Archive > March 2010

2010 Pacific League Opener

» 20 March 2010 » In npb » 4 Comments

It took some time to find a working video feed, and the live chat idea didn’t really work out, but we had baseball yesterday.

Amazingly, my data collecting and parsing programs still work with this year’s sites. I need to do some usability work to make the 2010 data easier to find, but it’s all there. Here are the charts for this year’s opening day starters:

Kaneko had the best outing with his four-hit shutout, but the game I spent the most time watching was Nippon Ham vs SoftBank. Some thoughts on the game:

  • Darvish scrapped that pause at the top of his delivery, and was overall quicker to the plate than last year.
  • Darvish also seemed like he was trying to strike everyone out, and went the distance throwing 147 pitches. He struck out 13.
  • Sugiuchi was not sharp with his command, especially up in the zone.
  • Every year I wonder if Hiroki Kokubo has anything left, but he looked great yesterday. He had a great at-bat against Darvish in the 5th, resulting in an rbi double, and saved a run in the field with a diving play down the 1st base line.
  • Sho Nakata‘s plate discipline was put to the test in the 6th when he came up with runners on 2nd and 3rd. I thought Sugiuchi had a pretty big advantage in that situation, and Nakata did chase a couple of pitches out of the zone, but Nakata worked the count full and then hit a single off a hanging breaking ball.

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iyo iyo, yakyu!

» 19 March 2010 » In npb » Comments Off on iyo iyo, yakyu!

Update: being at the mercy of broadcasters has it’s drawbacks; our original host switched over to a J-League game. Fortunately someone else is showing Nippon Ham vs SoftBank.

It’s opening day and there’s a feed for today’s Seibu vs. Lotte game.

Short notice, but we’ll give this live chat a try if anyone’s around.

NPB Opening Day

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Six 2010 Season Storylines

» 18 March 2010 » In npb » 2 Comments

The Pacific League opener is nearly upon us. Here are a couple of storylines I’ll have my eye on this year:

  • Have the Yokohama BayStars done enough to contend for a playoff spot this year? — Yokohama added 12 new players this offseason, most of whom are veterans intended to help the 2010 club. Will it be enough to compete for a third place finish? My gut feeling is that Yokohama’s pitching is still a little lacking, but if they get a bunch of career years… you never know.
  • Shane Spencer… Lew Ford… Kevin Mench… Matt Murton? Have the Hanshin Tigers gotten it right this year?
  • Are the Rakuten Golden Eagles Pacific League title contenders this year? The Eagles finished second last year despite predictable regression from Hisashi Iwakuma, a mediocre bullpen and some major lineup gaps. Have they plugged enough holes to win the Pacific this year?
  • Can either Hanshin or Chunichi unseat Yomiuri as the Central League champion? The Kyojin-gun has a three-year stranglehold on the Se-League. Is this a new dynasty or do the Tigers or Dragons have enough to knock ’em back? Or even Yakult?
  • What will Yu Darvish do this year? Will he mundanely post a fourth straight sub-2.00 era, sub-1.00 whip season? Will he throw a no-hitter?
  • How much of Yusei Kikuchi will we see at the top level this year? He’s already been penciled in to the ni-gun rotation to start the season.

The Pacific League opens on March 20. I’ll try to do some kind of live chat, so stay tuned for details.

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The End of the Buffaloes

» 17 March 2010 » In npb » 7 Comments

If you’re interested in purchasing an Orix Buffaloes jersey, you might want to get it now.

The Buffaloes’ parent company, Orix, has announced that this will be the last season for the Buffaloes name. No word yet on what the new team name will be, but Orix wants to keep the unfortunate “B’s” abbreviation that has become part of the team’s logo. According to Nikkan Sports there is a low chance of Orix restoring team’s previous name, the Blue Wave.

The Orix Buffaloes name originated with the 2004 merger of the Orix Blue Wave, and the Kintetsu Buffaloes. Orix originally bought into the baseball business in 1989, when the company took over the Hankyu Braves. The Orix team was briefly known as the Orix Braves before adopting the Blue Wave name. The old Kintetsu franchise was known as the Pearls back in the 50’s, and then switched to the Buffalo for a few seasons before correcting their English in 1962, adopting the still-active Buffaloes name. Gary Garland has the full histories of all the NPB team names on his site.

I always liked the Blue Wave name, and was sorry to see it go. Any suggestions on what the new name should be?

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-03-14

» 14 March 2010 » In Uncategorized » 1 Comment

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New Foreign Players to Watch

» 11 March 2010 » In npb » 7 Comments

I’m suffering from something of writer’s block, so here we go with another list. This we’ll look at new foreign players on my watch list for the upcoming season.

  • Dionys Cesar (IF, Chunichi Dragons): Cesar tore up the Mexican League last year, and the Dragons seem to know what they are doing when it comes to Dominican players (nod to Domingo Martinez). So will lightning strike again? Cesar has put in 16 minor league seasons and spent some time in Taiwan, so it’s nice to see a guy like this get a chance to earn a solid paycheck in Japan.
  • Giancarlo Alvarado (P, Hiroshima Carp): The Carp also have a solid track record with foreign players (props for Erik Schullstrom), and like Cesar, Alvarado is a veteran who has bounced around the minors and independent leagues.
  • Matt Murton (OF, Hanshin Tigers): Murton was on my list, so that makes him an easy pick. He also has the unenviable task of taking over center field from retired star Norihiro Akahoshi, as well as following in failed American Tigers outfielders Shane Spencer, Lew Ford and Kevin Mench.
  • Lee Beom-Ho (IF, SoftBank Hawks) and Kim Tae-Gyun (IF, Chiba Lotte Marines): Honestly I’m not sure what to expect from these guys, as I haven’t seen much Korean baseball aside from the WBC and Asia Series, so that’s a reason look forward to seeing Lee and Kim this season. Kim is certain to get at-bats with the Marines, while Lee will have take turns in SoftBank’s 1B/3B/DH rotation with Jose Ortiz, Hiroki Kokubo and Nobuhiko Matsunaka. Lee had been adamant about wanting to stick at 3rd though. It’s too bad that Kim Dong-Ju didn’t make it to NPB for this season, as he had been trying for years.
  • Chris Bootcheck (P, Yokohama BayStars), Eugolio de la Cruz (P, Yakult Swallows), Juan Morillo (P, Rakuten Golden Eagles): All of these guys have the same profile: good velocity, bad control. But who will be this year’s Marc Kroon, and who will be this year’s Chris Resop?

And with that I’ll turn the floor over to the readers. Who are you looking forward to seeing?

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The English NPB Blogosphere, 2010 Edition

» 08 March 2010 » In kbo, npb » 15 Comments

When I started this site in 2008, there were some good English language sources of information on Japanese baseball, but I (obviously) didn’t feel there were enough. Thankfully, there are a few more now. So here’s my guide to the English NPB Blogosphere for 2010.

General Japanese Baseball

  •, the first there ever was, hosts blogs as well as discussion boards.
  • By know we know what to expect from Deanna’s Marinerds: baseball otaku-ism, lots of detail, and great photos.
  • Similarly, if you’re reading this you’ve probably seen Yakyu Baka, Gwynar’s insanely thorough news site.
  • Gary Garland no longer posts news to Japan Baseball Daily, but stats and archived content are still available.
  • Simon appears to be on a little bit of a hiatus, but he occasionally covers baseball at jhockey. His hockey content gets a thumbs up from me too.
  • Japan Baseball News is a new site that got going last season.
  • Japanese Baseball Cards makes me miss Calbee Potato Chips.
  • Kokoyakyu is an invaluable resource during the Koshien tournaments. I haven’t found it’s equal in Japanese (not that I’m looking).
  • Janblurr’s blog includes the occasional post on Japanese baseball. Jan also contributed this post about German baseball to NPB Tracker last year.
  • Yakyu All-Stars is a site written by NPB Tracker reader Matt, and knowing his team allegiance I almost put him in this next category…

Team Specific Blogs

Historical Sites

  • Rob Fitts chronicled the famed 1934 MLB All-Star tour of Japan, which is really what gave professional baseball its start in the country. Rob isn’t maintaining that particular story line any more, but its still a great read.
  • A Noboru Aota Fan’s Notes is only an occasional read for me, but it’s really a remarkable site. The very anonymous author goes into a tremendous amount of detail on each topic he covers, and includes scans of old photos and painted baseball cards. Really enjoying this site requires a decent investment of time, though which runs counter to the Internet culture. Still, this is a hidden gem.

Around Asia

And Finally…

I don’t link to writers in Japan’s mainstream English press very often, but there are some who do excellent work. Three that I think deserve special attention are Jim Allen, Jason Coskrey, and Wayne Graczyk.

If there any sites that are missing from this list that should be included, please leave a comment.

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-03-07

» 07 March 2010 » In Uncategorized » 3 Comments

  • Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-02-28: Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-02-21: Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-02-1… #
  • NPB Bullet Points: Real Bullets This Time: In the year and a half or so I’ve been writing posts called “NPB Bullet… #
  • wait a minute, is that a Coors Light? #
  • Hisa Takahashi to make his spring debut on March 2 against the Braves #
  • Knuckleball Princess Eri Yoshida meets her inspiration, Tim Wakefield #
  • MLB teams scouting Taiwanese pitcher Min-Tzu Chen #
  • New Pitches: It’s spring training, and that means pitchers are refining their arsenals. Here are some of the guys … #
  • Nicolas Cage's pachinko commercials, which he never intended for anyone outside Japan to see (esp. 2nd from top) #
  • Tim Lincecum models Giants snuggie. I guess Zito wasn't available #
  • Only in Japan: Orix to acquire former Rakuten mascot, Gohya the Super Giant. Gohya was in camp with Rakuten last year. #

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Nishi Tries Out for the Dodgers

» 05 March 2010 » In mlb, nichibei » 7 Comments

Update from Sanspo… looks like Nishi has an offer from the independent Atlantic League, and will have a more formal tryout at the Dodgers camp in Arizona next week. He had said that his goal was to play affiliated ball prior to coming to America.

Toshihisa Nishi has been hoping to play with an MLB organization this year, and may finally be getting somewhere. Sanspo is reporting that the veteran infielder worked out for a Dodgers scout, and was supposed to get the results back on the 4th.

Nishi isn’t exactly a prospect given that he’s 38 and posted a horrific .159 batting average last year. He’s obviously an extreme long shot to spend any time at the MLB level this year, but he could possibly benefit a team needing infield depth at 3A. Part of me doesn’t want to see him taking at-bats away from a younger player that still has a shot, though.

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New Pitches

» 04 March 2010 » In mlb, npb » Comments Off on New Pitches

It’s spring training, and that means pitchers are refining their arsenals. Here are some of the guys that are working on new pitches this spring:

We’ll have to wait and see what from this list survives to see game action.

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