Tag Archive > Alex Graman

Offseason Changes: Saitama Seibu Lions

» 21 February 2011 » In npb » 2 Comments

Coming: Yataro Sakamoto

Going: Toru Hosokawa, Koji Ohnuma, Kimiyasu Kudoh, Kenta Matsuzaka, Yoshihiro Doi, Shinji Taninaka

Staying: Hiroyuki Nakajima, Jose Fernandez, Dee Brown, Brian Sikorski, Alex Graman

Summary: This series is titled “Offseason Chages”, but the Lions haven’t given me much to write about. Seibu let defensively-minded catcher Toru Hosokawa take his .191 batting average south to Fukuoka, and will let Ginjiro Sumitani and Tatsuyuki Uemoto carry the load. They also swapped righty relievers with Yokohama, picking up Yataro Sakamoto. Beyond that, the Lions replaced some bit players with 2010 draftees.

The real keys Seibu’s offseason are in the players who will be returning. Denying Hiroyuki Nakajima’s repeated posting requests is addition by not subtracting. The rest is mostly addition by health. Slugger Takeya “Okawari-kun” Nakamura was never really healthy last year, but still popped 25 home runs. #2 starter Takayuki Kishi missed all of July and August last year. The low-profile but highly-productive bat of mid-season signing Jose Fernandez will be available from opening day. 2011 Sophomore Yusei Kikuchi lost a year of development, making only two ni-gun appearances . And even Alex Graman, who was lights-out as a reliever but has been shelved for two years, is back. Obviously some of those guys are going to contribute more than others, but healthy seasons from Kishi and Okawari-kun alone would add a couple wins to the bottom line.

The underlying fact is that this is a talented group that didn’t need much tweaking to remain competitive in 2011. The Lions took a magic number of four into the last week of the 2010 season, and won more games than anyone else in the Pacific League; if they had managed just one more tie, they would have taken first place. Just three games separated the first and fourth teams in the PL last year, and I expect things to be similarly tight this season.

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More Signings: McCrory, Vechionacci, Sikorski, Graman

» 27 December 2010 » In nichibei, npb » 3 Comments

A couple more signings to pass along tonight. All source content is in Japanese.

  • The Chiba Lotte Marines have announced the signing of Orioles farmhand Bob McCrory. McCrory is expected to help fill the void left by departing closer Hiroyuki Kobayashi. He was quoted as saying, “for my style, I feel that I’m the type that attacks batters with a fastball and a good sinker. I will do my best to show all the Marines fans my best performance.” McCrory has done a good job limiting home runs in the minors, which backs up his climb of having a good sinker.
  • The ink is dry on Marcos Vechionacci’s ikusei deal with Hanshin. Vechionacci gets a 6m yen signing bonus, a 4m yen salary, and number 128.
  • Seibu is bringing both Brian Sikorski and Alex Graman back for 2011. Sikorski gets 90m yen for 2011, while Graman will be paid 50m yen.

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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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Seibu After Bayliss

» 22 July 2009 » In nichibei, npb » Comments Off

Nikkan Sports has a report saying that the Seibu Lions are aiming to acquire Toronto Blue Jays AAA righty Jonah Bayliss. According to the report, Seibu has a team representative in the US making progress with negotiations. Bayliss, 28, has an ugly 6.75 era in 64 MLB innings, but has also 54 MLB strikeouts. In 200.2 career AAA innings, he’s racked up 186 k’s to go with 87 walks and a 4.00 era.

The Lions have been looking for bullpen help ever since Alex Graman went down with an arm injury, and has already picked righty Taiyo Fujita from Hanshin.

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Fukumori Likely Headed Back to Japan, Seibu an Option?

» 05 June 2009 » In npb » 4 Comments

Remember Kazuo Fukumori? Kinda? The other day I stumbled across a Chunichi report on his whereabouts from a couple weeks ago.

The inconsistent righty has failed to make much of an impression with Texas, and according to the report, now the Rangers are looking to send him back to Japan. Texas GM Jon Daniels was quoted as saying “we’d like to transfer Fukumori’s rights to a Japanese club. We’ve already communicated the direction we’re taking to Fukumori through his agent”. Daniels reportedly shopped him to other MLB teams but couldn’t find any takers. I don’t think he’ll have much better luck from NPB teams unless Fukumori can prove he’s healthy.

According to the same report, Fukumori is training in Arizona. He’s coming back from a herniated disk that he had operated on last autumn. 

In other news, Seibu is looking for bullpen help with closer Alex Graman on the shelf. They’ve been looking at US minor leaguers and are sending someone to Korea this month to look at prospects. I suppose Fukumori could be a fit if he’s healthy.

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New Imports: Hanshin, Seibu

» 22 May 2009 » In nichibei, npb » 2 Comments

It’s being widely reported that Hanshin is ready to negotiate with/sign former Seibu Lion Craig Brazell. Brazell hit .234 with 27 homers and 87 rbis. He’s currently playing with the St. Paul Saints of the Northern League. Honestly this comes across as a knee-jerk reaction.

Rakuten manager Katsuya Nomura seems to agree. “Hanshin is really bad at acquiring foreign players,” he said, before adding, “they’re in 5th place and six games under .500? That sucks. When I was there, the media would start with the “quit, quit” articles. Don’t just do that to me, do that to (Hanshin manager Akinobu) Mayumi too”.

Meanwhile, Seibu is also looking to add an import, due the loss of Brazell and now the shoulder injury of relief ace Alex Graman. Graman is hoping to return before the second half of the season, but surgey hasn’t been ruled out as a possibility. Team president Maeda was quoted as saying “it’s not just hitter, we’re looking into pitching too”.

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Offseason Changes: Saitama Seibu Lions

» 01 February 2009 » In npb » 3 Comments

Over the next couple weeks, I’ll be taking a look at player personnel moves made by each NPB this offseason. This series will not cover draftees or impact rookies, only additions and losses of experienced players. The focus will be on foreign players, but notable Japanese players will be included as well.

Coming: John Wasdin, Takayuki Shimizu

Going: Craig Brazell, Matt Kinney

Staying: Hiram Bocachica, Alex Graman, Koji Mitsui

Trending: neutral

Synopsis: very little change for the defending Japan Champions. It was a little bit of a surprise to see Brazell go after hitting 27 homers, but he did have a weak OBP. Shimizu arrives from Yomiuri for cash and should provide some bench/DH depth.

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Possible MLB Returnees

» 13 January 2009 » In nichibei, npb » 4 Comments

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked on NY Baseball Digest Radio if there were any foreign players in Japan who could potentially make an MLB comeback, a la Cecil Fielder. I drew a blank. Given a little time to think it over though, I came up with a couple of candidates:

  • Colby Lewis, SP, Hiroshima Carp: took over for Hiroki Kuroda as Hiroshima’s ace, going 15-8 with a 2.68 era in 2008. Under contract for 2009.
  • Alex Graman, RP, Saitama Seibu Lions: former Yankee has been lights-out since the Lions put him in the bullpen. Under contract for 2009.
  • Craig Brazell, 1B, former Saitama Seibu Lions: cut loose after one year with the Lions, Brazell struck out too much in Japan and had a poor on-base performance, but did slug 27 home runs. I can see him playing AAA this year in an org that’s thin at 1b, and getting a shot if he performs well.
  • Tyrone Woods, 1B, former Chunichi Dragons: cut loose after the ’08 season, coming off six consecutive 35+ HR seasons. He’s a real longshot to play in MLB in 2009, given that he’s 40 and plenty of MLB veterans are out of work this offseason, but then again Daryle Ward spent all of 2008 on the roster of a team that won 97 games.

Though not to the extent of Fielder, Hector Carrasco, Lee Stevens, and Darrell May are a couple examples of guys who enjoyed some big league success after playing in Japan. Fielder’s 1991 Detroit Tigers teammate Bill Gullickson played two seasons with the Yomiuri Giants, where he became good friends with feature major leaguer Masumi Kuwata. They were so close, in fact, that Gullickson gave one of his children the middle name “Kuwata”. 

 


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NPB Bullet Points (2008/12/21)

» 21 December 2008 » In npb » 1 Comment

Time to revive this series… Japanese articles only today

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NPB Bullet Points: Japan Series Edition

» 09 November 2008 » In npb » 1 Comment

Seibu wins! The Lions overcame two shakey innings from veteran starter Fumiya Nishiguchi take game 7 3-2, and the series 4-3. Nishiguchi struggled this year with injuries and ineffectiveness, and starting him was a risky call, but he at least gave the Lions two innings without letting the game get out of hand. This set up the Lions to use Kazuhisa Ishii, Hideaki Wakui, and Alex Graman for two innings each, which was enough to shut down the Giants the rest of the way.

On the Giants side, Koji Uehara didn’t manage to make a farewell appearance, meaning his Yomiuri career has likely ended with his disappointing game 5 performance.

Three of the four competitors in the upcoming Asia Series will be nicknamed Lions, with only Korea’s Samsung failing to make the cut. There will still be three Lions competing for the Konami Cup though, giving the series an Anglophile feel.

All of the above links are to English content, with the exception of the photos published at Sanspo.

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