Tag Archive > Marc Kroon

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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2011 Uniform Roundup, Volume 1

» 24 May 2011 » In mlb, npb » 10 Comments

It’s time again for my semi-annual NPB uniform roundup. This year, I’ve decided to break things up into two posts, so look out for another one later in the season, after more alternative unis are introduced.

  • Orix has been wearing these throwback Hankyu Braves uniforms off and on. The most retro-looking guy is probably Mike Hessman.
  • I hope to one day see Orix revive the old Kintetsu Buffaloes uniform and logo. I figure if they can advertise one Osaka-area railway (Hankyu) they can do the same for another (Kintetsu).
  • Rakuten has only been around for seven seasons, so they don’t exactly have throwback uniforms… but that isn’t stopping them from running out these 1980’s Houston Astros knock-offs.
  • I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to Nippon Ham’s gold road uniforms. One thing that’s kind of cool about the new Fighters uniform is the tag on the inside of the collar, which has four stars representing the Japan Series title and three Pacific League titles that Nippon Ham has won in recent years.
  • Hanshin has a spotty record when it comes to alternative uniforms, but this they’re going with these classic Osaka Tigers threads.
  • This one isn’t an NPB uniform, but former Yomiuri and Yokohama closer Marc Kroon suited up in this Homestead Grays throwback for a 3A game a few weeks ago.
  • Here’s last year’s uniform post. And 2009’s. Results may vary with the links on those pages.

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Rooting for Kroon

» 25 March 2011 » In mlb » 4 Comments

Andrew Baggarly reports that former Kyojin closer Marc Kroon still has a chance at breaking camp with the San Francisco Giants.

“He’s thrown the ball well,” Bochy said. “I talked to Marc yesterday. He’s certainly done well. He’ll go to San Francisco (for the final exhibition games) with us and we’ll have to make a decision. I’m proud of how he’s come into camp and thrown the ball well.”

I’d love to see Kroon not only break camp with the Giants, but spend the whole year in the Bay Area. The Giants got innings from guys like Guillermo Mota and Chris Ray last season, and if those guys can do it I’m sure Kroon can as well.

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NPB in English: Royster, Kroon, Yonamine, Darvish, Brazil

» 04 March 2011 » In mlb, nichibei, npb » 12 Comments

Yakyu links from the English side of the ‘net for tonight:

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Offseason Changes: Nippon Ham Fighters

» 06 February 2011 » In npb » 8 Comments

Coming: Wirfin Obispo, Yuki Saito, Micah Hoffpauir, Kenta Matsusaka, Tomohisa Nemoto

Going: Hichori Morimoto, Hideki Sunaga, Toshimasa Konta, Yoshinori Tateyama, Takayuki Takaguchi, Kazunori Yamamoto, Buddy Carlyle, Tomochika Tsuboi

Staying: Yu Darvish, Kazuhito Tadano, Kensuke Tanaka

Summary: Did anyone else hear that Yuki Saito is on his way to Hokkaido? Yes? Believe it or not, there was news concerning other members of the Nippon Ham Fighters this winter. While the Fighters welcomed two new foreign players this offseason, said goodbye to one, and saw a fan favorite slip away, the most anxiety surrounded the fate of their ace.

Despite some ominous sounding tweets from Yu Darvish saying that his “situation had changed,” it hadn’t from a baseball standpoint. The Fighters’ ace and most important player is staying in Sapporo for at least one more season. He reeled in a JPY 500m contract, NPB’s top salary, as we welcomed in 2011. Carrying the load behind him will be Bobby Keppel and Masaru Takeda, who make up the top of a stingy staff that was arguably the best in Japan in 2010.

The back of the rotation faces some uncertainty, though, as Hirotoshi Masui comes into spring camp proclaiming that he wants to be the #4 starter. Throw newcomer Wirfin Obispo and incumbent Tomoya Yagi into the mix along with perhaps Saito and some other worthy candidates, and you have a full-on battle. We’ll have to see how it shakes out.

One name who won’t be in the mix this year is Buddy Carlyle. The man who was once traded for Marc Kroon in America finds himself back in the States… along with Kroon, as fate would have it. Joining them on the other side of the ocean will be Yoshinori Tateyama, who skipped town as a free agent to join the Texas Rangers.

Lovable goofball Hichori Morimoto took his talents south to Yokohama. It’ll be strange for a while seeing him donning a blue and white uniform. Coming into the lineup to hopefully supply more pop will be self described “doubles hitter” Micah Hoffpauir. The left-handed veteran of the Chicago Cubs system will presumably play first base; he’ll try to match or surpass the 22 home runs he hit at AAA last year.

In my assessment, despite having a power starved lineup, their pitching should get them into the playoffs. They nearly made it wast year, being edged out by 1/2 game in a frantic scramble. They need Hoffpauir’s bat to be what they hope it is, and could really use a big contribution from Sho Nakata, in what could be a make-or-break year for him. Players like Atsunori Inaba, Makoto Kaneko and Tomohiro Nioka aren’t getting any younger, and 2011 may be their last chance (and Darvish’s) to bring Hokkaido another title. While I don’t see them finishing atop the Pacific League, I think a playoff spot is theirs to lose.

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Offseason Changes: Yomiuri Giants

» 27 January 2011 » In npb » 6 Comments

Coming: Brian Bannister, Hideki Sunaga, Toshimasa Konta, Jonathan Albaladejo, Carlos Torres, Rusty Ryal, Adam Bright

Going: Masahide Kobayashi, Seung-Yeop Lee, Wirfin Obispo, Marc Kroon, Edgar Gonzalez, Toru Murata, Noriyoshi Ohmichi, Soichi Fujita, Noel Urena

Staying: Seth Greisinger, Dicky Gonzalez

Summary: The top three teams in the Central League (Chunichi, Hanshin, and Yomiuri) all finished the 2010 season within one game of each other in the standings. While the order of finish might be different, it doesn’t look like any of the three will falter and miss the post-season party in 2011.

While the Giants failed in their quest for a fourth straight pennant last season, there were many positives. Owners of NPB’s most powerful lineup, only the Tigers were able to outpace the Giants’ 711 runs scored. Yomiuri’s stars like Alex Ramirez and Michihiro Ogasawara aren’t getting any younger, but both still put up terrific numbers. Ogasawara defies the laws of nature each season, staying remarkably consistent at the plate. Shinnosuke Abe set career highs with 44 home runs and 303 total bases. Hisayoshi Chono and Hayato Sakamoto have emerged as superb young hitters, offsetting a potential future offensive decline.

Once heralded but now out of favor, management decided that Seung-Yeop Lee’s time as a Giant would end this off-season. Since joining the team five years earlier, both Lee’s numbers and playing time steadily decreased each season. Edgar Gonzalez was not retained; the infielder hit .263 with 12 home runs in 2010.

The plan right now seems to be one of replacing the holes that were created by off-season departures. Rusty Ryal spent 2010 with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He’ll battle with for time at third base, as it looks like Tatsunori Hara will slide Ogasawara over to first base. Taishi Ohta and Yoshiyuki Kamei will undoubtedly be squeezed for playing time at ichi-gun if Ryal sticks; the latter is transitioning to the infield this season.

On the pitching side, closer Marc Kroon and Masahide Kobayahi departed.  I expect former New York Yankee Jonathan Albaladejo to fill Kroon’s spot as the 9th inning man. He might have some competition from Tetsuya Yamaguchi or Daisuke Ochi, but I believe Albaladejo will win the role barring injury or severe early underperformance.

As for the rotation, Shun Tohno and Tetsuya Utsumi are set, then the Giants brass has to figure out how to cobble together a winning rotation from Shugo Fujii and a gaggle of foreigners. New arrival Brian Bannister should be part of the rotation, and Seth Greisinger will also get a look after an abbreviated 2010 campaign. Dicky Gonzalez (5-13, 5.29 ERA), who couldn’t come remotely close to his 2009 performance (15-2, 2.11 ERA), was also invited back and is an option. The odds are longer for hurlers such as Chih-Lung Huang or Carlos Torres to win a regular rotation spot, but hopes are high for 2010 top draft pick Hirokazu Sawamura.

Of note, Hideki Sunaga and Toshimasa Konta arrived in a trade with Nippon Ham, as Wirfin Obispo was sent to Hokkaido in exchange. Toru Murata departed for the American minor leagues, but the aforementioned Greisinger took a harsh pay cut to stay with the Giants.

The positional battles, newcomers, and high-powered offense should be fun to watch this spring. We’ll see if it all goes according to plan for the Kyojin when the games count in a few months.

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NPB in English: Goodbye to 2010

» 29 December 2010 » In nichibei, npb » Comments Off

As 2010 draws to a close, here’s a look at what the blogs and newspapers are saying about NPB:

  • Our own Patrick Newman joins Gen Sueyoshi from Yaku Baka in offering some thoughts on where the league is headed. The interview comes courtesy of Tokyoswallows.com.
  • Gen also has news from the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks, including Nobuhiko Matsunaka’s pay cut, the largest ever in Japanese baseball.
  • Amazin’ Avenue has a look back at Benny Agbayani’s career and finds out what he’s doing these days. Benny was one of my favorite players on both sides of the Pacific.
  • Jason Coskrey takes a look at Japan’s aging crop of closers and who may be in line to replace them.
  • Jim Allen, in his Daily Yomiuri column, gets Jim Small’s thoughts on the NPB/MLB relationship moving forward.
  • Lastly, Wayne Graczyk looks back at a 2010 season filled with moments to remember.

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Lim Stays With Yakult

» 28 November 2010 » In npb » 1 Comment

After an on-again-off-again sort of negotiation, Chang Yong Lim has agreed to a deal that will keep him in the Yoyogi area of Tokyo. The headlines are calling it a three-year, 1.42 bn yen deal, but read a little more carefully and you’ll see that it’s really a two-year, 750m yen deal, with a mutual option for year three.

Yakult is reportedly now going after pitcher Young-Soo Bae, of the KBO’s Samsung Lions.

I thought Yakult might be a possible landing spot for Marc Kroon, but that’s a lot less likely with Lim returning. At this point, Rakuten seems like his best shot at a closing job in 2011.

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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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A Look at Yomiuri’s Import Roster

» 11 July 2009 » In npb » Comments Off

The Yomiuri Giants have had an interesting collection of foreign players on their roster this year. Let’s take a look at them:

Alex Ramirez (OF, Venezuela) Ramirez is in his ninth season, and has accrued enough NPB service time to no longer count against the foreign player limit. Only a few guys have last this long, Tuffy Rhodes being another. Ramirez is having another productive season with a .303 average and 55 rbi, but his numbers aren’t as eye-popping as they were during his MVP season last year. The Giants have taken advantage of his new non-foreign player status by keeping additional import players on the roster.

Seung-Yeop Lee (1B, Korea) Perhaps Korea’s most accomplished hitter, Lee is in the fourth and final year of his contract with the Kyojin-gun. He was dynamite in his first year with the Giants, hitting .323 with 41 home runs, but in the subsequent two years we’ve seen him slip to .274 and 30 and then .248 and 8. Lee’s power has recovered a bit this season, as he has 17 homers through July 11, and though his batting average is still sub-par at .240, he has a respectable .848 ops.

Edgardo Alfonzo (IF, Venezuela) The Giants went to the scrap heap with Alfonzo, and though he made the team out of spring training, he failed to impress in a limited look during the season, hitting just .118 in 38 at-bats. Alfonzo has been with the Giants’ farm team, where he hasn’t played much. There is occasionally news about him practicing with the top team, but I figure it’ll take an injury for him to get another look at this point.

Seth Greisinger (SP, United States) The veteran American lead the Central League in wins the last two seasons, and was rewarded with an opening day start this year. Greisinger hasn’t been quite as good this year as he had been previously, but he’s still one of Japan’s top innings eaters with a 3.66 era through 103 innings pitched so far this year.

Marc Kroon (RP, United States) The Giants poached Kroon from Yokohama prior to last season, and it paid off as he set a new personal best with 41 saves. Note the trend here — Ramirez, Lee, Greisinger and Kroon were all signed after having success with other NPB teams. Kroon has dealt with injury problems this year, but has been solid in limited action with a 1.12 era.

Dicky Gonzalez (SP, Puerto Rico) Gonzales is another guy with previous NPB experience, haven’t spent a few years with Yakult, being a Tommy John veteran coming off a mediocre season, he was more of a reclaimation project coming in this season. Suffice to say that he’s exceeded expectations with an 8-1 record and 2.31 era through 11 starts. He’s gotten by with supreme control, striking out 48 against just six walks. Gonzalez also took the monthly top pitcher award for May.

Wirfin Obispo (SP/RP, Dominican Republic) Obispo has been a small triumph for player development. He came to Japan as an ikusei player, prior to the 2007 season at the age of 23 without significant professional experience. Obispo spent 2007 and 2008 working on his game with the farm team, and was given a chance to pitch at the top level with Kroon down with a hand injury. Obispo has impressed in his recent starts, which will give the Giants something to think about when Kroon comes back.

Adrian Burnside (SP, Australia) After putting up a respectable 3.48 era in 75 innings for the Giants last year, Burnside is buried on the Giants’ farm team, where he’s only made eight appearances.

Levi Romero (RP, Venezuela) Former Houston and Texas farmhand Romero joined the Giants this spring as an ikusei player, and has been promoted to the regular roster, which means he’ll be around until the end of the year. I doubt we’ll see him with the top team this year, but the Giants like his velocity and he’ll get a chance to continue working on his game in Japan.

Lin Yi-Hau (P, Taiwan) and Lee Yi-Fong (P, Taiwan) I have no idea if I’m romanizing these names correctly, but Lee and Lin are a couple of teenagers who signed with the Giants as 15 year-olds. Lin, 18, has made one appearance for the farm team this year, allowing two earned runs in two innings. Lee is still just 16 years old, and doesn’t have any stats I can find.

So we have a tenured NPB veteran, one of Korea’s all-time great hitters, a former MLB all-star on his last legs, a couple of dependable American veterans, a surprising reclamation project, two Latin American development projects, two Taiwanese teenagers, and an Australian lost in the shuffle. Interesting group of guys.

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