Archive > 24 January 2011

Offseason Changes: Hiroshima Carp

» 24 January 2011 » In npb » 2 Comments

Coming: Chad Tracy, Dennis Sarfate, Bryan Bullington, Kiyoshi Toyoda, Tsuyoshi Kikuchihara

Going: Jeff Fiorentino, Justin Huber, Vinnie Chulk, Eric Stults, John Bale, Ken Takahashi, Shinjiro Kojima, Hayato Aoki

Staying: Gio Alvarado, Mike Schultz, Dioni Soriano

Summary: Perhaps the biggest story of Hiroshima’s offseason was the players they didn’t land. The Carp tried unsuccessfully to lure Hiroki Kuroda back in the mix, and lost out to Softbank for prized free agent Seiichi Uchikawa, despite his wife being a Koi fan.

Having lost out on the two Japanese stars, most of Hiroshima’s reinforcements for 2011 are of the suketto variety. Out goes the ineffective group of Fiorentino, Huber, Stults, Bale and Chulk; in come newcomers Tracy, Bullington and Sarfate joing holdovers Alvarado, Schultz and Soriano. The headliner of this year’s import class is Tracy,  the Carp’s highest paid and most accomplished first year import. The other five members of Hiroshima’s foreign roster are all pitchers, and will have to compete amongst themselves for the three remaining ichi-gun spots.

The fact that Soriano is lefthanded may give him a little bit of an edge on the somewhat lefty-thin Carp, but what the team really needs is quality innings. Last season, only Yokohama’s dreadful performance saved Hiroshima from having the least effective staff in Japan. Despite the presence of Sawamura Award winner Kenta Maeda, the Carp surrendered 737 runs in 2010; the next worst was Seibu with 642. Losing Colby Lewis hurt, but so did the fact that eight of the 13 pitchers who threw at least 30 innings for the Carp had an ERA of 5.00 or higher. Getting 150 or so innings of 4.00 ball out of Bullington or Alvarado would go along way for the Carp. So would healthy returns from Kan Ohtake and Katsuhiro Nagakawa. The Carp also spent their first four draft picks on hard-throwing, older prospects last year, so one of them may pay early dividends.

At the plate, Hiroshima managed to finish fourth in the Central League in run production in 2010, despite hitting the fewest home runs. What they lacked in power, they made up for by leading the league in steals with 119, and striking out less than any team other than Yakult. Since Tracy is the only significant lineup change for 2011, expect to see more of the same this season.

Overall I like the group that Hiroshima will field this year better than last year’s, but I don’t see how they make the playoffs without one of the other teams faltering significantly.

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Chunichi Notes: Chen, Soto

» 24 January 2011 » In mlb prospects, npb » Comments Off

Two notes concerning the Chunichi Dragons to pass along this morning:

  • Lefty ace Wei Yin Chen has finally signed for 2011, agreeing to a one-year deal that will pay JPY 170m (a little over $2m). Chen’s desire to play in MLB had been a focal point this offseason, and he’ll get his wish after another year with Chunichi, as the team has agreed to let him go when his contract expires. It’s not clear what form his move to the majors will take — Chen and his representation had asked Chunichi to grant him his release after the season, but the articles I’ve read just say that they “agreed to allow him to move.”
  • Meanwhil the Dragons will look at another lefty this spring. 28 year-old Venezuelan Enyelbert Soto will participate in Chunichi’s camp on a trial basis. Soto has minor league experience in the Astros organization and played in Italy last season.

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