Possible MLB Returnees
by Patrick Newman (Jan 13, 2009)
A couple of weeks ago, I was asked on NY Baseball Digest Radio if there were any foreign players in Japan who could potentially make an MLB comeback, a la Cecil Fielder. I drew a blank. Given a little time to think it over though, I came up with a couple of candidates:
- Colby Lewis, SP, Hiroshima Carp: took over for Hiroki Kuroda as Hiroshima's ace, going 15-8 with a 2.68 era in 2008. Under contract for 2009.
- Alex Graman, RP, Saitama Seibu Lions: former Yankee has been lights-out since the Lions put him in the bullpen. Under contract for 2009.
- Craig Brazell,
1B, former Saitama Seibu Lions: cut loose after one year with the
Lions, Brazell struck out too much in Japan and had a poor on-base
performance, but did slug 27 home runs. I can see him playing AAA this
year in an org that's thin at 1b, and getting a shot if he performs
- Tyrone Woods,
1B, former Chunichi Dragons: cut loose after the '08 season, coming off
six consecutive 35 HR seasons. He's a real longshot to play in MLB in
2009, given that he's 40 and plenty of MLB veterans are out of work
this offseason, but then again Daryle Ward spent all of 2008 on the roster of a team that won 97 games.
Though not to the extent of Fielder, Hector Carrasco, Lee Stevens, and Darrell May
are a couple examples of guys who enjoyed some big league success after
playing in Japan. Fielder's 1991 Detroit Tigers teammate Bill Gullickson played two seasons with the Yomiuri Giants, where he became good friends with feature major leaguer Masumi Kuwata. They were so close, in fact, that Gullickson gave one of his children the middle name "Kuwata".