Seattle Times: M’s sign Jojima

DMZ · November 21, 2005 at 12:55 am · Filed Under Mariners 

So says Bob Finnigan (“So say we all.”). The announcement could come as early as today. If he’s right, it’s 3y, $5m/year. This would be up from the 2y+option previously rumored. Also, Jojima looks sad in that photo.

This would also be a sudden turnaround, as this weekend the Japan Times was reporting that he was “waiting for offers”:

OSAKA — Japanese all-star catcher Kenji Jojima, who is in talks with major league teams, returned to Japan on Saturday saying he is still awaiting offers.

“If I get offers, I’d like to go again,” Jojima said after arriving at Kansai International Airport. “I’d like to not have this drag on too long if possible.”

At the same time, the printed rumor mill was grinding the increased year and money, and saying that the Mariners had won the U.S. bidding. If nothing else, it’s interesting to look back at what leaked when locally and whether it was true:
Nov 11th, TNT: the M’s are close to signing him to a two-year, $8m deal with an option year: got the contract offer and details right, and while maybe jumping the gun
Then the denials (from Jojima’s agent in particular) that they weren’t even in serious negotiations: yeah, that’s not true.

It also makes Jojima’s shortened trip interesting. He came to Seattle, hung out for a while, the M’s made him a strong, early offer, he headed off, maybe saw Shea while flying into New York, walked around a bit, and after a while asked someone if the constant honking and the smell are all-day amenities. And when they said “pretty much” he told his agent to work something out with the Mariners and went home.

Anyway, some time this week I’ll take a crack at projecting Jojima. If nothing else, this would be the second off-season in a row where the team saw a need and a free agent that would fill that need and went sprinting after them. Whether you think Beltre’s a great signing or not, they appear to be doing an excellent job of evaluating who they think the prizes are in the free agents and being aggressive. And if Carlos Delgado, say, wants $100m over 5 years, they say “thanks” and then start to work on their backup plan. They’re not losing out on the players they target for lack of effort.


77 Responses to “Seattle Times: M’s sign Jojima”

  1. ChrisK on November 21st, 2005 10:54 am

    Looks like the M’s threw Finnigan a bone by letting him break the story in the Times last night/this morning. This also ensures that Finny will keep writing his P-Lint stories for the foreseeable future. It’s very smart for the M’s to have one of their PR folks working as the Mariners beat writer.

  2. Jim Thomsen on November 21st, 2005 11:04 am

    So can we finally clear this up:

    Is it “Jojima” or “Johjima”?

  3. Arford on November 21st, 2005 11:13 am

    Nah, you know how it goes. If Pat Gillick has a job, so does Pat Borders…

  4. Arford on November 21st, 2005 11:14 am

    Err, that me being inept with tags. I was attempting to quote JMB’s post in 47. Sorry…

  5. Deanna on November 21st, 2005 11:25 am

    52 — he spells it “Johjima” on his uniform.

    Can we just go with 城島? 🙂

  6. Mike Snow on November 21st, 2005 12:24 pm

    But if it’s Johjima, shouldn’t it also be Ichiroh? As I understand it, they’re the same long-o sound. Mind you, I speak no Japanese myself and am going purely from phonetics.

  7. Jim Thomsen on November 21st, 2005 12:31 pm

    So if Sadaharu Oh had played in the U.S., he would have been “Sadaharu O”?

  8. Jeff on November 21st, 2005 12:37 pm

    The long o sound in Japanese is voiced only one way, but transliterated into English in any number of ways. Some use the “h” (it’s on the back of his jersey as “Johjima”), some a u (“Joujima”), some another o (“Joojima”), and some place a line over the o.

    The Associated Press uses “Jojima,” so that’s what I use for standardization’s sake.

  9. roger tang on November 21st, 2005 12:47 pm

    Hey, I spell it like how HE spells it.

    Or would that be too politically correct for some people?

  10. Jeff on November 21st, 2005 1:01 pm

    Roger, he spells it in kanji (Chinese characters) or the Japanese katakana syllabary. We could spell it like that, but everyone might have to do some font installation.

    I doubt the man himself cares how his name’s translated into English, and his name could be spelled “mxyztplk” for all I care, as long as he can hit and field.

  11. Deanna on November 21st, 2005 1:03 pm

    I have an extremely pedantic friend who was in my Japanese classes in college who insists on spelling it “Ichirou”, but he’s the only one I know of. I’m in the school of “spell it like the guy spells it on his uniform” — if he gets it spelled “Johjima” on his Mariners uniform, I’d assume we too would spell it that way?

    I dunno. The same kanji begins the names of both Akinori Otsuka and Tomokazu Ohka, but you see that they choose to romanize it differently. (It’s not the same kanji as in Sadaharu Oh — theirs is the one for “many” or “big”; his is the one for “King”. So when he first started playing and struck out a lot, people would yell “Sanshin Oh!” as in, the strikeout king.)

    sorry if I’m repeating info — somehow I feel like I am, but I forget what thread it was in.

  12. roger tang on November 21st, 2005 1:47 pm

    Well, I’m ASSUMING that the name he puts on his Mariners’ uniform is how he wants it to be spelled, and we should take it from there…but, hey, what do I know….

  13. Mat on November 21st, 2005 2:04 pm

    I would guess that the spelling issue will be much more clear by the beginning of the season. There’s no way the AP is going to spell it differently than he does on his jersey (unless of course, he opts for kanji on the back of his jersey), at which point almost everyone will be spelling it the same way.

  14. Deanna on November 21st, 2005 2:21 pm

    It’s funny, the KBO uses Hangul for names on their jerseys and the CPBL uses kanji for names on their jerseys, but the NPB uses English. Go figure.

  15. Jeff Nye on November 21st, 2005 2:56 pm

    This is great news, no matter how you spell his name.

  16. Gary Garland on November 21st, 2005 2:56 pm

    First, on the transliteration issue, you can go with whatever you prefer and nobody in Japan will be offended. I spell it “Johjima” because that is just what I prefer.

    The question if what do with the long vowels was something I had to contend with before starting construction of the statistical part of Japan Baseball Daily. I just decided that since it is oriented toward people with no Japanese knowledge, that I would simplify the spellings to alleviate possible confusion by a gaijin audience. However, because even the U.S. media uses the spelling of “Ohka” for Tomo Ohka’s last name, I went with that even if I spelled other players with the same name as “Oka.”

    On how Japanese players translate to MLB, Jim ALbright over at Baseball has been doing statistical analysis of this for years and I think he does the best job at it (disclaimer: Jim is a friend of mine).

    On his supposed visit to Shea, my understanding is that Johjima didn’t really even bother, having had his heart set on Seattle. But I also haven’t had time to follow this as much as I should have because of all the work I’m doing on the stats part of my site.

    On trading Ichiro, that is just flat stupid from a marketing standpoint. As good as Johjima is, he has nowhere near the star power of Ichiro back in Japan and you will see the M’s shoved off to the darker corners of the sports pages and tv news programs while whomever picks Ichiro up gets most of the publicity (along with the Yankees due to Hideki Matsui’s presence). Yeah, Kenji will get lots of publicity in Kyushu, but that is like being the biggest player in Iowa. Not much of a marketing charge there.

    Unfortunately, though, I do suspect that Ichiro’s problems with Hargrove are years old, from the time Mike took that M,LB team to Japan and then said that Ichiro would have trouble being a fifth outfielder in MLB. The last two seasons of losing have exacerbatred that since Ichiro is tired of losing. If the M’s get off to a slow start, this could come to a head and Mike might get the boot in mid-season. It’s all about the cash and nobody goes to the ballpark to see Hargrove manage. I hope the two can “nakanaori (kiss and makeup),” but I’m not very optimistic.

  17. david h on November 21st, 2005 2:58 pm has “Johjima.”

    As for that other catcher, keeping JoeJessica makes sense, but moving him could be due to a request and the M’s are simply doing him a favor. If so and they keep him, they then have a disgruntled backup – and the Mariners just love unsettled locker rooms. Plus, its hard to deny a guy a chance to start if he has one.

  18. Dennis Lott on November 21st, 2005 2:59 pm

    Wouldn’t the Mariners want to “officially” sign Jojima after the Rule 5 draft in December, so as to protect as many players as possible?

  19. msb on November 21st, 2005 3:03 pm

    #66– FWIW, Hargrove addressed that in 2004:

    “It was 1998, he was in Japan as part of Major League Baseball’s touring all-star team, and he was asked about an outfielder from Orix Blue Wave named Ichiro Suzuki. “He’s a good outfielder,” Hargrove told Sankei Shimbun. “And he has an above-average arm. He wants to come to the majors? It would be impossible for him to be a regular player there.”

    Yes, Hargrove remembers what he said six years and 924 big-league hits from Ichiro later. And he takes it all back.

    “You know what happened?” Hargrove drawled. “I really enjoyed my time in Japan on that all-star tour. And found the people to be really nice and really avid baseball fans. “But they asked every day, a thousand times, how their players compared, and I just had had my fill of that on that one particular day when he asked that one particular question. And I answered, `No I don’t think so.’ So I have been wrong on occasion.”

    Ichiro is “one of the all-time best,” said Hargrove, who was named the Mariners’ 13th manager at a news conference yesterday. “People talk about his hitting, but he has one of the best arms in the game. He’s a complete player. The one thing that’s surprised me is his durability. He’s not a big guy. And he plays a lot. I think he’s a keeper.””

  20. Deanna on November 21st, 2005 3:21 pm

    66 – Damn, Gary, you’ve added a lot of stuff since last time I’ve seen your site! Though you may want to update just the front page to appropriately congratulate the Marines 🙂

    I was going to point to Albright’s NPB-MLB projection methods, but I could only find the method for pitchers on his baseballguru site, unless I’m looking at an old version of the site, which is possible.

  21. Jon Wells on November 21st, 2005 3:22 pm

    I’m in complete agreement that it would be great to keep Torrealba around at least for 2006 as a backup and as an insurance policy for Johjima.

    However, I’d have to say that it’s unlikely to happen for financial reasons. Because Torrealba is eligible for arbitation and he made $715K last year the M’s are looking at the possibility of having to pay him well over a million bucks to be their backup catcher. Given that the club doesn’t like the uncertainty of the arbitration process and that they probably spent more on Johjima than they had anticipated (and the facts that the team has several other holes and Howard Lincoln operates on a strict budget), I would expect that Torrealba would be moved just to clear his salary from the books (and a 40 man roster spot too).

    What I’m saying is that it’d be great if the M’s held on to Torrealba if the trade offers were less than thrilling, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. Look for him to be gone in the next month…

  22. Dave in Palo Alto on November 21st, 2005 3:39 pm

    While I salute Jeff for his Golden Age spelling of Mr. Mxyzptlk’s name, as with Johjima, we should probably defer to current preferences. Now, if we could only get WFB to say Kltpzyxm . . .

  23. wabbles on November 21st, 2005 6:15 pm

    I think it was Morgan Fairchild who said, “You can never be too rich, too thin or have too many catchers.” You need two good catchers for the same reason you need two good quarterbacks: injuries and fatigue-related declines in performance. We used SEVEN catchers last year. SEVEN! Now we seem to have the position nailed down for the next couple/few years. Many, many things could happen between now and when (or if) Clement is ready to take over. Clement could be a Felix or he could be a Matt Thornton. We don’t know yet. Let’s enjoy this current situation and move on to filling our holes in left field, DH and entertaining commercials (another casualty of the past season or two).

  24. The Ancient Mariner on November 21st, 2005 6:32 pm

    Hey, Gary, good to see you! I was just thinking about you the other day, hoping all’s going well with you.

    As for Ichiro v. Hargrove, it would seem a safe bet that if the problem does in fact exist, Grover’s days are numbered . . .

  25. DrNaka on November 21st, 2005 7:43 pm

    It is speculated in Japan that his nickname as Mariner is:
    George MacKenzie

  26. Tim on November 21st, 2005 7:52 pm

    Johjima Kenji
    Georgema Kenji
    George MacKenzie

    Ha, ha!

    But I doubt an American would come up with that independently.

  27. Mr. Egaas on November 21st, 2005 10:31 pm

    Looks to be official now. 3 year, 16.5 million.

    M’s site lists him as Johjima, so I guess that’s what we should go by.