CLs second-division teams stock up on foreign players The Yokohama BayStars and Hiroshima Carp, realizing they need to do something in order to pete with the powerhouse Yomiuri Giants and Chunichi Dragons, are bringing in a slew of foreign players to fill in the body spaces and hopefully the talent void left by the loss of star American and Japanese players. In what I believe is a clever strategy, the two Central League second-division teams appear to be taking the money they are saving by not having to pay the departing players, and using it to gamble on a host of 4-A players. I mentioned in the Nov. 25 column that the Carp should be saving about 4.5 million because they wont have to pay free agent stars Hiroki Kuroda (a new Los Angeles Dodger) and Takahiro Arai (now a Hanshin Tiger), and theyll get pensation money for Arai from the Tigers. The BayStars let closer Marc Kroon get away to the Yomiuri Giants, but save at least 3 million (and probably a lot more in incentive bonuses) by not having to pay him. Both Yokohama and Hiroshima are apparently using that cash reserve to pack their foreign player rosters. Curiously, these two teams are the ones who have had the least number of foreign guys in recent years. Between them, they had only one non-Japanese position player in 2007 that was Alex Ochoa, who joined the Carp in mid-summer. Quite often last season, you could look at the scoreboard and not find any katakana in the Yokohama or Hiroshima lineups. That is about to change. The BayStars have already signed five guys who will have alien registration cards e February pitchers Travis Hughes, Dave Williams and Mike Wood, and infielders J.J. Furmaniak and Larry Bigbie. Bigbie, however, was on that list, given to Major League Baseball last week by former Sen. George Mitchell, of players suspected of using performance-enhancing substances.The Carp, meanwhile, are bringing in infielder Scott Seabol and pitchers Ben Kozlowski, Colby Lewis and Mike Schultz and they still have Alex. If either team gets lucky and all their first-year foreigners take to Japanese baseball right away, the fans in Yokohama and Hiroshima would find their teams more petitive than it would appear after the loss of their favorite star players. * * * * *The Yomiuri Giants won the 2007 Central League pennant, but the Chunichi Dragons triumphed in the Japan Series.Question Who will manage the Central League All-Star team in 2008, Tatsunori Hara of the Giants or Hiromitsu Ochiai of the Dragons?Answer Hara.The Nippon Professional Baseball Wheeling Committee, also known by its more formal title, the NPB Executive Board, decided Hara would get the nod as skipper of the CL All-Stars, and new Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters manager Masataka Nashida will pilot the Pacific League All-Stars.With Trey Hillman having left the defending PL champion Fighters for the Kansas City Royals, neither of the two managers who led their teams in the 2007 Japan Series will perform the usual chore of guiding the All-Stars the following year. The 2008 NPB All-Star Series consists of two games, to be played July 31 at Kyocera Dome in Osaka and Aug. 1 at Yokohama Stadium.* * * * *Diamond Dust I dont know about you, but I was somewhat sad to see free agent second baseman Kazuo Matsui leave the Colorado Rockies for the Houston Astros. I would have thought his having made the World Series with the Rocks might have carried some weight toward a decision to stay in Denver but, I guess, in the end and as they say, money talks. That was an interesting double-play bo Matsui formed with Colorado rookie shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, and it would have been nice to see them play together for a couple more years.* * * * *Will another Japanese club look into hiring Jeremy Powell, who released by the Yomiuri Giants? He would be one of the first guys I would look to for foreign starting pitching help. The second would be Brian Sikorski, set free by the Tokyo Yakult Swallows. And I see where the workhorse reliever is going back to the Chiba Lotte Marines, where he began his Japan career in 2001.Smart move by manager Bobby Valentine and the Marines.* * * * *Since there are five Sundays in December, I will not file for Dec. 30, so this will be the final column for 2007. The Baseball Bullet-In would like to extend best wishes to all readers and sponsors of the column for a happy and healthy holiday season, and well see you again on Jan. 6.* * * * *Contact Wayne Graczyk at wayneJapanBall.