Tag Archive > Tyrone Woods

A Knuckleheaded Move By Chunichi

» 22 September 2011 » In npb » 5 Comments

When I woke up this morning and did my daily check of the news, I was surprised to see headlines that included the words “Ochiai” and “leaving the team”. My first thought was, “why is Hiromitsu Ochiai stepping down as manager of the Chunichi Dragons?” But he’s not quitting, Chunichi’s management has decided not to renew his contract, electing to replace him with 70 year-old former Dragons manager Morimichi Takagi. When given the news from Chunichi owner Bungo Shirai, Ochiai said, “yes, understood”, and later commented “that’s the kind of world this is.”

This is either pure baseball idiocy or there’s something behind the scenes that isn’t public knowledge. Ochiai’s Dragons have done little other than win since he took over in 2004. In the seven seasons he’s managed, the Dragons have finished first or second every year, except 2008, when they finished third. The Dragons have also made four Nippon Series appearances under Ochiai’s watch (2004, 2006, 2007, 2010), winning the big prize in 2007. This year, despite my predictions, the Dragons are again in second place, within striking distance of first place Yakult as the season winds down.

The Dragons’ success has come in spite of losing star contributors like Kosuke Fukudome, Kenshin Kawakami and Tyrone Woods over the years. Chunichi for the most part hasn’t acquired expensive replacements for their departed stars, instead extracting useful performances from bargain bin foreign players like Tony Blanco and Enyelbert Soto, and developing prospects like Wei-Yin Chen, Kazuki Yoshimi and Masahiko Morino. The one notable free agent signing Chunichi made, Kazuhiro Wada (to replace Fukudome), blossomed into an MVP winner under Ochiai.

So I don’t get it. I think this is the worst NPB managerial change since Yomiuri forced Tatsunori Hara out and replaced with with the reviled Tsuneo Horiuchi following the 2003 season (Hara’s crime: finishing second to Hanshin). The winner could wind up being Nippon Ham, the team Ochiai finished his playing career with, if they can convince him to move north to Hokkaido and replace outgoing manager Masataka Nashida.

Update: Daily Sports says Ochiai is on his way out because of his high salary (JPY 370m) and the fact that Chunichi never turned a profit during his run as manager.

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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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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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Hanshin Looking For a Bat After All

» 18 May 2009 » In npb » 6 Comments

Despite giving struggling import Kevin Mench a vote of confidence last month, importing another bat is apparently still on the table for Hanshin. Says owner Shinya Sakai: “I think Mench has gotten better so he’s been called up. I haven’t gotten a request to acquire someone from (manager Akinobu) Mayumi, but money is not a problem”.

The linked report suggests that Hanshin is looking at retreads Tyrone Woods, Craig Brazell, and Julio Zuleta. Woods seems like the best choice among that group, though I suspect they’ll keep looking.

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Predictions: How am I doing?

» 16 May 2009 » In npb » 2 Comments

Before the season, I predicted the standings for both the Pacific and Central Leagues. Let’s see how I’m doing through six weeks of the season.

Pacific League (as of May 16)

  1. Nippon Ham Fighters (prediction: 2nd)
  2. Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles (prediction: 4th)
  3. Seibu Lions (prediction: 1st)
  4. SoftBank Hawks (prediction: 6th)
  5. Chiba Lotte Marines (prediction: 3rd)
  6. Orix Buffaloes (prediction: 5th)

Nippon Ham has hit more than I expected and has a +66 run differential… Rakuten’s pitching has kept them in games, but veterans just aren’t hitting… Seibu leads the league in home runs by a good margin and should be competitive all year… SoftBank leads the league in ERA and could be a dark horse… Chiba Lotte’s starting pitching needs to improve if they’re going to meet my prediction… Orix’s foreign sluggers, aside from Greg LaRocca, have been injured or ineffective, and their pitching has imploded.

Central League (as of May 16)

  1. Yomiuri Giants (prediction: 2nd)
  2. Yakult Swallows (prediction: 4th)
  3. Chunichi Dragons (prediction: 5th)
  4. Hanshin Tigers (prediction: 1st)
  5. Hiroshima Carp (prediction: 3rd)
  6. Yokohama BayStars (prediction: 6th)

Yomiuri has gotten good pitching across the board and leads the leage in runs; they’re currently on pace to win 100 games… Yakult has been a surprise at 20-13, especially given Norichika Aoki’s slow start (.226)… Chunichi slotted Tony Blanco in for Tyrone Woods but has otherwise regressed… Hanshin hasn’t gotten anything out of Kevin Mench or Takahiro Arai, but still has a +18 run differential… Hiroshima leads the Central in ERA (2.98) but simply isn’t hitting… Yokohama again is last in team pitching but is closer to the pack this season.

Of course, we’re only six weeks into the season so anything can happen, but we pretty much know what all the teams have at this point.

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Prediction: Central League

» 27 March 2009 » In npb » 4 Comments

1. Hanshin Tigers: This could be the year for Hanshin. Colonel Sanders has been exhumed from his resting place at the bottom of the Dotombori River, which should be enough to put the team over the top. Hanshin led the Central League for most of the season last year, despite a serious lack of home run power. If Takahiro Arai and Kevin Mench can combine for 45 home runs or so they should be tough to beat.
Key Players: Arai, Mench

2. Yomiuri Giants: Yomiuri slipped past Hanshin for the Central League crown at the end of the season in 2008, then took the Japan Series down to the wire before losing to Seibu. Look for a bounce-back year from Sun-Yeop Lee. The departure of Koji Uehara creates an opportunity for someone like Kentaro Nishimura, Shun Tohno, or Takahiko Nomaguchi to step up.
Key Players: Nishimura, Tohno, Nomaguchi

3. Hiroshima Carp: The Carp took a big step forward last season despite the loss of ace Hiroki Kuroda to the Dodgers. The lineup is respectable 1-5 and they have three good starters in Colby Lewis, Kan Ohtake, and Kenta Maeda. Look for a breakout year from Maeda.
Key Player: K Maeda

4. Yakult Swallows: Yakult has a number of good arms in its bullpen, some young starters that could develop, and Japan’s top hitter in Norichika Aoki. The big concern with the Swallows is a lack of team power, so their ability to compete for a playoff spot will depend on whether or not some of the non-Aoki batters can hit for average.
Key Players: Jaime D’Antona, Yoshinori, Tatsunori Masubuchi

5. Chunichi Dragons: The Dragons finished third last year despite being outscored by 21 by opponents on the season. This year they’ve subtracted Kenshin Kawakami, Norihiro Nakamura, and Tyrone Woods and have replaced them with untested players. I expect a fall in the standings.
Key Players: Tony Blanco, Kei Nomoto, Kazuki Yoshimi

6. Yokohama BayStars: Yokohama had by far the worst pitching in the Central last season, and despite moving Hayato Terahara back into the rotation, retaining Daisuke Miura, and adding Ryan Glynn, I don’t think they have enough depth to get out of the cellar. I think they’ll be more competitive than last year though.
Key Players: Terahara

Any thoughts? Pacific League is coming up next.

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Offseason Changes: Chunichi Dragons

» 06 February 2009 » In npb » Comments Off

Coming: Nelson Payano, Tony Blanco, Junichi Kawahara

Going: Kenshin Kawakami, Norihiro Nakamura, Tyrone Woods, Rafael Cruz, Ryosuke Morioka

Staying: Hitoki Iwase, Byung-Gyu Lee, Maximo Nelson, Wei-Yin Chen, Tomas de la Rosa

Trending: downward

Synopsis: Chunichi lost three major contributors from it’s 2008 team, and so far hasn’t replaced any of them with a veteran signing. They still have a deep team, but will play 2009 without a veteran ace or middle-lineup slugger. Chunichi’s foreign additions for 2009 are of the discount bin variety, rather than established performers.

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NPB Bullet Points: Spring Training Edition

» 02 February 2009 » In npb » 2 Comments

NPB spring training camps broke on February 1, so it’s time to dust off the old bullet points series.

Japanese Articles

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Possible MLB Returnees

» 13 January 2009 » In nichibei, npb » 4 Comments

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked on NY Baseball Digest Radio if there were any foreign players in Japan who could potentially make an MLB comeback, a la Cecil Fielder. I drew a blank. Given a little time to think it over though, I came up with a couple of candidates:

  • Colby Lewis, SP, Hiroshima Carp: took over for Hiroki Kuroda as Hiroshima’s ace, going 15-8 with a 2.68 era in 2008. Under contract for 2009.
  • Alex Graman, RP, Saitama Seibu Lions: former Yankee has been lights-out since the Lions put him in the bullpen. Under contract for 2009.
  • Craig Brazell, 1B, former Saitama Seibu Lions: cut loose after one year with the Lions, Brazell struck out too much in Japan and had a poor on-base performance, but did slug 27 home runs. I can see him playing AAA this year in an org that’s thin at 1b, and getting a shot if he performs well.
  • Tyrone Woods, 1B, former Chunichi Dragons: cut loose after the ’08 season, coming off six consecutive 35+ HR seasons. He’s a real longshot to play in MLB in 2009, given that he’s 40 and plenty of MLB veterans are out of work this offseason, but then again Daryle Ward spent all of 2008 on the roster of a team that won 97 games.

Though not to the extent of Fielder, Hector Carrasco, Lee Stevens, and Darrell May are a couple examples of guys who enjoyed some big league success after playing in Japan. Fielder’s 1991 Detroit Tigers teammate Bill Gullickson played two seasons with the Yomiuri Giants, where he became good friends with feature major leaguer Masumi Kuwata. They were so close, in fact, that Gullickson gave one of his children the middle name “Kuwata”. 

 


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NPB Bullet Points (2008/11/04)

» 05 November 2008 » In npb » Comments Off

  • Orix will work out former Phillies farmhand Mark Kelly. Kelly, an Australian, spent last year with Kochi of the independent Shikoku Island League, going 8-7 with a 3.31 era.
  • Former Yomiuri closer Junichi Kawahara passed a try out with Chunichi and will join the Dragons. Kawahara was once an effective pitcher, but has been injured for the last three years.
  • Nippon Ham has put Hanshin infielder Makoto Imaoka on it’s list of acquisition targets. Imaoka was one of my favorite Hanshin players from when I lived in the Kansai area from 2000-2003, but has been hampered by injuries the last few years.
  • Rakuten will send manager Katsuya Nomura to the MLB Winter Meetings in search of import players to add to the team’s 2009 roster. Nomura is reportedly interested in Padres reliever Brian Falkenborg.

English Articles:

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