Tag Archive > Tuffy Rhodes

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.

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Orix Pursuing Segi

» 31 May 2010 » In nichibei, npb » 2 Comments

Over the weekend, I caught a number of articles on Orix’s pursuit of 1B/DH Fernando Seguignol. The news ranged from Orix “looking into acquiring Seguignol” (Daily Sports) to “have a basic agreement and working on an official contract” (Nikkan Sports). Orix’s two import sluggers Alex Cabrera and Greg LaRocca are both injury-prone and Seguignol is in the Atlantic League, so a deal seems to make sense for both sides. I can think of an option I prefer for Orix, though.

Seguignol is perhaps the poster boy of the recent trend of “recycling” sukketo players, having previously been called in by Nippon Ham and Rakuten. After last season Rakuten replaced him with former Carp Andy Phillips, who played pretty well in Hiroshima but still had his pricey option declined in favor of Justin Huber and Jeff Fiorentino. With Phillips (and Todd Linden) struggling, Rakuten has added a new name in Randy Ruiz. And the beat goes on. Mabye all the teams have been better off if Rakuten had kept Segi, Hiroshima kept Phillips and Orix held on to Jose Fernandez or Tuffy Rhodes.

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Yakult Looking for Offensive Help

» 10 May 2010 » In nichibei, npb » Comments Off

Yakult has struggled so far this season, and is currently occupying last place in the Central League with a weak 13-23-1 record. With a middle of the pack pitching staff (148 runs allowed, 3.57 era), the front office is reportedly looking to upgrade its offense, which has scored a league-low 125 runs, 15 fewer than the 5th-place Hiroshima Carp.

Sponichi says that Yakult is looking at employing a copycat strategy of re-importing a player who has experience playing in Japan. The names Sponichi gives us are Fernando Seguignol, Hiram Bocachica, and Jose Fernandez.

I’m sure that’s a partial list, but I don’t see any of those guys outperforming Aaron Guiel or Jaime D’Antona over the course of the season. D’Antona and Guiel have ugly batting averages at .202 and .233 respectively, but lead the team with 10 and seven home runs, and have decent ops figures of .832 and .749. Both guys need to bring their averages up and D’Antona in particular needs to cut down on his strikeout number, but they’ve both shown to be capable of

If they’re going to go after a guy that the league already knows, why not give Tuffy Rhodes a call? Okay, he’ll have to play the field and he will want more money than they’ll be willing to pay, but he’s been better more recently than any of the guys Sponichi mentions. And he wouldn’t count against the foreign player limit. Or how about Tyrone Woods? Money was an issue for him after his last contract with Chunichi expired, and he hasn’t played since 2008, but he was a fearsome slugger in Japan, and knows the Central League.

If Yakult wanted to give someone new a chance, Mike Hessman is off to a good start with the Mets’ 3A affiliate.

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SoftBank Brings Petagine Back to Japan

» 15 April 2010 » In npb » 9 Comments

Looking for another power hitter, the SoftBank Hawks have pulled former NPB star Roberto Petagine off the scrap heap, signing him to a $400k deal with performance bonuses. Petagine previously played for Yakult from 1999-2002, where he was an absolute terror, before Yomiuri signed him to replace Hideki Matsui’s bat. Since leaving Japan, Petagine has spent time with the Red Sox, Mariners and LG Twins of Korea.

Petagine joins a rather crowded 1B/3B/DH/LF depth chart. I figure whatever at-bats he gets will come at the expense of Lee Beom-Ho. Nobuhiro Matsuda seems to be getting most of the starts at third, relegating Lee to a bench role despite his superior OPS (.741 vs .691). Hiroki Kokubo (1B) and Jose Ortiz (LF) are off to good starts, and Nobuhiko Matsunaka is SoftBank’s DH, even though he’s not the hitter he once was.

Two other questions remain:

  1. How much of his wife, who is about 30 years older, be seen at Fukuoka Dome? She was ever-present in Roberto’s Yakult days.
  2. Will Tuffy Rhodes get another shot? (Rakuten? Nippon Ham?) Petagine is, of course, playing for a fraction of what Rhodes turned down from Orix.

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NPB Bullet Points: The Season Thus Far

» 11 April 2010 » In mlb, nichibei, npb » 10 Comments

News and notes on the season so far

…In Japanese:

  • Juan Morillo has been demoted to ni-gun. Unfortunately, his lack of command has translated to NPB. His velocity has been as advertised though.
  • On the flipside, Matt Murton is off to a hot start in Japan, having reached base safely in all 13 games so far this season. His slash line is a robust .407/.484/.556.
  • Takayuki Kishi took a no-hitter into the 7th against Orix on the 6th, and finished with a one-hit shutout. Bonus points to those of you who can recall Japan’s last no-hitter.
  • Tsuyoshi Wada set a new career best with 15 strikeouts against Lotte on April 8.
  • The Hanshin Tigers picked up lefty Yusuke Kawasaki for cash from the Chiba Lotte Marines. The last trade that Hanshin made with Lotte worked out pretty well for the Tigers, netting them Yasuyuki Kubo.
  • The Japanese baseball media has an uncanny ability find and point out obscure streaks. Examples? Last week, Nippon Ham’s Kensuke Tanaka’s streak at-bats without hitting into a double play ended at 862. On the 11th, Hiroshima’s Tomonori Maeda went yard for the first time in 686 days.
  • In a rather forward-thinking move, Nippon Ham is limiting Yu Darvish’s pitch counts to 120 per start. Darvish surpassed 140 pitches in two of his first three starts, and Ham is concerned about keeping him healthy for the whole season.
  • Belated congratulations to Shingo Takatsu, who has now saved games in Japan, the US, Korea and Taiwan. I hope he plays Winter League ball somewhere this year.

…and in English:

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Top 10 Events of 2009

» 28 December 2009 » In mlb, nichibei, npb, npb draft » 2 Comments

2009 went by super fast. Here are my top ten events in Japanese baseball for the year that was.

10. Koji Uehara, Kenshin Kawakami sign with MLB teams; Yomiuri, Chunichi don’t notice. Uehara and Kawakami both signed with MLB clubs early in 2009, meanwhile, their former teams finished 1-2 in the Central League, with Yomiuri taking the Japan Series Championship.

9. Tuffy Rhodes hits 450th NPB home run. Tuffy continued his remarkable comeback in 2009, reaching 450 homers early in the season. A healthy 2010 will see him reach 500.

8. Rakuten makes first ever post season appearance as Katsuya Nomura retires. Rakuten to reached the second round of the playoffs in their fifth year of existence and appears to have a bright near-term future. Nomura restored his legacy with Rakuten after arguably failing to revive Hanshin and his wife’s ugly tax fraud problems.

7. Mazda Zoom-Zoom Stadium opens. Japan’s first new stadium in years opens to rave reviews, and while the Carp look competitive at times, they ultimately slump to a fifth-place finish.

6. Yusei Kikuchi stays in Japan; gets selected by only six teams in draft. After a lengthy cross-Pacific courting process, Kikuchi gave into social pressures and choose to stay in Japan and enter the NPB draft. After speculation that he could get picked by 10 or 11 teams,he winds up getting taken by six, with the remaining six teams grabbing other players uncontested. He eventually signs a max contract with Seibu.

5. Hideki Matsui wins World Series MVP. Matsui leaves NY in style with a dominant World Series performance, despite not starting any of the games played in Philadelphia.

4. Bobby Valentine leaves Marines. Bobby V goes back to Connecticut after a successful six-year run with Chiba Lotte, in which he turned around a moribund franchise and became one of the finest advocates for Japanese baseball in the West.

3. Yomiuri wins first title since 2002. It took seven years for Yomiuri to win a Japan Series post-Matsui. The Giants won three times in his ten-year Giants career (1994, 2000, 2002).

2. Ichiro collects 200 hits for ninth straight year. ’nuff said.

1. Japan wins second straight WBC title. Japan is now 2-2 in WBC appearances, avenging its embarrassing 2008 Olypmic loss.

Honorable mentions: Junichi Tazawa reaches MLB in first pro season; great Koshien finale; Yu Darvish/Alex Ramirez win MVPs; Hanshin re-imports Kenji Johjima

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Orix, Rhodes Could Part Ways (Again)

» 28 November 2009 » In nichibei, npb » Comments Off

Edit: I toned down the language in this post slightly after re-reading the original article.

Here’s one I didn’t quite expect: Hochi Sports is reporting that the Orix Buffaloes and Tuffy Rhodes have failed to come to an agreement on a contract for 2010, and that Orix is breaking off negotiations. This could signal the end of Tuffy’s second stint with the Buffaloes.

According to the report, Orix offered Rhodes a salary of 250m yen ($2.5m) for 2010, a big step down from the 350m yen ($3.5m) he was paid in 2009. Orix decided to move on after not hearing back from Rhodes. Tuffy missed almost half of 2009 due to a broken wrist suffered from being hit by a pitch, but still hit .308 with 22 home runs and 62 RBI. Negotiations had apparently been rocky, but given that Orix was talking about making him a player-coach next year I fully expected him to be back. Maybe they’ll find a way to get back on track; maybe this is a hardball negotiating tactic on Orix’s part.

Having played in NPB since 1996, Tuffy is unquestionably the elder statesman among foreign players in Japan. He’s also a rare foreign player feel-good story, having returned to Osaka to put up three excellent seasons after his bust-up with Yomiuri and subsequent year out of baseball. Hopefully Tuffy will continue his career; at first glance Rakuten and Nippon Ham seem like good fits.

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2009 Foreign Player Rundown

» 11 November 2009 » In npb » 7 Comments

By my count, there were 78 foreign players (including ikusei players) under contract to NPB teams in 2009. Some of them will be back for 2010, others will not. So far, I’ve counted 18 players that will remain with their teams for next year, 36 that are leaving, and 24 that we’re still waiting to hear on.

Despite my best efforts, there is a reasonable probability that I left someone out or have an out-of-date detail. If you spot something of that nature, please leave a comment. On with the show…

Yomiuri

  • Staying: Dicky Gonzales, Wirfin Obispo, Levi Romero, Alex Ramirez, Seung-Yeop Lee, Marc Kroon
  • Gone: Adrian Burnside, Edgardo Alfonzo
  • Unknown: Seth Greisinger, Yi-Hao Lin, Yi-Fan Lee

Ramirez no longer counts against the foreign player limit, which gives the Giants a little extra flexibility. He’s already re-signed on a two-year deal. You have to figure that Obispo and Gonzales will be back, which would only leave two ichi-gun rosters spots available. I would guess that Kroon is more likely to return than Greisinger, and Lee is on his way out. Kroon will have his option picked up, while Lee’s contract doesn’t expire until next season. Greisinger didn’t appear in the Japan Series and it’s possible that he won’t be back. The Giants don’t need much this off season, though we’ll probably see them go after some depth guys.

Chunichi

  • Staying: Wei-Yin Chen, Tony Blanco, Nelson Payano, Maximo Nelson
  • Gone: Tomas de la Rosa, Byung-Gyu Lee
  • Unknown:

Chunichi got outstanding production out Chen and Blanco, and Blanco has already received a new two-year deal. Lee will likely head back to Korea, while de la Rosa will remain with the team in a scouting/advisory capacitiy. Chunichi has been scouting the Dominican and will probably sign some interesting Latin American prospects this winter.

Yakult

  • Staying: Chang Yong Lim
  • Gone: Ricky Barrett
  • Unknown: Hei Chun Lee, Jaime D’Antona, Aaron Guiel

Hanshin

  • Staying: Kai-Wang Cheng
  • Gone: Scott Atchison, Jeff Williams, Kevin Mench, Chris Resop, Aarom Baldiris
  • Unknown: Craig Brazell

Out of this group, only Brazell really contributed anything, and he wants to come back. Hanshin’s search for pitching has already been well-documented, with the Tigers looking to import a starter and two relievers. Hanshin may also try to bring a power-hitting rightfielder to Kansai as well, even if Brazell sticks around.

Hiroshima

  • Staying: Dioni Soriano
  • Gone: Scott Dohmann, Ben Kozlowski, Scott Seabol
  • Unknown: Scott McClain, Colby Lewis, Mike Schultz, Andy Phillips

Hiroshima would like to keep Lewis and Schultz around, but may not be able to, and if the Carp don’t keep Phillips they will have to find a bat to replace him. Hiroshima desperately needs lefthanded pitching, as well. I’m assuming Soriano, who is an ikusei player from the Carp’s Dominican Academy, will get a full year to prove himself.

Yokohama

  • Staying: Stephen Randolph
  • Gone: Tom Mastny, Les Walrond, Dan Johnson, Ryan Glynn
  • Unknown: Wei Chen, Jin Chao Wang

Yokohama is again going to need pitching help, though Randolph’s late-season performance was encouraging. The ‘Stars wave goodbye the rest of this group, though Johnson actually had a decent year aside from a poor batting average, and Walrond looked like he had good enough stuff to last in Japan to me.

Nippon Ham

  • Staying:
  • Gone: Ryan Wing, Luis Jimenez, Jason Botts, Brian Sweeney, Termel Sledge
  • Unknown:

This year’s Pacific League champion didn’t get much production from its foreign lineup outside of Sledge, so it’s no surprise to see this group go. Nippon Ham apparently wanted to keep Sledge, but were too far apart in negotations. They’ll have to find a way to replace his bat in the lineup, and I would expect them to look for pitching depth as well.

Rakuten

  • Staying:
  • Gone: Matt Childers
  • Unknown: Darrell Rasner, Marcus Gwyn, Fernando Seguignol, Todd Linden, Rick Short, On-Yu Lin

Rasner is already under contract for next year, so he’ll be on the payroll but possibly not the roster. Childers is gone after just three appearances with Rakuten’s top team. The rest of the foreign staff had performance issues — Gwyn’s era was pedestrian, Shorts average fell off after years of solid performance, Seguignol looked more like the Orix Seguignol than the Nippon Ham Seguignol, and Linden struck out about one out of every three times to the plate(!). So I could see new manager Marty Brown turning over this whole group. Rakuten could use bullpen help and a big bat to play an infield or outfield corner.

SoftBank

  • Staying: Jose Ortiz, DJ Houlton, Brian Falkenborg, Justin Germano
  • Gone: Kameron Loe, Chris Aguila
  • Unknown: Andrew Touisant

SoftBank got strong contributions from Ortiz, Houlton and Falkenborg, and can reasonably expect more of the same next season. Sadaharu Oh is said to be looking for one more power hitter, to complement Ortiz and supplant aging sluggers Hiroki Kokubo and Nobuhiko Matsunaka. I would expect them to grab a couple of ptichers for depth as well.

Seibu

  • Staying: Min-Che Hsu
  • Gone: Jonah Bayliss, John Wasdin, Hiram Bocachica
  • Unknown: Alex Graman

I’m just taking for granted that Hsu will hang around. He should be shedding his foreign player status one of these years anyway. Graman is probably gone, though he was lights-out in the bullpen when healthy, and I could see him getting another shot. Bayliss was okay for Seibu, so I was a little surprised to see him let go. Seibu will be looking for bullpen help and perhaps a first baseman this offseason. Pete LaForest had been in Seibu’s autumn camp but went home with an injury.

Chiba Lotte

  • Staying
  • Gone: Benny Agbayani, Chase Lambin, Gary Burnham
  • Unknown: Brian Sikorski, Juan Muniz

Agbayani departs after six years in Japan, and I would guess that he’ll retire to a life of scouting. I’ve read that Lotte might offer Sikorski a big pay cut, and thus risk losing him. I don’t expect Lambin or Burnham to be back, though I haven’t seen anything official. Lambin and Burnham won’t be back. Lotte will need a corner infield and outfield bats, and a pitcher or two to round things out.

Orix

  • Staying: Tuffy Rhodes
  • Gone:
  • Unknown: Jon Leicester, Alex Cabrera, Jose Fernandez, Greg LaRocca, Ryan Vogelsong

Rhodes and Cabrera both qualify as native players, so Orix could potentially carry up to six ‘foreign’ players on its active roster. Rhodes will be back, and the Buffaloes are supposedly adding a coaching title to his resume. I think Cabrera will make it back as well. There was speculation on Fernandez when he got hurt was that Orix probably wouldn’t bring him back, but that remains to be seen. I’m guessing Leicester and Vogelsong will be out as well. SoftBank has indicated an interest in LaRocca should he not get another year with Orix.

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NPB Bullet Points: Moves & Rumors

» 07 October 2009 » In Uncategorized » 4 Comments

Only Japanese articles this morning:

  • Aarom Baldiris has become expendable to the Hanshin Tigers, and the team is considering using him in a trade. Baldiris tore up ni-gun but failed to make an impact at the top level during his time with the Tigers. He did endear himself to Hanshin’s fans with his sharp defense and hustle.
  • Former Braves farmhand and current Kansai Leaguer Masayoshi Tokuda has passed a tryout with the Hiroshima Carp, which I take to mean that the team will draft him later this month. The linked article says that Tokuda signed a three-year minor league contract with the Braves after college, but I couldn’t find any stats from his minor league career.
  • Colby Lewis wants to stay in Hiroshima, stating after his most recent win: “of course I want to return to Hiroshima next year. I want talk contract for the next two months. I want to keep myself in shape.” Hiroshima has lost guys like Andy Sheets and Greg LaRocca to other teams in Japan, so there is some concern of Lewis following suit. Lewis has been outstanding in his two years with Hiroshima and will attract some MLB interest as well.
  • Reports persist that Hanshin has White Sox reliever Matt Thornton on their list of acquisition targets for this offseason. The story broke in September, and back then I found it too far-fetched to comment on, and it won’t happen, but it’s still out there. Hanshin figures to be busy this offseason, and is reportedly considering Korean slugger Tae-Kyun Kim as well as Hideki Matsui and now Akinori Iwamura.
  • Bobby Valentine has managed his last game in Chiba.
  • Former Taiyo Whale Jim Tracy has led his Colorado Rockies to another playoff experience. Prior to taking over for Clint Hurdle, he was considered a candidate for the manager’s seat in Yokohama.
  • Tuffy Rhodes will be back for another year with Orix in 2010. He’ll enter the season with a good shot at 2000 careers MLB-NPB hits.

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The Meikyukai

» 19 August 2009 » In nichibei, npb » 4 Comments

With Kaz Matsui becoming the latest player to enter the Meikyukai by surpassing a total of 2000 hits between NPB and MLB, it seems like a good time to address what the Meikyukai is and how players can enter the Golden Players Club.

The Meikyukai was first organized by Masaichi Kaneda in 1978 as a voluntary organization, but quickly became a corporate organization built by former players with Kaneda as the president and Shigeo Nagashima and Sadaharu Oh as co-vice presidents. The Meikyukai was organized with the goals of giving back to disadvantaged in the community and contributing to build the grass roots of professional baseball. Main activities of the club includes teaching classes to the younger generations, promoting baseball and participating in volunteer activities throughout the communities.

In order to join the Meikyukai, there are some milestones players need to surpass. Pitchers are able to join after earning 200 or more wins or 250 saves. On the other hand, position players need to surpass the total of 2000 hits. The regulations changed in November 2003, such that the numbers can be a total combined from both NPB and the MLB. Three current players on MLB rosters have made it in to the Meikyukai; Hideki Matsui of the New York Yankees, Ichiro Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners, and now Kaz Matsui of the Houston Astros. The list of every player in the Meikyukai can be seen here.

The next pitcher in line to join the Meikyukai are Masahide Kobayashi, who is 17 saves shy. Tuffy Rhodes, were he eligible, would need 114 more hits (as of 8/16; thanks to commentor passerby for the clarification). A list of the other players nearing induction can be found on the Meikyukai’s website.

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