Nomo probably returning to Japan
Posted by simon c on 2008 May 12日 Monday
MLB and NPB insiders say that Nomo is ready to return to Japan. This is surprising considering he’s always stated that he had no interest in playing in NPB again, and his single-minded insistence and commitment to playing in the majors. But maybe this time he finally saw the writing on the wall shortly after making a return to a major league mount after a 1000 day absence, only to have his now below average stuff hammered away to the tune of 3 homers and 9 runs in only 4.1 innings in 3 appearances as a reliever (18.69 ERA).
Former major leaguers returning to Japan after being deemed dispensable in the States presents a mixed bag. But Nomo wasn’t just below average dispensable, he has been downright awful since 2004, and this last surgery and rehabilitation didn’t give him back his super-arm (not surprisingly).
The only pitcher who had been comparably terrible in the majors before moving back to Japan was Mac Suzuki, who had in fact started his pro career stateside. He followed up his meltdown seasons in 2001-02 (5-12 with 5.86 ERA, followed by 9.00 ERA in 21 IP) with equally forgettable seasons in Japan (7.06 ERA in 108.1 IP, then 8.57 ERA in 48.1 IP), before attempting a return to the majors with the Cubs (pedestrian 4.11 ERA in 15 IP in AAA).
It’s interesting that some former major leaguers returned to Japan after a below average MLB season and had one successful season before finally meeting their demise in their second season back in Japan (Kaz Sasaki, Shingo Takatsu, and Hideki Irabu).
This offer probably also means that he was got no interest from any teams outside of NPB, and that’s too bad because it would’ve been fun to see how he did in, say, Korea or Taiwan, but it’s more than a few years too late as his last effective season as a major leaguer was in 2003! (Wow, I feel old 😛 )
Anyways, there were previous rumours linking Nomo with the Yokohama BayStars, but it seemed to be some creative works of sports writers who had no story to file that day. But this time around, his links with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles seem more assured, with various insiders chipping in information like Nomo and the club’s intents, and even specifics like a possibility of an announcement this week before the start of interleague games, and confirming with a quote from Orix Buffaloes (who hold rights to Nomo after his retirement from NPB and the Kintetsu Buffaloes before the club was merged with Orix BlueWave) representative Nakamura saying that Orix have no interest in Nomo (the club and the Mr.Tornado were unable to reach a contract agreement back in 2006) and will not block any other teams from trying to acquire him, meaning that Orix will should be releasing their rights to Nomo soon. While I expect the probability of a successful return to Japan for the pioneering former major leaguer to be very low, the pitching thin team’s partly interested in his services partly to coach the young staff, and any good pitching under Nomura, who is famous for reviving many careers under his watch, would probably be seen as a bonus.