Tag Archive > Tomoya Yagi

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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Nippon Series Thoughts

» 01 November 2009 » In npb » 2 Comments

The Giants took game one of the Japan Series last night, beating Nippon Ham behind a rather hittable Dicky Gonzales. This is another post I had meant to go to prior to the Series starting, but that’s the way things go some times.

So on to the scattered thoughts and observations…

  • If you would have told me at the beginning of the year that Gonzales would start game one of the Japan Series, I would have laughed pretty hard.
  • Deanna and Gen went to their usual levels of detail in covering game one.
  • Yu Darvish has been out of commission for quite a while now, but he it looks like he’s starting game two for Nippon Ham. Tetsuya Utsumi gets the call for the Giants.
  • Speaking of Darvish, he’s been throwing lefthanded again.
  • I know a game has already been played so it’s too late to say this, but I like Yomiuri’s roster over Nippon Ham’s. I like Yomiuri’s depth in this series.
  • On the other hand, the last time Nippon Ham won the Japan Series (2006), Darvish was partnered at the front of the Figthers’ rotation by Tomoya Yagi, who won the Rookie of the Year award that season. After winning in ’06, Yagi promptly faded into injured-list oblivion, and Darvish became the best pitcher in Japan. This year, Yagi made a comeback, posting a 2.88 ERA in 122 innings, and Ham is back in the Series.
  • It’s interesting to see Nippon Ham playing Yomirui in the Series. Prior to Ham moving to Hokkaido, the Fighters shared the Tokyo Dome with the Giants, and seemed to be operating in Yomiuri’s shadow. It seemed like the Fighters used to frequently sign ex-Giants, but the only notable example I can think of is Hiromitsu Ochiai. Once the Fighters moved to Hokkaido and got out from under the Giants’ shadow, they got competitive.
  • I missed a chance to post on this earlier, but I’ll do so now — when Nippon Ham eliminated Rakuten from the Climax Series, it marked the (latest) end to manager Katsuya Nomura’s career. I wouldn’t call myself a Nomura fan, but he is certainly a character, and as such I suppose this picture of him putting away his uniform for the last time is a little sad. After Nippon Ham’s win, both sides honored Nomura with the traditional celebratory douage (click the link if you don’t know what that is). This is, I think, an important distinction for Japanese baseball from American baseball. Nippon Ham won the game and the series, and it was very much their day, but the winning players and Nippon Ham fans still celebrated Nomura after the game.

I don’t think I’ll be up to watch the game tonight, so if anyone checks it out on justin.tv, please click the ‘watch later’ link, and paste the url into a comment.

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Swine Flu Infects Nippon Ham

» 20 August 2009 » In international baseball, npb » 2 Comments

Just when we thought the swine flu epidemic was behind us, and NPB teams even resumed the use of jet balloons, the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters caught the bug. Five players and staff were infected with the flu, and as a precaution every player and staff was checked. Six additional players were diagnosed with a slight fever and the team decided to let those players rest until they recover.

Three of the players who are thought to be infected with the flu are Termel Sledge, Shota Ohno, and Naoki Miyanishi. The six additional players diagnosed with fever symptoms were some of the main members of the team including CA Shinya Tsuruoka, INF Eihichi Koyano, INF Tomohiro Nioka, OF Yoshio Itoi, LHP Tomoya Yagi and RHP Kazumasa Kikuchi.

The team is currently in first place in the Pacific League with a seven game lead, but losing the core of the team for an extended period of time could be a problem. Top prospect Sho Nakata will be getting another opportunity with the Fighters due to the absence of these players. If he makes the most out of this opportunity, the Fighters might have an X-Factor going into the playoffs.

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NPB Bullet Points (2008/11/01)

» 01 November 2008 » In npb » 2 Comments

Time for another edition of NPB Bullet Points. Randomness abounds, as usual.

Japanese Articles:

English Articles:

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NPB Bullet Points (2008/08/16)

» 16 August 2008 » In npb » Comments Off

A busy work schedule kept me away from the blog for a few days, but I’m back with another post. We’ll start with the usual randomness and hopefully I’ll have some more focused content to post in a couple of days.

English Articles:

Japanese Articles:

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