Nippon Ham Turnover

» 05 October 2010 » In mlb prospects, nichibei, npb »

The season’s not over yet, but the offseason starts early for the B-class (bottom three) finishers. For the first time in five years, one of them is the Nippon Ham Fighters, and a few moves have been announced.

  • Righty reliever Yoshinori Tateyama is planning to exercise his right to global free agency this offseason and make a move to MLB. I don’t think I’ve seen him pitch (if I have, he didn’t leave much of an impression), but he’ll be 35 on December 26, and had a 1.80, 59 strikeouts and 11 walks in 55 innings this year. He throws from a low three-quarters position, and is primarily a fastball/slider pitcher.
  • The Fighters released 36-year old outfielder Tomoya Tsuboi and offered him a coaching job, but he wants to continue playing. Tsuboi has had a pretty good career, and could still possibly be a useful bench outfielder somewhere (Hiroshima?). Speculation is that he could look to the US minor or indy leagues if he doesn’t get an offer in Japan.
  • Ham has also cut Kazuhito Tadano loose. The latest news is that Yokohama is looking at picking him up. Tadano has struggled over the last two seasons, but Yokoyama’s pitching needs are such that a flyer on Tadano sounds like a pretty good idea. If he does wind up with the ‘Stars, it’ll be something of a return full circle, as the team was set to acquire out of college through the 2002 draft, before backing out due to well-publicized issues.
  • Surprisingly enough, Hichori Morimoto is reportedly looking into his free agency options, specifically with other NPB teams. Morimoto is the quintessential small-ball player, and could be particularly useful in the DH-free Central League… but I have a hard time seeing him play anywhere but Hokkaido. It’s just speculation at this point so it’s only potential turnover.

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  1. Patrick
    05/10/2010 at 7:03 am Permalink

    I’ve seen Tateyama pitch more than I care to admit. Actually, this year he was rather good, but as a running gag, since mid-2009, I’ve wrapped a towel around my head whenever he comes out so that he can’t give up a 2-run homer, which he was always doing in my presence. He’s been pretty good since I started doing that, to be honest, and was actually probably the most reliable guy in the Fighters bullpen this year, bizarrely.

    (Actually, the funny thing is that my very first Fighters game ever, against the Orix Blue Wave, one of the most memorable moments of the evening was Tateyama giving up a 9th-inning 2-run game-tying homerun to Roosevelt Brown… I still remember seeing Tatsuya Ide in centerfield not even bothering to move as he watched the ball sail out. Fortunately, Angel Echevarria hit the game-winning RBI single in the 10th, but…)

    I’m honestly mostly surprised by one of our OTHER moves that you didn’t mention — cutting 20-year-old LHP Akiyoshi Toyoshima. He hasn’t been stellar even in ni-gun, but for crying out loud, he’s barely out of high school; seems a little fast to drop him. I kind of get why they dropped 22-year-old Tatsuo Kinoshita; I can’t really imagine him contributing in the future, and he’s had a bit more time to not turn into a productive player.

    Tsuboi has actually been dropped by the Fighters and re-signed once before, after the 2006 season. I’m pretty sure that despite how popular he is, they’re serious about not bringing him back this time. Tadano going to Yokohama would be pretty awesome.

    Hmm, shame you weren’t in Japan a week or two later, or we could ask Hichori’s parents about the entire thing. Like “Will you have to redecorate the entire place?”

  2. Patrick
    06/10/2010 at 6:24 am Permalink

    Yeah, those younger guys getting released caught my eye, but this post was really about roster changes at the top level. There have already been a number of younger guys released by NPB teams, and I was thinking to wait a little longer and see if there are any diamonds in the rough. Perhaps Nippon Ham felt that they could acquire better players than Toyoshima and Kinoshita in the draft this year, and wanted the roster spots available.

    If I remember correctly, Tsuoboi attracted some brief MLB interest when Nippon Ham released him before. I considered mentioning that but thought it would be overdoing it.

    And Roosevlet Brown brings back memories. He was a good player in Japan and in 3A after he went back. I found it kind of surprising he didn’t get another shot.

  3. Patrick
    12/10/2010 at 12:55 am Permalink

    Well, at this point that OTHER move that might be happening will make everything in this article look like filler. (and greatly increase traffic here)

  4. Patrick
    12/10/2010 at 8:53 am Permalink

    How can it be filler if there is no content on the site? I’ve been pretty busy with other things lately.

    If I was covering the Darvish speculation the way I covered Kikuchi and Tazawa in previous years, there certainly would be more traffic to the site. But most of the news is from anonymous sources, which I don’t find credible. I’ve learned my lesson from this in the past, particularly when someone floated some rumors about the Red Sox going after Hideki Matsui and I translated them. There was a big uproar and Theo Epstein himself came out and denied the rumors. It wasn’t fun, and I originally started this site to have fun.

    The moment I find something believable on Darvish, I’ll post it.

  5. Patrick
    13/10/2010 at 4:00 am Permalink

    Why don’t you find the anonymous sources credible? Just because they’ve predicted a Darvish posting every winter for the last three years? 🙂

  6. Patrick
    John Brooks
    13/10/2010 at 11:07 pm Permalink

    Ah my favorite time of the year, random anonymous source says this is the year Darvish will be posted to MLB. How many years in a row have I heard this now? This wont be the year either. Anyway, its nice to hear about the other names non-Darvish for a change. I got all offseason to hear about Darvish. He isnt going nowhere anytime soon.

  7. Patrick
    26/10/2010 at 7:30 pm Permalink

    “Nippon Ham Turnover”? Is that like Japanese “pigs in a blanket”?

    The most important change Ham should make is to turn over their manager, like manure into a potato field. Although I am not sure it would be a good idea to anything fertilized by Nashida.

    And, yes, I do realize my comments are not particularly timely but I have only just begun to come out of my state of shock from Orix selecting Lotte for the postseason. Most of my mental energy recently has been devoted to trying to figure out what Ham could have done to make Okada hate them enough to pull that classless move.