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Darvish’s Japanese Press Conference

» 09 February 2012 » In mlb, mlb prospects, nichibei » Comments Off

Yu Darvish’s farewell press conference took place about two weeks ago. I really wanted to translate this while it was still fresh, but I didn’t manage to find the time or motivation until today. It’s been long enough that the link that I got this text from is expired. It looks like Nikkan Sports has a better transcription, but we’ll go with this for now.

So, here we have it, my unofficial translation of Darvish’s farewell press conference. The original Japanese text follows below.

–the reason he decided to move to MLB

 

“The number one reason was that before games, I would hear from my opponents ‘don’t throw that pitch’, ‘I can’t hit that’, and eventually the thought that ‘I’m not having fair matchups’ stuck. The environment in Japan suits me the best. I was really torn about it, but I felt that I had to move to play baseball at a higher level.”

 

–his goal

 

“I want to become a pitcher that anyone in the world can call number one.”

 

–his impression of the Rangers

 

“Starting with the front office, the manager and players, and the fans are all tremendous warm, and I think it’s a team that resembles Nippon Ham.”

 

–on his enthusiasm for the Rangers’ drive to another World Series appearance

 

“I don’t know how the games progress in the Majors, so I can’t just say we’ll win, but if I do what I have to do and put up my best results, I’ll be happy.”

 

–message to the (Nippon Ham) fans

 

“When I joined the team in 2005, I immediately did that thing (the underaged smoking incident during his camp in his rookie season) but the fans welcomed m warmly, and I renewed my efforts. I’m grateful to have had your constant support for seven years. If it wasn’t for everyone I wouldn’t be here today. I’ll never forget these seven years, and do my best, and I’ll be happy if I can come back here in the end.”

And here’s the original text, in case I made any translation mistakes.

--メジャー挑戦を決めた理由は。

◆一番の要因は、相手から試合前に「この球投げないでよ」「もう打てない」と聞いて、だんだん「フェアな対戦をしていないのではないか」と引っかかった。日本の環境は一番合ってる。だいぶ悩んだが、野球をやる上で場所は変えなきゃいけないと思った。

--目指す投手は。

◆世界中の誰もにナンバーワンと言ってもらえる投手になりたい。

--レンジャーズの印象は。

◆フロントの方をはじめ、監督や選手、ファンの方々もすごく温かくて、日本ハムに似ているチームだと思った。

--悲願のワールドシリーズ制覇への意気込みは。

◆メジャーの試合がどう進んでいくかもわからないので簡単に優勝とは言えないが、やることをやって一番いい結果になればうれしい。

--ファンにメッセージは。

◆2005年に入団して、いきなりやっちゃいまして(1年目のキャンプで未成年ながら喫煙が発覚)、温かく迎えてくれたことで頑張りに変えられた。7年間、支えられっぱなしでありがたい限り。皆さんがいなければ今日僕はここにいない。この7年間を忘れず頑張って、最終的にここに戻って来られたらうれしい。

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No News for Nippon Ham

» 16 January 2012 » In mlb prospects » Comments Off

Nippon Ham hasn’t heard anything from Yu Darvish. Team representative Toshimasa Shimada, commenting in Sponichi, said “we haven’t any contact from Darvish yet,” followed by “we’ll probably find out from [the] America[n media].” Team general director Hiroshi Yoshimura added, “we’re keeping in touch with NPB.”

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Attanasio on Aoki

» 14 January 2012 » In mlb prospects » 1 Comment

Update: Brewers beat writer Tom Haudricourt has more.

Sponichi got Brewers owner Mark Attanasio on the record about Norichika Aoki on January 12. Here’s what Attanasio had to say:

“It certainly wasn’t a tryout. It was an opportunity for our GM and manager to directly see what type of player he is.”

“Defensively he was terrific and he’s a professional with an established track record, so he took it seriously.”*

*Note: translation of a translation.

Sponichi expects the Brewers and Aoki to reach an agreement by the start of the week. The two sides have until the 17th to work out a deal.

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Nakaji Re-signs With Seibu

» 09 January 2012 » In mlb prospects, npb » 1 Comment

Hiroyuki Nakajima has re-signed with the Saitama Seibu Lions, closing out his latest chapter in his posting saga. Nakaji failed to reach terms with the Yankees after they won his rights, and the Lions denied his repeated requests to be posted following the 2010 season.

Nakaji’s contract is for one-year and JPY 280 ($3.64m at the current exchange rate) plus incentives. He doesn’t look unhappy to be returning to the Lions, and is expected to pursue an MLB deal as a free agent following the 2012 season.

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Aoki Works Out For The Brewers

» 08 January 2012 » In mlb prospects, nichibei » Comments Off

Nikkan Sports has reported that Norichika Aoki has completed a workout for the Brewers. The trial lasted for 75 minutes, and included catch, long toss, batting practice and base running. Eight members of the Brewers’ organization, including GM Doug Melvin and field manager Ron Roenicke, were present for the workout. Apparently there were no comments from anyone involved immediately following the workout.

Milwaukee’s negotiating window with Aoki expires on January 17th.

For more on Aoki, check out TokyoSwallows.com‘s excellent English-language write up of his status.

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Top Ten From 2011

» 01 January 2012 » In mlb prospects, nichibei, npb » 2 Comments

I really wanted a list of 11 things, but I could only think of ten things I wanted to include, so here we go… the top ten events from 2011.

10. Hideki Irabu commits suicide

Obviously a very sad event and something I wish didn’t have to be on this list.

9. The Central League MVP award goes to… a setup man

Chunichi’s Takuya Asao, to be specific.

8. Mass departure of veterans to MLB

Yu Darvish, Hisasahi Iwakuma, Tsuyoshi Wada, Wei-Yin Chen, Norichika Aoki, Hiroyuki Nakajima and Munenori Kawasaki are MLB-bound, though only Wada has signed so far. In with the new

7. That whole thing with Yomiuri and former GM Hidetoshi Kiyotake

Shortly after the season, there was a bust-up between (now former) Yomiuri GM Kiyotake and chairman Tsuneo Watanabe, over Watanabe’s meddling in coaching personnel decisions. I didn’t write about this one at all, so I’ll rely on the Japan Times’ run down of it. The row eventually led to Kiyotake’s dismissal, which is a shame because he did a pretty good job with the Giants, setting up an effective development program and poaching mostly the right guys from other NPB teams.

6. Softbank wins its first Japan Series since buying the Hawks from Daiei, immediately suffers pitching exodus

Softbank’s years of consistent competitiveness were finally rewarded with its first Nippon-Ichi since 2003, when the team was still the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks. Then three-fourths of its core rotation hit the road, with Tsuyoshi Wada joining the Orioles and Toshiya Sugiuchi and DJ Houlton departing for Yomiuri.

5. Chunichi dismisses the manager that oversaw the most successful period in team history, Hiromitsu Ochiai

Apparently five Nippon Series appearances in eight years wasn’t good enough. Worst baseball decision in franchise history?

4. The new, standardized NPB ball renders wood cylinders known as baseball bats largely useless

I don’t think I did a post dedicated to the new ball, but it was a big enough story for the NY Times to cover. Six starting pitchers finished with sub-2.00 ERAs, plus Hirokazu Sawamura and Shohei Tateyama right behind at 2.03 and 2.04 respectively.

3. DeNA buys Yokohama, immediately injects some life into the franchise

I haven’t written about DeNA yet, but there is more buzz and excitement around the BayStars now than there has been since the Bobby Rose days. Hopefully it translates into competitive baseball at Yokohama Stadium.

2. Yu Darvish finally moves to MLB via the posting system

He has yet to sign, so it’s not a done deal, but Darvish is certainly the most widely-anticipated Japanese import in MLB history.

1. The Great Tohoku Earthquake

Hopefully this goes without saying, but like the Irabu item, I wish this one wasn’t on the list. While the earthquake was probably the single most devastating event in 2011, it was still only one of many significant events in a turbulent year. I hope 2012 will bring global recovery and a greater level of peace.

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Looking at Aoki’s Case

» 30 December 2011 » In mlb prospects, nichibei, npb » 9 Comments

After a little discussion about Norichika Aoki on an earlier post, I thought I’d break down the speedy outfielder’s case in a little more detail. Here’s what I’ve come up with.

The case for:

  • Was among the best hitters in Japan from 2005-2010, four times hitting .340 or higher (via npb.or.jp/eng)
  • Strong plate discipline mostly survived the new ball
  • Continued to make contact in 2011, career low strikeouts
  • Speed doesn’t slump
  • Rangey in the field, led Japan’s center fielders with a 2.45 range factor in 2011 through July 20 (via Baseball Lab)

The case against:

  • Performance decline in 2011 — from a career-best .358/.435/.509 to a career worst .292/.360/.358 (via Pro Yakyu Data Freak)
  • No power with the new ball; perilous drop from 44 to 18 doubles from 2010 to 2011
  • Weak throwing arm
  • 22.9% of his hits in 2011 were infield singles (according to Pro Yakyu Nuru Data Okiba)
  • In 2011 he hit .382/.452/.520 in 115 plate appearances against Yokohama, padding his stats by bashing Japan’s worst pitching staff (also via Pro Yakyu Nuru Data Okiba)
  • “Aoki’s plate discipline seems to have regressed” — me, August 5, 2011.

I’ve flip-flopped on Aoki as a prospect quite a bit this season, though I haven’t written much. I was extremely bearish early on, and had kind of written him off as a prospect, then I came around a bit to a more glass-half-full view. Now I’m backing off a bit a again. I think the specific numbers that I’ve keyed in on paint a rather negative picture.

I think Aoki has enough transferrable skills to be a useful MLB player, but there some real limitations to his game, most notably his lack of power. I still think my Juan Pierre comparison is not such a bad one, with the caveat that Aoki probably won’t get enough playing time to rack up 200 hits like Pierre was doing in his prime.

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Darvish Reaction

» 19 December 2011 » In mlb prospects, nichibei, npb » 10 Comments

The suspense is finally over, and we know that the rights to negotiate with Yu Darvish are the exclusive property of the Texas Rangers, at least for the next 30 days.

I’m too lazy to actually write a paragraph so here are some thoughts in handy bulleted list format.

  • I’m a little surprised that Texas cracked the Daisuke Matsuzaka line with their $51.7m bid, but not surprised that they only surpassed it by a little. I always found the rationale that “Matsuzaka got $51m, Darvish is better, therefore… $60m for Darvish?” to be simple minded.
  • I think Darvish will sign with the Rangers, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t.
  • One perhaps underrated adjustment for Darvish to make (assuming he signs): the Rangers are two time zones away from the rest of their division. The entire country of Japan fits in one time zone.
  • I wonder if the Fighters will sign a foreign starter to take Darvish’s roster spot. Seibu forgettably signed Jason Johnson to replace Matsuzaka.
  • Nippon Ham’s risky pick of Tomoyuki Sugano, and subsequent failure to sign, in this year’s draft looms a bit here. Having him around would have cushioned the blow of (probably) losing Darvish a bit.

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“No Comment”

» 15 December 2011 » In mlb, mlb prospects, nichibei, npb » 13 Comments

The current phase of the Yu Darvish posting saga has predictability opened with a round of “no comments”. Here’s what Nippon Ham Fighters representative Toshimasa Shimada said to the Japanese media:

“We don’t have anything we can talk about yet. The outlook for a decision? I think we want to make a decision within the extent of the rules”

When asked about what Nippon Ham would base an acceptance on, Shimada reponded,

“Starting now, we’re considering our options, including that.”

And that was all.

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My Prediction (Guess) For Darvish

» 14 December 2011 » In mlb, mlb prospects, nichibei » 11 Comments

Update December 19: Nailed it.

No inside information, no sources, nothing but a pure guess here… I think the two top bids will be the Yankees and the Rangers, with the Rangers coming out ahead.

I thought that MLB clubs would be a little more cautious with Darvish than they were with Daisuke Matsuzaka, but that doesn’t seem to have been the case. The real drama, however, begins next week.

Edit: the Rangers fans on Twitter seem to be enjoying this. Remember, it’s a guess guys.

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