Tag Archive > Makoto Imaoka

11 Players I’m Looking Forward to Following this Year

» 16 February 2010 » In npb » 6 Comments

I didn’t set out to order these guys in any specific way, but looking at the list, there are basically three groups of players: young breakout candidates, veterans coming back from injury problems, and a couple of veteran ni-gun imports.

Sho Nakata (IF/OF, Nippon Ham): Nakata hit 30 home runs in 322 ni-gun at-bats last year, but every time I’ve seen him at the ichi-gun level he’s looked overmatched. Supposedly he’s a butcher at first base, but this spring Ham is giving him a look in left field. If he can stick with the big team he should get enough at-bats to get comfortable.

Romash Tasuku Dass (P, Nippon Ham): I’ll admit that only real reason Dass has caught my eye is that he’s half Indian. I didn’t really follow him at all last year, but apparently he only saw 15 innings of work at ni-gun.

Kohei Hasebe (P, Rakuten): Hasebe was heavily hyped as an amateur but has so far had two lackluster seasons as a pro. Rakuten has a deep rotation, and we’ll see if he can flourish under Marty Brown.

Yoshinori Sato (P, Yakult): Yoshinori has a great arm, but is basically a two-pitch pitcher with command problems. If his command improves I think he’d be as good or better than Wirfin Obispo, who has a similar arsenal.

Shota Ohba (P, SoftBank): Ohba has shown that he can get NPB hitters out, but has yet to put together a complete season. The talent is there.

Yasuhiro Ichiba (P, Yakult): Ichiba was another highly regarded amateur who has failed to make an impact as a pro. I thought a change of scenery would help Ichiba last year, but it didn’t. This year, he’s experimenting with a new, three-quarters delivery.

Makoto Imaoka (IF, Lotte): From 2002-05, Imaoka was one of the most competent, productive hitters in Japan. From 2006-09, he got progressively more horrific until Hanshin finally released him. The Marines are giving him a chance to contribute this year, and hopefully he’ll play like he has something to prove.

Yoshinobu Takahashi (OF/IF, Yomiuri): Takahashi is a guy that Hanshin fans love to hate, but I’ve always thought he was a very good player, perhaps even a little underrated. In my eyes, he should have been the Central League MVP in 2007, instead of Michihiro Ogasawara. He’s been battered an ineffective over the last two years, and even if he’s healthy this year he’ll have to compete for playing time.

Nagisa Arakaki (P, SoftBank): Seven years ago, I thought Arakaki was Japan’s next great pitcher. And he was pretty good for a while, before catching Steve Blass Disease and dealing with shoulder injuries (two problems which are probably not mutually exclusive). Arakaki has been indefinitely relegated to ni-gun, which suggests he has a long way back.

Aarom Baldiris (IF, Orix) & Juan Muniz (IF, Lotte): Baldiris and Muniz have a few things in common — they are both veteran minor leaguers, both started in Japan on ikusei contracts, and both led their respective farm leagues in batting last year. Baldiris is younger and has gotten time at the top level, where he hasn’t hit enough to stick despite strong defense. We’ll see if either break through this year.

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NPB Bullet Points: Spring is in the Air

» 04 February 2010 » In npb » 1 Comment

It’s the first week of February and pouring rain in the Bay Area, but NPB spring training camps are kicking into full gear. Here are some news and notes from around the league. All of the below articles are in Japanese.

  • Let the wear and tear begin: new Chiba Lotte Marine Takumi Nasuno threw a 300 pitch bullpen session the other day, bringing his total for the four days he’s spent in camp to 646. In what Sponichi referred to as “Bobby-free” Lotte had six pitchers throw over 200 pitches on Feb 5. The article explains that this was in contrast to Bobby Valentine’s practice of limited bullpen sessions to 20 minutes at a time. I have to question the wisdom of working pitchers like that this early in camp, after several years of getting more rest under Valentine.
  • Chiba Lotte also signed former Hanshin infielder Makoto Imaoka after a brief trial in camp. Imaoka gets a 15m yen salary for 2010.
  • Having so far failed to attract any offers, 38 year-old infielder Toshihisa Nishi is planning on working out in front of MLB scouts in the near future.
  • Chunichi rookie Ryoji Nakata, who was already chunky at 115 kg, has put on 3 kg since getting into camp.
  • Here’s a video interview with Yusei Kikuchi, who is now professionally known simply as Yusei.
  • Kyuji Fujikawa has finally signed for 2010, getting a 400m yen salary. Kyuji paid his own way through camp up to this point.

And finally, Brandon Siefken of Japan Baseball News is kicking off a monthly newsletter in April. Each month’s issue will include a spreadsheet of statistical data. You can get the full details here and subscribe here.

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Recent NPB Transactions

» 06 December 2009 » In npb » 3 Comments

I haven’t covered in-NPB transactions much since the Shimizu trade, so let’s catch up. Here’s a summary:

  • Yokohama signed catcher Tasuku Hashimoto away from Lotte
  • Yakult signed infielder Atsushi Fujimoto away from Hanshin
  • Lotte brought pitcher Yasuhiko Yabuta back from the Royals organization
  • Nippon Ham signed pitcher Masao Kida away from Yakult
  • Lotte signed pitcher Hidetaka Kawagoe, released by Orix
  • Lotte signed pitcher Akichika Yamada and catcher Noaki Matoba, both released by SoftBank
  • Lotte extended a spring training invite to infielder Makoto Imaoka
  • Nippon Ham traded pitchers Yataro SakamotoSuguru Matsuyama and infielder Naoto Inada to Yokohama for pitchers Takeharu Katoh, Takahiro Matsuka and outfielder Yuta Sekiguchi
  • Yomiuri signed Masahide Kobayashi, formerly of the Indians
  • Yomiuri traded pitcher Hiroshi Kisanuki to Orix for pitcher Yasunari Takagi
  • Yomiuri is about to sign no longer shaggy pitcher Shugo Fujii

I think that brings us up to date… did I miss anyone?

Clearly Lotte, Yokohama and Yomiuri have been the most active in the last few weeks. Yokohama is clearly retooling, and I think they’re heading in the right direction. Signing Hashimoto is a solid move.

The deal with the most upside is Orix fleecing Yomiuri for Kisanuki. The Buffaloes basically got a guy who’s proven he can start effectively when healthy for a lefty reliever who has two good seasons to his name, most recently 2007. Yomiuri certainly knows more about Kisanuki’s health than I do, but it looks like a great deal for Orix to me.

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NPB Bullet Points: Imaoka Released, Williams Too?

» 02 September 2009 » In amateur baseball, npb » 2 Comments

In Japanese:

  • Amid rumors of his retirement, Hanshin has released infielder Makoto Imaoka. Reportedly no other teams are interested in picking him up. Imaoka was a big time contributor to Hanshin’s Central League championships in 2003 and 2005, so if this is really the end of the road for him it’s a shame for him to go out this way.
  • Jeff Williams has headed back to the States for arm surgery, but wants to return to Hanshin for next season: “the decision was made about a week ago. Of course I want to avoid surgery and it’s not something I want to do, but I think surgery is the direction we’re going in. My goal is take the mound in a Tigers uniform again next season.” Despite Williams’ productive seven-season run with the Tigers, rumors persist that the team will not exercise their option on his services for next season.
  • Sho Nakata set a ni-gun record by hitting his 28th homer of the year for Nippon Ham’s farm team.
  • Bobby Valentine’s replacement in Chiba: Marines head coach Norifumi Nishimura.
  • Honda won this year’s Industrial League Intercity Championship. Hisayoshi Chono was the top batter.

In English:

  • Gen has set up a new blog at yakyubaka.com.
  • Yesterday on my morning commute, I happened to tune to NPR, where Michael Krasny was discussing Japan’s recent elections with a panel of experts. My commute is 30 minutes so I only caught half of the program, but it can be listened to online.
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NPB Bullet Points (2008/11/04)

» 05 November 2008 » In npb » Comments Off

  • Orix will work out former Phillies farmhand Mark Kelly. Kelly, an Australian, spent last year with Kochi of the independent Shikoku Island League, going 8-7 with a 3.31 era.
  • Former Yomiuri closer Junichi Kawahara passed a try out with Chunichi and will join the Dragons. Kawahara was once an effective pitcher, but has been injured for the last three years.
  • Nippon Ham has put Hanshin infielder Makoto Imaoka on it’s list of acquisition targets. Imaoka was one of my favorite Hanshin players from when I lived in the Kansai area from 2000-2003, but has been hampered by injuries the last few years.
  • Rakuten will send manager Katsuya Nomura to the MLB Winter Meetings in search of import players to add to the team’s 2009 roster. Nomura is reportedly interested in Padres reliever Brian Falkenborg.

English Articles:

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NPB Bullet Points (2008/09/14)

» 14 September 2008 » In npb » Comments Off

After a short break from writing, I’m back with a few highlights from my weekend reading. I’ve been enjoying Sanspo’s Baseball Photo Ranking lately.

The next big piece of content I have on tap for NPB Tracker is (surprise) an essay on the Junichi Tazawa situation. Look out for that in the next day or two.

Japanese Articles:

English Articles:

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