Offseason Changes: Yokohama BayStars

» 22 January 2011 » In npb »

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be publishing team-by-team summaries of this offseason’s NPB transactions. There aren’t enough hours in the day to make this a comprehensive list of all movement, so we’ll focus on the highest-impact changes. Our series starts at the bottom of the Central League, which again means the Yokohama BayStars.

Coming: Hichori Morimoto, Shogo Yamamoto, Go Kida, Naoto Watanabe, Brandon Mann, Clayton Hamilton, Brent Leach, Ikki Shimamura, Koji Ohnuma, Kuan Yu Chen

Going: Seiichi Uchikawa, Hayato Terahara, Kazuya Takamiya, Chris Bootcheck, Stephen Randolph, Jose Castillo, Atsushi Kizuka,Yataro Sakamoto, Toshihiro Noguchi, Takahiro Saeki, Shingo Nonaka, Kentaro Kuwabara

Staying: Shuichi Murata, Brett Harper, Termel Sledge, Tatsuhiko Kinjoh, Tomo Ohka

Summary: A lot of turnover for the BayStars again this year, headlined by the losses of Uchikawa and Terahara. Uchi will be missed, as he was Hama’s most consistent on-base threat, and while Morimoto is a useful player, he doesn’t match up at the plate. And trading Terahara for Yamamoto… I just can’t understand that one. Even if they were dead set on acquiring a lefty, they could have simply signed Eric Stults or kept Randolph. But ‘Stars took a different approach to their import roster this year, signing less experienced minor leaguers Mann, Hamilton and Leach rather than getting more 4A guys. Signing a number of guys and seeing if one of them works out is actually a decent strategy for a team that can’t realistically expect to content in 2011. Or perhaps ownership is keeping the payroll down in anticipation of a team sale.

Yokohama finished last in run production and run prevention last year, and didn’t acquire any veteran talent that will immediately improve the team on either side of the ball. So is there any hope by the Bay in 2011? If there is, it has to come from the team’s young talent. The BayStars’ 2010 draft focused on college and Industrial League players who can help soon, and top picks Kota Suda, Kisho Kagami, and Sho Aranami should all be in the mix for ichi-gun time as rookies. Yokohama doesn’t have great organizational pitching depth, but any steps forward taken by Takayuki Makka, Hitoshi Fujie, Atori Ohta and Yoh Sugihara will be meaningful. Overall, though, this looks like a team that is headed for another last place finish.

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  1. Patrick
    Patrick Wilson
    22/01/2011 at 5:08 pm Permalink

    Good article! Let’s not forget about Tsutsugo at firstbase… As a matter of fact will they find room for him with Harper and Murata manning the corners?

  2. Patrick
    22/01/2011 at 7:01 pm Permalink

    And Matsumoto in the OF. I was going to talk about those guys, but when I have time I’m going to write a more detailed article on Yokohama. Tsutsugo is definitely blocked by Harper and Murata, and his defense needs to improve at 3B.

  3. Patrick
    22/01/2011 at 9:38 pm Permalink


    Nice preview. I especially appreciate your time on the Marines, and there’s nothing I can add right now.

    I’m curious who is Yokohama’s future centerfielder?

  4. Patrick
    Patrick Wilson
    22/01/2011 at 10:22 pm Permalink

    Yes it’s true Tsutsugo was drafted as a 3B… I remember reading, when Uchikawa was still with the team and could play the outfield, that it made sense to move Tsutsugo to 1B. Reading Baseball America scouting of Harper, I figure he’s not a outfield option…

    So defensively he’s not really good? Hands? throwing? moving around the bag or just too many errors in general?

  5. Patrick
    22/01/2011 at 11:02 pm Permalink

    Anyone knows if Jose Castillo will play with another team in the NPB? Thanks.

  6. Patrick
    22/01/2011 at 11:22 pm Permalink

    Yokohama’s future CF — probably Keijiro Matsumoto. I’m looking forward to seeing more of Aranami as he seemed like a decent prospect.

    Tsutsugo — 24 errors, ugly .894 fielding at 3B for ni-gun last year. It was his first year as a pro, but he’ll have to get better if he’s going to stick at third. I haven’t seen him play so I don’t know what his problem is. If he’s making bad throws, a good 1B might help.

    Castillo — hasn’t signed with an NPB team.

  7. Patrick
    23/01/2011 at 12:01 pm Permalink

    The NPB’s Pittsburgh Pirates! And, the Terahara trade is indeed an absolute head scratcher!

  8. Patrick
    23/01/2011 at 12:17 pm Permalink

    Colby Lewis sighting in Bakersfield.

  9. Patrick
    24/01/2011 at 9:52 am Permalink

    How do you find these links?

  10. Patrick
    24/01/2011 at 12:52 pm Permalink

    Texas fans don’t use the moniker Colbyashi for nothing.

  11. Patrick
    24/01/2011 at 11:03 pm Permalink

    Is he wearing a Bakersfield Condors jersey? That’s the last North American team Yutaka Fukufuji (the first Japanese NHL player, though super brief) played on before he went to Europe and came back to Japan.

  12. Patrick
    25/01/2011 at 12:29 pm Permalink

    Kitsuka should be spelled Kizuka in English. He’s still around, just as a coach instead of a player (and IMO Yokohama never used him enough anyway).

    I would expect Keijiro and Aranami and Hichori to be competing for the CF spot. You have a lot of great fielding there without a lot of bat, though the first two probably have some more potential. If Yoshimura can bounce back and Kinjoh does okay, the outfield’s actually pretty damn full, and there should be a lot of competition.

    Makka and Atori are really young, I think they still have a lot of potential. Yoh Sugihara is a really really really really weird case and a sign of the Baystars both thinking outside the box and clogging their roster. I mean, he was drafted by the Marines out of high school, got released, caught on with the NOMO Baseball Club, and pitched a no-hitter in an industrial league qualifier, and then the Baystars offered him a contract. I’m guessing he basically has this year to either figure things out or hit the road.

    I wonder if the Baystars have the tallest pitchers in the league on average (not counting foreign guys), they have a lot of really tall guys.

  13. Patrick
    25/01/2011 at 1:17 pm Permalink

    Duly corrected Kizuka.

    I’m not optimistic about Yoshimura. Kinjoh, on the other hand, seems to either be pretty good or .200. Very little in between with him.

  14. Patrick
    25/01/2011 at 5:16 pm Permalink

    Many thanks to both of you, Deanna and Patrick.

    Hopefully, fans might as well root for Matsumoto. His teammate from Waseda, Hosoyamada the catcher, is not faring well. I was fortunate to have talked to Hosoyamada on a Waseda event in 2007. I didn’t even know he was totally on a pro career. But if he was, why not the adjustment?

    The Baystars is digging themselves bigger a hole with every move. I’m still scratching my head with them trading Sakamoto for Onuma. The stats prove they are not even equals. Sakamoto, three years younger, pitched really well in a better league (for the Hams, 2008), his best season outperformed Onuma’s best season in 2009.

    A Baystars fan told me that Onuma might eat more innings… as a reliever! That wasn’t even a joke. It was an honest group-think aligned with the club management: We might as well give away more potentials for a poorer performance so in more losing games, our long-man can eat more innings. (Not that Onuma has proven himself durable for that cause, either…)

    I seriously hope NPB simply give up Yokohama and create a new team with those talents from the BCJ or IKIL or whatever independent leagues they got… Pathetic!

  15. Patrick
    25/01/2011 at 7:32 pm Permalink

    Fascinating sideline on this article at the end about the sheer lack of everyday regular players in NPB (maybe partly due to twitchy managers), so that even .650 OPS of Hichori and Watanabe add value to Yokohama by introducing steady bats and gloves into the lineup. (Hmm.. even at .650? I’m still somewhat skeptical.)

  16. Patrick
    25/01/2011 at 11:25 pm Permalink

    Well, Hichori and Watanabe are going to be a big drop off at the plate from Uchi and Castillo, respectively. Watanabe might make up for it with his glove, but I don’t think Hichori will. The core of Yokohama’s lineup was actually okay last year, they just had too many blackholes in the lineup.