While I Was Away

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

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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  1. Patrick
    Tom Dubberke
    16/01/2010 at 7:46 pm Permalink

    Glad you’re back, Pat. For me, as first and foremost an MLB fan (Go Giants!), this is in many ways my favorite time for NPB news, seeing which new American players are going to Japan and which new Japanese players are coming to the U.S.

    It would be pretty cool if Takatsu could register saves in the top leagues in Japan, the U.S., Korea and Taiwan, but between you and me (and your readers), I think the truth of it is that Takatsu just wants to keep playing baseball. It’s not easy to give it up, if you love playing the game.

  2. Patrick
    Tom Dubberke
    16/01/2010 at 8:00 pm Permalink

    Some quick thoughts on the new Americans going to Japan:

    I like the decision to sign Bob Keppel. He’ll be 28 next year, and is coming off a strong season split between AAA Rochester and the Twins. If 2009 accurately reflects his true talent level, he should be a success in Japan.

    Like the Brian Wolfe signing too, although not as much as Keppel. He had strong seasons split between AAA and the Blue Jays in 2007 and 2008, but had a bad year in 2009. He’ll be 29 next season, so if he bounces back from an aberrant year, he should have success.

    Edgar Gonzalez had a couple of fairly solid years as a back-up 2B-3B for the Padres the last two seasons, but at 32 in 2010, he’s starting to get up there. He could give a Japanese team one or two strong seasons, but I don’t see him lasting long.

    Dee Brown is a classic 4-A player who’s getting long in the tooth — he’ll also be 32 next season. Japanese teams have a much better chance of finding the next Tuffy Rhodes or Alex Cabrera by signing 4-A players who are younger than 30 their first year in Japan.

  3. Patrick
    Tom Dubberke
    16/01/2010 at 8:08 pm Permalink

    Missed Matt Murton. I like him even more than Keppel. Murton will be 28 next season and has a .788 career OPS in more than 1,000 MLB plate appearances.

    He looks like the kind of player who often blossoms in Japan: not enough power in MLB, but who might well hit for good power in the smaller Japanese ballparks.

    You never can tell, though. I was very high on Dan Johnson and Jamie D’Antona this time last year. It looks like D’Antona will be returning for another season in Japan, but Johnson has returned to the U.S. after a disappointing 2009 season. Not what I expected from the AAA International League’s best hitter in 2008.

  4. Patrick
    16/01/2010 at 9:31 pm Permalink

    Yeah, D’Antona and Aaron Guiel both signed two-year deals with Yakult in the last couple weeks.

    Murton will be playing his home games in Koshien, which is rather short down the foul lines but spacious to center. I don’t see him hitting 30 jacks in Japan.

    Dan Johnson had a hideous .215 avg, but still drew walks and hit 24 hr. He wasn’t really as bad as his BA in 2009.

  5. Patrick
    17/01/2010 at 7:30 am Permalink

    More than his bat, I was really impressed with Johnson’s glove for the BayStars. He saved a lot of bad hops to first base, and handled third base very well while Murata was out with his second hamstring pull of the season (the first one suffered during the WBC). There was one game in particular where I called for Johnson to stay in the game at first base after pinch hitting in the 8th, but Saeki stayed in and committed the error that eventually cost the game. You can’t know what might have happened, but all I’d seen of Johnson in the field suggested that he’d have made that play.

    In short, Johnson was a bit of a disappointment at bat, but his glove work was very impressive.

  6. Patrick
    17/01/2010 at 8:16 am Permalink

    Are you going to be a constant contributor to Fangraphs?

  7. Patrick
    17/01/2010 at 9:26 am Permalink

    One more question, do you happen to have anything on this?

    I couldn’t find anything written in English.

  8. Patrick
    17/01/2010 at 10:19 am Permalink

    re: Johnson — I’m a little surprised at that, because he was a pretty average fielder with Oakland a few years ago. I didn’t know he played third in Japan.

    re: Fangraphs — yeah, I’m a permanent contributor.

    re: draft — only this: http://twitter.com/elliottbaseball/statuses/7833596526

  9. Patrick
    Tom Dubberke
    17/01/2010 at 11:24 am Permalink

    I agree that Dan Johnson was a lot better in 2009 than his batting average suggested. However, there aren’t too many Japanese teams that will be satisfied paying an American player a million bucks and getting a .215 season in return, no matter how many HRs or walks he produces.

  10. Patrick
    17/01/2010 at 5:16 pm Permalink

    A .215 batting average and good defense is WAYYYYY better than walking the tightrope by having to watch Saeki play first and wonder how many errors he’ll commit in said game.

    That said, He’s a great veteran leader and is strictly a PH who should be coming off the bench at this point in his career (an occasional start at 1st is OK).

    Absolutely love the Sikorski signing by Seibu as it gives them much needed bullpen depth.

  11. Patrick
    John Brooks
    18/01/2010 at 2:52 pm Permalink

    Interesting Part I of an series by Robert Whiting on Bobby Valentine. Definetly a good read on how they[Lotte] planned on making his life miserable.

  12. Patrick
    John Brooks
    19/01/2010 at 12:04 am Permalink

    Seems if Brazilian Felipe Natal will skip the 2010 draft to enter the 2011 draft as a Japanese player.

  13. Patrick
    19/01/2010 at 6:46 pm Permalink

    Some controversy in Boston about Matsuzaka not revealing an injury to the team. If I remember correctly, a Japanese-American columnist for the Boston Globe found an interview in a Japanese shukanshi or magazine where Matsuzaka admitted as such. I don’t have a link but it’s somewhere out there in the ether.

  14. Patrick
    19/01/2010 at 9:59 pm Permalink

    Yeah, that was Daigo Fujiwara. I think Daigo just translated that for the Globe though.

  15. Patrick
    John Brooks
    20/01/2010 at 9:05 pm Permalink

    Looks like Chase Lambin was picked up by the Nationals. The Phillies picked up Ryan Vogelsong. Scott McClain returned to the Cubs yet again. [Minor League Transactions]

  16. Patrick
    20/01/2010 at 11:41 pm Permalink

    Lambin may actually get a few MLB at-bats with the Nats, so that should be a good organization for him. Kameron Loe signed with the Pirates a couple months ago too. I guess we’ll see Justin Germano sign some place soon as well. I should do a post on these guys at some point.

  17. Patrick
    John Brooks
    21/01/2010 at 12:57 am Permalink

    Lambin may actually get a few MLB at-bats with the Nats, so that should be a good organization for him.

    If he gets some ABs, I can definetly keep track of Lambin better than say he signed with a team on the West Coast thanks to MASN. So I’m kinding of rooting for him to get at least a cup of coffee.

  18. Patrick
    John Brooks
    21/01/2010 at 10:46 pm Permalink

    Just saw this article linked from Daigo Fujiwara’s Japanese Ballplayers saying that former Mets Shingo Takatsu and Kazuhisa Ishii influnced his decision to sign with the Mets.