Tag Archive > Clayton Hamilton

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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The English NPB Blogosphere, 2011 Edition

» 02 June 2011 » In nichibei, npb » 4 Comments

Note: I’ve made some additions, based on suggestions from the comments.

I get most of my NPB knowledge from Japanese sources, but there is tons of great content on Japanese baseball being published in English every day. Here’s a rundown of sites and sources that I heartily recommend.

The Blogosphere

The Twitterverse

Did I leave anyone out? It certainly wasn’t intentional — feel free to add to this list in the comments.

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A Good Season For The BayStars

» 31 May 2011 » In npb » 11 Comments

The Yokohama BayStars have an impressive track record of futility. They’ve finished in the Central League’s basement seven of the last nine years, twice finishing more than 40 games out of first place. The February issue of Yakyu Kozo featured a detailed analysis of Yokohama’s 2010 futility. Among other things, the ‘Stars were the worst or second to worst in the Central League in scoring first in games, winning percentage after scoring first, wining percentage after failing to score first, advancing runners, scoring with runners in scoring position and less than two outs, and inducing swinging strikes on pitches outside the strike zone.

After an offseason that saw the BayStars wave goodbye to their best pure hitter, their best arm, and a productive middle infield bat, I figured another last place finish was the safest bet in Japan this year. So far Yokohama has matched this expectation, in 6th place with a 14-22-3 record. But it’s more competitive last place, with the bright spots being that so far Hama’s offense leads the Central League with 28 home runs and 133 runs scored. Their pitching is still way behind the rest of the league though, and that’s probably not a situation that will improve much during the season.

So the focus in Yokohama has to be on finding and developing the players who are going to be on the next good BayStars team. Some of them may be on the roster already, and here’s what I would consider a good season for the BayStars.

  • Development from Takayuki Makka, Kota Suda, Atori, Kisho Kagami and any other young pitcher that happens to be around.

Pitching has been the core of Yokohama’s problem for so long that pitching has the be the top priority, particularly developing the best prospects from the last two or three drafts. I don’t really see a potential ace among this group, but if three of these guys become useful pitchers, that’ll be a pretty big win.

  • Kentaro Takasaki‘s first eight starts not being a fluke.

I saw Takasaki pitch in relief a season or two ago and was not impressed. I saw him start a game against Chunichi early this season and was extremely impressed. Nothing he threw was overwhelming, but he seemed to throw the right pitch each time while I was watching. Through eight starts, Takasaki has a 2.60 ERA in 52 innings, with 36 K, 15 BB, 3 HR. The ERA is going to go up, but if he has another 120 quality innings in him it’ll be the best season a Yokohama starter has had in a while.

  • Getting some kind of sustainable contribution from at least one of their young foreign pitchers: Clayton Hamilton, Brandon Mann, Luis Gonzalez, Kuan-Yu Chen, and I-Cheng Wang.

The foreign pitcher section of Yokohama’s roster is mostly populated with development project types. I would be lying if I claimed to know much about any of these guys, aside from the observation that they mostly completely lack MLB experience and mostly lack upper minors experience. Finding useful innings from one of these guys over the next few seasons will be a plus. Hamilton’s heart seems to be in the right place, I’d love to see him to well.

  • Development from Keijiro Matsumoto or Sho Aranami.

Center field has been a hole for Yokohama since… when? Tatsuhiko Kinjo’s most recent good season? Hitoshi Tamura? Tatsuya Shimozono was actually respectable with the bat last year, but hasn’t played at all this season. I don’t really think Hichori Morimoto is a starter any more, though he is a useful player. Matsumoto and Aranami have both up up ugly lines at ni-gun this season; one of those guys turning things around and becoming a viable outfield option would be a major depth boost.

  • A good draft.

Most of the guys I’ve written about fall in to a supporting cast category. Yokohama needs more stars, particularly a frontline starting pitcher. There are a couple of big arms in this year’s draft, and they’ll need to score one of them.

I’d love to see a more competitive NPB, one that doesn’t have any doormats. With Orix showing signs of life these last few years, we’re only a healthy BayStars away from such a scenario.

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Offseason Changes: Yokohama BayStars

» 22 January 2011 » In npb » 16 Comments

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be publishing team-by-team summaries of this offseason’s NPB transactions. There aren’t enough hours in the day to make this a comprehensive list of all movement, so we’ll focus on the highest-impact changes. Our series starts at the bottom of the Central League, which again means the Yokohama BayStars.

Coming: Hichori Morimoto, Shogo Yamamoto, Go Kida, Naoto Watanabe, Brandon Mann, Clayton Hamilton, Brent Leach, Ikki Shimamura, Koji Ohnuma, Kuan Yu Chen

Going: Seiichi Uchikawa, Hayato Terahara, Kazuya Takamiya, Chris Bootcheck, Stephen Randolph, Jose Castillo, Atsushi Kizuka,Yataro Sakamoto, Toshihiro Noguchi, Takahiro Saeki, Shingo Nonaka, Kentaro Kuwabara

Staying: Shuichi Murata, Brett Harper, Termel Sledge, Tatsuhiko Kinjoh, Tomo Ohka

Summary: A lot of turnover for the BayStars again this year, headlined by the losses of Uchikawa and Terahara. Uchi will be missed, as he was Hama’s most consistent on-base threat, and while Morimoto is a useful player, he doesn’t match up at the plate. And trading Terahara for Yamamoto… I just can’t understand that one. Even if they were dead set on acquiring a lefty, they could have simply signed Eric Stults or kept Randolph. But ‘Stars took a different approach to their import roster this year, signing less experienced minor leaguers Mann, Hamilton and Leach rather than getting more 4A guys. Signing a number of guys and seeing if one of them works out is actually a decent strategy for a team that can’t realistically expect to content in 2011. Or perhaps ownership is keeping the payroll down in anticipation of a team sale.

Yokohama finished last in run production and run prevention last year, and didn’t acquire any veteran talent that will immediately improve the team on either side of the ball. So is there any hope by the Bay in 2011? If there is, it has to come from the team’s young talent. The BayStars’ 2010 draft focused on college and Industrial League players who can help soon, and top picks Kota Suda, Kisho Kagami, and Sho Aranami should all be in the mix for ichi-gun time as rookies. Yokohama doesn’t have great organizational pitching depth, but any steps forward taken by Takayuki Makka, Hitoshi Fujie, Atori Ohta and Yoh Sugihara will be meaningful. Overall, though, this looks like a team that is headed for another last place finish.

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Movement Notes: Okajima, Yokohama, Bae

» 03 December 2010 » In npb » 9 Comments

A couple of notes to pass along as we head into the weekend…

  • The Hanshin Tigers have some interest in the recently non-tendered Hideki Okajima. Team director Shoji Numazawa explains, as quoted in Sansop:  “Will we look into him? Yes. Because, you know, he’s a pitcher. It’s not that we don’t have interest. But as I’m always saying, we’re not going to have a bidding war with the Majors. He’s a pitcher so we have some interest. And then there’s money and his age and things. But to say we have no interest would be a lie.” Hanshin has been done a lefty since injuries claimed the career of Jeff Williams a couple years ago. Casey Fossum wasn’t able to fill his shoes in 2010.
  • The Yokohama BayStars have signed pitchers Brandon Mann and Clayton Hamilton, according to the Nihon Keizai Shimbun. Mann and Hamilton have mostly toiled in the lower minors, and worked out for Yokohama back in October
  • Sponichi has reported that Yakult has a basic agreement with Korean pitcher Young-Soo Bae.

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And the Tryouts Begin

» 18 October 2010 » In nichibei, npb » 7 Comments

With the season over for more than half the teams now, we’re seeing the tryouts begin. Lots of outside-the-boxing going on here:

  • Orix is looking at Venezuelans Luis Rodriguez and Victor Garate, both of whom have MLB experience. Garate is a 25 year-old lefty who has done well in 2A, but only reached 3A in 2010. Rodriguez is a 30 year-old infielder who bounced between the Majors and Minors between 2005-09, and spent last season on the White Sox’ 3A team. Orix had four Venezuelans on their roster last year, but management commented that it’s just a coincidence.
  • Rakuten brought in long-time US-based Indy Leaguer Travis Garcia for a tryout, but passed on signing him. Garcia has had some success in Indy ball but it’s not clear that he was active in 2010.
  • Yokohama brought in four pitchers for tryouts: 2A righty Clayton Hamilton and Indy Leaguers Jeff Ridgway, Brandon Mann, and Joseph Newby. Yokohama has had a hard time fielding a respectable pitching staff over the last several years, but I don’t think they’ll find the answer here. The pitchers in this batch are mostly in their late 20’s and haven’t had much success in the upper minors.
  • Hanshin worked out Venezuelan pitcher Robert Zarate a couple weeks ago. Zarate has three years of rookie ball experience under his belt, and pitched last year in the Independent BC League.

Of the guys listed in this post, only Rodriguez is a typical 4A type. We’ll see if any of them actually winds up signing contracts, but it looks like a trend of at least considering less-established players is emerging. The recent low-budget success of guys like Tony Blanco, Wirfin Obispo, Brett Harper and Francisco Caraballo have  shown that sometimes these kinds of moves can work out.

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