Tag Archive > Tomoaki Kanemoto

Changes for 2012: Hanshin Tigers

» 04 February 2012 » In npb » 3 Comments

Coming: Hayata Itoh (1st round draft pick), Shingo Matsuzaki, manager Yutaka Wada

Going: Tsuyoshi Shimoyanagi, Kodai Sakurai, Ikuro Katsuragi, Keiji Uezono, manager Akinobu Mayumi

Staying: Matt Murton, Craig Brazell, Randy Messenger, Jason Standridge, Takashi Toritani, Kyuji Fujikawa

Hanshin’s biggest change this season is in the dugout, where Yutaka Wada replaces Akinobu Mayumi, who failed to lead the Tigers to a Central League crown or a Japan Series appearance in three years at the helm. Wada is a Hanshin lifer, having spent his entire 16 year playing career with the team, followed by another 10 years in various coaching roles in the Tigers organizatoin. Wada also occupies a special place in Hanshin lore, as the last active player from Hanshin’s legendary 1985 championship team at the time of his retirement in 2001.

Wada inherits a roster that is largely unchanged from 2011, a team finished fourth in the Central League despite outscoring its opponents by 39 runs. In a small league though, run differentials are deceiving, and a big chunk of those 39 runs came from blowing out Yokohama a few times. Rookie outfielder Hayata Itoh figures to get a serious look during spring training, as center field is a hole, and left fielder Tomoaki Kanemoto is on his last legs after a venerable career. Retaining Matt Murton was a big win for Hanshin, as they can count on his steady bat in right.

Hanshin made no significant changes to its pitching staff this offseason. Hiroyuki Kobayashi is working on a move to the rotation after a so-so season in middle relief; I wonder if lefty Daiki Enokida could make a few starts as well. Depth is always a plus, and while Hanshin had four starters pitch 150+ innings with 3.00 or lower ERAs, lefties Minoru Iwata and Atsushi Nohmi both struggled with injuries prior to 2011. On the farm, Taiwanese prospects Ikketsu Sho and Kai-Wen Cheng both put up good numbers at ni-gun last year, and righty Takumi Akiyama has shown promise as well.

Hanshin is beginning to age at some positions, but overall still has a talented veteran roster. That coupled with regression from of last year’s top three should see the Tigers back in playoff position this year.

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NPB Bullet Points: Darvish K’s 1000, Iwakuma Throws 147, Kanemoto Still Runs

» 26 April 2011 » In npb » 6 Comments

News and notes from around NPB. Japanese links only tonight.
  • Yu Darvish recorded his 1000th career strikeout on the 26th, picking up the win over Softbank. Darvish reached the milestone in 1058.2 innings pitched, the seventh fastest pace in NPB history.
  • Darvish didn’t have the top game of the night though, as Hisashi Iwakuma struck out 13 Seibu Lions, going the distance for a 147 pitch shutout.
  • Veteran Hanshin slugger Tomoaki Kanemoto became the oldest player to steal a base in NPB history, when he swiped second in the eight in against Hiroshima on the 27. “Aniki” is 43 years and 23 days old.
  • Yokohama is bringing back lefty Stephen Randolph. Randolph worked out for the BayStars following the placement of Brent Leach on the restricted list.\
  • Daily Sports reports that Brian Bannister has informed the Yomiuri Giants that he has no plans to pitch in the US or Japan this season.
  • Television ratings for Yuki Saito’s pro debut on the 17th peaked at 29.4% of Hokkaido homes, the highest ever for a regular season Nippon Ham Fighters game.
  • Now on sale at the Lotteria in Chiba’s QVC Marine Field: Saburo Burgers.

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Post-Quake News

» 16 March 2011 » In npb » 7 Comments

With northern Japan still not out of the woods, baseball has rightfully taken a backseat in the news. But there is already news about the charitable activity of NPB players, as well as discussion about when NPB’s season should begin, and I’d like to share those items tonight. No opinion here, just news.

And finally I and my family have made small contributions to Global Giving and Save The Children, and are researching other organizations. If anyone has any suggestions, I’m all ears.

 

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NPB Bullet Points: Home Runs

» 26 June 2010 » In npb » 1 Comment

Alright, time for another edition of NPB Bullet Points. Today we’ll look at some notable home runs that have been hit over the last week or so.

  • Craig Brazell had a six-game home run streak end on June 23rd against Hirohima. Sadaharu Oh and Randy Bass jointly hold the home run streak record at seven games. Brazell had been leading the Central League (and Japan) in dingers until…
  • Shinnosuke Abe got hot. Abe hit his 10th home run in June on the 23rd, marking the third time in his career he’s reached double digit home runs in a month. Abe commented, “right now in my at bats, in a good way I’m thinking ‘I’m a foreign hitter. I have awesome power’.” He then went out and hit two more bombs on the 26th to take over the league lead from Brazell. Abe is capable of hitting home runs in bunches; back in 2004 he opened the season with 20 homers in 33 games.
  • When Abe’s Giants teammate Alex Ramirez went deep for the 20th time this season on the 22nd, he become the second foreign player to hit 20 homers in each of his first ten seasons in Japan. The first? Tuffy Rhodes, of course. Ramirez had this to say: “I hit my first home run in Japan in a Yakult uniform at Jingu Stadium, so I’m glad I was able to achieve this in this ballpark.”
  • This happened a few hours after the original publication of this post, but Hanshin veteran Tomoaki Kanemoto hit his 450th career home run on the 27th. Kanemoto is just the 13th NPB player to reach that mark, and the first since Rhodes last year.

In unrelated news, the San Francisco Giants retired the number of Hall of Fame outfielder and African-American pioneer Monte Irvin today. It’s a bit overdue but definitely a feel-good story.

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Bullet Points: NHL Playoffs, Debuts

» 19 April 2010 » In mlb, nichibei, npb » 8 Comments

First a little diversion into hockey: the NHL playoffs are underway and my local San Jose Sharks won the top seed in the Western Conference, and are off to an… interesting start to their first series. If you’ve paid any attention to the Sharks over the last few years, you know that they’ve made a habit of perennially flaming out in the early rounds of the playoffs. So I had modest expectations coming in, which I thought were realized with a rather lackluster game one. But in game two I saw a Sharks team that I haven’t seen in a long time. I can’t remember the last time I saw them play with such a level of urgency. And they took it up a notch in game three, completely dominating the puck in the second and third periods.

But the Sharks had their flaws in both games two and three: in game two they few chances they gave up were top-notch, and Evgeni Nabakov didn’t make any big saves in regulation; in game three the Sharks just couldn’t manage to score, despite getting 51 shots to the net, and eventually lost on an own-goal in overtime. The Sharks are clearly more talented than Colorado but have yet to really play a complete game.

Somewhere in an alternate universe, the Sharks kept their young players together, Jonathan Cheechoo never fell apart, and a team featuring lines of Joe Thornton, Cheechoo, and Devin Setoguchi and Patrick Marleau, Milan Mihalek, and Steve Bernier has played Pittsburgh in the Stanley Cup finals the last two years.

And while we’re on hockey, Janblurr put up a post last week on the state of German professional hockey and some of the issues currently facing the Deutsche Eishockey Liga.

On with the bullet points…

  • On April 18, Hanshin’s Tomoaki Kanemoto failed to play every inning of his team’s game for the first time since 1999, ending his “full inning” streak at 1492. Just think about that for a second. 1492 games without missing an inning, from age 31 to 42. Kanemoto did make a pinch hit appearance, so his consecutive game streak is alive.
  • Roberto Petagine updates: Petagine will make his SoftBank debut during the interleague games in May at the earliest, and word is he’ll retire after his time in Fukuoka. Roberto’s 62 year-old wife Olga will be accompanying him to Japan.
  • Randy Johnson threw out the first pitch at a Seibu game last week.
  • One of my players to watch, Romash Tasuku Dass, made his first ichi-gun start of 2010 last week. The results? Not impressive. I didn’t see the game but he featured mostly a mid-80’s fastball, and got knocked out of the game early. Deanna was right.
  • Casey Fossum also made his Japan debut last week, throwing six shutout innings in a Tigers win. His velocity wasn’t great either.
  • SoftBank worked out Michael Olmsted and JD Durbin. Based on the Nikkan Sports write-up, Olmsted was the more impressive of the two, striking out six of nine batters faced. Durbin struck out four of 11. I’m not sure if these were live batters or in a simulated game scneario.

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Central League Predictions: How’d I Do?

» 17 October 2009 » In npb » Comments Off

Okay, so now that the regular season is in the books, let’s take a look and see how my Central League and Pacific League predictions played out. We’ll take a look at the Central first and do the Pacific in the next post.

(listed in order of actual results, my predictions are in parentheses)

1. Yomiuri Giants (2) — I picked the Giants to finish second. In 2008 Hanshin led for most of the year, before choking down the stretch, and I thought they’d make it this year. I was dead wrong about that, and the Giants wound up dominating from wire to wire. I thought someone from the secondary group of pitchers would have to step up, but the guys who did weren’t among my three breakout candidates (Kentaro Nishimura, Shun Tohno, and Takahiko Nomaguchi) — they were Yakult castoff Dicky Gonzales and Dominican prospect Wirfin Obispo.

2. Chunichi Dragons (5) — I was way off here. Chunichi put up a mediocre year in 2008, and lost three key contributors (Kenshin Kawakami, Nori Nakamura, Tyrone Woods) and I thought we’d see them slip further this year. Turns out I didn’t respect the Dragons’ depth highly enough. I did, however, correctly identify two of the key players for the Dragons this season, choosing Tony Blanco and Kazuki Yoshimi along with rookie Kei Nomoto. Nomoto was a bit of a disappointment, but Blanco and Yoshimi were outstanding.

3. Yakult Swallows (4) — Yakult took a step forward in 2009, sneaking in to the playoffs despite finishing one game under .500. Norichika Aoki overcame a horrific first half to finish at .303, and Aaron Guiel bounced back from a sub-par 2008 to hit 27 home runs. Two of my key players — Jaime D’Antona (.276, 21 hr) and Yoshinori (121 IP, 3.50 ERA)– were solid, while the other Tatsunori Masubuchi (one game, 12.60 era) was not. Yakult did get outscored by their opponents by 48 runs this year.

4. Hanshin Tigers (1) — My key players, Takahiro Arai and Kevin Mench, failed to meet expectations, and so did the Tigers. Mench’s time in Japan was particularly disastrous, flaming out after only 15 games. Hanshin’s trio of veterans Tomoaki Kanemoto, Akihiro Yano and Tsuyoshi Shimoyanagi started to show some signs of aging as well.

5. Hiroshima Carp (3) –The step forward I envisioned after a solid 2008 season didn’t materialize for the Carp, despite the good vibes from the beautiful new Mazda Stadium. The rotation was solid 1-3 and the Carp added American sluggers Scott McClain and Andy Phillips mid-season, but it wasn’t enough to win consistently. My key player, Kenta Maeda, was better than his 8-14 record would indicate.

6. Yokohama BayStars (6) — The one prediction I nailed, except that I thought they’d be a little more competitive this year. Wrong. Yokohama was again a doormat, suffering to the tune of a .354 winning percentage, getting outscored by 188 runs and losing it’s manager in the process. My key man, Hayato Terahara, was limited to 83 innings of work.

Synopsis: I guess I was close enough on everything except Chunichi and Hanshin.I thought the league would be a little more competitive, but the way things played out Yomiuri and Chunichi were way ahead of everyone else.

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2009 NPB Average Salary

» 29 April 2009 » In international baseball, npb, sports business » 3 Comments

Note: the 2014 revision of this post is here.

What great timing — just after we published the 2009 NPB Payroll Ranking, the Japan Professional Baseball Players Association announced their 2009 average salary numbers. The 738 players’ (not including foreign non-union players other than Chen Weiyin from the Chunichi Dragons) average salary for the 2009 season amounts to 3793K yen, which is 4.5 percent higher than the previous season.

The Tokyo Yomiuri Giants lost the top spot after holding the highest average salary for 14 consecutive seasons. The Hanshin Tigers earn the crown for the first time since the numbers began being published in 1988. The reason for Tigers reaching the top is that they have the highest Japanese paid player in Tomoaki Kanemoto and the main players on the roster earning at the 2M range. The runner-up is the Softbank Hawks and, suprisingly, in third place is the Yomiuri Giants. The Hiroshima Toyo Carp are in the last spot for the second year in a row. As most foreign players are not included in these numbers, it’s really the average payroll for the Japanese players on each team.

Rank  Team Average Salary PreviousSeason
1 Hanshin Tigers $58,519 $53,297
2 Softbank Hawks $53,257 $55,045
3 Yomiuri Giants $47,227 $55,651
4 Chiba Lotte Marines $43,682 $34,572
5 Chunichi Dragons $43,541 $51,065
6 Seibu Lions $36,118 $30,563
7 Tokyo Yakult Swallows $33,572 $28,088
8 Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters $33,380 $29,805
9 Yokohama Baystars $33,078 $32,330
10 Orix Buffaloes $27,553 $25,846
11 Rakuten Golden Eagles $27,108 $23,887
12 Hiroshima Toyo Carps $23,210 $19,675

* Note: these figures have been converted to US Dollars on May 3rd.

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2009 NPB Team Payroll Ranking

» 25 April 2009 » In international baseball, npb, sports business » 9 Comments

This ranking is based on calculating information from Daily Sports Online, and converting into US dollars at the April 24 dollar-yen exchange rate from Google Finance. The numbers are based on the start of the 2009 season. I hope this will be interesting and insightful for new NPB fans to learn how much Japanese teams pay their players.

Rank Team Payroll Players Under Contract Highest Paid Player
1 Yomiuri Giants $45.30M 78 Seung-Youp Lee, $6.2M
2 Hanshin Tigers $40.49M 74 Tomoaki Kanemoto, $5.6M
3 Softbank Hawks $34.11M 74 Nobuhiko Matsunaka, $5.1M
4 Chunichi Dragons $30.02M 70 Hitoki Iwase, $4.4M
5 Chiba Lotte Marines $27.67M 78 Naoyuki Shimizu, $2.4M
6 Seibu Lions $26.75M 68 Kazuhisa Ishii, $2.8M
7 Orix Buffaloes $26.04M 69 Tuffy Rhodes, $3.3M
8 Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters $24.97M 66 Atsunori Inaba, $3M
9  Tokyo Yakult Swallows $23.77M 71 Norichika Aoki,$ 2.6M
10 Yokohama Baystars $23.03M 68 Shuichi Murata, $2.6M
11 Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles $20.74M 67 Hisashi Iwakuma, $3M
12 Hiroshima Toyo Carp $17.71M 70 Katsuhiro Nagakawa, $1.6M
  • One note is that teams with more than 70 players on contract are from the existence of ikusei (training) players.

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The Effects of NPB Players Leaving for MLB, part 1

» 30 November 2008 » In nichibei » 8 Comments

To me, the trend of NPB stars moving to MLB has meant more jobs for Japanese players and more opportunities for exchange. For others, it’s signified a decline in Japanese baseball. But let’s take a look at how each player’s move to MLB has affected the teams involved. 

Player movement is a part of the business of baseball, and while there’s a general trend of Japanese players wanting to test their skills in MLB, each situation is a little bit different. We’ve seen players ranging from role players like Hideki Okajima and So Taguchi to Hall of Fame-caliber stars like Ichiro and Daisuke Matsuzaka make the move over. We’ve MLB departures go unnoticed, and have a huge impact on a team’s fanbase. So let’s examine each case and see what the impact has been overall.

2008

Hiroki Kuroda (SP, Carp -> Dodgers): Despite losing both Kuroda and star 1st baseman Takahiro Arai (Hanshin) to free agency, Hiroshima still managed to improve from 5th place (60-82-2) in 2007 to 4th (69-70-5) in 2008. Of course, if the Carp had been able to hang on to either one of those guys, they probably would have beat out Chunichi for the last playoff spot. Still, Colby Lewis did an outstanding job taking over for Kuroda as the ace, and the team looks primed to make a step forward in it’s new stadium.

Impact: Medium. Losing Kuroda probably kept the Carp out of the playoffs in ’08, but the team still improved on it’s record. Hiroshima is a small market and losing free agents domestically been a reality for the Carp for years.

Kosuke Fukudome (RF, Dragons -> Cubs): Chunichi won the Japan Series in 2007 despite Fukudome missing significant time due to injuries. The Dragons signed veteran slugger Kazuhiro Wada to take Fukudome’s place in the lineup, surrendering reliever Shinya Okamoto the Lions as compensation. Wada had a solid year (.302/.345/.475) but Chunichi fell from 2nd to 3rd place, and lost out to the Giants in the playoffs.

Impact: High. Wada is an above-average hitter but lacks Fukudome’s defensive skills, and cost the Dragons some bullpen depth. Chunichi looks set for a step back next season with Kenshin Kawakami and Norihiro Nakamura out the door as well. The team continues to draw well though.

Masa Kobayashi (RP, Marines -> Indians)
Yasuhiko Yabuta (RP, Marines -> Royals): Soichi Fujita (Yomiuri) departed as well, breaking up Lotte’s “YFK” relief combination. The Marines dropped from 2nd place in 2007 (76-61-7) to 4th (73-70-1) in 2008. Bullpen performance may have played a role in the increase in losses (six fewer ties compared to 2007), but Bobby Valentine still had four relievers who posted an era of 3.05 or lower. 

Impact: Low. Bullpens fluctuate, and on paper Lotte managed to replace the performance they got out of Yabuta and Kobayashi. 

Kazuo Fukumori (RP, Eagles -> Rangers): Rakuten seemed ready to compete for a playoff spot for most of 2008, but wound up finishing one game out of last despite outscoring their opponents by 20 runs. A return to form from Fukumori would have helped, but this was a guy that posted a 4.75 ERA in 2007.

Impact: Minimal. Fukumori was expendable coming off a bad season. 

2007

Daisuke Matsuzaka (SP, Lions -> Red Sox): Obviously a huge loss for the Lions, as they went from 2nd (80-54-2) to 5th (66-76-2). Jason Johnson was signed to replace Matsuzaka in the rotation, but was more interested in hanging out in Roppongi and never panned out. Hideaki Wakui, on the other hand, established himself as an ace, and the team rebounded in 2008 to win the Japan Series. Seibu used the $51M they received for Matsuzaka to make some stadium improvements, but otherwise hasn’t changed the way they run the team.

Impact: Medium. Everyone knew Matsuzaka was going to MLB, and Seibu got the maximum return by hanging on to Matsuzaka for as long as they could. Despite popularity problems, Seibu has always found ways to win. 

Hideki Okajima (RP, Fighters -> Red Sox): Nippon Ham lost some bullpen depth when Okajima left, but still managed to make it to their 2nd consecutive Japan Series in 2007. The Fighters acquired Okajima for a couple of very spare parts so they basically got a free year out of him. 

Impact: Low. Losing Michihiro Ogasawara (Yomiuri) and Tsuyoshi Shinjo (retirement) has had a bigger affect on Nippon Ham’s competitiveness. I wold suggest that Trey Hillman’s departure to MLB had a bigger impact on the Fighters than Okajima’s.

Kei Igawa (SP, Tigers -> Yankees): Igawa went 14-9 in 2006 as Hanshin finished 2nd to Chunichi with an 84-58-4 record. Without him in 2007, Hanshin dropped to 74-66-4 and a 3rd place finish. In addition to the loss of Igawa, Hanshin’s other starters took a step back in 2007, with Tsuyoshi Shimoyanagi leading the team in innings pitched with just 129 1/3. Igawa’s departure also coincided with the Tigers’ offense regressing, as Tomoaki Kanemoto, Andy Sheets, Akihiro Yano and Osamu Hamanaka all performing significantly worse than the previous season.

The rotation improved 2008, with Minoru Iwata stepping into a more prominent role. The offense improved as well, and Hanshin led the Central League comfortably for most of the year before choking down the stretch to finish 2nd. 

Impact: Medium. Igawa was the only significant personel change, and the team finished 10 wins worse in 2007 than in 2006. Hanshin recovered in 2008 though, and the loss of Igawa never affected the team at the gate. Igawa was inconsistent for his last three seasons in Japan, but the Tigers still haven’t found an innings eater to take his place. Looking back though, Hanshin definitely sold high on Igawa and got a nice infusion of cash back for him without sacrificing on long-term competitiveness.

Akinori Iwamura  (3B, Swallows -> Rays): Yakult replaced Iwamura on the field with Aaron Guiel, and saw it’s record go from 70-73-3 in ’06 to 60-84-0 in ’07. It wasn’t Guiel that cost the team 10 wins, as he posted an .874 OPS compared to Iwamura’s .933 mark in ’06. Guiel dsappeared in ’08 as the Swallows rebounded slightly to 66-74-4. 

Impact: High. Short-term, the impact of losing Iwamura probably wasn’t that great. By the time Iwamura was sold to the Rays, most of the Swallows stars from the team’s mid-90’s glory years were gone or fading, and the team was heading into a period of decline anyway. Yakult has a star to build around in Norichika Aoki, but losing Iwamura has certainly slowed their return to competitiveness. 

Masumi Kuwata (SP, Giants -> Pirates): The Giants had banished Kuwata to the farm team for all of 2006 and didn’t notice he was gone. Kuwata, meanwhile, had a great “nothing to lose” attitude during his time with the Pirates.

Impact: None, except making the Giants look bad for unceremoniously dropping another veteran.

Agree? Disagree? Any information I haven’t presented here? 

I’ll look at players that moved from 2000-2006 in parts 2 and 3 of this series.

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NPB Bullet Points (2008/07/09)

» 09 July 2008 » In kbo, mlb prospects, npb » Comments Off

Sorry for the lack of updates over the last few days… took a little bit of an extended holiday weekend and did a little traveling. Hope my readers in America hada nice 4th of July. Here are today’s bullet points:

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