Chibba Lotte Marines LogoThe Boston Red Sox and Chiba Lotte Marines of the Japanese Baseball League announced a “strategic alliance” between the two teams on Wednesday. Chiba Lotte is managed by an American, Bobby Valentine.

The partnership comes on the heels of the Red Sox tapping into the Japanese market with the $103 million spent on Daisuke Matsuzaka and the signing of Hideki “Darkman” Okajima, in which the Chiba people had helped with the information gathering on the players.

“I think a lot of teams have these agreements, and pieces of paper get filed away in a drawer,” Lucchino said. “We hope to make this like a living, breathing panoply of different endeavors. And one that we’ve already discussed is taking a team of coaches and players into China.”

“Baseball is an Asian sport. Let’s start with that proposition. We obviously think of it as an American sport, but it’s also an Asian sport. And they play it with passion and skill, and with some different approaches. The more we can collaborate with each other, the better we, the Red Sox, will be. And the better off Major League baseball will be.”

Craig Shipley, who is the VP of International Scouting for the Red Sox, was instrumental in this process. It was his close work with Chiba that helped get this partnership started.

“We see this as an alliance that will help us to learn more about the way they develop players, about the way they scout players, about the way they teach their players,” Shipley said. “They also want to learn from us the way we do those things. It’s not something we’re doing to come over here to raid Japanese baseball.”

“We did the evaluating,” Shipley said. “They just provided us with some information that we thought we needed to make our evaluation.”

Both teams will share scouting and player development information. They will also do an exchange of front office personnel, coaching and scouting staff.

This will be huge for the development of the game overseas and here in the States. We all know the quality of baseball in Japan is at a high level and it will be evidenced more by this working agreement.