Tag Archive > Alex Ramirez

Changes for 2012: Yomiuri Giants

» 06 February 2012 » In npb » 5 Comments

Coming: Toshiya Sugiuchi, DJ Houlton, Shuichi Murata, John Bowker, Scott Mathieson, Yoshito Ishii, Takayuki Takaguchi

Going: Shugo Fujii, Alex Ramirez, Seth Greisinger, Rusty Ryal, Chih-Lung Huang, Micheal Nakamura, Saburo Ohmura, Jonathan Albaladejo, Carlos Torres, Josh Fields, Brian Bannister, Shinji Takahashi, Toshimasa Konta, Kazunori Tsuruoka

Staying: Ryota Wakiya

As usual, Yomiuri did lots of reshuffling this year, including a couple of significant moves.

Let’s start with the pitching. The Kyojin-gun took advantage of Softbank botching negotiations with ace Toshiya Sugiuchi, and scooped him up with a four-year deal. Sugiuchi was always my favorite Softbank lefty, and he’ll be a great addition to Yomiuri’s rotation. Yomiuri also raided Softbank for another starter, American DJ Houlton. Houlton’s four year’s in Japan have gone like this: mediocre, quite good, bad, great. Which of course, suggests that he’s due for a down year, if you believe such things. Houlton’s numbers may regress from his 19 wins and 2.29 ERA, but at his best he’s good for 170 innings of work, which is a valuable commodity.

At the plate, Yomiuri’s main moves essentially boil down for swapping Shuichi Murata and John Bowker in for Rusty Ryal/Josh Fields and Alex Ramirez. Initially this felt like a wash to me, but Murata is younger than Ramirez and plays a difficult position to fill, and maybe playing for a winning team will revive his motivation. Bowker simply needs to not be a total bust to eclipse the results of Ryal and Fields. Outfield depth is a bit of a concern with an unproven Bowker and a usually unhealthy Yoshinobu Takahashi, so a return form for recent non-performers Yoshiyuki Kamei and Tetsuya Matsumoto would be well-timed. Or maybe Kosuke Fukudome would be a fit.

So another offseason of the Giants doing what the Giants do — spending money. But it appears to be money well spent, addressing needs rather than just stacking up sluggers because they can. Expect them to compete for the Central League title this year.

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Changes for 2012: Yokohama DeNA Baystars

» 28 January 2012 » In npb » 9 Comments

It’s time again for this series of posts.I was hoping to get these in before camps open on February 1, but alas, sometimes real life intervenes. This year we’ll go in the reverse order of the final 2011 standings, Central League first. 

Coming: Alex Ramirez, Masaaki Koike, Shugo Fujii, Gio Alvarado, Kazunari Tsuruoka, Masanori Hayashi, Kazumasa Kikuchi, Taketoshi Goto, DeNA ownership, manager Kiyoshi Nakahata, new uniforms

Going: Shuichi Murata, Termel Sledge, Brett Harper, Shingo Takeyama, Naoto Inada, Tomo Ohka, Daisuke Hayakawa

Staying: Clayton Hamilton, Brandon Mann

2011 was another year in the cellar for Yokohama. The Baystars finished last in the Central for the eighth time in ten years, including the last four consecutively with sub-.360 winning percentages. Better news came following the season though, when the previous ownership group TBS finally found a buyer, mobile gaming company DeNA. The combination of new ownership and charismatic new manager Kiyoshi Nakahata has generated a level of buzz around the team unseen since Kazuhiro Sasaki’s return.

Despite 2011’s last place finish, there were a few bright spots: Kentaro Takasaki emerged as a solid starter, slugger prospect Yoshitomo Tsutsugo performed well in his late-season trial, 2009 ikusei draftee Yuki Kuniyoshi emerged as a prospect, and lefty Brandon Mann put up good numbers in limited work.  The obvious rub is that of the four guys mentioned, only Takasaki made a contribution that lasted the entire season.

The Baystars’ 2012 roster changes aren’t going to vault the team into contention, but they aren’t going to hurt either. Yomiuri refugee Alex Ramirez and the emerging Tsutsugo should cancel out the losses of Termel Sledge and Shuichi Murata, and perhaps the departure of Brett Harper will lead to a few at-bats for prospect Atsushi Kita. Ramirez will be a defensive liability, and Tsutsugo probably will be as well, but then again, Sledge and Murata weren’t exactly gold glovers.

The bigger issue for Yokohama over the last several seasons has been run prevention. Last year, Yokohama had only two pitchers through 100 or more innings, Kentaro Takasaki and NPB Tracker favorite Daisuke Miura. To that end, if newcomers Gio Alvarado and Shugo Fujii can contribute 100-120 IP of league average or slightly better ball, the dual benefit of giving the younger pitchers some breathing room and making the more competitive will be realized.

The Baystars seem destined for another last-place finish in the Central this year, but for the first time in quite a while it feels like there’s a little competitive light visible at the end of the tunnel.

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CL Playoff Picture: It’s Crowded At The Top

» 04 September 2011 » In npb » 4 Comments

It’s September 4th, and 5 games separate first place from 5th place in the Central League. Six weeks to go and five teams fighting for only three spots at the table come playoff time. We’re at a time in the season where every game feels like game 7; every win a step closer to the trophy and every loss two steps back. Everyone has about 30 games left and with it this packed at the top, virtually all but one team in the league is in position to grab a spot. Who has the best shot?

With or without Alex Ramirez, Yakult tends to do pretty well while living in Yomiuri’s shadow in Tokyo. They currently find themselves at the top of the standings with some breathing room, but can hardly be considered dominating. They currently lead the league in ties, and when you don’t have to chalk up a loss when you can’t record a win, that pays off in your spot in the standings. Of course the downside to that is with all of those ties, they were a bad hop away from several more losses, and 3rd or 4th place rather than first. It’s hard to imagine that a team that’s basically tied it’s way to first place can win it all. But for now, it seems they are a lock for the playoffs. The thing Yakult fans need to worry about is that there is no co-champion here, and you need wins in the playoffs to avoid going home. Do they have the firepower to get by Hiroshima’s pitching or Yomiuri’s offense in a 5 or 7 game series?  Does their luck go south forcing them to drop some games and miss the playoffs? If that ball happens to bounce the other way for them in the coming weeks, they could find themselves out of this thing. It’s that close. Right now they look like a playoff team. Not necessarily a championship team.

The Kyojin Factor:

It’s true in every sport, in every league, in every nation: he who has a lot of money, wins a lot of games. But money doesn’t equal luck, and you need luck to win championships. It’s not 1968 anymore, so you can’t expect to go to Vegas to lay down $20 on Yomiuri to win it all…..and win $1. It’s at least 50/50 now so if you’re a Giants fan you should win some money from time to time, and if you’re not, you might stumble upon a trophy once in a while.   As with any other year, Yomiuri has enough pitching, defense, and offense to bring home another championship. Even though they are not in first, every team in the league should be circling the dates they have with the Giants. You need to beat this team. Not only to improve your spot in the standings, but also to do what you can to keep them on the outside looking in. There’s plenty of opportunity left for every other team to push the Giants out. Is there anyone that’s man enough?

The Spoiler Factor:

On the other hand, while it’s not surprising that Yokohama is out of the race at this point in the season, the impact they can have on the playoff picture could be huge. Although the Bay Stars have a losing record against every team in the CL this year, they have matched up well against Yomiuri and Hanshin. Their 6-8-2 record against the Tigers should make Hanshin fans nervous in the six games they have left against each other. Hanshin needs better than a .500 record between now and October 16th to escape the bubble. That’s hard enough to do against four hungry teams that are fighting for a spot in the playoffs. Now throw in the fact that they have not done particularly well against the worst team in the league that now has nothing to lose.  Play breakeven ball against the playoff caliber teams, and lose against the Bay Stars, and Hanshin will find themselves out of the picture in a hurry.

Yokohama is only 5-9 against the Giants this year, but earlier in the season they found some success, and even a brief period where they owned a winning record against their big brother from across the bay. But as in life, things tend to even up in baseball, and the Giants have taken their annual position above the Bay Stars in the rankings. Having played well against them previously however, it wouldn’t be too shocking to see Yokohama muster up some moxie and take a few more games from the mighty Kyojin. Add that to some timely wins and losses elsewhere in the league, and the Giants could find themselves in a tough spot.

The Bay Stars should be happy when they don’t have to play Yakult, Hiroshima, or Chunichi any more this season. Although they have found a way to blow out the Dragons a couple times this year, Lady Luck has mostly turned a blind eye to their efforts against these teams. We should expect the Swallows, Carp, and Dragons to continue their success against Yokohama, which will put more pressure on Yomiuri and Hanshin to perform.

As we know, predictions and forecasts in these situations tend to be worth their weight in dirt.  The only thing we know at this point is that the Bay Stars will not make the playoffs. But will they have the strength to knock anyone else out, or will they be a door mat for the rest of the season?  Do they have enough left in the tank to push the two most popular teams in Japan out of the playoffs? I guess that’s why we play. In a way, you could say that the road to the 2011 Central League championship runs through Yokohama.

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NPB Bullet Points: WBC Participation, All-Star Notes, Hiroshima Pitchers

» 25 July 2011 » In international baseball, mlb prospects, nichibei, npb » Comments Off

I don’t usually pay too much attention to All-Star games, but there were a few interesting items that came up over the weekend.

  • Japan’s participation in the next World Baseball Classic is up in the air, over (you guessed it) revenue sharing issues. There’s more to this story than I want to cover in a bullet point, so I’ll come back to this one in a later post.
  • Yu Darvish’s last win before the All-Star break came at the expense of fellow ace Masahiro Tanaka and the Rakuten Eagles. 44,826 spectators were in attendance, among them scouts from the Rays, Yankees, Angels, Mets, Pirates, Indians, and Diamondbacks.
  • Yakult ace Shohei Tateyama supposedly threw a total of seven gyroballs in the second All-Star game this year, though I have yet to find video of this.
  • Softbank prospect Hiroyuki Kawahara hit 155 kmph (96.3 mph) on the gun in the fourth inning of the Fresh All-Star game, tying Hirotoshi Ishii’s record for fastest pitch thrown by a Japanese lefty.
  • Alex Ramirez used a green glove in the first All-Star game.
  • Looks like All-Stars Bryan Bullington and Dennis Sarfate will both be back in Hiroshima next season. The Carp hold options on both pitchers, and they’re making it an easy choice.
And to close things out, here’s Jason Coskrey’s article on Yomiuri international scout Nate Minchey.

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Game Report: Ogasawara Reaches 2,000 Hits

» 05 May 2011 » In npb » 3 Comments

Summary: Hanshin defeated Yomiuri 2-1, but Michihiro Ogasawara reached his milestone.

This game had quite a few juicy storylines coming in. The Giants’ rookie Hirokazu Sawamura made his Tokyo Dome debut, and “Guts” Ogasawara was one hit away from 2,000 for his career. 45,313 people were on hand at Tokyo Dome to perhaps witness history.

Sawamura, selected out of Chuo University last autumn, seemed to get off to a rocky start. The first two batters he faced made solid contact. Matt Murton lined a ball to third base for an out, and Keiichi Hirano ripped a single into right field.

According to the broadcast I was watching, in the first inning Sawamura basically threw fastballs and what was described a forkball. If their graphic was right, he didn’t throw another one until several innings later. Nevertheless, he hit 150 kmph at least twice that I saw but was wild, especially to third hitter Takashi Toritani. He did manage to reign in his control and strike out Takahiro Arai and Craig Brazell to escape the jam.

If the crowd was hoping to see hit number 2,000 from Ogasawara in the first inning, they were disappointed. He popped up on the infield for the third out.

Sawamura had an easy second frame and it looked like Yomiuri might open the scoring in their half of the inning. Alex Ramirez had the Giants’ first hit of the day, followed by a seeing eye single up the middle from Hisayoshi Chono. But two outs and an intentional pass later Iwata was left facing his counterpart whom he easily struck out.

In the third inning, Hirano collected his second hit of what would become a very good game for him. Nothing came of it for Hanshin, just as nothing came of Ogasawara’s second chance at history in the bottom half. He K’ed on a check swing called strike three.

Yomiuri broke the stalemate on the scoreboard in the 4th when Ramirez absolutely destroyed a pitch from Iwata into the left field stands. The ball was a no-doubter, landing close to the top of the bleachers filled with Tigers fans and very near the aisle that surrounds the seats. It was a solo shot and Rami’s 6th of the season.

Of note, Hanshin again chose to semi-intentionally walk (after 3 balls) the eighth hitter Ken Kato to face Sawamura.

The 5th inning was Sawamura’s hardest working frame of the day. Shunsuke Fujikawa led off with a double, but Iwata was unable to move him over with a failed bunt attempt. When Murton was retired it looked as if Sawamura would escape unscathed, but the pesky Hirano drove in Shunsuke with his 3rd hit of the day. The game was tied at 1-1, with the Tigers threatening for more.

Perhaps he was rattled, after a botched pickoff attempt allowed Shunsuke to move up to second base. Toritani and Arai walked, but Sawamura regained his composure and retired Brazell to end the inning.

The thing that most impressed me about Sawamura in that spot was his fearless approach that he took with the large American, choosing to go right after him. That speaks well for Sawamura’s future.

Ogasawara was stuck on 1,999 hits as he hit into a double play for try number three. Lefties have really baffled him all series long.

In the top of the 6th, Sawamura made a glaring mistake to Kenji Johjima, hanging a breaking pitch right over the plate. Johjima taught the youngster a lesson by promptly slamming it into the seats in left to give Hanshin a 2-1 lead. It was Johjima’s 2nd homer of the year.

Of little consolation, Sawamura retired Hirano for the first time of the day later that inning. Hirano finished with a 4 for 5 day at the plate.

When Toritani singled in the Hanshin 7th, it signaled the end of Sawamura’s day. Sawamura’s final line was 6.1 IP, 111 pitches, 8 H, 5 K, 4 BB, 2 ER. It’s hard to call it a good outing considering the hit and walks number, including a few glaring mistakes (the pickoff throw and Johjima’s HR), but I’d call it a solid game. Especially for someone with such little NPB experience under his belt.

Only a close play at the plate (and perhaps and ill-advised coaching decision at third base) prevented the score from becoming 3-1. Brazell knocked a double into right field off of new pitcher Yasunari Takagi, but Arai missed home plate on a tumbling slide and was tagged out.

At Lucky 7 time, it was still 2-1 Tigers.

Fast forward to the bottom of the 8th, when the moment most of the crowd had been waiting for finally happened. With one out and right-hander Hiroyuki Kobabyashi in the game, Guts smashed a 1-2 pitch past the reliever’s head and into center for hit number 2,000. Flowers, of course, were presented and the game continued on with little delay.

A Chono walk later in the inning provided the Giants with a two out threat, but Rusty Ryal was retired on strikes to end the frame.

There little delay in securing the win for the visitors on this day, as Kyuji Fujikawa slammed the door on the Giants in the 9th with two quick outs, a hit batsman, and a Sakamoto fly out to right caught by a sliding Murton.

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NPB Bullet Points: The Month That Was

» 02 October 2010 » In mlb prospects, nichibei, npb » 4 Comments

Okay, time to hit the “play” button again. Here’s a recap of many of the notable events that happened while I was away.

  • SoftBank took the Pacific League title despite ultimately winning two fewer games than Seibu. Ties to the rescue! SoftBank tied five games to Seibu’s one, which was enough to put them a few win percentage points ahead.
  • Chunichi has also clinched the Central League crown. It was a come-from-behind year for the Dragons, as they trailed Yomiuri and Hanshin for most of the season before getting hot at the right time in September while their rivals slumped. Hanshin and Yomiuri are not finished with their schedules, and could both still catch up on wins, but not eclipse Chunichi’s winning percentage.
  • Prior to 2010, only three NPB players had reached 200 hits in a season: Ichiro (210 in 1994), Norichika Aoki (202 in 2005) and Alex Ramirez (204 in 2007). This year, we can add three more to the list: Lotte’s Tsuyoshi Nishioka with 204, Hanshin’s Matt Murton with 209, and Yakult’s Aoki with 204. Both Murton and Aoki both have games remaining and are poised to surpass Ichiro’s mark, although Ichiro got his 210 hits in 130 games while Murton and Aoki get 144. Media coverage of the record chase has been predictably biased towards Aoki, kind of like “Aoki has five games to get six hits to match Ichiro! Oh by the way, Murton only needs one hit and has more games to play.” Oh well, at least Murton’s not getting walked.
  • Nishioka beat Ichiro’s record for more modasho (three hits or more) games, with 27. Ichiro’s mark of 26 came in that magical 1994 season.
  • Another record this season is Chunichi middle reliver Takuya Asao’s astonishing 59 hold points (hold points = holds + relief wins). Asao figured in 59 of Chunichi’s 79 wins.
  • This just in — Murton has tied Ichiro’s record with a single against Hiroshima.
  • Rakuten manager Marty Brown attempted and failed to dig up second base in an argument with an umpire on September 23. Later in the week, Rakuten sent him packing, a year before his contract expired. The Eagles struggled to a last place, 62-79-3 finish this year, mostly due to an anemic offense.
  • The Yokohama BayStars are for sale. Hama’s current parent company, TBS Holdings, is in negotiations with a couple of potential buyers and the current leading candidate appears to be the Juseikatsu Group, a holdings company that owns numerous suppliers of household goods. There was some speculation that the team could move or be contract, but the current TBS management has come out and said that won’t happen. Once upon a time, Bobby Valentine was linked to a group that tried to purchase the BayStars. I wouldn’t mind seeing that idea revisited.
  • The “Yu Darvish to be posted” have spun out of control over the last couple weeks. I haven’t seen anything other than speculation and quotes from anonymous sources though. I’m still skeptical on him being posted this offseason, though as it makes no sense for Nippon Ham competitively and little sense economically. Very much in wait and see mode here.
  • On the other hand, I think Hisashi Iwakuma will be posted this offseason. He’s a free agent after 2011, so Rakuten is going to lose him anyway.
  • Yomiuri signed that “mystery Domican player” on September 27. His name turns out to be Noel Urena, he’s 21 and plays catcher and infield, though Yomiuri is having him work at third base.
  • The Yankees signed former Yokohama BayStar Naoya Okamoto to a minor league contract. Okamoto had spent the 2010 season in Mexico.

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NPB Bullet Points: Home Runs

» 26 June 2010 » In npb » 1 Comment

Alright, time for another edition of NPB Bullet Points. Today we’ll look at some notable home runs that have been hit over the last week or so.

  • Craig Brazell had a six-game home run streak end on June 23rd against Hirohima. Sadaharu Oh and Randy Bass jointly hold the home run streak record at seven games. Brazell had been leading the Central League (and Japan) in dingers until…
  • Shinnosuke Abe got hot. Abe hit his 10th home run in June on the 23rd, marking the third time in his career he’s reached double digit home runs in a month. Abe commented, “right now in my at bats, in a good way I’m thinking ‘I’m a foreign hitter. I have awesome power’.” He then went out and hit two more bombs on the 26th to take over the league lead from Brazell. Abe is capable of hitting home runs in bunches; back in 2004 he opened the season with 20 homers in 33 games.
  • When Abe’s Giants teammate Alex Ramirez went deep for the 20th time this season on the 22nd, he become the second foreign player to hit 20 homers in each of his first ten seasons in Japan. The first? Tuffy Rhodes, of course. Ramirez had this to say: “I hit my first home run in Japan in a Yakult uniform at Jingu Stadium, so I’m glad I was able to achieve this in this ballpark.”
  • This happened a few hours after the original publication of this post, but Hanshin veteran Tomoaki Kanemoto hit his 450th career home run on the 27th. Kanemoto is just the 13th NPB player to reach that mark, and the first since Rhodes last year.

In unrelated news, the San Francisco Giants retired the number of Hall of Fame outfielder and African-American pioneer Monte Irvin today. It’s a bit overdue but definitely a feel-good story.

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Top 10 Events of 2009

» 28 December 2009 » In mlb, nichibei, npb, npb draft » 2 Comments

2009 went by super fast. Here are my top ten events in Japanese baseball for the year that was.

10. Koji Uehara, Kenshin Kawakami sign with MLB teams; Yomiuri, Chunichi don’t notice. Uehara and Kawakami both signed with MLB clubs early in 2009, meanwhile, their former teams finished 1-2 in the Central League, with Yomiuri taking the Japan Series Championship.

9. Tuffy Rhodes hits 450th NPB home run. Tuffy continued his remarkable comeback in 2009, reaching 450 homers early in the season. A healthy 2010 will see him reach 500.

8. Rakuten makes first ever post season appearance as Katsuya Nomura retires. Rakuten to reached the second round of the playoffs in their fifth year of existence and appears to have a bright near-term future. Nomura restored his legacy with Rakuten after arguably failing to revive Hanshin and his wife’s ugly tax fraud problems.

7. Mazda Zoom-Zoom Stadium opens. Japan’s first new stadium in years opens to rave reviews, and while the Carp look competitive at times, they ultimately slump to a fifth-place finish.

6. Yusei Kikuchi stays in Japan; gets selected by only six teams in draft. After a lengthy cross-Pacific courting process, Kikuchi gave into social pressures and choose to stay in Japan and enter the NPB draft. After speculation that he could get picked by 10 or 11 teams,he winds up getting taken by six, with the remaining six teams grabbing other players uncontested. He eventually signs a max contract with Seibu.

5. Hideki Matsui wins World Series MVP. Matsui leaves NY in style with a dominant World Series performance, despite not starting any of the games played in Philadelphia.

4. Bobby Valentine leaves Marines. Bobby V goes back to Connecticut after a successful six-year run with Chiba Lotte, in which he turned around a moribund franchise and became one of the finest advocates for Japanese baseball in the West.

3. Yomiuri wins first title since 2002. It took seven years for Yomiuri to win a Japan Series post-Matsui. The Giants won three times in his ten-year Giants career (1994, 2000, 2002).

2. Ichiro collects 200 hits for ninth straight year. ’nuff said.

1. Japan wins second straight WBC title. Japan is now 2-2 in WBC appearances, avenging its embarrassing 2008 Olypmic loss.

Honorable mentions: Junichi Tazawa reaches MLB in first pro season; great Koshien finale; Yu Darvish/Alex Ramirez win MVPs; Hanshin re-imports Kenji Johjima

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Awards Announced

» 18 November 2009 » In npb » 1 Comment

The 2009 season is in the books, and the MVPs go to Yu Darvish in the Pacific League, with Alex Ramirez receiving the honor for the Central League. Darvish earns the award for the second time in his career and Ramirez obtains the award for the second straight season.

The Rookie of the Year award is received by Tokyo Yomiuri Giants outfielder Testuya Matsumoto, the first time in 51 years that two players from the same team received the RoY in consecutive years (Giants reliever Tetsuya Yamaguchi took the prize last year). The Pacific League award goes to reliever Tadashi Settsu of the Softbank Hawks.

The Best Nine Awards have also been announced and the winners are as follows:

Central Pacific
P Dicky Gonzalez Yu Darvish
CA Shinnosuke Abe Hidenori Tanoue
1B Tony Blanco Shinji Takahashi
2B Akihiro Higashide Kensuke Tanaka
3B Michihiro Ogasawara Takeya Nakamura
SS Hayato Sakamoto Hiroyuki Nakajima
OF Seiichi Uchikawa Teppei
OF Norichika Aoki Yoshio Itoi
OF Alex Ramirez Atsunori Inaba
DH Takeshi Yamazaki

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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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