Tag Archive > Masayuki Hasegawa

Orix’s Rotation

» 24 December 2010 » In npb » 7 Comments

The Orix Buffaloes have added a few arms this offseason, and have a number of interesting options for their 2011 rotation. Let’s take a look at how things could fit together.

Strong Incumbents

The Orix rotation discussion begins with an established ace and two solid arms.

Chihiro Kaneko — Orix has a legitimate ace in Kaneko. He’s been good in each of the three years he’s spent as a starter, but he reached new heights in 2010 with 17 wins, 204.1 innings, six shutouts and 190 strikeouts.

Hiroshi Kisanuki — Orix bought low on Kisanuki, and were rewarded with a solid 174.1 innings of 3.98 ball. Kisanuki’s been around for a while, so it is a little surprising that 2010 was just the fourth time he’s thrown over 100 innings, and the first since 2007. This may explain why he was strong in the first half but struggled down the stretch. If he can stay healthy again in 2011, he’ll continue to be a solid innings eater.

Kazuki Kondo – I like Kondo, he reminds me of Junichi Tazawa. His 5-10, 4.35 performance in 2010 belies the fact that he took a big step forward with a career-high 133 strikeouts in 142.2 innings. Like Kisanuki, he wore out down the stretch, and was basically done after a 144-pitch outing in early September. Kondo has established a ceiling of 140-150 innings in a season, but he’s a good mid-rotation arm.

Health Question Marks

Then we have a group of talented pitchers with poor track records for health.

Hayato Terahara — Terahara is another personal favorite of mine, and I think Orix absolutely fleeced Yokohama in getting him for Shogo Yamamoto and Go Kida. Terahara had a big breakout year as a starter in 2007, then a solid year as Yokohama’s closer in 2008, but has missed significant time with injuries over the last two seasons. If Orix can coax a healthy season out of him, they’ll have something. It’s a good risk to take.

Satoshi Komatsu — It seems like a long time ago that Komatsu went 15-3, won the Rookie of the Year award, and was chosen for Japan’s WBC team. It’s been a rough, injury-laden couple of years since then. Komatsu did make 13 starts last year, but now seems destined for the bullpen.

Masayuki Hasegawa – Getting Hasegawa for the unused Yuichiro Mukae was an inspired move, but he’s no ace. Realistically, Hasegawa’s contribution will be that he can take the ball every so often and keep his team in the game for five or six innings.

New Imports

Next year, Orix should have a foreigner taking regular rotation turns for the first time since Tom Davey in 2007.

Chan Ho Park – Park is obviously the big name here, having collected 124 wins over a 17-season MLB career. Park signed with Orix to start, so we can assume he’ll open the season in the Buffaloes rotation. There are some question marks though; he’s 37 and hasn’t worked anything close to a full season as a starter since 2006 in San Diego. On the other hand, getting more rest between starts and reduced travel might suit him well.

Alfredo Figaro – And at the other end of the spectrum, there’s Figaro. Figaro has only 31.2 MLB innings under his belt, and is still only 26 years old. Back in 2009, Marc Hulet of FanGraphs put his upside as a back-rotation MLB starter, which makes him an interesting NPB prospect. He’ll bring plus velocity and a good slider to the table.

My Rotation

Assuming health, I’d stack the rotation going into the spring something like this:

  1. Kaneko
  2. Kisanuki
  3. Park
  4. Terahara
  5. Kondo
  6. Figaro

Kaneko’s the ace and Kisanuki earned his #2 spot with his 2010 performance. Park’s MLB track record will probably give him the edge for the next spot, though I like Terahara better if he’s healthy. Kondo is next, and I put Figaro in the last spot because I have decided what I expect from him yet.

The catch is that every pitcher I listed here is a righty. With Yamamoto dispatched in the Terahara trade, Orix doesn’t have an obvious rotation lefty. Shinya Nakayama got a few starts in 2010, but has never been able to stick at the ichi-gun level. Another option might be sophomore Shuichi Furukawa, but he pitched exclusively out of the bullpen in his first professional season.

Overall, Orix has assembled a deep group of starters. It’ll take a few things going right, but Orix could have one of the best rotations in Japan next season.

Continue reading...

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

A Flurry of Trades

» 31 July 2010 » In npb » 5 Comments

With the July 31 player aquisition deadline passed, all the trades for this season are in the books. I didn’t cover them closely this season, so here’s a recap, roughly in reverse chronological order:

Masafumi Togano to Rakuten, Hideki Asai to Yomiuri (Sponichi): In the final deal of this year’s trading season the Giants and Eagles swapped righties. I haven’t seen enough of Togano to have an opinion on him, but Asai has gottne a long look at Rakuten and apparently no longer fits into their plans.  Verdict: even.

Koji Mise (RHP) to Chunichi, Masaumi Shimizu (C) to SoftBank (Sponichi): SoftBank needed catching depth after Katsuki Yamazaki went down with an injury, and found it in Shimizu. Shimizu has yet to appear in a game for SoftBank as Hidenori Tanoue is doing all the work behind the plate. Mise holds the distinction of being the oldest RoY winner in recent memory (of all time?), bu hadn’t done much lately for the Hawks. He has a 15.00 ERA in six appearances with Chunichi. Verdict: draw.

Yuya Kamada (RHP) to Rakuten, Koki Watanabe (LHP) to Yakult (Sanspo): A swap of two guys with similar career numbers who are about the same age, but throw with different hands. Watanabe has seen action as a LOOGy for Yakult, while Kamada languishes on Rakuten’s farm. Verdict: I’ll give Yakult the edge here.

Tomohito Yoneno (C) to Seibu, Minoru Yamagishi to Yakult (Daily Sports): Another deal necessitated by an injured catcher, this time Seibu’s Ginjiro. Yoneno has so far provided unused catching depth for Seibu has Toru Hosakawa and Tatsuyuki Uemoto carrying the load. Yamagishi hasn’t made an appearance for Yakult’s ichi-gun team. Verdict: a carbon copy of the Mise-Shimizu deal.

Masayuki Hasegawa (RHP) and Go Kida (PH) to Orix, Yuichiro Mukae (OF) to Hiroshima (Daily Sports): I’ve already written about what a good deal this was for Orix. To reiterate: Orix gets a potentially serviceable starter and an established bench bat for an outfielder whom they were never going to use. Verdict: Orix wins by unanimous decision.

Yuji Yoshimi (LHP) to Lotte, cash to Yokohama (Sanspo): When this deal happened, I thought it was an inspired pickup up for the Marines. Yoshimi is once-promising lefty who bounced back from injuries to eat up 88+ average innings last year for Yokohama. That might not sound like much, but a similar performance would have been a big help for Lotte. Verdict: Lotte had the right idea.

Kenji Sato from Lotte to Nippon Ham in an uncompensated (musho) trade (Nikkan Sports): Here’s another inspired pickup. Nippon Ham found a 21 year-old kid who wasn’t getting at-bats with Lotte’s ni-gun team and got him for nothing, and so far he’s hit .344/.469/.442 at Kamagaya. Sure it’s a limited number of at-bats, but Nippon Ham found some upside at a cost of zero. Verdict: small win for Nippon Ham.

Takehito Kanazawa (RHP) to SoftBank, Hisao Arakane (OF),  Keisuke Kaneko (IF) to Orix (Nikkan Sports): The story here is Arakane, who is currently sporting an .888 OPS through 159 PA’s with Orix. Nothing in his statistical track record hinted at this kind of ability, so we’ll see if he keeps it up. Kanazawa, who Orix wasn’t using, is getting regular work with SoftBank. Kaneko is with Orix’s farm team. Verdict: Orix wins by split decision.

Teruaki Yoshikawa (RHP) to SoftBank – Shotaro Ide (OF) to Yokohama (Sponichi): Not much to say about this one. Yoshikawa has gotten six innings of work in for the Hawks, Ide is hitting .200 for the BayStars. Verdict: incomplete.

Shintaro Ejiri (RHP) to Yokahama, Yuya Ishii (LHP) to Nippon Ham (Sponichi): I had the impression that Ejiri was pretty good, but he’s been pedestrian by the Bay. Ishii’s only pitched 9.2 innings for Nippon ham, but he has an 8:0 K:BB ratio and is lefthanded. Verdict: my gut still says Yokohama on this one.

Yusuke Kawasaki (LHP) to Hanshin, cash to Lotte (Sanspo): I figured this was a budget reduction move for Lotte, since Kawasaki has had some success in the past. But I guess they knew something I didn’t, because Kawasaki’s has a 5.06 ERA for Hanshin and has been injured since June. Verdict: I’ll call this one in Lotte’s favor, since they wound up getting a different lefty (Yoshimi) who can start. But if Kawasaki returns to his previous form, Hanshin wins.

So quite a bit of activity this season, with every team making at least one trade. None of these deals are going to have any impact on the pennant race in either league, but Orix managed to acquire some interesting options for expendable players.

Continue reading...

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

Rebuilding Orix

» 07 July 2010 » In npb » 4 Comments

A year or so ago, I came across a Japanese-language blog called something like “Orix saiken heno michi” (オリックス再建への道), which means “the road to rebuilding Orix”. I’d link to it if I could find it again, but I was unable to.The title pretty much explains the content of the blog, and the content of this post as well.

Aside from a somewhat improbable run to a 2nd place finish and playoff birth in 2008, Osaka’s second team has been serially uncompetitive since the 2004 Orix-Kintetsu merger. After last season, the team replaced manager Daijiro Ohishi with former Orix Blue Wave player and Hanshin Tigers manager Akinobu Okada, and kicked off another rebuilding effort.

Orix has had more than its share of tribulations this year, most notably the tragic suicide of Hiroyuki Oze, and the more recent passing of team dormitory master Toshio Hohya. Despite that, the team stands at a competitive 39-39 record as of July 7, thanks largely to a 16-8 run in interleague. Part of the team’s success has been due to the rather large number of acquisitions and roster tweaks Okada and the front office have made.

Offseason and Pre-Season Moves

  • Selected five college/industrial league/independent league pitchers in 09 draft: Okada’s stated strategy was to rebuild the pitching staff with more experienced amateurs. He stayed out of the Yusei Kikuchi race and got his top choice, Shuichi Furukawa, uncontested. Two ’09 draftees, Furukawa and Toru Anan (5th round), have already made their ichi-gun debuts.
  • Let Tuffy Rhodes walk: I’m already on the record as calling this a bad move.
  • Traded Yasunari Takagi to Yomiuri for Hiroshi Kisanuki: I loved this deal for Orix when it happened, and it’s been a home run for them so far. Kisanuki has been a reliable starter, throwing 100 innings of 3.87 ball, and is headed to the All-Star game. Takagi hasn’t made an appearance for the Giants.
  • Signed Aarom Baldiris: Baldiris showed he could play the field from his time with Hanshin, but he never hit enough to keep a regular ichi-gun job with Kansai’s other team. After starting this season on the farm, Baldiris has taken over third base and is hitting .297 with a .766 OPS through 164 PA’s. We’ll see if he can keep it up.
  • Signed So Taguchi: Taguchi spent his NPB career with the old Blue Wave version of Orix, before his eight-year stint in MLB. At 40 years old, he’s basically what he was in the States: a useful, if slightly below-average outfield bat off the bench.
  • Traded Masahiro Abe to Seibu for Shogo Akada: I’ll call this spring training trade a wash as neither player has performed well with his new team.
  • Signed Freddie Bynum: Another spring training move, it looks like Bynum has lost out to Baldiris, and is buried so far down the foreign depth chart that it’s unlikely we’ll see much more of him this year.
  • Committed a regular spot in the lineup to T-Okada: The presence of manager Okada led to the player formerly known as Takahiro Okada adopting the fan-suggested T-Okada moniker. It’s worked out pretty well, as he’s sporting an .857 OPS with 17 HR in his first season of regular duty.

In-Season Moves

  • Traded Takehito Kanazawa to SoftBank for Hisao Arakane and Keisuke Kaneko: Another two-player return for a non-contributor. Kaneko has been a non-factor so far, but Arakane has hit .295 though his first 88 at-bats. I’d be a little surprised if the 32 year-old fringey veteran keeps it up though.
  • Saw Satoshi Komatsu get healthy: He started the season in the bullpen, and overall doesn’t look the same to me as he did in his fantastic 2008 season, but Komatsu has kicked in 56.1 innings of 3.04 ball.
  • Traded Yuichiro Mukae to Hiroshima for Masayuki Hasegawa and Go Kida: it’s hard not to love this trade for Orix — they turned a career .177 hitter into a guy who can at least handle pinch hitting duties, and a once-promising righthander who can still be effective if healthy. Kida’s value as a bench bat is somewhat negated in the DH-using Pacific League, but Orix got a big return on Mukae. Supposedly Hiroshima really wanted Naoyuki Ohmura.
  • Signed Fernando Seguignol: Seguignol comes full-circle, having spent an unproductive season with the Blue Wave way back in 2002. Seguignol was signed to provide injury depth behind Alex Cabrera, but only appeared in six games before being sent down.

So not every move Orix made has worked out, but there are plenty of wins in this list. I still think Orix will settle to the bottom this year and miss the playoffs, as they just don’t have the star power to compete with the rest of the Pacific League. But they’re making it interesting.

Continue reading...

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