Sox Interested in Shinji?
(Nikkan Sports and Sponichi Annex Photos)
Japanese Righty Setup Man Shinji Mori
Could Be on the Red Sox Radar for 2006
Update: Peter Gammons adds "I talked to Ship (Craig Shipley, Red Sox special assistant to the GM) about him (Mori) a while back. OK, not great. Nero insists Ishii won't come."
The following report is from Boston Dirt Dogs contributor and founder of JapaneseBallPlayers.com, Daigo Fujiwara:
Here is yet another Japanese bullpen possibility for the Red Sox.
According to Nov. 28 issue of the Sports Nippon newspaper, anonymous Red Sox club personnel told a reporter that they are interested in pitcher Shinji Mori of Seibu Lions (original story in Japanese.)
The 31-year-old righthanded setup man is said to have a good sinker, fastball in the high 80s, and a two-seam fastball. The Seibu Lions' 1997 second-round draft pick was converted to a full-time relief pitcher in 2000 and had 23 saves that year. He was awarded the "best setup pitcher" award in 2002 and 2003, posting 2.07 and 2.31 ERAs. He has a 44-44 career record with 50 saves and a 3.39 ERA in nine years in Japan. He has been requesting to be moved to a major league club since 2001, and was finally granted his wish (Mori will be free agent next year, so the Lions decided to try to get something for him while they can.)
Mori may not be as good as Yakult Swallows' lefthanded closer Hirotoshi Ishii, in whom the Red Sox also reportedly had interest (and who I still think can come to the majors), but perhaps similar to Akinori Otsuka of the San Diego Padres, who came into the majors at age 31. However, Otsuka was already an established closer and had 2.39 ERA in seven years in Japan. Mori would be certainly better and younger than Denney Tomori with his 3.96 career ERA, who was 37 when he signed with the Sox last year.
The Lions will be using a transaction method called the "Posting System" -- players like Ichiro came to US using this system. More about it here. The Japanese team submitted the necessary paperwork to the Japanese Professional Baseball commisioner's office on Thursday, and it is expected that major league clubs will hear about it in a few days (if not already). Once posted, major league clubs have four days to place a sealed bid for the rights to negotiate with Mori.
The Sports Nippon newspaper also mentions the Padres, Angels, and Cubs as possible clubs who might be interested in Mori.