Trade Deadline Passes

» 01 August 2009 » In nichibei, npb, sports business »

Compared to the many moves and much rumbling near the MLB trade deadline, the deadline in NPB ended quietly. There was a total of one trade during the 2009 season which was Taiyo Fujita being traded from Hanshin to Seibu for Keisuke Mizuta, a minor move where both teams filled supporting roles.

The numbers after the trade…

  • Taiyo Fujita (Seibu Lions) – 2.0 innings, ER, K (two games): 4.50ERA
  • Keisuke Mizuta (Hanshin Tigers)- Strikeout in one-at-bat

As you can see from the numbers both players have made minimal impact with their new teams. Rather than teams looking to add the last piece for a championship run near the deadline in the MLB, it’s more of two teams allowing their player to join a team with more possibilities. More teams look to add a suketto as seven foreign players were added by teams since the 2009 season started. However they tend to give chances to players that have already experienced the NPB culture as they feel comfortable adding an experienced player during mid-season where time for adjustment is limited.

Some players added during in-season…

The number of teams might limit the number of trades in the NPB (12 compared to MLB’s 30), but a culture of trading players are relatively new and there has been limited number of “blockbuster” trades in the league. The one that comes up to mind is a swap between Hayato Terahara for Hitoshi Tamura, a trade between a former first-round draft pick and a home run king.

The trade deadline is a big event for everybody involved in the MLB and headlines evolve daily with rumors and potential deals. It creates stories and news that people talk about around the water coolers and peoples’ interest  increases during the period of time. It should not be a bad thing for the NPB if people start engaging talks about the game and trades becoming more of a common business. However the difference in the culture of the games allows the transactions after the season starts to be limited and with only 12 teams and six of them facing each other about 20 times a season, it’s extremely difficult for teams deal players that might hurt them in the future.

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  1. Ryo
    01/08/2009 at 9:38 pm Permalink

    Honestly, I think the lack of a trading culture here is great — fans can really get attached to a player and not always have to worry about things like “Oh well, he won’t be here in a year or two anyway” when buying/making a jersey with their number/name on it. It’s just another way that Japanese baseball is culturally different due to the emphasis on group mentality… changing the group too much would throw everything out of balance in a different way than it would in the MLB, I think.

    Feels like the Fighters have done a “big” trade every offseason, but not so much during the season. Last year was the Micheal/Kudoh – Nioka/Hayashi trade, two years ago was Fujii/Miki/Yataro – Kawashima/Oshimoto/Hashimoto… three years ago I quite enjoyed the Okajima – Sanematsu/Furuki trade…

    (PS — you mean Mizuta in the second stats line there).
    Funny part is, during the Asia Series last year, I was sitting in front of what must have been the biggest pocket of Mizuta fans ever, who were overjoyed to see him playing after watching him at ni-gun for so long. They had jerseys and signs and everything. So I guess it’s still not always a certainty that your favorite guy will be around forever…

  2. Ryo
    01/08/2009 at 10:13 pm Permalink

    Thanks for the correction on Mizuta.

    I’m split on the lack of a trade culture. On the one hand, it is nice for players to have a long-term association with teams. In MLB, the best recent examples I can see are Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken jr. Those guys stand out class acts in MLB. But there are dozens of guys like that in NPB — maybe not to that level of stardom, but each team has a guy that’s been with them forever. I like that. In MLB, the A’s in particular can be tough to watch because they never keep any group together for too long.

    But on the other hand, if we had more player movement in NPB, I think we’d see more players getting an opportunity to play. Terahara is a great example — he was clearly not going to get an extended shot in Fukuoka, so the Hawks traded him and he’s excelled in Yokohama. Another example is Masato Akamatsu. He was never going to play for Hanshin, but then he went to Hiroshima (as free agency compensation for Takahiro Arai) and has been pretty good. I thought Masahiro Nagata would get a shot to play after the Giants traded him to Orix, but that didn’t happen.

    So I think there’s a happy medium here. Neither league really has it right as I see it.

  3. Ryo
    01/08/2009 at 11:50 pm Permalink

    I’d second Deanna, that the lack of a trading in NPB is great. That’s for sure.

    BTW, I happened to see Mizuta farewell game and most importantly what happened when the game ended – I was puzzled and had absolutely no idea what was going on.

    The game ended on Kataoka’s sayonara homer in extra innings, but then the crowd started to chant “Mizuta, Mizuta!”

    For a moment I thought that it must have been Mizuta to hit that HR, but no – the replays showed it was Kataoka, of course.

    So what was that? And then, all of a sudden, the whole team gives Mizuta a doage!

    Then all the photographers go to Mizuta just as well. What’s going on there?

    The scoreboard flashes Mizuta on it! And then he goes to the oendan section and throws baseballs to the chanting fans. Oh!

    Only later I have discovered that Mizuta was traded to Hanshin.

    Just unbelievable!

  4. Ryo
    02/08/2009 at 12:30 am Permalink

    Two more things,
    As I tuned it to one of the next Seibu games, somewhere late in the game the Lions brought in a reliever. And said to myself, what? Why’d they have to send a position player in to pitch? Sure, they trailed by four, but still.

    You know, a guy with totally lazy, unjapanese pitching motion, he didn’t bent his back at all.

    Oh, I figured out after a while, it must be that Fujita guy.


    Deanna says

    >It’s just another way that Japanese baseball is culturally different due to the emphasis on group mentality…

    And that’s what I like about yakyu, it’s what makes Japanese baseball a big plus factor in society, IMHO.

    Thinks are a bit different in America, AFAIK.

    It seems like the Japanese are 100% true fans of their team, their favorite player. First place team, last place team, winning, losing, bad manager, good manager – doesn’t matter!

    We could probably call it a blind passion, everlasting love forever.
    Honestly, sometimes I even laugh/smile at that. You know, it might appear even stupid somewhat. But they are just happy!

    They just root for their team. And not against other team! Only for their team. And I’d really,really like to be just like them.

    But I can’t (in baseball, not cricket). Could not for a long time.

    I must be much more American at that. Will admit, I mostly root for myself, at least for my vision of baseball, for my baseball concept.

    And when the team I’m supposed to root for doesn’t meet my high requirements, I begin to root against it. Because, I probably want my team to get back on track for next season and losing everything right now might help to open up problems and get rid of whoever is responsible much sooner.

    But what happens if I come to realization that real baseball just doesn’t meet my high standarts of baseball? I probably just ignore it altogether or maybe root against it as a whole.

  5. Ryo
    02/08/2009 at 9:06 am Permalink

    That’s a great story about Mizuta’s send-off from Seibu. I saw some coverage of it in the news but I didn’t realize it went to that extent. Japanese fans really are amazing.

    The blemish in all of this is that aging stars are not always handled gracefully. It’s mainly the Giants that force aging stars out, but we saw the BayStars do it last year with Takuro Ishii. And who know how many times this has happened without it being public?

  6. Ryo
    02/08/2009 at 7:05 pm Permalink

    It depends on the player as well. Giants are notorious for just discarding players but other teams do try to soften the pill. The bigger the star, the more likely they are to be able to chose their retirement time otherwise they are dismissed pretty brutally. Japanese baseball is still pretty feudal in many respects and players are expected to go where they are told in many cases. Akamatsu didn’t really want to leave the Tigers and in fact the troubles with Akahoshi have shown that he would have been very useful to retain. However, Okada decided he didn’t like him and didn’t bother to protect him.

  7. Ryo
    03/08/2009 at 8:55 am Permalink

    Yeah, the Takuro thing pissed me off enough that I haven’t been to a Baystars ichi-gun game this year at all. And to be fair, Yukio Tanaka actually wanted to play another year for the Fighters, supposedly, but I’ve heard various versions of that story, on why he ended up retiring when he did. A somewhat weird case is that I completely have no clue what is up with Tomonori Maeda these days, come to think of it.

    On the other hand, you have Tatsunami, of course…

    Actually, on the subject of fans, I’ve noticed that a lot of fans do have one primary team they root for, and then a secondary team in the other league. At least this happens a lot with Fighters fans, where we’re all Fighters fans primarily, but the Hokkaido crowd in particular has a lot of secondary Tigers fans and the Kanto crowd has a lot of secondary Swallows fans. And I’ve definitely met Fighters fans who were primarily Tigers or Swallows fans and Fighters were their second — it might be due to the sheer number of players that have moved between those teams, though. (The Hokkaido Tigers contingent are also largely huge Tomochika Tsuboi fans, for example.)

    Anyway, on trades, they obviously do happen and they do give players a chance to play on another team that they might not have had on their original team… it’s just that the trades largely happen in the off-season. Which is okay too.