Archive > February 2010

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-02-28

» 28 February 2010 » In Uncategorized » Comments Off

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New Foreign Players — Which Ones Did I Get Right?

» 27 February 2010 » In nichibei, npb » Comments Off

Last November, I made a few predictions about guys we might see move to NPB for 2010. I actually got a couple right:

  • Buddy Carlyle (Nippon Ham)
  • Lee Beom-Ho (SoftBank)
  • Kim Tae-Gyun (Lotte)
  • Matt Murton (Hanshin)
  • Chris Bootcheck (Yokohama)
*excluding the players on my list that were already in Japan in 2009

So that’s 5/28 (without the 2009 NPB guys), and the two Koreans were pretty easy predictions. I thought I got Bobby Keppel right too, but when I looked back at my list it was Bobby Korecky that I had guessed.

There were other guys that I took long looks at, but decided to leave out for various reasons. These were the last three in my notes:

  • Andy Marte thought he would get an MLB shot with the rebuilding Indians
  • Carlo Alvarado – the number of 3A innings he threw over the last two years caught my eye; in retrospect I didn’t have enough starters on my list
  • Jeff Fiorentino – call this one gut feel. I favored slugging left fielder-types in my list, and thought Murton’s MLB experience distinguished him from Fio

Alvarado and Fiorentino signed with the Carp over the winter, while I assume Marte will get another look with Cleveland. Ironically, I would have loved to see the Carp get Marte instead of Justin Huber, but I don’t know if he was ever available.

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Orix Moving to Acquire Bynum

» 27 February 2010 » In npb » Comments Off

Nikkan Sports is reporting that the Orix Buffaloes are progressing towards acquiring former White Sox minor leaguer Freddie Bynum. Orix sees Bynum as a utility guy who can play multiple positions and swipe a few bases. They already have a foreign player who fits that mold in Aarom Baldiris, but Bynum has more outfield experience, and Baldiris has never hit at the ichi-gun level.

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Moving On: Barrett, Sisco, Okamoto, Bale

» 22 February 2010 » In nichibei, npb » 2 Comments

A brief update, to show you all that I have a pulse…

  • Ricky Barrett and Andy Sisco both failed their in-camp auditions with Yokohama. “They couldn’t exceed our expectations in the intrasquad games,” said a team representative.
  • Another former BayStars lefty, Naoya Okamoto, will be in camp with the Mexico City Reds this spring. Okamoto, along with Shigetoshi Yamakita, was headed toward an invite to the Phillies’ minor league camp, but negotiations reportedly took a turn for the worse and eventually concluded with no deal. Yamakita’s plans are unknown.
  • Hiroshima brought John Bale back on a budget deal. Bale should provide some lefty pitching depth, along with fellow returnee Ken Takahashi.

Also congratulations to NPB Tracker reader Chris Gissell, who recently signed a minor league deal with Colorado.

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-02-21

» 21 February 2010 » In Uncategorized » Comments Off

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11 Players I’m Looking Forward to Following this Year

» 16 February 2010 » In npb » 6 Comments

I didn’t set out to order these guys in any specific way, but looking at the list, there are basically three groups of players: young breakout candidates, veterans coming back from injury problems, and a couple of veteran ni-gun imports.

Sho Nakata (IF/OF, Nippon Ham): Nakata hit 30 home runs in 322 ni-gun at-bats last year, but every time I’ve seen him at the ichi-gun level he’s looked overmatched. Supposedly he’s a butcher at first base, but this spring Ham is giving him a look in left field. If he can stick with the big team he should get enough at-bats to get comfortable.

Romash Tasuku Dass (P, Nippon Ham): I’ll admit that only real reason Dass has caught my eye is that he’s half Indian. I didn’t really follow him at all last year, but apparently he only saw 15 innings of work at ni-gun.

Kohei Hasebe (P, Rakuten): Hasebe was heavily hyped as an amateur but has so far had two lackluster seasons as a pro. Rakuten has a deep rotation, and we’ll see if he can flourish under Marty Brown.

Yoshinori Sato (P, Yakult): Yoshinori has a great arm, but is basically a two-pitch pitcher with command problems. If his command improves I think he’d be as good or better than Wirfin Obispo, who has a similar arsenal.

Shota Ohba (P, SoftBank): Ohba has shown that he can get NPB hitters out, but has yet to put together a complete season. The talent is there.

Yasuhiro Ichiba (P, Yakult): Ichiba was another highly regarded amateur who has failed to make an impact as a pro. I thought a change of scenery would help Ichiba last year, but it didn’t. This year, he’s experimenting with a new, three-quarters delivery.

Makoto Imaoka (IF, Lotte): From 2002-05, Imaoka was one of the most competent, productive hitters in Japan. From 2006-09, he got progressively more horrific until Hanshin finally released him. The Marines are giving him a chance to contribute this year, and hopefully he’ll play like he has something to prove.

Yoshinobu Takahashi (OF/IF, Yomiuri): Takahashi is a guy that Hanshin fans love to hate, but I’ve always thought he was a very good player, perhaps even a little underrated. In my eyes, he should have been the Central League MVP in 2007, instead of Michihiro Ogasawara. He’s been battered an ineffective over the last two years, and even if he’s healthy this year he’ll have to compete for playing time.

Nagisa Arakaki (P, SoftBank): Seven years ago, I thought Arakaki was Japan’s next great pitcher. And he was pretty good for a while, before catching Steve Blass Disease and dealing with shoulder injuries (two problems which are probably not mutually exclusive). Arakaki has been indefinitely relegated to ni-gun, which suggests he has a long way back.

Aarom Baldiris (IF, Orix) & Juan Muniz (IF, Lotte): Baldiris and Muniz have a few things in common — they are both veteran minor leaguers, both started in Japan on ikusei contracts, and both led their respective farm leagues in batting last year. Baldiris is younger and has gotten time at the top level, where he hasn’t hit enough to stick despite strong defense. We’ll see if either break through this year.

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Season 2010

» 15 February 2010 » In NPB Tracker » 5 Comments

So a couple of weeks ago, I asked for some feedback on the site, specifically what you all would like to see more of.

I’m going to make a couple of tweaks for 2010, and here’s what I’ve come up with:

  • focus a little more on depth, rather than breadth
  • more content about on-the-field play
  • a little more coverage of amateur baseball (I’m interested in this topic beyond Japan)
  • less regurgitation of news from the Japanese media
  • mix things up with a few more off-topic posts

So that’s what’s ahead. The reason I’m posting this is that I’m hoping that having this public in some sense will force me to hold myself to this, even though that hasn’t exactly worked with my to-do list.

As an aside, Gary Garland has included a link to NPB Tracker on his site’s homepage. Gary’s work was among my influences for starting this site, so it’s really cool to get a nod from him. Gary, if you’re reading, thanks!

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-02-14

» 14 February 2010 » In Uncategorized » Comments Off

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Sports Hochi: Hisanori Down to Dodgers and Mets

» 10 February 2010 » In mlb prospects » 1 Comment

Looks like the Hisanori Takahashi saga may be drawing to a close — and that’s OK with me.

Sports Hochi said that of the teams that moved on Takahashi, only the Mets and Dodgers are left in the running. Hochi doesn’t mention the Pirates, but says that the Twins were interested, which I hadn’t heard before.

Takahashi seems to be accepting the fact that he’ll likely have to spend a some time in 3A, and is prioritizing teams that will give him a chance to be promoted to the majors as a starter.

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Reports: Another Phillies Signing

» 08 February 2010 » In mlb prospects » 4 Comments

Edit Wednesday, February 10: Just as I alluded to in the original post, this one wound up getting shot down, just like the supposed signings of Shigetoshi Yamakita and Naoya Okamoto. For this one, the Phillies canceled Yamamura’s press conference 30 minutes before it was scheduled to begin. Nikkan Sports quoted Minoru Ichihara, who was inter-mediating the signing, as saying “there are differences between the truth and what’s been reported about this contract, and it feels like Amaro resents that”. Nikkan Sports goes on to explain that there were reports of big-money contract being finalized, but the reality is that the Phillies were planning to bring Yamamura into their minor league camp and let him play before the scouts before finalizing the contract. For his part, Yamamura said “I was thinking that it would be important to put up results in camp, and my frame of mind hasn’t changed. I just have to do my best in America.”

It’s hasn’t been reported whether or not the Phils are still going to have Yamamura in camp. I’m not sure where the errant information came from; the reports I saw when the story broke said that the contract wasn’t done. This Jiji News report from yesterday says so as well. I didn’t read every report on Yamamura so I could have missed it though.

Yakyu Baka has a few thoughts as well.

Let’s throw this one out there and see if it gets shot down… multiple reports out of Japan are saying that the Phillies have agreed to a minor league deal with Osaka University of Commerce catcher Hiroya Yamamura. Commenter John Brooks first passed along Yakyu Baka’s post on the signing, but there have been several subsequent reports.  Yomiuri says the details of the contract are still not finalized, and we have other reports saying that there will be a press conference on the 10th.

Yamamura was not selected in last year’s NPB draft, and only got a tertiary mention in Shukan Baseball’s draft guide, so I don’t know much about him. But (repeating what I put in the comments of another post), according to Draft Reports, he threw out 75% of would-be basestealers over his college career, but his hitting tanked in 2009. 23 k’s in 87 at-bats after controlling the strikezone pretty well the previous two years.

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