Mench Slumping

» 06 April 2009 » In npb »

Kevin Mench’s NPB career isn’t off to a great start — through three games he’s 0-11 with three strikeouts and eight flyouts. This comes after a bad spring as well. The typically hyperbolic and alarmist press corps that follows Hanshin is already questioning his future with the Tigers. One article even dragged out the name Mike Greenwell the veteran MLB slugger who played seven games for the Tigers before God told him to retire. I don’t think that’s quite fair; I’d be stunned if Mench pulled that kind of stunt. And George Arias got off to a poor start with the Tigers and wound up being a good player for them. Then again, Arias had already established himself in Japan.

Despite the media, Mench will get a little more time to prove himself in Japan. The Tigers have flown in US-based scout and former Tiger Tom O’Malley to work with Mench, and will keep him around for a month. Hanshin’s owner seems to be behind him too, saying “if he hits just one big blast he’ll be hard to pitch to. He’s hit 89 home runs in the majors so I want him to start hitting soon”.

Still, this gives you an idea of the expectations and pressure on an MLB import joining a popular franchise in Japan. Foreign players tend to be on short leashes, particularly high-salaried ones.

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  1. Patrick
    Christopher Amano-Langtree
    07/04/2009 at 12:12 am Permalink

    Mench’s problem is that he comes on the back of a lot of MLB import failures for Tigers. Recent examples include, Mike Kincaid, Shane Spencer and Lew Ford. Fans are getting tired of the inability to pick a good player especially if it keeps popular favourites like LIn Wei-Chu or Kodai Sakurai out of the side. Tigers two recent successful foreign batters have both come from other Japanese teams (George Arias and Andy Sheets). Mench hasn’t been given much of a chance and one hopes he will come good.

  2. Patrick
    07/04/2009 at 8:45 am Permalink

    Hanshin needs better American scouting, period. Though it’s way too early to make any calls on how Mench will fare this season. In the mean time, they can do the Yomiuri thing and keep on snatching imports from other NPB teams, they’d have better success that way.

  3. Patrick
    07/04/2009 at 8:59 am Permalink

    Mench went 3-5 in yesterday’s game with an RBI, so we’ll see what happens. Part of the point of the article was to give an example of the expectations of the guys signing over from MLB.