Yokohama’s Offseason

» 21 December 2009 » In npb »

Yokohama finished up their offseason shopping last week, introducing Takayuki Shinohara and Daisuke Hayakawa, and announcing the signing of Termel Sledge. Here’s the complete list of BayStars acquisitions, which ran on Sponich and was helpfully translated on Yakyu Baka:

Pos Player Name Age Previous Team
P Shimizu, Naoyuki 34 Chiba Lotte Marines
P Bootcheck, Chris 31 MLB – Pirates
P Shinohara, Takayuki 33 Softbank Hawks
P Sakamoto, Yataro 27 Nippon Ham Fighters
P Matsuyama, Suguru 20 Nippon Ham Fighters
P Sugihara, Yo 24 Nomo BC
P Wang, Yi-Zheng 24 CPBL – Bears
C Hashimoto, Tasuku 33 Chiba Lotte Marines
INF Inada, Naoto 30 Nippon Ham Fighters
INF Castillo, Jose 28 CPBL – Lions
OF Sledge, Terrmel 32 Nippon Ham Fighters
OF Hayakawa, Daisuke 34 Chiba Lotte Marines

That’s a decent group of players, but the key here is the guys they’ll be taking plate appearances and innings away from.

Yokohama has some decent core hitters (Shuichi Murata, Seiichi Uchikawa), but in 2009 they had too many positions that they got no offense from. In 2009, the ‘Stars had four who got over 100 plate appearances despite hitting under .200. Dropping the number to 40 pa’s reveals another four. The additions of Hashimoto, Inada, Hayakawa and Castillo should be a huge improvement over that group. A little improvement from younger guys like Keijiro Matsumoto wouldn’t hurt either.

On the mound, Yokohama only had one reliable starter (Daisuke Miura) in 2009, and only three relievers who threw more than 50 innings (Hiroyuki Sanada, Shun Yamaguchi, Kentaro Takasaki). To that end, Shimizu is a nice pickup. He’s really not the ace he’s sometimes billed as, but should absorb about 150 innings. The real improvements to the rotation, however, are already on the roster: full seasons from Hayato Terahara and Stephen Randolph. I see the bullpen arms ‘Hama acquired mostly interesting question marks — a former dominator who hasn’t pitched recently (Shinohara), a guy with a couple good seasons to his name (Sakamoto) and an American with good velocity but poor command at the MLB level (Bootcheck).

Finally, there is a feel-good story amongst this: Sugihara is a former Lotte farmhand, but was released after the 2006 season. He had been working at a Docomo mobile phone shop in Osaka and getting by on 80,000 yen ($800) per month while moonlighting with the Nomo Baseball Club, and now he’s getting another chance.

Is all this enough to get Yokohama off the cellar? We’ll have to see, but the BayStars should definitely be closer to the pack in 2010.

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  1. Patrick
    26/12/2009 at 8:47 pm Permalink

    Now see, THIS is a good post. You actually think about what it means rather than just translating it.

    I didn’t know that about Sugihara — that IS a great story. Kinda like how Noriyuki Shiroishi was pumping gas as a freeter when he managed to impress scouts at a Fighters tryout and ended up with a 15-year NPB career 🙂

    Having seen a lot of Yataro Sakamoto, yeah, he’s an odd boy. I’d basically call him the quintessential slightly-better-than-replacement-level relief arm, but he definitely has his good stretches and his bad stretches. He was pretty popular with Fighters fans, though I was never quite sure why, beyond that he was a really nice guy who should have had “頑張ります” tattooed on his forehead.

    On the other hand, Naoto Inada was a veritable fan favorite despite never being more than a bench player, and that one really memorable catch in the 2007 Japan Series. He even had his own regular column in the Fighters quarterly newsletter, “稲田の部屋”, with the subscript “Let’s get groovy in my room!” So whether or not he’ll actually get to do all that much in Yokohama either, who knows…

  2. Patrick
    26/12/2009 at 10:24 pm Permalink

    Thanks — though I remember giving this that type of feedback years ago when I was teaching lessons at Nova 🙂