Tag Archive > Bill Murphy

Offseason Changes: Chiba Lotte Marines

» 20 February 2011 » In npb » 4 Comments

Coming: Bob McCrory, Kazunori Yamamoto, Takayuki Takaguchi, a player to be named from Hanshin

Going: Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Hiroyuki Kobayashi, Bryan Corey, Juan Muniz, Akira Otsuka, Koichi Hori, Yuta Shimoshikiryo

Staying: Bill Murphy, Hayden Penn, Tae-Kyun Kim

Summary: You gotta have wa. After a decidedly wa-challenged Bobby Valentine farewell campaign in 2009, first-year manager Norifumi Nishimura made that single word his team’s slogan last year. He was a rewarded with a lineup that scored 88 runs more than they did in 2009, leading to a 13 win upward swing in the standings, a playoff berth and a Cinderella Nippon Series win. One good turn deserves another, so Nishimura has brought back the wa slogan for 2011.

The two big changes for Lotte this year were both subtractions: the Twins-bound Tsuyoshi Nishioka; and Hiroyuki Kobayashi, who is headed to Hanshin after failing to attract a suitable MLB offer. Nishioka leaves the bigger gap to fill, and I’ve already written a bit about the candidates Lotte has to take his place. Kobayashi was outstanding in his first year as Lotte’s closer, but his shoes will be easier to fill. Kobayashi’s departure leaves an opening for a guy like Tatsuya Uchi to step up to, and Bob McCrory was signed as well. Lotte is also still owed free agency compensation from Hanshin, which will either take the form of a player, or cash the Marines can use to sign another import.

Losing Nishioka hurts, but should his absence should be offset from a healthy season from Takashi Ogino. Aside from that the lineup is populated with steady performers. The only obvious regression candidate is the hot-and-cold Toshiaki Imae, who seems to be just as capable of hitting .250 as he is .320, and completely lacks the stabilizing presence of walks in his arsenal. On the plus side, Tae-Kyun Kim could improve in his second trip through the Pacific League, and maybe we’ll see Shoitsu Aomatsu find a little more power.

On the defensive side of the ball, Yuki Karakawa is reportedly healthy which will be a big boost for the rotation. Hayden Penn’s peripherals actually weren’t that different from Bryan Corey’s, but he won a Nippon Series game and should be a solid rotation presence. If those two guys are healthy and effective, the rotation should be deeper, though still not as good as Nippon Ham or Rakuten.

So what are the odds of a Lotte repeat? The Pacific League is incredibly balanced this year, so they have a shot but not a guarantee.

And on a final, semi-related note, our old friend Ryo Shinkawa will be working as Nishioka’s translator in Minnesota this season. Congratulations, Ryo and best of luck to both you and Nishioka!

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Foreign Player Hits & Misses: Pacific League

» 21 November 2010 » In npb » 12 Comments

Since we’ve already looked at the Central League side, it’s time to examine the successful and not-so-successful new foreign players in the Pacific League:

Hits

Tae-Kyun Kim, infielder, Chiba Lotte Marines

In the first season of his three year contract, the stocky Korean first baseman paid dividends for the eventual champions.  Kim appeared in all but three of his team’s games, hitting .268/.357/.429 with 21 home runs and 92 RBI. While his lack of speed (0 SB, 24 GIDP) and high strikeout total (140) brought down his value, Kim showed some patience at the plate with 74 walks. The World Baseball Classic star hit .345 during that tournament in 2009; he posted an identical batting average in the 2010 Japan Series en route to the championship.

Bill Murphy, pitcher, Chiba Lotte Marines

The left-handed Californian had a pleasantly surprising season in Chiba prefecture. Appearing in 38 games, Murphy was able to win 12 games (coupled with 6 losses) with an ERA of 3.75 while limiting his opponents to a .244 batting average. He whiffed 125 batters in 144 innings of work (7.81 K/9IP ratio).  Murphy did struggle with his command, though, as he led the Pacific League in walks issued (84) and wild pitches (11).

Bobby Keppel, pitcher, Nippon Ham Fighters

Keppel was a reliable starter for a team that just barely missed making the Pacific League’s postseason. He won 12 games and lost 8 with a 3.35 ERA this past season.  In the United States, Keppel had never been a strikeout pitcher and he stayed true to form in Japan. In 158 2/3 innings he K’ed only 85 men, but was able to throw two complete games, including one shutout.

Misses

J.D. Durbin, pitcher, Fukuoka Softbank Hawks

Durbin’s 2010 season in Japan was split between the Hawks’ ichi-gun and ni-gun teams. After passing a May tryout he was signed, but was ineffective at the top level soon thereafter. He worked 16 innings and gave up 12 runs, posting an unsightly 6.75 ERA and an equally unpleasant 1.62 WHIP. At ni-gun he was better, slimming his ERA to 3.68 while going 5-0 over 49 innings. Unfortunately for Durbin, Hawks management was unwilling to give him a second chance in 2011, and he was cut loose by the organization in September.

Beom-Ho Lee, infielder, Fukouka Softbank Hawks

Lee was signed out of Korea as a third-baseman with a nifty glove and a slugging bat. I was reluctant to include him on this list because I’m not really sure he had a full chance to prove his talents. In 48 games he came to the plate 139 times, hitting .226/.294/.355. The .649 OPS is weak, however he made only 1 error in the field. He might get more playing time in 2011 as Softbank modifies their roster this offseason. Keep in mind that he will still be behind Nobuhiro Matsuda on the Hawks’ depth chart, which could scuttle that plan.

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Lotte to Audition Yabu

» 21 July 2010 » In npb » Comments Off

Looks like the Chiba Lotte Marines are bringing Keiichi Yabu in for an audition on July 26. Last time we heard from Yabu, he was training in Arizona and hoping to play in a US-based independent league. If Yabu has anything left in the tank, I expect Lotte to sign him.

With Yuki Karakawa and Shingo Ono on the shelf, Lotte’s rotation has been short staffed. Bill Murphy stepping into a starting role has been a boost, none of the other options tried –Ryoji Katsuki, Yuji Yoshimi, Bryan Corey — have stuck. Karakawa should be back soon and Hayden Penn is on his way, but a little extra depth never hurt.

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The Makuhari Steamroller

» 24 June 2010 » In npb » 4 Comments

Put the 2010 Chiba Lotte Marines season down as something I was wrong about. In a year when I thought they’d be mid-division at best, Lotte has by meany measures been the best team in the Pacific League this year. They lead the league in team scoring with 370 (SoftBank is next with 323), run differential at a whopping +106 (Seibu has a +32), batting average (.284), and home runs (72). The pitching staff has done its job too, holding the opposition to 264 runs in 67 games. Lotte has fallen behind Seibu in the standings, but if they keep this up, as they have through the first three months of the season, they’ll be in the race all year.

I’ve only watched two Lotte games this year (a Yuki Karakawa start against Seibu early in the year, and a game against SoftBank prior to interleague), so I’m not the best guy to analyze Lotte’s success (I would recommend this guy, actually), but I won’t let that stop me. Here are a few observations.

In the lineup…

  • Tsuyoshi Nishioka and Toshiaki Imae are healthy and hitting like the Tsuyoshi and Imae we all know and love.
  • Takashi Ogino was having a great rookie year until he went down with a knee injury that required surgery.
  • Everyone’s getting on base: Lotte has five of the Pacific League’s 10 best OBP’s lead by Tadahito Iguchi with a robust .450. Iguchi is leading Japan in walks with 59; no one else has more than 42 and no one else in the Pacific League has more than 35.
  • With a .290/.372/.524 slash line, Kim Tae-Kyun has been the best Korean hitter we’ve seen in NPB since Lee Seun-Yeop’s heyday, and has already given Lotte more production from their foreign hitter slot than they got from anyone they had last year.

On the mound…

  • Yasuhiko Yabuta has put up outstanding numbers in his return engagement, and SoftBank castoff Akichika is looks like an inspired pickup.
  • Bill Murphy has moved into the rotation and won all six starts he’s made so far. I’m trying to think of the last time a suketto had any success as a starter with Lotte… Dan Serafini maybe?
  • Yoshihisa Naruse is off to a strong start, with 95 K’s in 104.1 innings so far to go along with a 2.95 ERA. I could see him setting new career highs in innings and strikeouts this year.
  • Hiro Kobayashi has made a successful transition to the closer role, picking up 12 saves so far this season.

There are a few minor question marks…

  • Ogino won’t be back until the All-Star game, in late July. His return should be a huge boost.
  • Yuki Karakawa has been out since taking a line drive off his right hand on May 13, and his return is unclear.
  • Without Karakawa, a rotation front three of Naruse, Murphy and Shunsuke Watanabe is a shade below the front three’s of Seibu, Nippon Ham, and Rakuten.
  • Spare a thought for Shunichi Nemoto, who was replaced in the lineup by Iguchi despite a solid 2008 season, and has fallen into no-man’s land.

The Pacific League is pretty well-balanced this year, so you never know what will happen, but Lotte’s chances look pretty good.

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Chiba Lotte Imports Pitching

» 03 December 2009 » In nichibei, npb » Comments Off

The Chiba Lotte Marines like what they see in Eric Stults. A source with the team quoted in Sponichi said, “he’s got good breaking pitches and can be a shutdown pitcher in Japan. By all means we want him.” Stults is currently on the Dodgers; 40-man roster, so Sponichi speculations that acquiring could take $900k-$1m, but that should be affordable with Bobby Valentine, Naoyuki Shimizu and Tasuku Hashimoto coming off the books.

Meanwhile, the additions of Bryan Corey and Bill Murphy are reportedly looking done deal-ish. The Marines are also looking at Yankees fireballer Romulo Sanchez, though the are prioritizing Stults.

No update on the old story about Lotte bringing in Greg Maddux as a spring training instructor next season.

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Moves & Notes, December 1, 2009

» 01 December 2009 » In nichibei, npb » Comments Off

A couple of player personnel notes to pass along…

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Four to Audition for Lotte

» 15 November 2009 » In Uncategorized » Comments Off

The Chiba Lotte Marines are bringing in four foreign players for tryouts from November 16:

  • Bryan Corey (Boston)
  • Bill Murphy (Toronto)
  • Chris Richard (Tampa Bay)
  • Julio Zuleta (Mexican League Reynosa)

Richard is an interesting option, Corey somewhat less so, and I don’t quite see where Richard or Zuleta fit with the recent addition of Kim Tae-gyun. Zuleta also stunk up the Mexican League last season.

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