Tag Archive > Kimiyasu Kudoh

Oshogatsu (New Year’s)

» 05 January 2012 » In npb » 2 Comments

Today’s Japanese word of the day is Oshogatsu (お正月), which refers to New Year’s Day or the New Year.

Oshogatsu is a big deal in Japan. It’s easily the biggest holiday Japan celebrates, and the country largely shuts down for about a week while its citizens gather as families and take part in the traditional activities, such as visiting shrines and eating Osechi ryori.

Here’s an roundup how some NPB players spent Oshogatsu, all found via the very handy @npb_players Twitter feed.

 

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Offseason Changes: Saitama Seibu Lions

» 21 February 2011 » In npb » 2 Comments

Coming: Yataro Sakamoto

Going: Toru Hosokawa, Koji Ohnuma, Kimiyasu Kudoh, Kenta Matsuzaka, Yoshihiro Doi, Shinji Taninaka

Staying: Hiroyuki Nakajima, Jose Fernandez, Dee Brown, Brian Sikorski, Alex Graman

Summary: This series is titled “Offseason Chages”, but the Lions haven’t given me much to write about. Seibu let defensively-minded catcher Toru Hosokawa take his .191 batting average south to Fukuoka, and will let Ginjiro Sumitani and Tatsuyuki Uemoto carry the load. They also swapped righty relievers with Yokohama, picking up Yataro Sakamoto. Beyond that, the Lions replaced some bit players with 2010 draftees.

The real keys Seibu’s offseason are in the players who will be returning. Denying Hiroyuki Nakajima’s repeated posting requests is addition by not subtracting. The rest is mostly addition by health. Slugger Takeya “Okawari-kun” Nakamura was never really healthy last year, but still popped 25 home runs. #2 starter Takayuki Kishi missed all of July and August last year. The low-profile but highly-productive bat of mid-season signing Jose Fernandez will be available from opening day. 2011 Sophomore Yusei Kikuchi lost a year of development, making only two ni-gun appearances . And even Alex Graman, who was lights-out as a reliever but has been shelved for two years, is back. Obviously some of those guys are going to contribute more than others, but healthy seasons from Kishi and Okawari-kun alone would add a couple wins to the bottom line.

The underlying fact is that this is a talented group that didn’t need much tweaking to remain competitive in 2011. The Lions took a magic number of four into the last week of the 2010 season, and won more games than anyone else in the Pacific League; if they had managed just one more tie, they would have taken first place. Just three games separated the first and fourth teams in the PL last year, and I expect things to be similarly tight this season.

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Offseason Changes: Chunichi Dragons

» 02 February 2011 » In npb » 6 Comments

Coming: Felix Carrasco, Joel Guzman, Takahiro Saeki, Tatsuo Kinoshita, Keisuke Mizuta

Going: Edward Valdez, Dionys Cesar, Ryota Arai

Staying: Wei-Yin Chen, Maximo Nelson, Kazuhiro Wada

Summary: When something works, stick with it. Though they did capture the Central League flag last season, Chunichi had the weakest offense in the league save for the BayStars. Let’s also remember that their margin over the other league contenders was a single game in the standings. But other than making a few cosmetic changes, the Dragons seem content to continue relying on quality pitching, a solid defense, and their mid-lineup hitters to put them on top again.

First, the pitching. The Dragons pitching staff had by far the lowest ERA in the CL last year, recording a 3.29 for the season. They allowed only 521 runs, nearly 100 better than their closest competitors. Japan’s best closer, Hitoki Iwase, will anchor the Nagoya side’s bullpen for a 13th season. Barring injury, numbers similar to last year’s 42 saves and 2.25 ERA are as close to a sure thing that the Dragons have. Working forward, Takuya Asao will again be an important cog in the bullpen, and expect Masafumi Hirai, Akinobu Shimizu, and Akifumi Takahashi to be leaned on for innings and appearances.

With 210 wins and Kimiyasu Kudoh idle, Masa Yamamoto takes the reigns as NPB’s active wins leader. He added 5 more in 2010, and will likely add a similar amount in 2011. But it was Wei-Ying Chen who led the staff in innings pitched, wins, and ERA last season. Expect him to be at the forefront of a very good corps again this season. Of note, the Dragons will need to find a replacement for starter Kazuki Yoshimi early on, as the righty had off-season elbow surgery and won’t be ready by Opening Day.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Dragons brought in Felix Carrasco and Joel Guzman from the American minor leagues to add offensive depth. Dionys Cesar didn’t get the job done and was let go. Make no mistake, though, it’s still Tony Blanco, Masahiko Morino, and Kazuhiro Wada who make up the core of a team that doesn’t get around the bases too quickly. Masahiro Araki is the only real stolen base threat on the squad. It remains to be seen if that core can perform to their 2010 level, and particularly if age will begin to catch up with Wada. He’ll turn 39 in June.

Manager and newly-minted Hall of Famer Hiromitsu Ochiai has reminded his team that they can be the first Dragons teams to ever win back-to-back pennants. With stiff competition from the Giants and Tigers, it should be another season long dogfight. Even if they don’t repeat as league champs, expect the Dragons to remain in the A Class for 2011 at a minimum.

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Coming & Going: Kobayashi, Kudoh, Trade

» 20 January 2011 » In nichibei, npb » Comments Off

Three players find themselves on the transaction wire, while another hopes to.

  • Lotte free agent Hiroyuki Kobayashi has chosen to join the Hanshin Tigers rather than take a minor league deal from an MLB club. Sanspo quoted Kobayashi as saying, “I’ve decided on Hanshin” and “deep inside, I feel that I want to do my best for the Tigers. I was torn in many ways, but as I player I felt to do my best for a team that needs me is the happiest thing. Now I feel refreshed.” According to Jiji.com an official announcement is coming in a few days.
  • Meanwhile, dai-veteran lefty Kimiyasu Kudoh is going to attempt a voyage across the Pacific. Nikkan Sports caught Kudoh on the record as saying “I think I want to go to America. It would be a minor league contract, but they don’t care about age over there. If I can put up results, I want to realize my Major League dream.” Kudoh will be 48 on May 5, and has been playing pro ball since the early years of the Reagen Administration. He gave up seven earned runs in six innings with Seibu last year. Kudoh had an offer from the Rockies way back in 1999, but signed with Yomiuri.
  • And finally, Yokohama and Seibu swapped pitchers Yataro Sakamoto and Koji Ohnuma. This is a low-impact deal, but I think just instinctively I like this trade better for Seibu. Incidentally, just the other day Deanna watched Yataro play soccer with the BayStars.

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NPB Bullet Points: Caraballo Debuts, Kudoh Returns, Chunichi Rolls

» 20 July 2010 » In npb » 7 Comments

A couple of debuts and a new NPB record to share. Today’s articles will require your Japanese language skills, or the Fish.

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Who is Yusei Kikuchi?

» 14 October 2009 » In amateur baseball, mlb prospects, npb draft » 8 Comments

Barring Junichi Tazawa, more has been written in the North American press about Yusei Kikuchi than perhaps any other amateur Japanese baseball player. And by the time he signs, I think Kikuchi will have surpassed Tazawa in ink. Most of what’s been written to this point, including what’s been on this site, is of the “Kikuchi is could change the baseball landscape” variety. Despite all the press, we still haven’t seen much about Kikuchi the individual. Here’s a crack at changing that.

Here in the States, it’s becoming more common to get to know top players before they reach the big leagues, and in some cases, before they are drafted. But the hype around Kikuchi is at a different level. Because of his two appearances at the Koshien high school tournament, Kikuchi was already well known as an amateur player, and this US-Japan cliffhanager has made him a regular news item. The closest parallel I can think of to this situation in the US would be a top college basketball player who’s gained stardom through the NCAA tournament.

Pitching
I watched Kikuchi pitch as much as I could during this year’s Koshien tournament. He does throw hard, during the games I watched his fastball ranged between about 87 – 96 mph (142-155 kmph). He did get a bit wild when throwing at the higher end of his range and I think he may have a tendency to overthrow at times. Perhaps this contributed to the back strain he suffered during the tournament. This video shows Kikuchi throwing his fastball mostly around 90mph, down in the zone with good command.

In addition to the heater, Kikuchi mixes in a slider and a curveball. He has good movement on both pitches needs to work on commanding them. During Koshien, he would go through stretches where he threw mostly breaking pitches; Goro Shigeno suggested at some point that he may have been trying to polish up his secondary stuff in anticipation of beginning his professional career.

He also has a goofy eephus pitch that I didn’t see him throw at Koshien.

Makeup
Kikuchi is a studious kid who reads 10 books per month and doesn’t watch TV. From what I’ve read, he seems to be a conscientious kid as well. The Nikkan Sports Draft Guide’s blurb on him leads off with an anecdote about how the writer was standing while watching Kikusei throw a bullpen session. Without saying anything, Kikuchi walked left the mound, and returned a few minutes later with a folding chair, offering it to the writer to sit in.

The May 25 issue of Shukan Baseball ran this lengthy quote on how he wants to conduct himself: “When I returned to Iwate (following the 2007 Koshien Tournament), even in town I heard people say ‘thank you for the excitement’. Of course through baseball, it’s a reality that my opportunities to be seen by the people around me have increased. I’m aiming for the pros after high school, but if I’m just messing around, the people who see me will think ‘even that kind of guy can go’. So I want to take action to live a responsible daily life and become a role model so the message will be ‘if I’m like Yusei I can go pro'”.

Kikuchi has waffled a bit on his decision between NPB and MLB, so take the above with a grain of salt. But he does seem like a decent kid.

Bio Information
Born in Iwate Prefecture on June 19, 1991. Bats and throws lefthanded. 184 cm (6’0 ) tall, 82 kg (180 lbs). Hobbies include reading, reads 10 books per month. Favorite baseball player is veteran lefty Kimiyasu Kudoh. Future dream is to become a major leaguer. (source: May 25, 2009 issue of Shukan Baseball)

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Will Kudoh Get a Shot?

» 11 October 2009 » In mlb prospects, nichibei, npb » 2 Comments

If 46-year old lefthander Kimiyasu Kudoh looks to MLB, will there be any takers?

In recent years we have seen veteran pitchers from Japan sign minor league deals and then contribute to the big league team. 39 year-old Masumi Kuwata made his major league debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2007, and 40 year-old Ken Takahashi enjoyed his first season in the majors with the New York Mets this year.

Although neither pitcher left eye-popping numbers with their teams, they both brought intangibles to the table with experience and character. Needless to say, the Japanese media were all over stories, which in turn fueled stories in the US media (see Kuwata attracts crowd and The Mets’ 40-Year-Old Rookie).

Kudoh was released from the Yokohama Baystars and will be looking for a suitor this off-season. He stated his desire to continue playing and in a recent interview mentioned that NPB is his first option. However if negotiations stall and an offer from overseas arrives would he decline? It will be interesting how the situation plays out and if any MLB teams will look to follow the trend of signing Japanese veterans as roster depth.

To give you a sense of what Kudoh brings, check out pitching clip from September 16 versus Yakult, and this velocity chart from the same game..

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NPB Bullet Points: Nichibei Special

» 15 September 2009 » In nichibei, npb » 12 Comments

Another Japanese only edition, this time focusing on US-Japan player movment:

  • It doesn’t look like Wei-Yin Chen is going anywhere any time soon, according to Chunichi Dragons president Junnosuke Nishikawa. “He can’t move unless he’s willing to break our agreement. We don’t have those conditions (to allow him out after the season) in our contract,” said Nishikawa. Commenting on a possible move to the majors, Nishikawa said, “even if that’s out there, that’s only if the team grants him to be posted.” Of course, there’s no indication that Chen even wants to leave, only that MLB scouts are watching him.
  • Hanshin is sending ni-gun reliever Ken Nishimura to the Arizona Fall League this year. He’ll join five or six other NPB prospects, including Norihito Kaneto of the Giants.
  • Yokohama has made Tom Mastny its first foreign dismissal of the season. Mastny went 1-5 with a 5.69 era in 15 games for Yokohama this year. “We gave him a chance and he didn’t produce results,” said the Yokohama front office. The BayStars are doing some general housecleaning and interim manager Tamio Tashiro, 28-year veteran Kimiyasu
  • Kudoh, and comparatively young infielder Toshihisa Nishi have all been shown the door.
  • Speaking of Nishi, he’s reportedly open to a move to the US minor leagues if the right offer in Japan doesn’t materialize. Nishi explored a move to the Majors after filing for free agency back in 2004, but obviously that didn’t work out. As I recall the Pirates were rumored to be interested back then.Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

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NPB Bullet Points

» 21 August 2009 » In Koshien, npb » 4 Comments

Japanese

  • Yokohama dai-veteran Kimiyasu Kudoh was assessed with the first ever ball called due to the 15-second rule. He got hit with the call while shaking off signs in the 7th inning of Yokohama’s 10-3 loss to the Giants on the 18th.
  • Kudoh’s fellow geezer Hideki Irabu has made his first appearance for Kochi, throwing one inning in a practice game against Shikoku Bank. Gen relays a report that Yokohama might kick the tires on Irabu this offseason.
  • The Hiroshima Carp are holding a tryout on September 19 at Mazda Stadium. To qualify you must be between ages 17 and 24 and be at least 175cm (5’8) tall.
  • Hiroki Kuroda is playing catch again after his horrific accident. He joked, “I’m glad I didn’t forget how to throw”, though he is still experiencing headaches.

English

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NPB Bullet Points: In Pictures

» 27 May 2009 » In npb » 2 Comments

NPB Bullet Points returns with an all-photographic collection of non-sequiturs. Let’s begin.

In Japanese…

And In English…

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