Tag Archive > Jose Ortiz

Remaining Free Agents

» 17 January 2012 » In mlb, nichibei, npb » 13 Comments

With spring training a mere two weeks away, NPB teams are largely done making offseason roster moves. But Buster Olney’s observation that there are a number of established MLB players that are still available on the free agent market got me wondering if any would be fits in Japan. Here’s what I came up with:

  • Kosuke Fukudome – There has been surprisingly little discussion of a Fukudome return in the Japanese media, the only rumor of note being that Hanshin was considering him as a replacement for Matt Murton, who they successfully re-signed.
  • Kenshin Kawakami — Kawakami’s name has been similarly absent in the Japanese media this offseason. The only news I’ve seen on him is from his personal blog, saying he’s begun working out and hasn’t decided on a team for 2012 yet. It’s reasonable to assume that most NPB rotations would benefit from having him around.
  • Dan Johnson — Johnson played for Yokohama in 2009, and was solid aside from a .215 batting average. Since then, he’s returned to US with the Rays organization, where he’s played well in Durham but been overmatched in Tampa Bay, and developed a penchant for clutch home runs. He does enough things well to be of value to an NPB team.
  • Derrek Lee – Had they not already signed Josh Whitesell, Lee might have been a first base match for Lotte, an organization that once employed his father and uncle (Leon Lee and Leron Lee). Derrek spent part of his youth in Japan.
  • Marcus Thames — Thames has appeared on NPB team’s foreign player candidate lists in the past, but surprising he’s only gotten one previous mention on this site. Power was the rarest skill in Japan last year, and Thames has shown plenty at both the 3A and MLB level.
  • Bill Hall — Hall is something of a personal favorite; I thought he would have a better MLB career than he’s had. He still has at least two solid strengths – a power bat and a strong throwing arm – that match up with teams in need of third base help (Yokohama?).

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Offseason Changes: Softbank Hawks

» 23 February 2011 » In npb » 7 Comments

Coming: Seiichi Uchikawa, Alex Cabrera, Toru Hosokawa, Anthony Lerew, Soichi Fujita, Juan Deleon

Going: Kazumi Saito, Roberto Petagine, Arihito Muramatsu, JD Durbin, Beom-Ho Lee, Makoto Sato, Micheal Olmstead

Staying: Hitoshi Tamura, Brian Falkenborg, DJ Houlton, Jose Ortiz

Summary: Two years removed from a sixth-place finish, in 2010 the Softbank Hawks rode Seibu’s late-September swoon to the Pacific League crown. For an encore, they’ve added more star power than any other NPB team this offseason.

The big additions are of the offensive variety: contact-hitting outfielder Seiichi Uchikawa, slugging first baseman Alex Cabrera, and glove-first catcher Toru Hosokawa. 2010 Pacific League MPV candidate Hitoshi Tamura was also retained on a one-year deal. Uchi and Cabu should improve a lineup, that despite having some talented hitters, was only the 4th most productive in the PL last seasoan. Cabu should fill at-bats that were mostly taken up by the departed Roberto Petagine and a rapidly-aging Nobuhiko Matsunaka, while Uchi’s presence will cause guys like Satoru Morimoto and Hiroshi Shibahara will find themselves on the bench more often. Durability is a bit of a question mark, as both Cabrera and Uchikawa have injury histories, and Cabrera, Matsunaka, and Hiroki Kokubo are all on the wrong side of 35. If any of them falters, though, the steady bat of Jose Ortiz is still on the roster.

On the mound, Softbank’s pitching staff was the second best at preventing runs in 2010. The Hawks’ pitching success was led by it’s bullpen. Softbank threw a league-high 16 shutouts last year, but the team’s starters only managed six complete games — seven fewer than the next lowest total, by Seibu. To that end, the re-signing of middle-relief ace Brian Falkenborg was critical. Softbank has two ace-caliber lefties at the top of its rotation in Toshiya Sugiuchi and Tsuyoshi Wada, but after that the quality drops a bit. Kenj Ohtonari has a good arm and looked like a third lefty ace back in 2008, but hasn’t been as productive over the last two seasons. Yet another lefty, 30 year-old Shinsuke Ogura, battled through 102 innings last year, but did so with a 5.29 ERA. DJ Houlton is back, but he followed up an extremely hit-lucky 2009 with a rough 2010. We’ll see which way things go in 2011. If new addition Anthony Lerew can pitch with as much flair as he grows facial hair, the Hawks will have something. Former ace Kazumi Saito has finally succumbed to injuries and retired, while the the once-excellent Nagisa Arakaki is still battling his way back. And this would be a great year for Sho Iwasaki or Shota Ohba to take a step forward, given that longtime ace Wada is headed for free agency after the season. There are a lot of question marks among the rotation candidates, but the glass is definitely half-full, thanks to the Hawk’s front-rotation stability and excellent bullpen.

Overall, this team has talent up and down its roster, and despite the competitiveness of the Pacific League, it’s hard to see them finishing outside the top three this season.

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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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Foreign Player Updates: Laforest, SoftBank, Lotte

» 30 October 2009 » In npb » 1 Comment

Some notes about foreign player movement this offseason, mostly featuring the Chiba Lotte Marines:

  • Pete Laforest had a tryout with the Seibu Lions, the results of which will be announced in a few days. Laforest has spent the last few years in the Mexican League. It’s rare for NPB teams to go after import catchers, so I’m wondering how Laforest would fit on to the Lions’ roster.
  • The SoftBank Hawks are retaining DJ Houlton and Jose Ortiz for next season. You’d have to think they’ll bring Brian Falkenborg back as well.
  • Hanshin is looking for Kenji Johjima to provide input on next year’s foreign roster.
  • Chiba Lotte is looking at bringing in Marlins lefty minor leaguer Carlos Vasquez to pitch relief. Vasquez played for Venezuela in last year’s WBC. At the same time, the Marines want reliable bullpen arm Brian Sikorski to take a 33% pay cut, and may lose him this offseason.
  • More from Lotte: the team is looking at bringing former Marine and Hawk Julio Zuleta back to Japan. He’ll have a tryout in early November, and if he passes, the team will look at him as a low-budget option ($300k) for next year. Zuleta struggled in the Mexican League in 2009.
  • Yeet more from Lotte: the Marines are again looking at Korean slugger Kim Dong Ju this offseason. Kim has been trying to sign with an NPB club for years, and Bobby wanted to bring him to Chiba last season, but got denied by the front office.

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Trade Deadline Passes

» 01 August 2009 » In nichibei, npb, sports business » 7 Comments

Compared to the many moves and much rumbling near the MLB trade deadline, the deadline in NPB ended quietly. There was a total of one trade during the 2009 season which was Taiyo Fujita being traded from Hanshin to Seibu for Keisuke Mizuta, a minor move where both teams filled supporting roles.

The numbers after the trade…

  • Taiyo Fujita (Seibu Lions) – 2.0 innings, ER, K (two games): 4.50ERA
  • Keisuke Mizuta (Hanshin Tigers)- Strikeout in one-at-bat

As you can see from the numbers both players have made minimal impact with their new teams. Rather than teams looking to add the last piece for a championship run near the deadline in the MLB, it’s more of two teams allowing their player to join a team with more possibilities. More teams look to add a suketto as seven foreign players were added by teams since the 2009 season started. However they tend to give chances to players that have already experienced the NPB culture as they feel comfortable adding an experienced player during mid-season where time for adjustment is limited.

Some players added during in-season…

The number of teams might limit the number of trades in the NPB (12 compared to MLB’s 30), but a culture of trading players are relatively new and there has been limited number of “blockbuster” trades in the league. The one that comes up to mind is a swap between Hayato Terahara for Hitoshi Tamura, a trade between a former first-round draft pick and a home run king.

The trade deadline is a big event for everybody involved in the MLB and headlines evolve daily with rumors and potential deals. It creates stories and news that people talk about around the water coolers and peoples’ interest  increases during the period of time. It should not be a bad thing for the NPB if people start engaging talks about the game and trades becoming more of a common business. However the difference in the culture of the games allows the transactions after the season starts to be limited and with only 12 teams and six of them facing each other about 20 times a season, it’s extremely difficult for teams deal players that might hurt them in the future.

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Spending on Foreign Players

» 07 May 2009 » In international baseball, npb, sports business » 2 Comments

Let’s take a look at how actively teams are spending on foreign players. Each NPB team is allowed to only have four foreign players on its 25-man roster, but there is no organizational limit on foreign players. Many teams choose to hold more, and allow them to compete for a roster spots. As you can see in the rankings, many teams are unable to maxmimize the foreign player slots on their 25-man roster.

Out of 39 foreign players on NPB 25-man rosters, 13 have previous experience in Japan with a different team. In-season additions like Jose Ortiz for the Softbank Hawks and Scott McClain by the Hiroshima Toyo Carp are two recent examples of this,  showing how teams are more likely to take a risk on a player that knows Japanese baseball rather than looking for new talent overseas.

 

Rank Team Amount Players 25-man roster
1 Tokyo Yomiuri Giants 17.93M 11 4
2 Orix Buffaloes 8.67M 6 4
3 Hanshin Tigers 5.45M 7 3
4 Softbank Hawks 3.99M 9 3
5 Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles 3.93M 6 4
6 Yokohama Baystars 3.56M 6 4
7 Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters 3.53M 5 3
8 Hiroshima Toyo Carp 3.12M 6 3
9 Seibu Lions 2.97M 5 2
10 Tokyo Yakult Swallows 2.25M 5 2
11 Chunichi Dragons 2.23M 5 3
12 Chiba Lotte Marines 1.92M 5 4

 * NPB rosters as of May 6, 2009

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SoftBank Picks Up Ortiz

» 19 April 2009 » In npb » 2 Comments

It’s not Dallas McPherson, but SoftBank has acquired a bat. The Hawks have signed former Chiba Lotte Marine and Orix Blue Wave Jose Ortiz to a one year, $500k deal. Ortiz had been tearing up the Mexican League (.412, 7 hr in 68 ab), and has a track record of solid play in NPB, so this looks like a good move by the Hawks.

Ortiz will be available for game duty from the 28th.

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Offseason Changes: Chiba Lotte Marines

» 07 February 2009 » In npb » Comments Off

Coming: Tadahito Iguchi, Gary Burnham, Chase Lambin, Juan Muniz

Going: Julio Zuleta, Jose Ortiz, Winston Abreu, Szu-Yu Wu

Staying: Brian Sikorski, Benny Agbayani, Saburo Ohmura, Naoyuki Shimizu, Shingo Ono, Tasuku Hashimoto

Trending: upward

Synopsis: Iguchi is an upgrade over Ortiz, and the combination of Lambin/Burnham should be more productive than the injury-prone Julio Zuleta. None of Lotte’s major Japanese free agency-eligible players chose to sign elsewhere for Bobby Valentine’s final season.

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Iguchi Announcement Soon

» 19 January 2009 » In mlb, npb » Comments Off

Update, Jan 19 8:11 am: According to 47news, Iguchi to Lotte is a done deal, and will be announced on the 20th. Other sources say the deal is close but not done.

I didn’t post this when it was new, but it’s been widely reported that Tadahito Iguchi will decide his destination on the 20th, which is either tomorrow or later today depending on which timezone you happen to be in.

Bobby Valentine’s Chiba Lotte Marines very publicly made Iguchi a three-year offer, and cleared out second base for him by releasing the incumbent Jose Ortiz. Despite this, Iguchi hasn’t given up on an MLB contract, but given that the market for 2nd basemen (Orlando Hudson) has been so weak, his best financial offer is likely to be in Japan.

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Aikawa Agrees Yakult; Lotte Cuts Ties with Three

» 16 January 2009 » In npb » Comments Off

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