Ask Away, All Questions Answered

» 01 December 2011 » In mlb, mlb prospects, nichibei, npb, NPB Tracker »

Alright, so time constraints prevent me from writing as much as I used to, but the hot stove season remains the busiest time of year for NPB Tracker.

If you’ve got questions about this offseason, fire away, and I’ll do my best to answer ’em. Mileage may vary.

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  1. Patrick
    Bobby Leath
    01/12/2011 at 4:10 pm Permalink

    Hi NPB Tracker,

    I’ll be in Japan from March 21-April 4th. Tokyo until the 27th and then Okinawa the rest of the time. Any chance I’ll be able to catch a game or some spring training during that time period?



  2. Patrick
    01/12/2011 at 4:16 pm Permalink

    Bobby Leath — the 2012 schedule hasn’t been published yet but there is a very good chance that there will be regular season (or late spring exhibition) baseball to enjoy between March 21-27. Yes it has, please see Deanna’s comment:
    Spring camps will have left Okinawa by the time you’re there. Enjoy your trip to Japan!

  3. Patrick
    01/12/2011 at 4:23 pm Permalink

    realistic scenario for nakajima in mlb – .330 woba, average to below average defense at short?

  4. Patrick
    01/12/2011 at 5:14 pm Permalink

    candyforstalin — I’m not totally fluent in wOBA, despite my fangraphs association. What does that work out to? Slightly above average bat, below average glove? It depends on where he lands, but I’ve become a bit bearish on him. He won’t be the rangiest SS, and his line-driviness will have to translate.

  5. Patrick
    Frank in Milwaukee
    01/12/2011 at 5:37 pm Permalink

    .330 wOBA is about what Jimmy Rollins put up this season (2011). Kaz Matsui had a .320 wOBA his first season in MLB.

    How much do you think it will take to win the posting bid for Nakajima, and what is a realistic contract? Are the Brewers a real possibility?

  6. Patrick
    01/12/2011 at 5:44 pm Permalink

    let’s say something like a .285 avg, .340 obp, .400 slg. he had 297/354/433 line in 2011 and the adaptation to the new balls went smoothly. made me believe he could be successful in the transition.

  7. Patrick
    01/12/2011 at 6:28 pm Permalink

    Frank in Milwaukee, candyforstalin — That slash line seems a little bullish but probably doable. Nakaji had a rough start to 2011 but figured things out as the season went on. I would still expect him to regress a little further than that in MLB.

    I think the winning posting fee will be in the $5m-7m range. I guess $4m for Nishioka and $10m for Iwakuma last year, and was under on both.

  8. Patrick
    01/12/2011 at 7:04 pm Permalink

    thanks for the info. appreciated.

  9. Patrick
    01/12/2011 at 7:46 pm Permalink

    Scott Mathieson of the Phillies organization just signed with Yomiuri. Reports say he’ll close and make about 2mill USD. He’s a hard thrower but at 27 is an obvious “quad-A” player and the Phillies granted him his release specificly so he could sign with Yomiuri. My question is, how exactly does a player like Mathieson land on an NPB team’s radar? Do they scout guys in their late 20s who just don’t have what it takes to crack an MLB roster? Are the NPB scouts on the minor league beat? Or is it mostly guys like Scott’s agent contacting Japan while his client is still under contract with an MLB organization?

  10. Patrick
    01/12/2011 at 8:11 pm Permalink

    Aww, Munerin wants to play with Ichiro

    Minor league contract?

  11. Patrick
    01/12/2011 at 9:01 pm Permalink

    I do not live in Japan and thus only have his stats to go by. How did Yuki Saito REALLY do this season, in your opinion? Was he worth at least some of the hype? Do you think he can truly be an ace on the staff someday?

    What are your thoughts regarding the whole Tomoyuki Sugano thing? His rejection made me kind of angry, which is understandable for a Fighters fan I guess.

  12. Patrick
    01/12/2011 at 9:15 pm Permalink

    gobaystars — yep, I believe every NPB team now has a full time scout in North America. Chunichi has Domingo Martinez in the Dominican but I don’t know if he’s full time. In Yomiuri’s case, Nathan Minchey would have seen him and I guess given a thumbs up. Agents/players will go after NPB contracts, but I have no idea if that’s what Mathieson did. Mike Hessman, for example, tried to get a gig in Japan for years before finally catching on with Orix. There are many, many more guys that want to play in Japan than actually get to.

  13. Patrick
    01/12/2011 at 9:16 pm Permalink

    Simon — yeah, I say MiLB deal for Mune-rin. His arm is not good enough to start at SS in MLB and his bat won’t carry him. I like him as a utility guy.

  14. Patrick
    01/12/2011 at 9:25 pm Permalink

    Chris — Yuki Saito for me is not a future ace. Admittedly I only saw him once this year and a couple of times when he was in college, but he’s undersized and doesn’t really have a standout skill (this is what I look for I suppose if he develops really pinpoint control he could get there, but I think his future is more in the middle of Nippon Ham’s rotation.

  15. Patrick
    Stuart (HeHitsItDeeeeep)
    01/12/2011 at 10:09 pm Permalink

    Hey Patrick,

    More than one question since you’ve left the door open. I’ll try to keep it short:

    Probably the question you get the most from everyone: do you expect Darvish to get posted this off-season?

    Your pick for the Japanese player not named “Yu” that comes over that has the best season for a team and your pick for a guy that looks like he’ll post that will probably see the game too quickly for him at the big league level?

    With the Dodgers blowing their money on weak-hitting infielders do you see Kuroda coming back home as some have speculated?

    Thanks for always taking the time,

  16. Patrick
    01/12/2011 at 10:47 pm Permalink

    Stuart (HeHitsItDeeeeep) —

    > Probably the question you get the most from everyone: do you expect Darvish > to get posted this off-season?

    I can’t say that I EXPECT it. I think there is a very good chance it could happen, but I don’t think I’ll be surprised either way at this point. I think we will find out Darvish’s intentions soon, like in the next few days.

    More background here:

    > Your pick for the Japanese player not named “Yu” that comes over that has the > best season for a team and your pick for a guy that looks like he’ll post that will > probably see the game too quickly for him at the big league level?

    If Iwakuma is healthy I think he’ll be solid. Wei Yin Chen has a good arm and could improve with good coaching and training.

    I think Aoki could struggle. I hope not, but I could see that.

    > With the Dodgers blowing their money on weak-hitting infielders do you see Kuroda coming back home as some have speculated?

    I think he’ll stay in MLB.

  17. Patrick
    01/12/2011 at 11:27 pm Permalink

    I read somewhere that teams are lining up for Chen Wei-Yin,
    but I don’t think his style (he’s a fastball pitcher) translate well into MLB (ex. Kei Igawa, Ryota Igarashi). I like Chen, but how will he do in MLB?

  18. Patrick
    01/12/2011 at 11:54 pm Permalink

    Thanks for answering questions!

    The posting deadline for Nakajima is apparently Friday at 4pm CST; I can’t remember from previous years, do we find out who won right after that or is it a black box that doesn’t get revealed for a while? Obviously an actual deal will take a while to get negotiated either way.

  19. Patrick
    02/12/2011 at 1:23 am Permalink

    Actually, to the first poster in this thread Bobby, the NPB schedules for 2012 have been out for a week or two now.
    Central League:
    Pacific League:

    Unfortunately, as you can see, the season begins on March 30th.

    “Open-sen”, or preseason, does usually go until around the weekend before pro games start, but that schedule won’t be released until late January, most likely. Also, there’s ni-gun minor-league games going on around Tokyo as well, and they tend to start a week before the ichi-gun games start, so you may be able to catch one of them. (But their schedule also hasn’t been decided yet.)

    (Not chiming in on Yuki Saitoh because it’s a bad idea for me to.)

  20. Patrick
    Michael Westbay
    02/12/2011 at 7:39 am Permalink


    The schedule has come out (dates only, no starting times). The season starts on March 30 for both leagues, so it looks like you’ll miss the start of the season.

    The pre-season schedule has not yet been released, but the teams usually take the week (week days) before the start of the season off, so there may be something going on in the Tokyo area on the 24th and 25th (final weekend before the start of the season). Pre-season games will hopefully be announced soon.

  21. Patrick
    Michael Westbay
    02/12/2011 at 7:40 am Permalink

    Forgot to link to the schedules [in Japanese only for now].

  22. Patrick
    02/12/2011 at 7:56 am Permalink

    popslam — Chen is younger than Igawa and Igarashi were when they moved to MLB, and has more upside. He also has better command and secondary stuff than Igarashi. Also I don’t know if Igawa is necessarily a good comp for Chen because I think his issues have been mostly psychological in MLB. There are still legitimate question marks (mainly his velocity dip) about Chen, but he does warrant consideration as a prospect.

  23. Patrick
    02/12/2011 at 7:57 am Permalink

    six — Seibu (Nakajima’s team) will be informed of the winning bid amount, but not the team, and will get four days to decide if they want to take it. They almost certainly will take whatever amount they get, and I think we’ll know the winning team by Monday.

  24. Patrick
    02/12/2011 at 7:59 am Permalink

    Deanna, Westbaystars-san — thank you for correcting me there. Don’t know what I would do without you guys 🙂

  25. Patrick
    02/12/2011 at 9:18 am Permalink

    I think Igawa was only 26 when he signed with the Yankees. First year with Yankees was 2007, he was 27. Chen is 26 now too. So not sure if there is a much of age difference between the two. Chen has better command of all pitches. Who has more quality secondary is debatable. Chen better command but Igawa was a much better strikeout pitcher. Chen is a free agent so no posting fee needed but velocity has dropped. One important thing that no one has raised is Chen has not been as durable, many nagging injuries over his career–elbow injury that needed surgery, shoulder injury in 2009 (I think? down for one month), leg injury in 2011 (down for more than one month).

    Chen pitched 114.2, 164, 188, 164.2 innings over the past 4 seasons.

    Igawa pitched 192, 209.6, 206, 200.3, 172.1, 209 innings over the past 6 seasons.

    Based on the above information, it appears Igawa was far more durable than Chen, which can be important as in America, it is 5 day rotation but in NPB, it is 6-7 day rotation plus less travelling, shorter season.

  26. Patrick
    02/12/2011 at 9:25 am Permalink

    Peter — right, didn’t realize it had been that long for Igawa. So point taken, age difference is tenuous/non-existant. I also meant that Chen’s secondary stuff is better than Igarashi’s not necessarily Igawa. Igawa’s best pitch, even in Japan, was always his changeup.

    The durability thing can go either way. Chen was a reliever for part of that season where he threw 114.2 IP.

    I have notes on Chen here:

    Overall Chen feels more like a work in progress than Igawa did a few years ago, despite his excellent success.

  27. Patrick
    02/12/2011 at 10:54 am Permalink

    My fault about command comparison. You were comparing command of Chen vs. Igarashi.

    NPB hitters I consider were better (2 Matsui, Fukudome, Ichiro, etc) during the period of time when Igawa played in NPB than the past years Chen has played in NPB.

  28. Patrick
    02/12/2011 at 11:06 am Permalink

    Peter —

    NPB hitters I consider were better (2 Matsui, Fukudome, Ichiro, etc) during the period of time when Igawa played in NPB than the past years Chen has played in NPB.

    Yes and no. Igawa would have faced Fukudome quite a bit, but H Matsui was gone after 2002, which was really Igawa’s breakout year. Ichiro left after 2000 before Igawa emerged, and played in the other league. So did Johjima, Iguchi, K Matsui, Tuffy Rhodes, Alex Cabrera, etc. Also Igawa’s Hanshin teams had some of the league’s better lineups, and he obviously didn’t face his teammates. Offense was better overall back then though.

  29. Patrick
    Thomas Dubberke
    02/12/2011 at 6:19 pm Permalink

    The Softbank Hawks have announced the signing of Wily Mo Pena to a two year deal. Does anyone know what the terms of the contract are? The rumors are a total of $5 million plus incentives. Is this accurate? Are the two years guaranteed for all or any portion of the two years?

    This sounds like a lot of money for a NPB team to lay out for a foreign player who hasn’t proven he can make the adjustment to NPB.

  30. Patrick
    02/12/2011 at 7:26 pm Permalink

    Thomas Dubberke — Sponichi says it’s a two-year deal, with a total of JPY 280 guaranteed plus incentives. That works out to about $3.5m, so I guess the other $1.5 would be in incentives. That’s definitely on the high side even if it’s not $5m. Wily Mo’s representation did a great job for him.

  31. Patrick
    02/12/2011 at 11:41 pm Permalink

    Why MLB teams didn’t try harder to sign Matt Murton? Is it because of his poor defense? or is it because he’s the Tim Tebow of baseball?

  32. Patrick
    03/12/2011 at 12:57 am Permalink

    popslam — I don’t really know how much interest Murton drew from MLB clubs, but he was a bit of a groundball machine in 2011. A better line drive rate would have probably served him well.

  33. Patrick
    03/12/2011 at 4:32 am Permalink

    Hi Patrick. Thanx for answering questions,

    What is the best source in English for Japanese player stats that includes stats for 2011?

  34. Patrick
    03/12/2011 at 8:46 am Permalink

    rhdorsey — No problem. NPB’s official site has all the stats in English:

  35. Patrick
    04/12/2011 at 8:04 pm Permalink

    Softbank’s 5mil seems to be well spent in contrast to Orix. I think Orix is spending the same amount (or more) on getting Dae-ho Lee from KBO.

    At least there are no doubts about Wily Mo’s power tool (which I give is of extreme importance if the no-fly ball will still be in play next year). For Dae-ho, I personally think his power tool is way overrated despite what Koreans may have to say.

    Of course, Orix is considering marketing expenses and all so their burning of cash is probably on somewhat different terms…