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2009 Foreign Player Rundown

» 11 November 2009 » In npb » 7 Comments

By my count, there were 78 foreign players (including ikusei players) under contract to NPB teams in 2009. Some of them will be back for 2010, others will not. So far, I’ve counted 18 players that will remain with their teams for next year, 36 that are leaving, and 24 that we’re still waiting to hear on.

Despite my best efforts, there is a reasonable probability that I left someone out or have an out-of-date detail. If you spot something of that nature, please leave a comment. On with the show…

Yomiuri

  • Staying: Dicky Gonzales, Wirfin Obispo, Levi Romero, Alex Ramirez, Seung-Yeop Lee, Marc Kroon
  • Gone: Adrian Burnside, Edgardo Alfonzo
  • Unknown: Seth Greisinger, Yi-Hao Lin, Yi-Fan Lee

Ramirez no longer counts against the foreign player limit, which gives the Giants a little extra flexibility. He’s already re-signed on a two-year deal. You have to figure that Obispo and Gonzales will be back, which would only leave two ichi-gun rosters spots available. I would guess that Kroon is more likely to return than Greisinger, and Lee is on his way out. Kroon will have his option picked up, while Lee’s contract doesn’t expire until next season. Greisinger didn’t appear in the Japan Series and it’s possible that he won’t be back. The Giants don’t need much this off season, though we’ll probably see them go after some depth guys.

Chunichi

  • Staying: Wei-Yin Chen, Tony Blanco, Nelson Payano, Maximo Nelson
  • Gone: Tomas de la Rosa, Byung-Gyu Lee
  • Unknown:

Chunichi got outstanding production out Chen and Blanco, and Blanco has already received a new two-year deal. Lee will likely head back to Korea, while de la Rosa will remain with the team in a scouting/advisory capacitiy. Chunichi has been scouting the Dominican and will probably sign some interesting Latin American prospects this winter.

Yakult

  • Staying: Chang Yong Lim
  • Gone: Ricky Barrett
  • Unknown: Hei Chun Lee, Jaime D’Antona, Aaron Guiel

Hanshin

  • Staying: Kai-Wang Cheng
  • Gone: Scott Atchison, Jeff Williams, Kevin Mench, Chris Resop, Aarom Baldiris
  • Unknown: Craig Brazell

Out of this group, only Brazell really contributed anything, and he wants to come back. Hanshin’s search for pitching has already been well-documented, with the Tigers looking to import a starter and two relievers. Hanshin may also try to bring a power-hitting rightfielder to Kansai as well, even if Brazell sticks around.

Hiroshima

  • Staying: Dioni Soriano
  • Gone: Scott Dohmann, Ben Kozlowski, Scott Seabol
  • Unknown: Scott McClain, Colby Lewis, Mike Schultz, Andy Phillips

Hiroshima would like to keep Lewis and Schultz around, but may not be able to, and if the Carp don’t keep Phillips they will have to find a bat to replace him. Hiroshima desperately needs lefthanded pitching, as well. I’m assuming Soriano, who is an ikusei player from the Carp’s Dominican Academy, will get a full year to prove himself.

Yokohama

  • Staying: Stephen Randolph
  • Gone: Tom Mastny, Les Walrond, Dan Johnson, Ryan Glynn
  • Unknown: Wei Chen, Jin Chao Wang

Yokohama is again going to need pitching help, though Randolph’s late-season performance was encouraging. The ‘Stars wave goodbye the rest of this group, though Johnson actually had a decent year aside from a poor batting average, and Walrond looked like he had good enough stuff to last in Japan to me.

Nippon Ham

  • Staying:
  • Gone: Ryan Wing, Luis Jimenez, Jason Botts, Brian Sweeney, Termel Sledge
  • Unknown:

This year’s Pacific League champion didn’t get much production from its foreign lineup outside of Sledge, so it’s no surprise to see this group go. Nippon Ham apparently wanted to keep Sledge, but were too far apart in negotations. They’ll have to find a way to replace his bat in the lineup, and I would expect them to look for pitching depth as well.

Rakuten

  • Staying:
  • Gone: Matt Childers
  • Unknown: Darrell Rasner, Marcus Gwyn, Fernando Seguignol, Todd Linden, Rick Short, On-Yu Lin

Rasner is already under contract for next year, so he’ll be on the payroll but possibly not the roster. Childers is gone after just three appearances with Rakuten’s top team. The rest of the foreign staff had performance issues — Gwyn’s era was pedestrian, Shorts average fell off after years of solid performance, Seguignol looked more like the Orix Seguignol than the Nippon Ham Seguignol, and Linden struck out about one out of every three times to the plate(!). So I could see new manager Marty Brown turning over this whole group. Rakuten could use bullpen help and a big bat to play an infield or outfield corner.

SoftBank

  • Staying: Jose Ortiz, DJ Houlton, Brian Falkenborg, Justin Germano
  • Gone: Kameron Loe, Chris Aguila
  • Unknown: Andrew Touisant

SoftBank got strong contributions from Ortiz, Houlton and Falkenborg, and can reasonably expect more of the same next season. Sadaharu Oh is said to be looking for one more power hitter, to complement Ortiz and supplant aging sluggers Hiroki Kokubo and Nobuhiko Matsunaka. I would expect them to grab a couple of ptichers for depth as well.

Seibu

  • Staying: Min-Che Hsu
  • Gone: Jonah Bayliss, John Wasdin, Hiram Bocachica
  • Unknown: Alex Graman

I’m just taking for granted that Hsu will hang around. He should be shedding his foreign player status one of these years anyway. Graman is probably gone, though he was lights-out in the bullpen when healthy, and I could see him getting another shot. Bayliss was okay for Seibu, so I was a little surprised to see him let go. Seibu will be looking for bullpen help and perhaps a first baseman this offseason. Pete LaForest had been in Seibu’s autumn camp but went home with an injury.

Chiba Lotte

  • Staying
  • Gone: Benny Agbayani, Chase Lambin, Gary Burnham
  • Unknown: Brian Sikorski, Juan Muniz

Agbayani departs after six years in Japan, and I would guess that he’ll retire to a life of scouting. I’ve read that Lotte might offer Sikorski a big pay cut, and thus risk losing him. I don’t expect Lambin or Burnham to be back, though I haven’t seen anything official. Lambin and Burnham won’t be back. Lotte will need a corner infield and outfield bats, and a pitcher or two to round things out.

Orix

  • Staying: Tuffy Rhodes
  • Gone:
  • Unknown: Jon Leicester, Alex Cabrera, Jose Fernandez, Greg LaRocca, Ryan Vogelsong

Rhodes and Cabrera both qualify as native players, so Orix could potentially carry up to six ‘foreign’ players on its active roster. Rhodes will be back, and the Buffaloes are supposedly adding a coaching title to his resume. I think Cabrera will make it back as well. There was speculation on Fernandez when he got hurt was that Orix probably wouldn’t bring him back, but that remains to be seen. I’m guessing Leicester and Vogelsong will be out as well. SoftBank has indicated an interest in LaRocca should he not get another year with Orix.

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Hanshin to Import Pitchers

» 03 November 2009 » In nichibei, npb » 2 Comments

Sanspo is reporting on Hanshin’s import pitching shopping list, and is naming names. Tigers manager Akinobu Mayumi says that Hanshin is after two middle relievers and one starter, to fill in for the departing Scott Atchison and Jeff Williams.

The names we have are:

  • Adrian Burnside (recently released by Yomiuri)
  • Brad Thomas (two-year Japan veteran, had been in Korea)
  • Jo Jo Reyes (Atlanta Braves)
  • Wil Ledezma (Washington Nationals)
  • Juan Morillo (Minnesota Twins)
  • Bob Keppel (Minnesota Twins)

Burnside didn’t appear at all with Yomiuri’s top team this year, so you’d have to figure he’d be a low-risk, low-investment type of signing. Thomas probably fits into the same category.

Reyes is an interesting name. He’s still pretty young, and I had the impression that he was a decent prospect for the Braves at one point. Morillo, as I recall from his time with the Rockies, is a hard thrower with bad command. I don’t know much about the other guys.

Two guys I’d like to see get a shot in Japan, with Hanshin or elsewhere, are Lenny DiNardo and Bobby Korecky. I couldn’t understand why DiNardo didn’t get more of a look in Oakland, when I saw him I thought he could contribute in the bigs (though I didn’t realize he had such a troubling k/bb rate). And Korecky is a guy who I haven’t seen, but has performed consistently well in the minors but never gotten a real shot to last in MLB.

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A Look at Yomiuri’s Import Roster

» 11 July 2009 » In npb » Comments Off

The Yomiuri Giants have had an interesting collection of foreign players on their roster this year. Let’s take a look at them:

Alex Ramirez (OF, Venezuela) Ramirez is in his ninth season, and has accrued enough NPB service time to no longer count against the foreign player limit. Only a few guys have last this long, Tuffy Rhodes being another. Ramirez is having another productive season with a .303 average and 55 rbi, but his numbers aren’t as eye-popping as they were during his MVP season last year. The Giants have taken advantage of his new non-foreign player status by keeping additional import players on the roster.

Seung-Yeop Lee (1B, Korea) Perhaps Korea’s most accomplished hitter, Lee is in the fourth and final year of his contract with the Kyojin-gun. He was dynamite in his first year with the Giants, hitting .323 with 41 home runs, but in the subsequent two years we’ve seen him slip to .274 and 30 and then .248 and 8. Lee’s power has recovered a bit this season, as he has 17 homers through July 11, and though his batting average is still sub-par at .240, he has a respectable .848 ops.

Edgardo Alfonzo (IF, Venezuela) The Giants went to the scrap heap with Alfonzo, and though he made the team out of spring training, he failed to impress in a limited look during the season, hitting just .118 in 38 at-bats. Alfonzo has been with the Giants’ farm team, where he hasn’t played much. There is occasionally news about him practicing with the top team, but I figure it’ll take an injury for him to get another look at this point.

Seth Greisinger (SP, United States) The veteran American lead the Central League in wins the last two seasons, and was rewarded with an opening day start this year. Greisinger hasn’t been quite as good this year as he had been previously, but he’s still one of Japan’s top innings eaters with a 3.66 era through 103 innings pitched so far this year.

Marc Kroon (RP, United States) The Giants poached Kroon from Yokohama prior to last season, and it paid off as he set a new personal best with 41 saves. Note the trend here — Ramirez, Lee, Greisinger and Kroon were all signed after having success with other NPB teams. Kroon has dealt with injury problems this year, but has been solid in limited action with a 1.12 era.

Dicky Gonzalez (SP, Puerto Rico) Gonzales is another guy with previous NPB experience, haven’t spent a few years with Yakult, being a Tommy John veteran coming off a mediocre season, he was more of a reclaimation project coming in this season. Suffice to say that he’s exceeded expectations with an 8-1 record and 2.31 era through 11 starts. He’s gotten by with supreme control, striking out 48 against just six walks. Gonzalez also took the monthly top pitcher award for May.

Wirfin Obispo (SP/RP, Dominican Republic) Obispo has been a small triumph for player development. He came to Japan as an ikusei player, prior to the 2007 season at the age of 23 without significant professional experience. Obispo spent 2007 and 2008 working on his game with the farm team, and was given a chance to pitch at the top level with Kroon down with a hand injury. Obispo has impressed in his recent starts, which will give the Giants something to think about when Kroon comes back.

Adrian Burnside (SP, Australia) After putting up a respectable 3.48 era in 75 innings for the Giants last year, Burnside is buried on the Giants’ farm team, where he’s only made eight appearances.

Levi Romero (RP, Venezuela) Former Houston and Texas farmhand Romero joined the Giants this spring as an ikusei player, and has been promoted to the regular roster, which means he’ll be around until the end of the year. I doubt we’ll see him with the top team this year, but the Giants like his velocity and he’ll get a chance to continue working on his game in Japan.

Lin Yi-Hau (P, Taiwan) and Lee Yi-Fong (P, Taiwan) I have no idea if I’m romanizing these names correctly, but Lee and Lin are a couple of teenagers who signed with the Giants as 15 year-olds. Lin, 18, has made one appearance for the farm team this year, allowing two earned runs in two innings. Lee is still just 16 years old, and doesn’t have any stats I can find.

So we have a tenured NPB veteran, one of Korea’s all-time great hitters, a former MLB all-star on his last legs, a couple of dependable American veterans, a surprising reclamation project, two Latin American development projects, two Taiwanese teenagers, and an Australian lost in the shuffle. Interesting group of guys.

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