Tuffy Rhodes, seen here in the most recent card I have of him (2008 BBM 1st Version), was granted free agency at the end of this season by the Orix Buffaloes. Despite putting up huge numbers this year while he was in the lineup, because he missed two months with a broken wrist, the Orix front office chose to ignore the fact that he was hurt and just pointed at the numbers as if he didn't perform up to expectations. But, considering how inept the Orix management has been in the last few years, and how much Tuffy was making (¥320M last year, which while it it looks to be a lot, is really only about $3.6M), they were just looking to make a major cut in their salary expenses and only offered him about half that.
However, while Tuffy would have preferred to stay with Orix, he's willing to move on. He's just shy of 500 career home runs and 2,000 career hits in Japan, and would like to end is career with those nice big, round milestones. Hopefully another Pacific League team will be willing to pick him up for the next couple of seasons. Provided he doesn't get beaned in the hand again, he can still put up some monster numbers. If you extrapolate his numbers this year (22HR, 62RBI, .308 BA, which took something of a dive at the end, he was hitting closer to .350 when he got hurt, in 84 games) out to perhaps 130 games total (the NPB season is 144, but if a team isn't in the pennant race, the foreigners are usually cut loose for the last week or two of the season), he would have ended up with around 35 HR, and nearly 100 RBI. Also, his strike outs, which he is legendary for, were WAY down this year at the point he got hurt.
The title of this post links to Wayne Graczyk's article at The Japan Times. It's too bad Wayne didn't go a little farther into Tuffy's 2009 season, as I'd really like to hear what Tuffy changed in his batting approach this year to turn in such great numbers.
In other news, I did manage to snag the 1998 Takara Kintetsu Buffaloes set from Yahoo Auction Japan with the help of KuboTEN.com. I'll get the Tuffy card posted to my gallery when it arrives.