Tag Archive > Toshihisa Nishi

Nishi Tries Out for the Dodgers

» 05 March 2010 » In mlb, nichibei » 7 Comments

Update from Sanspo… looks like Nishi has an offer from the independent Atlantic League, and will have a more formal tryout at the Dodgers camp in Arizona next week. He had said that his goal was to play affiliated ball prior to coming to America.

Toshihisa Nishi has been hoping to play with an MLB organization this year, and may finally be getting somewhere. Sanspo is reporting that the veteran infielder worked out for a Dodgers scout, and was supposed to get the results back on the 4th.

Nishi isn’t exactly a prospect given that he’s 38 and posted a horrific .159 batting average last year. He’s obviously an extreme long shot to spend any time at the MLB level this year, but he could possibly benefit a team needing infield depth at 3A. Part of me doesn’t want to see him taking at-bats away from a younger player that still has a shot, though.

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NPB Bullet Points: Spring is in the Air

» 04 February 2010 » In npb » 1 Comment

It’s the first week of February and pouring rain in the Bay Area, but NPB spring training camps are kicking into full gear. Here are some news and notes from around the league. All of the below articles are in Japanese.

  • Let the wear and tear begin: new Chiba Lotte Marine Takumi Nasuno threw a 300 pitch bullpen session the other day, bringing his total for the four days he’s spent in camp to 646. In what Sponichi referred to as “Bobby-free” Lotte had six pitchers throw over 200 pitches on Feb 5. The article explains that this was in contrast to Bobby Valentine’s practice of limited bullpen sessions to 20 minutes at a time. I have to question the wisdom of working pitchers like that this early in camp, after several years of getting more rest under Valentine.
  • Chiba Lotte also signed former Hanshin infielder Makoto Imaoka after a brief trial in camp. Imaoka gets a 15m yen salary for 2010.
  • Having so far failed to attract any offers, 38 year-old infielder Toshihisa Nishi is planning on working out in front of MLB scouts in the near future.
  • Chunichi rookie Ryoji Nakata, who was already chunky at 115 kg, has put on 3 kg since getting into camp.
  • Here’s a video interview with Yusei Kikuchi, who is now professionally known simply as Yusei.
  • Kyuji Fujikawa has finally signed for 2010, getting a 400m yen salary. Kyuji paid his own way through camp up to this point.

And finally, Brandon Siefken of Japan Baseball News is kicking off a monthly newsletter in April. Each month’s issue will include a spreadsheet of statistical data. You can get the full details here and subscribe here.

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Free Agents: Saito, Nishi, Kobayashi

» 29 November 2009 » In mlb, mlb prospects, npb » 9 Comments

A couple of items from the nichibei free agent market…

  • According to Sponichi, Takashi Saito has eight teams interested, including the White Sox, Cubs, Braves and Mets. The Braves had some interest in Saito way back in 2002 but he wound up remaining with Yokohama.
  • Multiple reports are saying the Yomiuri Giants are going after Masahide Kobayashi. The Giants would use him in a middle relief role.
  • 38 year-old second baseman Toshihisa Nishi has compiled a DVD and sent it Stateside, to no immediate effect. Nishi, released by the BayStars, is looking for a camp invite from a major league club.

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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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NPB Bullet Points: Nichibei Special

» 15 September 2009 » In nichibei, npb » 12 Comments

Another Japanese only edition, this time focusing on US-Japan player movment:

  • It doesn’t look like Wei-Yin Chen is going anywhere any time soon, according to Chunichi Dragons president Junnosuke Nishikawa. “He can’t move unless he’s willing to break our agreement. We don’t have those conditions (to allow him out after the season) in our contract,” said Nishikawa. Commenting on a possible move to the majors, Nishikawa said, “even if that’s out there, that’s only if the team grants him to be posted.” Of course, there’s no indication that Chen even wants to leave, only that MLB scouts are watching him.
  • Hanshin is sending ni-gun reliever Ken Nishimura to the Arizona Fall League this year. He’ll join five or six other NPB prospects, including Norihito Kaneto of the Giants.
  • Yokohama has made Tom Mastny its first foreign dismissal of the season. Mastny went 1-5 with a 5.69 era in 15 games for Yokohama this year. “We gave him a chance and he didn’t produce results,” said the Yokohama front office. The BayStars are doing some general housecleaning and interim manager Tamio Tashiro, 28-year veteran Kimiyasu
  • Kudoh, and comparatively young infielder Toshihisa Nishi have all been shown the door.
  • Speaking of Nishi, he’s reportedly open to a move to the US minor leagues if the right offer in Japan doesn’t materialize. Nishi explored a move to the Majors after filing for free agency back in 2004, but obviously that didn’t work out. As I recall the Pirates were rumored to be interested back then.Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

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NPB Bullet Points: Sugiuchi v Darvish, Irabu Done in Kochi

» 14 September 2009 » In npb » Comments Off

As the end of the season approaches, we learn who will be released and who is in contention for postseason awards. Japanese links only today.

Japanese Articles:

  • Jose Fernandez left Orix’s 10-8 loss to Seibu in the 7th inning after taking a batted ball to the face. He’s out for the remainder of the season, and may be done with Orix. Literally adding insult to injury, the Orix front office commented that “his results don’t match his salary.” Fernandez hit .261 with 15 HR and 61 RBI, and is getting paid 100m yen ($1m) this year.
  • Toshiya Sugiuchi is making a play for some Sawamura Award consideration. He K’ed 11 Rakuten Eagles on the 13th, his fourth straight game with double-digit punchouts, becoming the first lefty to ever accomplish the feat in the Pacific League. He now is tied for the lead league with 15 wins and has the lead in strikeouts all to himself.
  • But then Yu Darvish said “not so fast” as he returned from injured reserve and shut down the Marines, allowing one run on six hits over eight innings. According to Nikkan Sports, however, the hardest he threw was 148 km/h (91 mph). Not his hardest fastball, but then again he never really needed to extend himself.
  • SoftBank has passed the 2,000,000 mark for attendance again this season, reaching the milestone in their 65 home game.
  • Hideki Irabu has been granted his release from the independent Kochi Fighting Dogs. He has tendinitis in his right thumb, and won’t be able to return in time to play again this season, so he bit the bullet and is heading home to America to recover. He intends to continue his comeback.
  • In place of the loss-making Asia Series, this autumn the Japan and Korea league champions will face off in the Nikan Club Championship. The game will be held on November 14 in Nagasaki.
  • Veteran infielder Toshihisa Nishi is done with Yokohama at the end of the year, but wants to continue playing and will search for a new team this offseason.
  • Hiroshima is looking to import pitching next year, notably of the lefthanded variety, and has mobilized US scout Eric Schullstrom to find some.
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The Effects of NPB Players Leaving for MLB, part 3

» 14 December 2008 » In nichibei » Comments Off

Here’s the last piece of the player-by-player analysis portion of the series. Please check out parts 1 and 2 as well.

Part four will draw some conclusions from a big picture level.

2003

Hideki Matsui (OF, Giants -> Yankees): Turned down what would have been the largest contract in NPB history in 2000 (8 years,  6bn yen($60M)) to take a one-year contract, citing his goal of eventually playing in MLB. He eventually did after the 2002 season, and the Giants went from sweeping the Japan Series to finishing in 3rd place (71-66-3). Yomiuri had another 3rd place finish in 2004, then unthinkable consecutive sub-.500 finishes in ’05 and ’06 before finally recovering in 2007. The Giants made it back to the Japan Series in 2008, six years after Matsui’s departure. They had played in four Japan Series’ in the 10 years Matsui spent with the team (’94, ’96, ’00, ’02), winning three times. The team’s popularity took a hit as well.

So what went wrong? Yomiuri had a pretty weak strategy in replacing Matsui: they signed former Yakult 1st baseman Roberto Petagine and played him in right field, moving Yoshinobu Takahashi to center. Petagine played decent defense at first but was never mobile enough for right field, nor did he have the arm for it. Takahashi said he never felt comfortable in center, and obviously didn’t trust Petagine in right.

Things got worse when manager Tatsunori Hara left and was replaced with grouch Tsuneo Horiuchi. The Giants core offensive threats of Kazuhiro Kiyohara, Akira Etoh, Toshihisa Nishi, and Takayuki Shimizu and pitchers Kimiyasu Kudoh, Masumi Kuwata, Yusaku Iriki, and Koji Uehara all became old and/or ineffective at the same time. The team cycled through replacements like Gabe Kapler, Hiroki Kokubo, Tuffy Rhodes, and Jeremy Powell before finally assembling a team that worked in 2007.

Impact:Huge. No single player’s departure has had a greater effect on his former team than Matsui has had on the Giants. Yomiuri was probably headed for a downturn anyway, but the loss of Matsui certainly prolonged the team’s lean years.

2002

Kazuhisa Ishii (SP, Swallows -> Dodgers): Yakult posted Ishii after winning the Japan Series in 2001, and got about $11m from the Dodgers. Kevin Hodges took Ishii’s place at the top of the Swallows’ rotation and the team went from a 78-56-6 record in ’01 to a 74-62-4 record and 2nd place finish in ’02, 11 games behind the Giants. Had Ishii been around, the race might have been tighter but Yakult was still probably would have been a 2nd place team. Hodges posted a 5.90 era in 2004, and Yakult fell further.

Ishii returned to Yakult in 2006, but the team had faded into an also-ran by then. He left after 2007 for Seibu.

Impact: Medium. $11m was a good return for Ishii. Yakult may have been able to remain competitive for a little longer if he had stuck around, but that was an aging team.

So Taguchi (OF, Blue Wave -> Cardinals): Surprisingly, Orix mananged to maintain a solid record the year after Ichiro was posted, but fell from 70-66-4 to 50-87-3 after Taguchi left. Taguchi’s presence was never worth 20 games in the standings; the team’s offense tanked completely in 2002.

Impact: Low. Taguchi was actually a pretty average player in japan. He really improved his game in his time in America.

Satoru Komiyama (SP/RP, BayStars -> Mets): Yokohama dropped from 69-67-4 to 49-86-5 after Komiyama left. While the ‘Stars missed Komiyama’s 12-9 record and 3.03 era, I would say that Yokohama’s weak offense was more responsible for the team’s meteoric drop.

Komiyama didn’t perform at the MLB level, and returned to Japan after one season. Yokohama still owned his NPB rights, but refused to sign him to a contract for the 2003 season. After a “ronin” year, the BayStars finally released him and he re-joined the Chiba Lotte Marines, his original team. He’s been there ever since.

Impact: Low. Given the way Yokohama treated him, it didn’t seem that they wanted him back. They could have traded him to another NPB team and gotten some value back, so to me it was a case of the team cutting off it’s nose to spite it’s face. In general I’m a fan of Komiyama’s and I think he could have added some stability to Yokohama’s staff and mentored the team’s young pitchers. In that sense, it’s a big loss for Yokohama, but not one that I attribute to his MLB trial.

2001

Ichiro (OF, Blue Wave -> Mariners): This one needs no introduction. Orix posted Ichiro after the 2000 and Seattle won his rights with a $14m bid. I was living in Japan at the time, and it was such big, exciting news. It seemed like just announcing his move to MLB made him a bigger star than he already was.

Orix appeared in Japan Series’ in 1995 and 1996, but were a .500 team for the last few years of his tenure. The Blue Wave maintained it’s .500 record the year after Ichiro was posted, but fell apart in 2002. The team stunk again in 2003, and mid-way through 2004 announced that it would merge with the Kintetsu Buffaloes. The new Orix Buffaloes took the field in 2005 with a group of guys taken in the in the Orix/Kintetsu dispersal draft, and ranged from doormat to also-ran until their surpring 2008 campaign.

Orix’s popularity at the gate was flagging even with Ichiro, and his departure didn’t make things any better. The team suffered from the inconveniently located Green Stadium Kobe, and the proximity of the popular Hanshin Tigers. The post-merger team plays most of it’s home games in Osaka Kyocera Dome, which is a shame because Green Stadium is much nicer and was easily my favorite place to watch a game in Japan. For me, the old Blue Wave had a level of charm that the post-merger team lacks completely.

Impact: Medium. Everyone knew Ichiro was going to America at some point, and Orix did the right thing in posting him. I would argue that Ichiro’s MLB success is better for Japanese baseball than if he stayed and broken every NPB record. Orix’s competitiveness and popularity took a dive without Ichiro, but this was inevitable.

Tsuyoshi Shinjo (OF, Tigers -> Mets): Shinjo turned down a four-year offer from Hanshin to take a one-year minor league deal from the Mets. The Tigers felt no impact in the win column, going from a 57-78-1 record to 57-80-3. Hanshin backfilled Shinjo by drafting Norihiro Akahoshi, who has been the team’s center fielder ever since. Akahoshi has never had any power, but he has better on-base skills than Shinjo ever did and has won multiple Gold Gloves.

As a side note, Shinjo announced his move around the same time as Ichiro did. Though his move was viewed with some skepticism, he proved he could play at the MLB level, which helped inspire a wider range of players to make the jump across the Pacific.

Impact: Low. Hanshin built a balanced team after Shinjo left and has been competitve since 2002. Shinjo held his own at the MLB level, played in the 2002 World Series, and then returned to Japan to help build Nippon Ham into a competitive, popular franchise. I’d say this one worked out well for all parties.

That’s it for the player-by-player analysis. Anyone I missed? Anyone disagree with my assessments?

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