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Aoki and San Jose Being A-OK?

November 10, 2011

MLBTradeRumors.com’s Ben Nicholson-Smith speculated that three-time Central League batting-champion Norichika Aoki who appears as if he will be posted this offseason by the Yakult Swallows, could be of interest to the Oakland A’s. The soon-to-be 30 year old Aoki, posted a .336/.411/.472 slash line between 2004-2010 averaging over 13 home runs a season before dipping to a .292/.360/.358 line in 2011 with a mere four home runs. Potentially he is someone who the A’s could pick up cheaply given the down year, certainly he will not attract the attention that Yoenis Cespedes has though it is said that the Indians, Mets and Nationals all have interest in Aoki. Though written in 2009, Patrick Newman of the excellent NPB Tracker which covers Japanese baseball wrote of Aoki,

“From 1994-2000, Ichiro [Suzuki] was the undisputed best hitter in Japan. After he left for Seattle, Hideki Matsui took over as Japan’s consensus batting king. After Matsui’s reign, you’d have to go with Nobuhiko Matsunaka, until 2005 when Norichika Aoki emerged. It’s hard to argue who was better in ’05, but in 2006 Aoki took over the title and has held it ever since.”

That is some high praise as we know the class of hitter Ichiro and Matsui have been in the Majors. Aoki, a center fielder, also fills a very obvious hole for the A’s and as I have alluded to numerous times in the past, I would love to see Oakland become a destination like Seattle was in the early 2000’s for Japanese stars. Especially if they were to move into a new park, this could catapult the interest in the team internationally – if we are to sign a guy to play in that Opening Day series Aoki is a great candidate to be the one, and I like him as an addition to the A’s roster.

In other news surrounding the A’s, Bill Madden of the New York Daily News writes about the A’s possible move to San Jose saying,

“According to baseball insiders, the reason A’s co-owner Lew Wolff, the L.A.-based real-estate developer and close personal [Bud] Selig ally, is not going to be a bidder in the Frank McCourt Dodger auction (as had been frequently speculated) is because the commissioner has given him tacit assurance that his effort to move the A’s to a new stadium in San Jose is eventually going to be approved.”

This is interesting news and would sort of fit the narrative we are hearing from A’s officials as Billy Beane cut off talks with Josh Willingham as he felt a stadium decision was imminent. This report makes it seem as if there is clearance ahead for a move to the South Bay which is good news indeed for A’s fans.

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