Archive > January 2010

Injury Updates: Saito, Otsuka, Ishii, Williams

» 31 January 2010 » In npb » 3 Comments

A few updates on the guys who have been rehabbing for years, plus Williams.

  • Kazumi Saito is headed for the operating table yet again, this time to have his rotator cuff repaired. Saito last saw game action in 2007, and we can probably rule him out for this season too. In Saito’s three healthy seasons, he is a combined 54-9.
  • Like Saito, Akinori Otsuka hasn’t pitched since 2007, but he isn’t hanging up his cleats either. Otsuka had his third elbow surgery on January 20th, with the intent of  returning as an active pitcher. Like Saito, if he’s just had surgery, he’s probably looking at a 2011 return at best, at which time he’ll be 39.
  • Hirotoshi Ishii has been on the shelf since 2006, following a shoulder injury suffered during the ’06 WBC. Unlike Saito an Otsuka, Ishii actually pitched in games in 2008 and 2009, though for Yakult’s farm team. Ishii was one of the hardest throwing lefthanders ever in Japan, and he and former teammate Ryota Igarashi were known as the “Rocket Boys”. Ishii said early in the winter that he didn’t want to “lose to Igarashi”.
  • I don’t have much news on Jeff Williams, but according to Sanspo, Hanshin’s management is considering the situation a “blank page” and willing to give him a look when he’s ready. Jeff is not under contract with Hanshin, but has made it known that he wants to return to the team.

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-01-31

» 31 January 2010 » In Uncategorized » Comments Off

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A Global World Series

» 30 January 2010 » In nichibei » 11 Comments

File this one under shameless self-promotion — I contributed a couple of thoughts to Jon Paul Morosi’s recent article on the idea of a MLB vs NPB World Series. One of the questions Jon asked me was if any of the recent NPB champs would have had a chance against their counterpart World Series winner. I went with the 2003 Fukuoka Daiei Hawks, who had four MLB-caliber starters in Kazumi Saito, Tsuyoshi Wada, Toshiya Sugiuchi and Nagisa Arakaki, as well as future MLB’ers Kenji Johjima and Tadahito Iguchi.

I think that MLB would have the upper hand on NPB nearly every year, but looking at the last ten years, I think there are a couple of matchups where the NPB team would hold there own.

2009 — Yankees vs Yomiuri: I have a hard time seeing this year’s Giants team putting up much of a fight against the Yankees, but it would have been a great event. Dicky Gonzales had a great year, but I can’t see him shutting down the Yankees the way Cliff Lee did.

2008 — Phillies vs Seibu: I’d score this one a little closer. Seibu featured a couple of strong pitchers in Hideaki Wakui and Takayuki Kishi, a good infield defense, and a well-balanced lineup. Cole Hamels strikes me as a guy that NPB players would be able to hit, but he was really on his game in the 2008 post-season.

2007 — Red Sox vs Chunichi: The Dragons had almost everything you want to see in a short series: a strong defense, a good bullpen, some on-base skills, and three-run homer power. What they didn’t have was a lot of standout starting pitching beyond Kenshin Kawakami, though Kenta Asakura has always been good when healthy, and Daisuke Yamai-Hitoki Iwase combined with for a perfect game to close the Japan Series. Of course, Boston pummeled Colorado in the ’07 World Series, and would have had an edge over Chunichi.

2006 — Cardinals vs Nippon Ham: Yu Darvish was on the winning 2006 Fighters, but hadn’t yet broken out as Japan’s best pitcher. Tomoya Yagi Nippon Ham’s staff ace, and the Fighters got it done with strong, balanced offense. I actually had tickets to the World Series in 2006, had it been in Oakland, but alas the A’s got stomped in the ALCS by the shockingly good Tigers. I fully expected the Tigers to stomp the Cardinals too, but the Cardinals just played better. So I think the Fighters would have had a chance against the Cards.

2005 — White Sox vs Lotte: I grew up a White Sox fan, and followed Hanshin in Japan, so I’ll have to try extra hard to be objective with this one. 2005 was a case of both champions getting hot at the right time. The White Sox steamrolled everyone in their path in the 2005 postseason, and Marines destroyed Hanshin in the Japan Series. Baseball Prospectus simulated a hypothetical series between the two teams, and the White Sox won, 4-1, but the Marines were competitive.

2004 — Red Sox vs Seibu: This would have been interesting — Daisuke Matsuzaka vs his future team. The Lions also had a still-effective Fumiya Nishiguchi and a once-promising Chang Chih-Chia. They would have had to go up against a Red Sox team that came back from 3-0 against the Yankees, and then swept the Cardinals. So destiny would have worked against the Lions in this one.

2003 — Marlins vs Daiei: As I said earlier, I think this would have been a good series. Daiei’s biggest weakness was their bullpen, but they could have gone with a three-man rotation and stuck a starter (maybe Arakaki) in the bullpen. The more I think about this matchup, the more I think Daiei really would have had the edge in this one.

2002 — Angels vs Yomiuri: I think this would have been another good series. The 2002 Giants featured Hideki Matsui and Koji Uehara, who were both really in their primes (2002 was Matsui’s near-Triple Crown season); as well as Masumi Kuwata, Kimiyasu Kudoh, and Hideki Okajima. I think they would have given the Angels a good series.

2001 — Diamondbacks vs Yakult: The 2001 World Series is one of my all-time favorites (along with 1991 and 2005), so I’m a little biased here. Yakult had a balanced lineup with a good defense, and four future MLB’ers: Kazuhisa Ishii, Shingo Takatsu, Akinori Iwamura, and Ryota Igarashi. So maybe they could have taken a game or two, but it’s hard to pick against Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling in a short series.

2000 — Yankees vs Yomiuri: The 2000 Japan Series was the first I was actually present in Japan for, so again I have fond memories of this one too (my three favorite players in Japan, for a time, where Okajima, Akira Etoh and Darrell May). Anyway, this Giants team would have gone up against the last World Series winner from the Yank’s late-90’s dynasty.

Alright, you’ve sat through 700+ words from me, if you’re still here, what are your thoughts?

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-01-24

» 24 January 2010 » In Uncategorized » Comments Off

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What Do You Want to See?

» 23 January 2010 » In NPB Tracker » 10 Comments

In the 18 months that this site has been live, my content has consisted of:

  • news
  • scouting information
  • analysis
  • data
  • the occasional off-topic post about Japan, technology or hockey

It’s a new year and a great time to get a sense of what NPB Tracker readers are looking for, so feel free to let me know what you like best about the site.

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Back From Japan

» 20 January 2010 » In NPB Tracker » 4 Comments

As I’ve alluded to a couple of times, I returned last week from a trip to Japan (a brief moment of which was captured by Deanna). I haven’t gone into a lot of detail on my own background with Japan, but I began studying Japanese over 10 years ago in college, and lived in the Osaka area for a couple years in the early 00’s. Now that I visit on an semi-regular basis, I find my trips to Japan to be a blend of light culture shock and familiarity, depending on how long I’ve been away. This time, it’s been a busy three years since my last visit, and here’s what I noticed:

  • Japan’s mobile phone ecosystem is still way ahead of the US’s. Apple’s iPhone is available in Japan, and it’s a market leader, but there are far more competitive offerings from Docomo and au than we anything we have here in the States.
  • The Back to the Future II-ish Mitsubishi i has apparently been rolling in Japan since 2006, but I don’t remember ever seeing one on the road before this trip.
  • Despite its age, I saw a favorite car oddity of mine, Toyota’s WiLL vi, continuing to occupy Japanese streets.
  • After all these years, the more subtle differences are what catch me off-guard. It’s things like train ticket machines with animated characters that bow to you; the menus in coffee shops being placed on the counter, rather than posted behind the server; and placing your money in a dish rather than handing it to the cashier that really reminds me that I’m in a foreign country.
  • I fell asleep watching NHK’s Kohaku music program on New Year’s Eve. That show is meant to be a pretty big deal, but the live studio audience always looks bored to tears when they are shown on tv.
  • Daisuke Matsuzaka? “No good, too fat,” in the words of a distinguished baseball fan I happen to know.

We’ll return to regularly-scheduled programming tomorrow. And as an official announcement, I’ve joined Fangraphs, so look out for more there.

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The Market for Takahashi

» 19 January 2010 » In mlb prospects » Comments Off

For the second year in a row, we have a lefthander named Takahashi looking for an MLB job. We could have had two, but Ken decided early in the offseason to return to Hiroshima. So here’s the latest on Hisanori:

  • Offer the weekend, multiple sources reported that Takahashi revealed that he had a major league contract offer, but didn’t say which team it was from. This report from Sports Hochi says that the Angels had been interested, but I think they may be overthinking Takahashi’s Hideki Matsui connection.
  • Sponichi just published a report saying that there’s a growing possibility that the Orioles will make Takahashi an official offer in the next few days. Baltimore has another former teammate, Koji Uehara, under contract.
  • And David Waldstein of the New York Times says that the Mets reached out to Takahashi’s agent.

I posted a profile of Takahashi a couple of months ago. In a nutshell, he has a good screwball but don’t expect him to be a huge innings eater.

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-01-17

» 17 January 2010 » In Uncategorized » Comments Off

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While I Was Away

» 16 January 2010 » In mlb, nichibei, npb » 18 Comments

Okay, time to come out of hiatus with my first NPB Tracker post of the year.

Player Personnel

Did I miss anyone?

Other News

  • MLB and NPB are discussing holding a global world series between the champions from the two leagues. It doesn’t seem as close as initially reported, but I would love to see this happen. More later…
  • Having failed to get any NPB offers, former Orix Buffaloe Katsuaki Furuki is moving into the ring and becoming a figher
  • Yusei Kikuchi has begun working out for his first pro spring training. And believer or not, he’s walking on air
  • More jibba-jabba about Yu Darvish going to MLB
  • Matt Murton will play center field for Hanshin

Any other big stories over the last few weeks that I didn’t include?

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-01-10

» 10 January 2010 » In Uncategorized » Comments Off

  • Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-01-03: Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-12-27: Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-12-20… http://bit.ly/6R4tkM #

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