Tag Archive > Shugo Fujii

Changes for 2012: Yomiuri Giants

» 06 February 2012 » In npb » 5 Comments

Coming: Toshiya Sugiuchi, DJ Houlton, Shuichi Murata, John Bowker, Scott Mathieson, Yoshito Ishii, Takayuki Takaguchi

Going: Shugo Fujii, Alex Ramirez, Seth Greisinger, Rusty Ryal, Chih-Lung Huang, Micheal Nakamura, Saburo Ohmura, Jonathan Albaladejo, Carlos Torres, Josh Fields, Brian Bannister, Shinji Takahashi, Toshimasa Konta, Kazunori Tsuruoka

Staying: Ryota Wakiya

As usual, Yomiuri did lots of reshuffling this year, including a couple of significant moves.

Let’s start with the pitching. The Kyojin-gun took advantage of Softbank botching negotiations with ace Toshiya Sugiuchi, and scooped him up with a four-year deal. Sugiuchi was always my favorite Softbank lefty, and he’ll be a great addition to Yomiuri’s rotation. Yomiuri also raided Softbank for another starter, American DJ Houlton. Houlton’s four year’s in Japan have gone like this: mediocre, quite good, bad, great. Which of course, suggests that he’s due for a down year, if you believe such things. Houlton’s numbers may regress from his 19 wins and 2.29 ERA, but at his best he’s good for 170 innings of work, which is a valuable commodity.

At the plate, Yomiuri’s main moves essentially boil down for swapping Shuichi Murata and John Bowker in for Rusty Ryal/Josh Fields and Alex Ramirez. Initially this felt like a wash to me, but Murata is younger than Ramirez and plays a difficult position to fill, and maybe playing for a winning team will revive his motivation. Bowker simply needs to not be a total bust to eclipse the results of Ryal and Fields. Outfield depth is a bit of a concern with an unproven Bowker and a usually unhealthy Yoshinobu Takahashi, so a return form for recent non-performers Yoshiyuki Kamei and Tetsuya Matsumoto would be well-timed. Or maybe Kosuke Fukudome would be a fit.

So another offseason of the Giants doing what the Giants do — spending money. But it appears to be money well spent, addressing needs rather than just stacking up sluggers because they can. Expect them to compete for the Central League title this year.

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Changes for 2012: Yokohama DeNA Baystars

» 28 January 2012 » In npb » 9 Comments

It’s time again for this series of posts.I was hoping to get these in before camps open on February 1, but alas, sometimes real life intervenes. This year we’ll go in the reverse order of the final 2011 standings, Central League first. 

Coming: Alex Ramirez, Masaaki Koike, Shugo Fujii, Gio Alvarado, Kazunari Tsuruoka, Masanori Hayashi, Kazumasa Kikuchi, Taketoshi Goto, DeNA ownership, manager Kiyoshi Nakahata, new uniforms

Going: Shuichi Murata, Termel Sledge, Brett Harper, Shingo Takeyama, Naoto Inada, Tomo Ohka, Daisuke Hayakawa

Staying: Clayton Hamilton, Brandon Mann

2011 was another year in the cellar for Yokohama. The Baystars finished last in the Central for the eighth time in ten years, including the last four consecutively with sub-.360 winning percentages. Better news came following the season though, when the previous ownership group TBS finally found a buyer, mobile gaming company DeNA. The combination of new ownership and charismatic new manager Kiyoshi Nakahata has generated a level of buzz around the team unseen since Kazuhiro Sasaki’s return.

Despite 2011’s last place finish, there were a few bright spots: Kentaro Takasaki emerged as a solid starter, slugger prospect Yoshitomo Tsutsugo performed well in his late-season trial, 2009 ikusei draftee Yuki Kuniyoshi emerged as a prospect, and lefty Brandon Mann put up good numbers in limited work.  The obvious rub is that of the four guys mentioned, only Takasaki made a contribution that lasted the entire season.

The Baystars’ 2012 roster changes aren’t going to vault the team into contention, but they aren’t going to hurt either. Yomiuri refugee Alex Ramirez and the emerging Tsutsugo should cancel out the losses of Termel Sledge and Shuichi Murata, and perhaps the departure of Brett Harper will lead to a few at-bats for prospect Atsushi Kita. Ramirez will be a defensive liability, and Tsutsugo probably will be as well, but then again, Sledge and Murata weren’t exactly gold glovers.

The bigger issue for Yokohama over the last several seasons has been run prevention. Last year, Yokohama had only two pitchers through 100 or more innings, Kentaro Takasaki and NPB Tracker favorite Daisuke Miura. To that end, if newcomers Gio Alvarado and Shugo Fujii can contribute 100-120 IP of league average or slightly better ball, the dual benefit of giving the younger pitchers some breathing room and making the more competitive will be realized.

The Baystars seem destined for another last-place finish in the Central this year, but for the first time in quite a while it feels like there’s a little competitive light visible at the end of the tunnel.

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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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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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Moves & Notes, December 1, 2009

» 01 December 2009 » In nichibei, npb » Comments Off

A couple of player personnel notes to pass along…

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Five Players File For Free Agency

» 18 November 2009 » In mlb prospects, npb » 4 Comments

Out of the 87 players eligible to file for free agency this off-season, only five players filed for free agency including Ryota Igarashi and Hisanori Takahashi declaring as international free agents.

The other three players filing for free agency are thought to make a move within the NPB. The Yakult Swallows remain the team interested in INF Atsushi Fujimoto and the Yokohama BayStars are the front runner for C Tasuku Hashimoto. LHP Shugo Fujii from the Nippon Ham Fighters has also declared free agency and his destination is still up in the air, but a re-connection with the Fighters is unlikely.

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The List of Free Agents

» 27 October 2009 » In international baseball, mlb prospects, nichibei » 2 Comments

It’s that time of the year again when each team starts to look forward to the offseason stove league, aside from the Giants and Fighters who are set to do battle for this year’s big prize. The main talks of the off-season will be centering around the movement of the free agents and today the list of qualifying players was released.

Potential candidates that might consider a move overseas are starting to buzz  around the rumor mill and Ryota Igarashi and Naoyuki Shimizu are two of  the bigger names in the news at this point. Toshihisa Nishi is another guy who wants to play in MLB, but he’s 38 and looking at MLB as a swansong. The situation might change once the offseason begins, but there have been no talks about big names being posted and it might be a relatively quiet offseason for new Japanese players coming to the States for a new challenge.

DOMESTIC

  • Fighters: Shugo Fujii (LHP), Hichori Morimoto (OF)
  • Golden Eagles: Yosuke Takasu (INF), Akihito Fujii (CA)
  • Lions: Yoshihito Ishii (INF)
  • Marines: Hiroyuki Kobayashi (RHP), Tadahito Iguchi (INF, under a three-year contract)
  • Buffaloes: Tsuyoshi Kikuchihara (LHP), Osamu Hamanaka (OF), Alex Cabrera (INF)
  • Giants: Shinnosuke Abe (CA)
  • Dragons: Hidenori (OF)
  • Tigers: Atsushi Fujimoto (INF), Norihiro Akahoshi (OF)
  • Carp: Ryuji Yokoyama (RHP), Yoshikazu Kura (CA)
  • Baystars: Atsushi Kizuka (RHP)

INTERNATIONAL

  • Fighters: Tomochika Tsuboi (OF), Yoshinori Tateyama (RHP)
  • Hawks: Hitoshi Tamura (OF, staying put)
  • Marines: Tasuku Hashimoto (CA), Naoyuki Shimizu (RHP), Shingo Ono (RHP),
  • Buffaloes: Hidetaka Kawagoe (RHP, has been released and will move on)
  • Giants: Hisanori Takahashi (LHP), Shigeyuki Furuki (INF), Alex Ramirez (OF), Kiyoshi Toyoda (RHP)
  • Dragons: Masahiko Morino (INF, under a multi-year contract), Motonobu Tanishige (CA)
  • Swallows: Ryota Igarashi (RHP), Kazuki Fukuchi (OF), Masao Kida (RHP, will move on)
  • Baystars: Shigeru Morikasa (OF), Toshihisa Nishi (INF, has been released and is looking to play in the States in ’10)

Note that the player’s status, where known, appears in brackets beside his name. We’ll update this page as the offseason progresses.

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Hanshin’s Shopping List

» 16 October 2009 » In mlb, nichibei, npb » 9 Comments

The news about Hanshin’s list of offseason acquisition targets is flying fast and furious. It kind of reminds me of this old Onion article. Here’s what I’ve seen so far.

Via NPB Free Agency…

  • Shugo Fujii (Nippon Ham) — this probably makes the most sense of any of these acquisitions. Fujii wouldn’t make the Tigers a championship club on his own though
  • Hiroyuki Kobayashi (Lotte) — another rather low risk, medium reward type

Via Trade…

  • GG Sato (Seibu) — coming off a career year
  • Shunsuke Watanabe (Lotte) — can’t see Lotte moving him, but would be interesting to see how he adjusts to the Central League
  • Nagisa Arakaki (SoftBank) — one of my favorite pitchers, but has been hurt for the last two years

From Korea…

  • Brad Thomas (Korea, Hanwha Eagles) — former Nippon Ham Fighter
  • Rick Guttoromson (Korea, Kia Tigers) — Sports Hochi reported on him and Thomas
  • Kim Tae-Gyun (Korea, Hanwha Eagles) — Matt tipped me off to this info on Kim
  • Lee Bum-Ho (Korea, Hanwha Eagles) — Matt also pointed out that if the already last-place Hanwha loses all these guys, they might as well field a him of himself, me and Shinsano

Possible MLB Returnees…

  • Hideki Matsui (NY Yankees) has been speculated over since the summer, seems like Matsui will get chances to stay in MLB
  • Masahide Kobayashi (ex Cleveland Indians) — makes sense, I wonder if they went after him during the season
  • Kenji Johjima (Seattle Mariners) — reports in the Japanese media say that he has an escape clause in his contract allowing him to return to Japan. Cot’s knows nothing about this. Hanshin is said to be prepared to offer 500m yen annually (about $5m), so for this to work Joh would have to take a pay cut, and the Mariners would have to not convince him to stay
  • Akinori Iwamura (Tampa Bay Rays) — saw some speculation about this a week or two ago, Iwamura didn’t say much other than that he would go where he was evaluated the most highly

There are also reports that Hanshin is going to be looking to the US market as usual, but I haven’t seen any legitimate names published yet. Hanshin sent team president Nobuo Minami to the States this season in an effort to learn how to evaluate US-based players. In the process, he had his picture taken with Bobby Cox, and met with the GMs of the Braves, Yankees, Mets, as well as front office personnel from the Red Sox.

What do NPB fans think? Would any of these moves make Hanshin the team to beat next year?

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NPB Bullet Points: Brazell Becomes a Dad, KBO Offers for Bobby

» 26 August 2009 » In kbo, npb » 8 Comments

Japanese Stories:

  • Craig Brazell commemorated the birth of his son, Trot, with two home runs in Hanshin’s 9-3 win over Yokohama. Congratulations to the Brazell family!
  • Lotte reportedly has some interest in bringing Julio Zuleta back to Japan. Why? Good question — he wasn’t effective his last few years in Japan, and he got himself released from his Mexican League team early in the season. Lotte team management says he would have to pass a tryout get a contract.
  • Chris Aguila is headed back to the States at the end of the month and is almost certainly done with SoftBank. He only managed to hit .095 and hasn’t played at ichi-gun since May.
  • Yomiuri is considering sending pitcher Norihito Kaneto among others to the Arizona Fall League this year. The team sent a couple of guys to play in the Dominican last winter.
  • “Shaggy” Shugo Fujii has qualified for domestic free agency.
  • It was a “draw”: Hisahi Iwakuma threw 149 pitches over 10 innings on August 25, but Hideaki Wakui threw 162 over nine. Neither pitcher figured in the decision, which Seibu took in a walk-off in the 11th. The winning Lions stormed the field, Taketoshi Gotoh wearing a mask that is supposed to resemble Barrack Obama.
  • Javelin thrower Yukifumi Murakami is reportedly getting a little attention from NPB teams as a pitcher. He supposedly hit 152 kmph (95mph) on the gun in college but maxed out at 142 kmph (87mph) in a recent speed gun competition.

English Stories:

  • Gen passes along a Sponichi report saying that Bobby Valentine is getting offers to manage in Korea.
  • You know those ESPN commercials that make Buster Olney look like an undercover operative or something? It took me two or three times to figure out what he’s supposed to be saying on the phone in Japanese. It’s “Ichiro! My favorite outfielder!” (“Ichiro! Boku no sukina gaiyashu!”).
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