Tag Archive > Greg LaRocca

Offseason Changes: Orix Buffaloes

» 05 February 2011 » In npb » 7 Comments

Coming: Hayato Terahara, Chan Ho Park, Seung Yeop Lee, Mike Hessman, Alfredo Figaro, Evan MacLane, Kazuya Takamiya, Shinjiro Koyama, Tomochika Tsuboi, Kentaro Kuwabara, Shingo Nonaka, Masahide Kobayashi, Toshio Saito

Going: Alex Cabrera, Shogo Yamamoto, Go Kida, Jon Leicester, Greg LaRocca, Fernando Seguignol, Freddie Bynum, Tsuyoshi Kikuchihara, Naoyuki Ohmura, Osamu Hamanaka, Masahiro Nagata, Ikki, Mitsuhiro Mitsuhara

Staying: Aarom Baldiris, Mitsutaka Gotoh, Francisco Caraballo, So Taguchi, Freddy Ballestas

Summary: Last season, Orix posted a surprisingly competitive fifth-place, 69-71-4 season. I’ve written plenty about my admiration for Orix’s personnel moves, and nothing has happened this offseason to change my mind. Well, the new uniforms are underwhelming, but I’ll let that slide.

On the mound, Orix has added four rotation candidates, while subtracting Yamamoto, who was ineffective in 2010. Each of the four new starters has blemishes: age (Park), health (Terahara), unproven-ness (Figaro, MacLane). But they all have upside as well, particularly Terahara, and if any one of them does well, Orix will have a very solid front rotation.

At the plate, Orix’s most notable transaction is the loss of slugger Cabrera, who wanted a two-year deal and found one in Fukuoka. Despite his age (39), Cabrera remains an elite NPB slugger when he is in the lineup — he posted a Pacific League-best .997 OPS last year, but missed 32 games. The hope is obviously for some combination of at-bats from Lee and Hessman to make up for Cabrera’s contribution, but I have my doubts. Lee hasn’t had a good year since 2007 and is a shadow of his former self, and Hessman has great power but is also known for piling up strikeouts. I’ve been bullish on Hessman though, and I’m standing by that.

Another key point to make is that last year the Buffaloes got breakthrough performances from Gotoh, T-Okada, Aarom Baldiris and to a lesser extent, Makoto Moriyama. Orix will need them to post strong follow up seasons in order to remain competitive.

Overall I think Orix has done enough to take a step forward in 2011. The rub is that even if they do, the Pacific League is so balanced that they still might not make the playoffs.

Continue reading...

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Orix Pursuing Segi

» 31 May 2010 » In nichibei, npb » 2 Comments

Over the weekend, I caught a number of articles on Orix’s pursuit of 1B/DH Fernando Seguignol. The news ranged from Orix “looking into acquiring Seguignol” (Daily Sports) to “have a basic agreement and working on an official contract” (Nikkan Sports). Orix’s two import sluggers Alex Cabrera and Greg LaRocca are both injury-prone and Seguignol is in the Atlantic League, so a deal seems to make sense for both sides. I can think of an option I prefer for Orix, though.

Seguignol is perhaps the poster boy of the recent trend of “recycling” sukketo players, having previously been called in by Nippon Ham and Rakuten. After last season Rakuten replaced him with former Carp Andy Phillips, who played pretty well in Hiroshima but still had his pricey option declined in favor of Justin Huber and Jeff Fiorentino. With Phillips (and Todd Linden) struggling, Rakuten has added a new name in Randy Ruiz. And the beat goes on. Mabye all the teams have been better off if Rakuten had kept Segi, Hiroshima kept Phillips and Orix held on to Jose Fernandez or Tuffy Rhodes.

Continue reading...

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Continue reading...

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

NPB Bullet Points: Moves & Rumors

» 07 October 2009 » In Uncategorized » 4 Comments

Only Japanese articles this morning:

  • Aarom Baldiris has become expendable to the Hanshin Tigers, and the team is considering using him in a trade. Baldiris tore up ni-gun but failed to make an impact at the top level during his time with the Tigers. He did endear himself to Hanshin’s fans with his sharp defense and hustle.
  • Former Braves farmhand and current Kansai Leaguer Masayoshi Tokuda has passed a tryout with the Hiroshima Carp, which I take to mean that the team will draft him later this month. The linked article says that Tokuda signed a three-year minor league contract with the Braves after college, but I couldn’t find any stats from his minor league career.
  • Colby Lewis wants to stay in Hiroshima, stating after his most recent win: “of course I want to return to Hiroshima next year. I want talk contract for the next two months. I want to keep myself in shape.” Hiroshima has lost guys like Andy Sheets and Greg LaRocca to other teams in Japan, so there is some concern of Lewis following suit. Lewis has been outstanding in his two years with Hiroshima and will attract some MLB interest as well.
  • Reports persist that Hanshin has White Sox reliever Matt Thornton on their list of acquisition targets for this offseason. The story broke in September, and back then I found it too far-fetched to comment on, and it won’t happen, but it’s still out there. Hanshin figures to be busy this offseason, and is reportedly considering Korean slugger Tae-Kyun Kim as well as Hideki Matsui and now Akinori Iwamura.
  • Bobby Valentine has managed his last game in Chiba.
  • Former Taiyo Whale Jim Tracy has led his Colorado Rockies to another playoff experience. Prior to taking over for Clint Hurdle, he was considered a candidate for the manager’s seat in Yokohama.
  • Tuffy Rhodes will be back for another year with Orix in 2010. He’ll enter the season with a good shot at 2000 careers MLB-NPB hits.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Continue reading...

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Predictions: How am I doing?

» 16 May 2009 » In npb » 2 Comments

Before the season, I predicted the standings for both the Pacific and Central Leagues. Let’s see how I’m doing through six weeks of the season.

Pacific League (as of May 16)

  1. Nippon Ham Fighters (prediction: 2nd)
  2. Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles (prediction: 4th)
  3. Seibu Lions (prediction: 1st)
  4. SoftBank Hawks (prediction: 6th)
  5. Chiba Lotte Marines (prediction: 3rd)
  6. Orix Buffaloes (prediction: 5th)

Nippon Ham has hit more than I expected and has a +66 run differential… Rakuten’s pitching has kept them in games, but veterans just aren’t hitting… Seibu leads the league in home runs by a good margin and should be competitive all year… SoftBank leads the league in ERA and could be a dark horse… Chiba Lotte’s starting pitching needs to improve if they’re going to meet my prediction… Orix’s foreign sluggers, aside from Greg LaRocca, have been injured or ineffective, and their pitching has imploded.

Central League (as of May 16)

  1. Yomiuri Giants (prediction: 2nd)
  2. Yakult Swallows (prediction: 4th)
  3. Chunichi Dragons (prediction: 5th)
  4. Hanshin Tigers (prediction: 1st)
  5. Hiroshima Carp (prediction: 3rd)
  6. Yokohama BayStars (prediction: 6th)

Yomiuri has gotten good pitching across the board and leads the leage in runs; they’re currently on pace to win 100 games… Yakult has been a surprise at 20-13, especially given Norichika Aoki’s slow start (.226)… Chunichi slotted Tony Blanco in for Tyrone Woods but has otherwise regressed… Hanshin hasn’t gotten anything out of Kevin Mench or Takahiro Arai, but still has a +18 run differential… Hiroshima leads the Central in ERA (2.98) but simply isn’t hitting… Yokohama again is last in team pitching but is closer to the pack this season.

Of course, we’re only six weeks into the season so anything can happen, but we pretty much know what all the teams have at this point.

Continue reading...

Tags: , , , ,

Prediction: Pacific League

» 29 March 2009 » In npb » 3 Comments

It’s much harder to predict the standings for the Pacific League as the teams are so evenly matched. But I’ll give it a shot.

1. Seibu Lions: I think we’ll see a little regression from Okawari Nakamura and Kazuyuki Hoashi, but a better performance from Hideaki Wakui. Overall it looks like the Lions have enough to repeat.
Key Players: Wakui, Hoashi, whoever gets the most at-bats at 1st base

2. Nippon Ham Fighters: Nippon Ham was actually outscored by their opponents last year. I’m putting them here because I believe that they have the pitching and defense to win close games, and that Sho Nakata will turn up at some point during the season and provide a little offense.The new additions to the bullpen have the task of replacing Michael Nakamura as well.
Key Players: Nakata, Ryan Wing, Masanori Hayashi

3. Chiba Lotte Marines: I didn’t think I’d have the Marines making the playoffs, but I’m putting them in third because they have a solid front four in their rotation, and no real holes in their lineup. Hopefully Bobby V can find a way to keep Tadahito Iguchi and Shunichi Nemoto both in the lineup, as Nemoto broke out last year with a .296/.369/.430 line.
Key Players: Bobby V, Yoshihisa Naruse, Yuuki Karakawa

4. Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles: The Eagles have two WBC heroes at the top of their rotation (Hisashi Iwakuma, Masahiro Tanaka), a couple of solid mid-rotation guys (Darrell Rasner, Hideaki Asai), and some power in the middle of their lineup (Norihiro Nakamura, Fernando Seguignol, Takeshi Yamasaki). But on the other hand they have some holes in their lineup and bullpen.
Key Players: the bullpen

5. Orix Buffaloes: Manager Daijiro Ohishi took over in May of last year and lead the Buffaloes to a seemingly improbable playoff run. Looking back, the Buffaloes pitched better than I realized, with a 3.93 team era and four starters with sub-4:00 eras and at least 10 wins. If the pitching staff can repeat that performance, and the aging lineup of foreign sluggers holds up, they’ll be competitive. If not, look for a B-class finish.
Key Players: Tuffy Rhodes, Alex Cabrera, Jose Fernandez, Greg LaRocca

6. Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks: It’s hard to pick the Hawks to finish this low with the amazing rotation depth they have — Tsuyoshi Wada, Toshiya Sugiuchi, Nagisa Arakaki, Shota Ohba, Kenji Ohtonari, Kameron Loe, Kazumi Saito (if he can come back from his injuries) and rookie Shingo Tatsumi. But on the flipside, their lineup just isn’t what it used to be. The Hawks hit just 99 home runs last year and haven’t added any significant bats. They’re hoping for a return to form from aging sluggers Hiroki Kokubo and Hitoshi Tamura, who have been shells of their former selves in recent years.
Key Players: Kokubo, Tamura

It was tough to pick any of these teams to finish last, because the league is so balanced and all the teams have strengths. It seems likely that Seibu will finish in the top 3 and SoftBank will finish in the bottom 3, but everything else is up for grabs. What are your thoughts?

Continue reading...

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Offseason Changes: Orix Buffaloes

» 03 February 2009 » In npb » Comments Off

Coming: Ryan Vogelsong, Jon Leicester, Jose Fernandez, Naoyuki Ohmura, Fumikazu Takanami, Kento Kanazawa

Going: Tom Davey, Ramon Ortiz, John Koronka, Eric Jung, Arihito Muramatsu, Kazuhiro Kiyohara (retirement)

Staying: Tuffy Rhodes, Alex Cabrera, Greg LaRocca

Trending: marginally upward

Synopsis: Orix added two foreign players with NPB experience in Vogelsong and Fernandez, and got the better of the Ohmura – Muramatsu trade with SoftBank. On the downside, they didn’t add anyone significant to the pitching staff. Word is they’re not done adding to their foreign roster.

Continue reading...

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Free Agent Roundup

» 05 January 2009 » In mlb, npb » 4 Comments

It’s the first week of January and none of the major Japanese free agents have found MLB homes yet. Let’s check in on a few of them:

  • The Japanese press picked up on a Boston Globe article suggesting that the Red Sox had offered Takashi Saito a contract shortly after he was non-tendered by LA. Nikkan Sports adds that he got a deluge of almost 10 offers in December, including one from the Cardinals. Nikkan Sports suggests that he’ll be able to beat the $2.5m the Dodgers offered, and will spend the early part of the year narrowing down his options.
  • Outfielder Tatsuya Ozeki is yet another minor league-level guy eyeing a move to the States. Ozeki actually signed a minor league deal with Milwaukee after the 2005 season, but never played in America as the Brewers had used up their allotment of work visa applications. You can read more about Ozeki at the BR Bullpen.
  • But wait, there’s more! Former Chiba Lotte pitcher Ryohei Tanaka is still another minor leaguer trying out for the American minor leagues. Tanaka will be heading to America on the 8th for private instruction from pitching guru Tom House and tryouts. He doesn’t have the same level of experience as Ozeki.
  • Ken Takahashi might be starting to sweat a little bit. He’s quoted in the Chugoku Shimbun as saying, “I can’t see anything ahead.” The article also reports that he spoke to agent Peter Greenberg once at the of 2008, but they didn’t have anything concrete to talk about. Sponichi reminds us that the Mets and Cubs were publicly interested last year, but haven’t yet talked terms with Takahashi.
  • Ryan Glynn to the Yokohama BayStars is a done deal. Glynn signed on for a year at $900k.
  • And finally, the Orix Buffaloes are still looking to add a foreign position player. Said team president Nakamura: “this isn’t a sweet world where we can assume this year will be good because last year was. We still need to rely on foreign players”. Nikkan Sports has Orix looking at Jose Fernandez and Richard Hidalgo. Acquring them both would give Orix four foreign position players (Tuffy Rhodes has played in Japan for so long that he no longer counts as a foreign player), though Greg LaRocca and presumably Hidalgo would be injury risks. 
Strangely absent from media reports is Koji Uehara. I wonder what’s going on with him these days?

Continue reading...

Tags: , , , , , ,

NPB Bullet Points (2008/12/21)

» 21 December 2008 » In npb » 1 Comment

Time to revive this series… Japanese articles only today

Continue reading...

Tags: , , , , , ,