Moments before the deadline, the Brewers announced a deal with Japanese superstar Norichika Aoki. While the terms of the deal have not been released, it is believed to be for two years with a team option for 2014. Aoki will serve primarily as a member of the outfield platoon, along with Ryan Braun, Corey Hart, Nyjer Morgan and Carlos Gomez. When you consider that last year our 5th outfielder was Mark Kotsay, I would say Aoki is a major improvement.
For example, Aoki played his entire eight-year Japanese career with the Yakult Swallows, batting .329 with 84 HR, 385 RBI and 164 stolen bases in 985 games. He was the Central League batting champion in 2005 (.344), 2007 (.346) and 2010 (.358). He won 6 Gold Gloves during his career playing center field.
Aoki has participated in both World Baseball Classic events (2006 and 2009), during which he has a .310 batting average with 8 RBI in 15 games. Our boy played for Japan in the 2008 Summer Olympics, batting .294 with 1 HR and 7 RBI in 9 games.
So, yeah. This is way better than Kotsay. Our fearless leader, GM Doug Melvin, had this to say about today’s signing:
"“He’s a guy that’s had a lot of success in Japan. He’s won Gold Gloves, won batting titles, was an all-star. We think he can utilize those skills on our ballclub and give us some depth in the outfield. He can play all three outfield positions, preferably in center field, left field. He’s a usable player. He’s going to get an opportunity to play with his first experience in the United States. Spring training will give us a much better read of how he fits into the ball club.”"
That’s right!! Spring Training is only a month away. I can not wait to see what this guy can do. Could he really be that good? Let’s all hope so.
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That’s all the news, as of 9:32 PM CST. I reserve the right to update this article between now and tomorrow evening.