The Third Baseman Market Closes

» 17 November 2010 » In nichibei, npb »

Two weeks ago, when I asked readers at my other job to help me generate a list of new sukketo candidates, I noted the need for two new third baseman in NPB 2011. I specifically had Rakuten and Hiroshima in mind when I wrote that, and both teams added a player to man the hot corner today.

Rakuten opened up third base early in the off season, when they parted ways with veteran Norihiro Nakamura. Nori was part of an anemic Rakuten offense that finished last in runs in 2010. Though his .266/.329/.397 line was an improvement from his dreadful .222 performance in 2009, it was still an obvious position to upgrade. Enter Akinori Iwamura. Rakuten officially announced their signing of Aki on the 17th. Sanspo is calling the deal a two-year, 400m yen ($4.8m) pact, while Sports Hochi says that it includes incentives and an option year that could make it a three-year, 1bn yen ($12m) deal. That’s a bit more than I would have expected Aki to command, but Rakuten has money to spend with Hisashi Iwakuma and Nori coming off the books, and Iwakuma’s posting bounty being added to the income side of the ledger. And obviously Aki doesn’t count as a foreign player, so Rakuten keeps their roster spots open to pursue more bats (Wladimir Balentien? Edit: Nope, he’s joining Yakult).

Meanwhile down in Hiroshima, the Carp are closing in on signing Chad Tracy. The Chugoku Shimbun reported that the Carp were finishing up their inquiry with MLB on Tracy on the 16th, but it seems like this deal will happen. The Carp have relied on foreign players such as Scott Seabol and Scott McClain at third base since losing Takahiro Arai to free agency a few years ago, but I didn’t expect them to go after a guy with Tracy’s level of MLB experience. The Chugoku Shimbun called him the player with the most MLB experience that Hiroshima has ever imported, and I’d have to agree with them on that. Playing Tracy at third and Kenta Kurihara at first should be a big improvement at the plate and in the field over the experiment of Kuri at third and Justin Huber at first last season.

With the departure of Edgar Gonzales, we may see Yomiuri add a utility guy that can handle some third, but aside from that, I think every NPB team has their third baseman for 2011.

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  1. Patrick
    17/11/2010 at 3:32 am Permalink
  2. Patrick
    Patrick Wilson
    17/11/2010 at 6:30 am Permalink

    Nice article,

    What happens with ss in Chiba if the posting gets accepted?

  3. Patrick
    17/11/2010 at 8:10 am Permalink

    – What happens with ss in Chiba if the posting gets accepted?

    Some new guy gets a chance and becomes an even better shortstop. That’s what happened when Kazuo left Seibu. Every loss to the Majors is another big opportunity for another future star.

  4. Patrick
    Patrick Wilson
    17/11/2010 at 9:37 am Permalink

    Ok, and you would say a import or a player already on the roster?

    I figure they have more money now but middle infield seems like a spot reserved for japanese players…

    Can someone identify some candidates?


  5. Patrick
    17/11/2010 at 10:42 am Permalink

    Lotte just traded for a ni-gun IF from Nippon Ham (his name escapes me at the moment), so he could get a look. They could try to import an SS, or try Imae there. Both of those ideas are a little unconventional. Shunichi Nemoto is another option, he was decent at 2b before getting buried by Iguchi.

  6. Patrick
    17/11/2010 at 11:17 pm Permalink

    Oh dear god, in the midst of all the crazy shit the Fighters have been doing to their personnel, I didn’t even realize the Fighters gave Lotte both Yamamoto AND Takaguchi for Tomohisa Nemoto. WTF WTF WTF. “Uh, we’ll give you a lefty pitcher and our utility man of the future for a lefty pitcher”. Takaguchi has been known to pretty much play any position in the infield adequately, and filled in for Kaneko sometimes during his injury time, although I would hesitate to call Taka an everyday starting shortstop. Shunichi Nemoto might be a better candidate, or Kei Hosoya, or maybe not quite yet, but Shota Ohmine…?

  7. Patrick
    17/11/2010 at 11:36 pm Permalink

    Yes! Hosoya. That was the other guy I couldn’t think of this morning. He actually had halfway decent batting stats at ni-gun if memory serves.