Archive > June 2010

Year Two is in The Books

» 16 June 2010 » In NPB Tracker » 12 Comments

Well, that was fast. NPB Tracker has now been online for two years and a day. The anniversary slipped right by me; I only noticed this morning when I was telling an old friend that I’ve had the site for “about two years”.

Though I didn’t publish as much as I did in year one, there where definitely some highlights, listed here in no particular order:

I’d like to say thanks to everyone who reads the site, especially those who take the time to leave comments, for making it fun for me to write. And also thank you to all the other bloggers and journalists out there, who provide inspiration and reference my work. I’m looking forward to seeing what year three brings.

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Chris Resop Japan Stats

» 15 June 2010 » In nichibei » 5 Comments

Today is the Braves’ deadline to trade or promote former Hanshin Tiger Chris Resop. Resop’s stint in Japan was not a successful one, and to show how much he’s improved his results, I’ve compiled his Japan stats here. Apologies for the formatting, which is worse than Resop’s 2008 numbers. Note that because Resop spent the entirity of 2009 with Hanshin’s farm team, detailed numbers were not readily available and I didn’t go out of my way to find them.

Chris has earned another shot at MLB with a dynamite first half in 3A, and I wish him the best of luck with his impending promotion.

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NPB Bullet Points: Interleague & FA Status

» 13 June 2010 » In mlb, nichibei, npb » 5 Comments

News and notes from around NPB, mostly in Japanese this time around.

  • Orix took this year’s Interleague title, and a with it a 50m yen ($500k) award for the team. The emergent T-Okada was credited as the hero of yesterday’s game, but stalwart slugger Alex Cabrera was 3-4 with two rbi’s and is hitting .394 on the season. Orix is now 32-30-1 in what I thought would be a rebulding season.
  • Hichori Morimoto has racked up enough service time for international free agency. When asked about it, he responded in jest “I’m interested, you know, in America”, then added, “I care about how other teams evaluate me, but playing for the Fighters is the best.”
  • Hisashi Iwakuma has also qualified for domestic free agency, but that’s a bit of a non-event given that he’s already under contract with Rakuten for next season. He’s represented by IMG, though, and I think he’ll make the MLB move after 2011, assuming he remains healthy and effective.
  • The Giants called up Taishi Ohta, and he made his first professional start on the 12th, going 0-3. He had another 0-3 outing on the 13th.
  • Yu Darvish’s June 12 start is archived on Catch it while you can.
  • Akinori Otsuka attended a Padress-Mariners game over the weekend, and still wants to make an MLB comeback. It won’t be this year though. Aki had his third elbow (ひじ) surgery this past January, and has been playing catch for about three weeks. He’s hoping to be throwing at full strength in October. Aki is 38, so a comeback is a tall order given his injury history. Keiichi Yabu returned to MLB ball at a older age, but he was coming back from ineffectiveness, not injuries.
  • Here’s one in English: veteran NPB writer Jim Allen takes a look at Lotte’s hot first half.

And finally, off-topic content this week inspired by the South African-hosted World Cup: Emeka Okafor’s Timbuktu Chronicles and Appfrica, a blog site run by an Ugundan tech incubator. These outstanding blogs highlight areas of African resourcefulness and innovation.

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-06-13

» 13 June 2010 » In Uncategorized » Comments Off on Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-06-13

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Elbow Knee">Darvish’s Workload & Elbow Knee

» 11 June 2010 » In npb » 14 Comments

Update Saturday morning, Pacific Daylight Time: Darvish did make a return to the mound, and a triumphant one, with a line of 7 IP 7 K 1 BB 3 H 0 ER and the win. And he only threw 84 pitches, his lowest total this season. His fastball velocity was a little more variable than normal but the results were there. Nippon Ham finally scored a few runs for Darvish, and won 9-0.

Edit Friday night, Pacific Daylight Time: commenter “Tannin” pointed out that I confused the Japanese word for knee (“hiza”) with the word for elbow (“hiji”). It was in fact Darvish’s knee that kept him off the mound, which is obviously way less of a concern than his elbow would have been. The commentary about Darvish’s workload still applies, so this post wasn’t a total waste. I just wish I had caught the mistake before a few thousand readers saw it.

I didn’t post anything beyond a tweet about this at the time, but Yu Darvish missed his scheduled start last week with discomfort in his throwing elbow right knee. Darvish is apparently ok, and he’s due to make his next start on June 12th against Chunichi. According to Daily Sports, Nippon Ham is going to settle on a six-day rotation, so we can expect to see Darvish every Saturday.

Darvish has a track record of heavy workloads, but this year he’s taken it up a notch. According to the data I collected (which is not totally complete for last year, but is for this year), Darvish’s busiest outing last year was his 135-pitch start against Rakuten on August 7. This season, Darvish has thrown 135 or more pitches in six of his 11 starts, topping out at 156 on May 8, also against Rakuten. And that start was preceded by a 150-pitch outing against Seibu.

Nippon Ham seems to be concerned about this pattern, and early in the season announced that they would limit Darvish to 120 pitches per start. At the time, I thought this was a very forward-thinking move for an NPB team, particularly since it could have the positive side-effect of forcing Darvish to become more economical with his pitches. They haven’t had the discipline to stick with the limit though, as he’s surpassed 120 pitches in six of his eight starts made since the announcement.

Darvish has been relatively healthy throughout his pro career, with the exception of the time he missed late last season with a miscellany of injuries. He’s shown to be capable of going deep in to starts, as evinced by the fact that he tends to maintain consistent velocity in his outings. But given his workload in the past and in particular this season, it’s hard not to raise an eyebrow when the phrase ‘elbow discomfort’ is uttered (though in this case it wasn’t). It’ll be interesting to see how he’s used this season, particularly if Nippon Ham fails to get into contention for a playoff spot.

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Re-run: Keith Law on Darvish vs Strasburg

» 08 June 2010 » In mlb prospects » Comments Off on Re-run: Keith Law on Darvish vs Strasburg

On the day that Stephen Strasburg made his MLB debut, we dust off this conversation with Keith Law, originally posted on July 7, 2009.

If you’re reading this blog, there’s a high probability that you’ve heard of Keith Law. Keith is a veteran of Baseball Prospectus and the Toronto Blue Jays’ front office, and currently the lead baseball analyst for ESPN’s Scouts Inc. Keith took the time to answer a few questions on how Yu Darvish compares to Washington Nationals draftee, Stephen Strasburg.

NPB Tracker: How does Strasburg’s repertoire compare to Darvish’s?

Keith Law: Darvish shows far more pitches than Strasburg, who has four but spent most of the spring using just two.

NT: Who do you like better mechanically?

KL: I would say Strasburg – he’s easier and cleaner – although the sheer arm speed puts us into uncertain territory with Strasburg. We have little experience with starters who throw that hard and get their arms going that fast.

NT: If you had to choose one of the two pitchers for an MLB rotation this year, who would it be?

KL: I don’t think there’s a wrong answer here, but I’d take Darvish, given his experience facing a higher level of competition.

NT: Which of the two has the higher upside, and why?

KL: That’s a good question and I have gone back and forth on this. I think Strasburg’s fastball and hard curve rate well ahead of Darvish’s top two pitches, so I’d take Strasburg.

NT: Thank you Keith.


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Draft Prospects: Interesting Names

» 06 June 2010 » In amateur baseball, npb draft » 9 Comments

By a wide margin, the Japanese-language blog I read the most is Draft Report. If you haven’t seen the site before and can read Japanese, I highly recommend checking it out. It’s like an MLBTR-style aggregation site for NPB draft prospects.

Names with katakana in them always catch my eye, and I’ve noticed five so far this year. Not all these guys will be in the draft his year and it’s possible/probable that some won’t be drafted ever, but they come from unique backgrounds, which is what caught my attention.

  • Hugo Kanabushi, LHP, Hakuoh University: Kanabushi is a Japanese-Brazilian who went to Japan for high school, and is now at the same university that produced Yakult farmhand Rafael Fernandez (Hakuoh University has a couple other Brazilian-looking names on its roster as well). According to Draft Reports, Kanabushi hides the ball well and has a fastball that stretches to about 145 kmph, plus a slow curve. Command is listed as an issue for him.
  • Felipe Natel, RHP, Yamaha: Another Brazilian, Natal is a rather diminutive righthander with a delivery that is somewhat reminiscent of El Duque Hernandez’s. Natal will most likely sit out this year’s draft and play another year of shakaijin ball, since next year he will meet the residence requirements to escape the foreign player framework and qualify to as a Japanese player.
  • Fionn Ryuji Boylan, RHP, Kwansei Gakuin: Born and raised in Osaka to a Japanese mother and Irish father, Boylan is a pitcher who idolizes Kyuji Fujikawa. He spent his junior high school years in Ireland playing rugby, so he has a bit of a different pedigree than other pitchers his age. Draft Report says that we should see his velocity increase as he adds strength.
  • Jose Gonzalez, RHP Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Yokohama: Gonzalez is a 30 year-old alumni of the Hiroshima Carp’s Dominican Academy, and is in his third year of industrial league ball and residence in Japan. Similarly to Natal, Gonzalez is two years away from being able to enter the draft without the foreign player constraints. If he does enter the NPB draft, it’ll be the first case (that I can think of) of a former Carp Academy player to do so. I don’t think it’s often we see a former Academy player in the Industrial Leagues either, though Dioni Soriano and Wilfreiser Guerrero are recent examples of Academy players who reached NPB through Japan’s independent leagues. Gonzalez is a big guy (188cm) with a big fastball (maxing out at 153 kmph), so at least superficially he seems like a prospect despite his age.
  • Justin Nakano RHP, Koujou high school (Kanagawa): For Nakano I’ll borrow this from the excellent Goro Shigeno Koukou Yakyu site: “Yes, this is another case where a person has an American father although unlike Minami at Urawa Gakuin, Justin doesn’t appear to have the stature bonus. He can touch 140 with his fastball and compliments it with a sharp slider as well as a curve.”

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-06-06

» 06 June 2010 » In Uncategorized » Comments Off on Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-06-06

  • Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-05-30: Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-05-23: Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-05-1… #
  • Did the NBA Finals matchup remind anyone else of this? #
  • Orix Pursuing Segi: Over the weekend, I caught a number of articles on Orix’s pursuit of 1B/DH Fernando Seguignol…. #
  • Congratulations, Ryo!: I’d like to extend congratulations Ryo Shinkawa, who earlier this year moved on from NPB Tr… #
  • re: Galaragga call — 2nd base umpire saw the play too. Also ESPN ragged on the Halladay umpire for calling a wide strike zone #
  • Fernando Seguignol joins Orix, on the cheap at $300k #
  • Somebody searching for “pirates acquire yu darvish” landed at #
  • gotta like @BenBadler ‘s #FF: @MelissaSeguraSI, @Enrique_Rojas1, @npbtracker, @MisterBaseball, @jorgearangure and @billazbbphotog #
  • #FF some of my FanGraphs buds @jh_moore @d_a_cameron @joepawl @enosarris @fangraphs @cistulli #
  • Eric Stults’ velocity is improving; results have been getting better too though not directly correlated #
  • Darvish felt a twinge in his elbow, missed his start vs Yomiuri. Manager Nashida expects him to make his next start #

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Congratulations, Ryo!

» 02 June 2010 » In NPB Tracker » 6 Comments

I’d like to extend congratulations Ryo Shinkawa, who earlier this year moved on from NPB Tracker and joined the Boston Red Sox as a team translator. Ryo contributed over 100 posts to the site during 2009, and will be missed.

So Ryo, thanks for your contribution, good luck in your new job, and don’t be a stranger!

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