NPB Bullet Points: Year End Blowout

» 26 December 2010 » In npb »

Alright, it has been a while since I’ve done one of these posts, but I have been reading. Here’s a list of stories I’ve gathered up over the last month, in roughly chronological order. Most of the source content is Japanese but there are a few English items in there.

  • Back in early December, Osamu Yamamoto of the Chugoku Shimbun shed some light on the Hiroshima Carp’s US scouting practices, and shared some evaluations of players that the Carp signed over the last few years. Among this year’s signings, Dennis Sarfate graded at the top of the team’s five point scale with an A, while Chad Tracy and Bryan Bullington punched in a notch below at the AB level. Hiroshima has also added former Carp player Scott McClain as a second US-based scout.
  • Yakult lefty Masato Nakazawa has gotten married.
  • Speaking of weddings, Yankees lefty farmhand Naoya Okamoto attended one in Kyoto, where he bumped into several former teammates. Judging by the pictures, I’m concerned Okamoto may have joined a gang (笑).
  • A personal favorite of mine, Nagisa Arakaki has signed for 25% pay cut next season. Once upon a time I thought Arakaki was Japan’s next great pitcher, but he’s been done in by injuries. Hopefully he’s able to come back, but I fear his days as a power pitcher are over.
  • Kengo Kubo of Nikkan Sports fills us in on Yomiuri Giants representative Hidetoshi Kiyotake’s ideas for increasing Japanese participation abroad, including establishing a “Team Japan” to play in overseas winter leagues. This year, six players including Yoshiyuki Kamei played in Australia. Hopefully I’ll find some time to write more about this subject because there are some interesting ideas out there.
  • Sanpo reports that Yusei Kikuchi has signed a management contract with talent agency HoriPro, the first active baseball player to do so.
  • Norichika Aoki’s 2011 goal is to surpass Ichiro’s record of 210 hits within the first 130 games of the season. Incidentally, Ichiro’s 1994 pace translates to 232 hits over the current 144-game schedule.
  • Hiroshima’s Kenta Maeda was quoted in Sanspo as saying he’d like to “try going to the Majors”, in response to a question from pro golfer Mika Miyazato. However, a couple days after he said this, Gen over at found him contradicting himself.
  • Former Yakult Swallow Jaime D’Antona was on the field when Matt Murton broke Ichiro’s hits record, and shared his thoughts on the official Swallows blog. Here’s an excerpt: “It was great also, since it was at Jingu,to see our fans appreciate his achievement and cheer for him with the Tigers fans. That showed a lot of class for our fans and proves we have great baseball fans, not just all or nothing Swallows fans. I think that is important in sports and you don’t see that too often.” I caught this one via the Tokyo Swallows Twitter feed, and recommend following them if you happen to use Twitter.
  • Yoshiaki Kanemura looks back on Hideo Nomo’s historic move to the Dodgers.
  • Like Aoki, Softbank’s Munenori Kawasaki is taking aim at the single-season hits record next year. As part of his offseason training, he’s working on hitting bad pitches. Last year, Kawasaki finished just behind Murton, Aoki and Tsuyoshi Nishioka with a Hawks-record 190 hits.
  • The great has covered the Australian Baseball League this season, which Kamei and Shuhei Fukuda participated in.
  • Deanna attended some bounenkai (year-end) parties and found this cool glass.
  • Nikkan Sports reports that Rusty Ryal will by paid 100m yen (lazy conversion: $1.2m) and play third base for Yomiuri. Rusty’s dad Mark played for Chunichi.
  • Yomiuri’s Kiyotake commented again on Winter Leagues on the 24th in Sanspo, saying that he had a “request for players from Puerto Rico”, and that he wants to get players “opportunities in competitive games overseas.”

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  1. Patrick
    26/12/2010 at 3:47 pm Permalink

    Thanks for the great updates this year. I love all of the consolidated English coverage you provide! Here’s to 2011!

  2. Patrick
    26/12/2010 at 7:19 pm Permalink

    It’s my very great pleasure. Glad you enjoy them.

  3. Patrick
    27/12/2010 at 12:24 am Permalink

    Ditto with Joe! Great updates!!

    Nakasawa got married huh? Sad news for Yakult lady fans (and the Swallows for that matter). Aoki got married, Nakasawa gets married…. All the good looking ones are taken. So the only one popular with ladies that Yakult’s got left is…. um…Lim?

    Anyway, hope it helps him show better stuff next season. If he pitches in a hand to the already solid Yakult starter line-up (Ishikawa-Tateyama-Yoshinori-Muranaka), Yakult’ll have no trouble getting back into “A class”. Maybe even have a go for the Japan series.

    And Kikuchi signs with a talent agency? I want to see this kid on the mound blasting 97mile fastballs left-handed, not on a cheesy comedy show… It was a bit disappointing to see him stuck in “ni-gun” all year this season. I wonder how Japanese fans are reacting to this.

  4. Patrick
    27/12/2010 at 11:12 am Permalink

    I’ll be interested in hearing what the ideas for increasing Japanese participation in overseas winter leagues are. Since the demise of the Hawaiian Winter League a couple of years ago, there’s been a couple of ad hoc things like the Giants players playing in Australia and six pitchers going to the Arizona Fall League last season. Be nice to see something a little bigger.

  5. Patrick
    27/12/2010 at 11:31 am Permalink

    Thanks guys. The winter leagues post is officially on my to-do list, so hopefully I’ll catch a little time for that this week.

  6. Patrick
    27/12/2010 at 3:24 pm Permalink

    Patrick and team:

    Please follow the news on “Team Japan” for winter leagues. It’s about time.

    I have a question here. Had any foreign “gaijin” player(s) ever won or came close to winning the Rookie award in NPB? which I believe is voted by the media?

    I found the record for the Best Rookie on wiki (最優秀新人), but I can’t find any discussion of foreign players.

  7. Patrick
    27/12/2010 at 3:28 pm Permalink

    I follow all the news but there are only so many hours in the day for writing. I do take requests for content though.

    Foreign players usually aren’t eligible for the NPB RoY. There have been some exceptions but I don’t recall any foreign player ever meriting serious consideration for the RoY.

  8. Patrick
    Patrick Wilson
    27/12/2010 at 6:07 pm Permalink

    I just read on mlb trade rumors that cubans could be allowed to play in Japan, Korea etc.

    That would be fun and even more talent!

  9. Patrick
    27/12/2010 at 8:50 pm Permalink

    They actually already can, that was talking about the US only.

  10. Patrick
    28/12/2010 at 5:45 am Permalink

    I dunno about NPB, but at the very least KBO had their first Cuban player this year.

    Francisley Bueno who pitched for the Hanhwa Eagles. Of course, this guy had smuggled himself out of Cuba years ago to play in the Big Leagues already so this wasn’t because Caba let their players sign with NPB or KBO or anything…

  11. Patrick
    Patrick Wilson
    28/12/2010 at 7:28 am Permalink

    What I meant is that the cuban governement will allow… In exchange for money compensation… Of course NPB was ok with signing defectives, but now it means it will be “legal” from both sides…

    This is what I understand from MLB trade rumors…

  12. Patrick
    28/12/2010 at 8:07 am Permalink

    The only foreign player I remember getting serious consideration for the Rookie of the Year award was Robinson Checo. Checo was the first player I’d heard of who came up through the Carp Academy in the Dominican Republic. He wore #107 on his jersey and blew away the competition, finishing 3rd in ERA in 2005 at 2.74. In 28 appearances (17 starts), Checo threw 10 complete games for a 15 and 8 record, helping the Carp to a 2nd place finish behind the Yakult Swallows.

    There was a lot of discussion in the Japanese press by writers who thought that Checo deserved the RoY honor. Instead, the award was given to Checo’s team mate Yasuyuki Yamauchi who was 14 and 10 with a 3.03 ERA. Yamauchi bounced between starting and relief before retiring after the 2002 season.

  13. Patrick
    28/12/2010 at 8:28 am Permalink

    Thanks, Patrick and Westbay.

    Somebody asked me this question earlier: Are foreigners allowed the RoY? I didn’t know. Another more experienced NPB fan told me players who’ve played in another pro. league abroad CANNOT be considered a RoY in NPB.

    I recalled Whiting in his Wa book talked about how a certain American batter should be considered, but instead, the award was given to his pitching teammate who was clearly not qualified enough. And some famous writer (I think Kanemura? the former teammate of Nomo…) said for that writers’ choice, it’s appropriate ‘cuz “It won’t be much fun if a foreigner wins it.”\

    So yeah, I wonder if there’s a rule saying anything about RoY going to a “gaijin.”

    Thanks so much for replying.


  14. Patrick
    28/12/2010 at 11:06 am Permalink


    By the way, you meant the Robinson Checo who played in CPBL and then went to Toyo Carp in 1995, instead of 2005, now 39 years old?:

  15. Patrick
    29/12/2010 at 5:34 am Permalink

    The Cuban government allowed a couple players to come to Japan around 2002-04. Omar Linares was the only one who played in NPB ( The rest played in the industrial leagues.

  16. Patrick
    29/12/2010 at 7:57 am Permalink


    Yes, that was 1995, not 2005. Fingers don’t always type what I’m thinking.

    I wasn’t aware that he had pitched in the CPBL first. I thought that he had come up through the Carp Academy, and the discussions at the time were that he was the same as a player coming up through the NPB farm system, therefore he should qualify for the RoY. But if he had played in the CPBL first, then I can understand the objections to his qualifying.

    1995 was when I started to really focus on Japanese baseball as a whole rather that just a single team. So there are many vivid memories of that time, but also many parts that I didn’t fully understand the story behind.

    Thanks for the clarification and link.

  17. Patrick
    29/12/2010 at 8:25 am Permalink

    Finally tracked it down – Cubans Orestes Kindelan and Antonio Pacheco played for Shidax in the industrial leagues from 2002 to 2004.

  18. Patrick
    29/12/2010 at 8:59 am Permalink

    You could have searched this site; I mentioned Kindelan and Pacheco in this article:

  19. Patrick
    29/12/2010 at 6:00 pm Permalink


    Thanks for clarifying for me. I just want to make sure there’s not a second guy by the same name.

    My first ever post related to yakyu was asking how Omar Linares did for Chunichi. Then, I don’t even know why I got into Lotte Marines. I don’t even like Kanto…

    It’s quite fascinating that a more isolated league like NPB can draw fans from abroad. If you don’t live in Japan, or perhaps J=phile nation-states like Taiwan or Thai (where there must be NPB broadcast available, somehow), and you’ve been following these long baseball seasons, then it’s quite a hobby.

  20. Patrick
    30/12/2010 at 9:03 am Permalink