Archive > 19 September 2009

Giant Development, Yankee Influence

» 19 September 2009 » In international baseball, nichibei, npb » 2 Comments

The web edition of the sports magazine Number featured a great article on the Giants’ ni-gun manager, Kaoru Okazaki, who is installing an American-style player development system.

Okazaki, who is currently the manager of the ni-gun team, developed his philosophy of coaching through his experience in the New York Yankees minor league system. The Yomiuri Giants have a strong relationship with the New York Yankees, through former Giant Hideki Matsui, and have utilized this relationship to allow their coaches to hone their craft in the Yankees minor league system.

Okazaki’s experience in the study abroad program for coaches has resulted in developing his philosophy, which has matched the needs of the Giants’ player development system really well. The most important difference he learned from the experience is the usage of ni-gun players.

In Japan, the farm system believes in winning as much as their NPB teams and using a pinch hitter in game deciding situation remains to be a norm. NPB baseball operations personnel has a mindset that if the farm system isn’t winning, the players aren’t developing. In that case the ni-gun manager will not be evaluated efficiently, which results in aggressive decisions.

However Okazaki learned a different style in the minor leagues where players rarely get taken out of games. The evaluation comes into place playing a whole game and not only from a portion of the game. Learning the importance of allowing the players  to play the whole game allowed Okazaki to have a better assessment on each player and decreases the possibility of missing out on players’ less obvious skills.

Even though there are players that need to be developed for certain situations (such as lefty-lefty match ups), Okazaki strongly believes in developing the overall skills in position players. The development of OF Tetsuya Matsumoto and INF Hayato Sakamoto has been hard to miss and if the Giants continue to have success in developing the young talents within their system, we could see a strong Giants team for a long time.

The relationship with NPB and MLB has been stronger as the years pass and many teams are maintaining working relationships across the Pacific. Opportunities for not only players, but managers, coaches and front office personnel to learn the different culture should be a huge benefit for both sides.

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NPB Bullet Points: Saito Backs Kikuchi, Sponichi Now for Kids Too

» 19 September 2009 » In amateur baseball, mlb, mlb prospects, npb » 9 Comments

It’s been one of those weeks, but the world of baseball carries on.

Japanese Articles:

  • Waseda University pitcher Yuuki Saito is showing a little support for Yusei Kikuchi: “Kikuchi? The Majors, right. I think it’s a good idea. He throws fast and has good movement and control of is breaking pitches. He’s younger but I’m pulling for him. He really has his own way.” Saito was widely thought to be the first Japanese player to test jumping directly from amateur ball to the Majors, but Junichi Tazawa beat him to the punch.
  • You might have picked this up on our Twitter feed already, but Keiichi Yabu isn’t quite ready to throw in the towel yet. The 40 year-old hung out Stateside for a while after the Giants cut him from Fresno, but he’s back in Japan now, with plans to return in October to work out for MLB clubs. Yabu has come off the scrap heap once already, so maybe he’ll get another shot.
  • Stephen Randolph picked up his fourth win for the Yokohama BayStars. He’s done pretty well so far and at this pace I think he’ll get an invitation to return next year.
  • Sponichi is becoming the first sports publication in Japan to publish an edition specifically intended for kids. Why am I mentioning this here? Because children’s books are a great way to learn Japanese, even as adults. I wish this would have been around when I was really learning Japanese.
  • Jon Heyman’s mention of Hideki Matsui made it back to the Japanese media.
  • With the independent Kansai League struggling to survive, female knuckleballer Eri Yoshida is going to get a start in an effort to draw out a few fans. Her manager wants to get at least three innings out of her.
  • According to baseball sources, MLB’ers Brett Tomko and David Dellucci could look to Japan after this season.

Lastly, this isn’t NPB related, but my favorite player as kid growing up in Chicago was Harold Baines. In a backwards kind of way, this hilarious Onion article points out how underrated he was.

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