Wily Mo Pena, one of the more entertaining high-strikeout, huge power players of his generation, is heading to Japan to join the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks, the reigning champions of the Nippon Baseball League.
A link to the news is here, but it's in Japanese. Luckily, Google Chrome has a built-in translator, so we can get the details without any problems.
Softbank is a new alien, the Mariners outfielder Willy Mo Pena (29) April 26 to win, OK. Memorandum of piecework salary plus 400 million yen in two-year contract.
Without looking up conversion rates, 400 million yen seems like the largest contract in the history of professional baseball, so good for Wily Mo. (Actually, Daigo Fujiwara has the deal at 2 years/$5 million, with a potential for performance bonuses.)
And, as a reminder, here's what Pena did at AAA last year:
Wily Mo Pena has always been one of baseball's better what-if players of the past decade. He started his career so strong -- only 55 different players have ever hit more than 25 homers in a season before turning 23, and Pena's name sticks out in comparison to the rest of the list, which features all sorts of Hall-of-Famers and All-Stars. He never built on that start, mostly because his plate approach was that of a Rob Deer who felt that walks were emasculating.
Pena was supposed to be the next Sammy Sosa, who turned strikeouts and homers from potential into a storied career. Again, from the original article, as run through the Google Chrome translator:
Once the "King Sosa 2" boasts a power hitter from the right was called 84 career major. Stage 3 consecutive, consecutive to two years in Japan, a strong backer is applied.
Exactly. That AAA season didn't get him more than a couple of brief trials with the Diamondbacks and Mariners, but Penaphiles rejoice! We'll have his NPB stats to follow now, and unless Japanese baseball is still stuck in 1968, the stats should be amazing.