Japan Series.

Note both teams would retain their titles as Central League winner and Central League Cup winner.

By winning a Cup competition and beating the League winner, a team with a record below .500 would have established a legitimate right to compete in the series.

Christopher Amano-Langtree

Dear Wayne: Regarding a playoff system, my idea is to have three leagues with four teams each, so we have three champions and one playoff seat (best runnerup in the three leagues).

This way, we will have a semifinal and final for the Japan Series (both best-of-seven), without any breaks.

Also, since there would be three league champions, it would attract more supporters and interest.

The alignment could be something like this:

North League: Fighters, Eagles, Marines, Dragons. Central League: Lions, BayStars, Giants, Swallows. West League: Tigers, Carp, Hawks, Buffaloes.

Nishi Suresh

Dear Christopher and Nishi: Your ideas are interesting, and I will pass them on to the Central and Pacific League officials.

I especially like the idea of the three leagues (or divisions) and a major league-style wild card playoff team, but it would be extremely difficult to get everyone to agree on a total realignment as you have it.


Finally this week, I would like to extend a domo arigato to Bill Wilder and the nice people at Nikko Asset Management, sponsors of today’s column.


Contact Wayne Graczyk at: Wayne@JapanBall.com

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