Changes for 2012: Hiroshima Carp

» 28 January 2012 » In npb »

Coming: Kam Mickolio, Nick Stavinoha, Yusuke Nomura (1st round draft pick)

Going: Gio Alvarado, Mike Schultz, Dioni Soriano, Kiyoshi Toyoda, Wilfreiser Guerrero, Masaki Hayashi, Chad Tracy

Staying: Bryan Bullington, Brian Barden, Dennis Sarfate, Kenta Kurihara

The key offseason move for Hiroshima was the one that didn’t happen. For the second straight winter, the Carp failed to lure its former ace, Hiroki Kuroda, back from his successful Major League tenure. Had Kuroda returned, Hiroshima would have opened camp with a good shot at having the best rotation in Japan. Even without Kuroda though, Hiroshima’s rotation has some solid pieces to work with. Kenta Maeda and Bryan Bullington are strong at the top, second-year man Yuya Fukui showed proimsed in 2011, and perhaps rookie Yusuke Nomura and sophmore Kyohei Nakamura will join the mix. Veteran Kan Ohtake showed signs of life toward the end of last season, and 24 year-old lefty Yuki Saito should return from the back injuries that sidelined him for all of 2011. Kuroda would have been a great addition to this group, taking the pressure of the younger guys and the injury returnees.

At the plate, Hiroshima suffered a severe power shortage in 2011, hitting a league-low 52 home runs. To that end if Nick Stavinoha can establish himself and slug .450, it will be a huge addition. The retention of Brian Barden is a sound move, as he hit a respectable .280/.368/.371 over half a season last year. Simply getting a full season out of him at third base, which has been a hole since Takahiro Arai departed, will be a plus and if he can find some pop, all the better. We’ll see about the rest of the lineup once the open-sen season opens.

So while their approach is contingent on the younger players maturing and contributing, Hiroshima seems to be headed in the right direction.

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  1. Patrick
    02/02/2012 at 4:16 am Permalink

    Kuroda was never going to return to Hiroshima – he exercised a get out clause after the first year of his contract with them. Expect Hiroshima to continue contesting the bottom with BayStars

  2. Patrick
    02/02/2012 at 7:52 am Permalink

    A couple things: Did Schultz, Wilfreiser Guerrero, and Soriano end up back in the US, or what? Still can’t for the life of me figure out why they held onto Barden. Also, did Stavinoha decide to go by “Nick?” If so, utterly lame. And, I like the guy. I’ve watched him extensively in both Memphis and St. Louis. A good team guy.

  3. Patrick
    02/02/2012 at 10:11 am Permalink

    Kuroda’s last contract with Hiroshima had an out clause after every year, because his father was sick. After his father died, he exercised the clause and went to LA. Similarly, he’s taken one-year deals each of the last two years, rather than the longer term contracts he’s been offered. If the Yankees win the World Series this year, I think we’ll see him back in Hiroshima.

    Schultz signed with an MLB team, I think Arizona. Guerrero and Soriano haven’t signed anywhere as far as I know. If they didn’t keep Barden, they would have had to sign someone to replace him, and 3B is a tough spot to fill. Hiroshima needs to develop one.

  4. Patrick
    02/02/2012 at 5:07 pm Permalink

    Kuroda was pursued by Tigers when he initially gained free agency but his father (or wife’s father) who was a big Hiroshima fan begged him to stay with the Carp. Kuroda was at that time very dissatisfied with the Carp and particularly their level of play. It was only because his relative was sick that he agreed to stay but included the get out option. This option, incidentally, banned him from going to another NPB team. He stated clearly that he wanted to play on a pennant winning side and Carp’s owner at the time did publicly promise to try and win a pennant. When Carp ended up at the bottom as usual he exercised his option to go to the Majors. His relative had died in the meantime and this was the only thing keeping him with the Carp. Make no mistake Kuroda was very dissatisfied with the Carp by the end of his time there. He grabbed the chance to leave and now his three year contract with the Carp is over is not beholden to them. The extension contract also included a clause that if he did go to the Majors and return early he would only go to the Carp. I don’t think he’ll return to the Carp unless absolutely forced to.