If you can’t beat ‘em, recruit ‘em.
On a day the Giants lost to Japan 6-4, they announced a hiring that they think will help make them competitors for top Japanese talent.
Shun Kakazu, a Japanese native and Harvard grad who worked the past three years for Bobby Valentine’s Chiba Lotte Marines, was named the Giants’ coordinator of Japan operations and will scout and gather information on professional and amateur players.
Question: do they have 36 year-old corner players coming off of fluke seasons and demanding three-year deals in Japan? If so, Sabean’s interest here is obvious.
OK, that was a cheap shot. Good on the Giants for doing everything they can do to get better. They are only the fifth team to have a full-time Japanese operation, and the earlier you get in to any market, the better you’ll do. As far as wooing the Japanese, however, this may be the best thing they could possibly do:
Early Wednesday, Willie Mays was in the Giants’ clubhouse signing three dozen balls for Japan’s players and coaches. It was his idea, and one of the Japanese clubbies who brought back the balls called the gesture “unbelievable.”
One would think that based on the five-hour shorter flight time from Tokyo alone San Francisco would have a leg up on other teams trying to land Japanese players. Add in some Willie Mays schwag and you’ve got yourself a seriously cool hearts and minds campaign.