Tag Archive > Yomiuri Giants

Giants Win, Giants Win

» 03 November 2012 » In nichibei, npb » 3 Comments

So, baseball in 2012 has come to an end (aside from the winter leagues and whatever daigaku yakyu remains this autumn). Both MLB’s and NPB’s Giants came out on top, with Yomiuri’s Kyojin-gun closing out the Nippon Series against the Nippon Ham Fighters on the 3rd. The San Francisco Giants swept the Detroit Tigers last week.

Normally I would write something about the Nippon Series around this time of year. I watched it this year but was too frequently disrupted to generate any decent level of insight into the series. So, I point you to the very capable Jason Coskrey and his article on how the series wrapped up.

In lieu of deep analysis, today I turn to trivia. This year was the first time that the Giants on both sides of the Pacific won their league championships, but it’s not the first time they’ve played for titles in the same season. Of course, Yomiuri is in the Nippon Series often enough that that’s not much of a coincidence. And here they are:

  • 2002: San Francisco lost 4-3 to Anaheim; Yomiuri swept Seibu. San Francisco’s Tsuyoshi Shinjo became the first Japanese player to appear in a World Series, while Yomiuri’s winner featured future MLBers Hideki Matsui, Koji Uehara and Hisanori Takahashi.
  • 1989: In a World Series remembered mainly for being disrupted by the devastating Loma Prieta earthquake, San Francisco was swept by their Bay Area rival Oakland A’s. On the other side of the Pacific, Kintetsu took Yomiuri to seven games, but the Giants ultimately prevailed. Incidentally, former Pittsburgh Pirate Masumi Kuwata was in the prime of his career with Yomiuri at this point.
  • 1951: The New York Giants’ 1951 are probably best remembered for Bobby Thomson’s Shot Heard ‘Round the World which got them in to the World Series, where they lost to the Yankees 4-2 in Joe Dimaggio’s final Series appearance. Meanwhile in Japan, Yomiuri played the old Nankai Hawks in the second Nippon Series ever stage. Yomiuri won in five games, their first of 22 Nippon Series wins.

 

Continue reading...

Tags: , , , , , ,

Playoff Picks

» 28 October 2011 » In npb » 8 Comments

While the MLB postseason is ready to come to what will certainly be a dramatic end, the NPB playoffs are just about to begin. The Climax Series opens for both leagues on Saturday, October 29 (JST), with the third place and second place finishers squaring off in the opening round. As a refresher, here is the format of the NPB postseason:

  • Climax Series, First Stage: best of three series between the second place and third place finishers.
  • Climax Series, Second Stage: best of seven series between the league champion (first place finisher) and the First Stage winner. The league champion is automatically credited with a one-win advantage.
  • Japan Series: best of seven series between the Central League Climax Series winner and Pacific League Climax Series winner.
And on to my picks…

Pacific League First Stage: Seibu vs Nippon Ham

I’m going to credit Nippon Ham with with an immediate win because of the presence of Yu Darvish, and then a second one because of their superior pitching and defense. Pick: Nippon Ham, 2-0. Key player: Yu Darvish.

Central League First Stage: Yomiuri vs Yakult

Though the Swallows and Giants finished a game apart in the standings, they went in opposite directions this season. Yakult got off to a hot start and faded down the stretch, while Yomiuri had to claw their way into contention after a sub-par start. Yakult won the season series 12-8-4, but Yomiuri has stronger pitching and most offensive threats overall. Pick Yomiuri, 2-1. Key player: Hisayoshi Chono.

Pacific League Second Stage: Nippon Ham vs Softbank

Softbank has every edge here: a deeper rotation, a better lineup, a 16-7-1 regular season record against Nippon Ham, more rest, and a one-game advantage for finishing first. Softbank has also been on their game recently against Nippon Ham, with an 8-1-1 record against the Fighters in September and October. Pick: Softbank 4-1. Key player: Seiichi Uchikawa.

Central League Second Stage: Yomiuri vs Chunichi

This is a close call. Yomiuri has a narrow regular season 12-10-2 edge over Chunichi, and both teams prevented runs this season at about the same pace. Chunichi lineup is weak, the worst in the CL this year, but they have been bullpen options than Yomiuri. So a series of close games probably favors Chunichi, and of course they have the rest and automatic wins advantages, plus the Ochiai destiny. My gut is saying Chunichi, but my brain is saying Yomiuri. Pick Chunichi 4-3. Key player: Takuya Asao.

Japan Series: Chunichi vs Softbank

Maybe it’s bland to predict a Japan Series between the two league champions, but that’s what I see. It’s probably equally bland to pick the more statistically dominant team to win as well… but it’s hard to pick against Softbank. They allowed 59 fewer runs than anyone else in Japan, with a 2.30 team ERA. Offensively they finished second overall to Seibu’s Okawari-kun-fueled lineup, but their 550 runs was 66 better than third place Yakult. Chunichi has enough pitching to keep the games close, but ultimately suffers with a big disadvantage at the plate.

Pick: Softbank 4-2. Key player: Tsuyoshi Wada (with wins in games two and six).

Continue reading...

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

News Item: Saburo Traded to Yomiuri

» 29 June 2011 » In npb » Comments Off

It has become clear within the last hour that the Chiba Lotte Marines have traded outfielder Saburo Omura to the Yomiuri Giants in exchange for outfielder Takahito Kudo and cash.

It’s quite a surprising move, considering how popular Saburo is among Lotte fans and how much of a fixture he has been in their outfield and lineup. The 35 year-old was in the midst of his 17th season with Lotte, batting .271 with 2 home runs and 9 runs driven in. He had appeared in 19 games this season.

Kudo had not made an appearance at the ichi-gun level in 2011 for Yomiuri. Prior to his two seasons with the Giants, he spent parts of three seasons with Nippon Ham. Kudo is a career .262 hitter still looking for his first home run in NPB.

Continue reading...

Tags: , , ,

Preseason: Sawamura vs Ohishi, Kikuchi

» 02 March 2011 » In npb » 3 Comments

This morning, I got my first extended look at heralded Giants rookie Hirokazu Sawamura; a 55-pitch open sen appearance against Seibu. I liked what I saw. Sawamura was quick the to the plate, showed good spring time velocity, and managed to hit Shinnosuke Abe’s target with his breaking pitches a good chunk of the time.

Seibu countered with its own touted young ‘uns. 2010 top draft pick Tatsuya Ohishi got the start, 2nd year man Yusei Kikuchi followed with an inning of relief work, and 2010 2nd-rounder Kazuhisa Makita put in two innings. I was a little underwhelmed by Ohishi, but it’s still early in the spring. Kikuchi, on the other hand, was something of a pleasant surprise. He only got an inning of work but he showed a smooth delivery, worked quickly and threw right to the catcher’s target on all but one of his pitches. I had never seen Makita before at any level, and submariners are always fun. I like his 95 kmph curveball, but if this guy gets the ball up in the zone, watch out.

And on a somber note, the game opened with a moment of silence for former Yomiuri Giant, Chunichi Dragon and San Francisco 49er Wally Yonamine, who passed away earlier this week.

As you can see below I’ve embedded the video of the game, or if you prefer you can surf on over to justin.tv and watch there.


Watch live video from otintin2 on Justin.tv

Continue reading...

Tags: , , , , , ,

Looking back at 2010

» 13 January 2011 » In npb » 5 Comments

2010 was an eventful year for Nippon Pro Yakyu. Today we look back at some of the notable stories from the year that was.

Murton Hits

The story of individual accomplishment in 2010 easily went to Matt Murton. Murton, a 28-year-old journeyman toiling in America’s minor and major leagues, found sustained success with the Hanshin Tigers. Initially reluctant to play in Japan, he embraced Japanese baseball culture, all the while surpassing expectations and breaking a hitting record. In his first year in Japan, Murton batted .349/.395/.499 while driving in 91 runs. The powerful righty smashed 17 home runs and tattooed left-handed pitchers at a .408 clip. Most notably though, his 214 hits broke Ichiro’s NPB record for the most hits in a season. The total was only 58 fewer than he had recorded over a Major League Baseball career that spanned five seasons.

Lotte Wins

Finishing with a record of 75-67-2 (.528), the Chiba Lotte Marines just managed to edge out the Nippon Ham Fighters for third place in the Pacific League. While the Fighters missed the playoffs by ½ a game in the standings, the Marines took the postseason opportunity and ran with it.  Lotte won a pair of 1-run games against the Seibu Lions in the first stage of the Climax Series, setting them up for a showdown in Fukuoka. Against the favored Pacific League champion Hawks, Marines pitching held their opponent to 9 runs over the six game series. More surprisingly, Lotte didn’t allow a home run the entire series, while getting enough timely hitting to win four road games.

In the Japan Series, Lotte and the Chunichi Dragons traded wins and losses for the first four games, with Games 2 and 3 becoming lopsided affairs. Lotte won Game by by a 10-4 margin to take a 3 to 2 series lead. Things then got really crazy as the teams played 15 innings in the Nagoya Dome to a 2-2 Game 6 tie. Game 7 was a seesaw battle, as the Marines rallied from a 6-2 deficit and eventually took a 7-6 into the 9th inning. Chunichi sent the game to extra innings with a triple and ensuing sacrifice fly. In the 12th inning Lotte got a big triple of their own to win the game 8-7 and the Japan Series title. Toshiaki Imae batted .444 and was named the Series MVP. As a team the Marines hit .281 and won their 4th crown in team history.

Posting Hits & Misses

One year shy of international free agency, the Rakuten Eagles decided that the time was right to allow veteran starter (and 2008 Sawamura Award winner) Hisashi Iwakuma to pursue a career in MLB. While the posting system has worked well for others, Iwakuma’s case exposed the flaws in it. It was revealed that the Oakland Athletics had won the bidding, but the team and Iwakuma’s agent Don Nomura were unable to reach an agreement on a contract. Negotiations became contentious at times, and the 30 day negotiating window was allowed to expire. So the right-hander will find himself back in Sendai for the 2011. He will be free to determine his own career path without the use of the posting system after the season.

The other off-season posting went well. Tsuyoshi Nishioka, coming off a career year (.346/.423/.482) year and a championship, had his posting request granted by the Chiba Lotte Marines. The Minnesota Twins’ posting fee of around $5 million US was accepted, and Nishioka agreed to a 3-year/$9.25 million contract in December. The contract has an option for a 4th year at $4 million.

It seems as if every off-season fans on both sides of the Pacific go through a round of Yu Darvish posting speculation. This winter was no different, even though the result was the same. Though he remained unsigned into December, Darvish used social media to assure his fans that he would pitch for the Fighters in 2011. Though his marital life and divorce proceedings became fodder for the tabloids, Darvish’s career is in fine shape, as he rightfully became Japan’s highest paid player (500 million yen) for 2011.

Brown Departs

Replacing a legend is one of the hardest things to do in sports. In 2010 Marty Brown learned that lesson the hard way.

Tagged to replace aging legend and previous manager Katsuya Nomura, Brown didn’t exactly come to Sendai with stellar career numbers. His stint in Hiroshima had been unimpressive at 256-306-16 and three 5th place finishes. He was nevertheless tagged to replace an unhappy Nomura who had led Rakuten to a 2nd place finish the year before. Unfortunately for Brown and Rakuten fans, the team crashed out of the pennant race early and wound up in last place at 62-79-3. Motohiro Shima’s superb season couldn’t save Brown’s job, though, as he was dumped and replaced with Senichi Hoshino for 2011.

The Saito Generation Begins

Though the season had ended for 10 of 12 NPB teams, the 2010 draft gave fans a reason to stay in touch with baseball in late October. Yuki Saito, coined “The Handkerchief Prince” after his captivating performance during 2006 Summer Koshien, was draft eligible. He and teammate Tatsuya Ohishi had been part of a formidable pitching staff for Waseda University in the ensuing years, capping off a stellar college career with a final game championship in Tokyo Big6 play.

When it came to draft day, both pitchers were highly sought after, with four teams submitting Saito’s name in the draft lottery. Somewhat surprisingly, Nippon Ham came away the winner, setting off ‘Saito-mania’ in Hokkaido.

In Memoriam

Sadly, 2010 didn’t pass without tragedy. In early February, 24-year old outfielder Hiroyuki Oze was found dead outside his Miyakojima spring training hotel. The cause of death was ruled a suicide. Various tributes to the young Orix player were held early in the season in his memory.

Equally shocking came the sudden death of Giants coach Takuya Kimura in April. Kimura-coach was hitting ground balls to his team in Hiroshima when he suddenly collapsed from what was later diagnosed as a brain hemmorage. On April 7th, five days after the initial incident, the 37-year old Kimura passed away.

Continue reading...

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

NPB Bullet Points: Ouen-dan, Wakui, Darvish, Orix Uniforms

» 08 January 2011 » In mlb prospects, nichibei, npb, npb draft, NPB Tracker » 10 Comments

Before I get caught up on my more analytical pieces, here’s about a week’s worth of news items:

  • The Yomiuri Giants have broken up the Tokyo Yomiuri Kyojin-gun Ouen-dan (Tokyo Yomiuri Giants Cheering Club) over “improper re-sale of game tickets”.
  • Seibu ace Hideaki Wakui is having a hard time reaching an agreement with the Lions on his 2011 salary. It’s reportedly possible that he won’t have a contract signed by the time camp opens, and thus have to pay his way there.
  • Chiba Marine Stadium has been rechristened QVC Marine Field. Yes, that’s QVC, the television shopping network.
  • Sponichi points out that, in addition to being the son of former Chunichi Dragon Mark Ryal, Rusty Ryal was also the guy that hit a line drive off Hiroki Kuroda’s head back in 2009.
  • The Yukan Fuji paper published an article about Bill James projections found at my other haunt, Fangraphs.com. The headline was James’ projection that Koji Uehara would save 31 games with a 2.81 ERA for the Orioles this upcoming season.
  • According to Sankei News, the Chiba Lotte Marines took in 8bn yen in revenue in 2010, the highest figure in team history. While the club finished 2bn yen in the red, they lost 1.3bn yen less than the previous year, and the 8bn yen represents a quadrupling in revenue since 2004. Winning the Nippon Series and posting Tsuyoshi Nishioka helped boost Lotte’s income.
  • Despite being in great shape, former Yokohama and Orix player Katsuaki Furuki got his face bashed in his fighting debut.
  • Yu Darvish’s New Year’s Resolutions are to read two books per month, and watch movies that he doesn’t typically like. His intent is to “refine his sensitivity” (“感性を磨けるかなって理由です(^^)”).
  • Darvish’s Nippon Ham teammate, incoming rookie Yuki Saito, wants to play until he’s 50.
  • Here’s a great pic of Hiroshima ace Kenta Maeda working out with a medicine ball.
  • Lotte managed to sign their 6th-round draft pick, USC right Shuhei Fujiya. Fujiya gets Johnny Kuroki’s number 54.
  • Orix has unveiled their new uniforms. I’m a little disappointed, I thought they would change them more. I think they should have brought back the old Kintetsu Buffaloes logo, at least on an arm patch or something.
  • And finally, one in English: speaking to ESPN, Matt Murton called going to Japan “100 percent the best decision I made.”

Continue reading...

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2010: A Uniform Odyssey

» 30 June 2010 » In npb » 6 Comments

Update, July 2: Completely forgot about this year’s SoftBank Hawks alternates.

It’s time again for my annual alternative uniforms roundup (last year’s is here). Here’s what we have this year:

  • Yomiuri will sport these cartoonish threads July 19-21 against Yakult. The uniforms were designed by middle school student Hikaru Nomoto, who’s design was selected from out of more than 13,000 entries.
  • This season Seibu is wearing 70’s era throwback uniforms, from when the team was known as the Taiheiyo-Club Lions, prior to Seibu ownership.
  • Nippon Ham chose a garish gold color for this season’s We Love Hokkaido uniforms.
  • The differences between Yokohama’s normal uniforms and this season’s summer alternates are subtle, but pitcher Shun Yamaguchi still called them “unusually stylish”. I wouldn’t mind seeing them keep it simple and re-use these from a couple years ago.
  • Orix’s summer uniforms are red this year, which elicits memories the old red Kintetsu uniforms. Orix also recalled the old Blue Wave team by wearing 1995 throwback uniforms in a game at Skymark Stadium last month. 1995, of course, was the year that Orix lifted the city of Kobe by reaching the Japan Series after the horrific Hanshin Earthquake.

Today’s Japanese vocabulary is 復刻版ユニホーム, (fukkokuban uniform), meaning “re-issue uniform”, though in English we would translate that to “throwback uniform” or “retro uniform”.

Continue reading...

Tags: , , , ,

A Look at Yomiuri’s Import Roster

» 11 July 2009 » In npb » Comments Off

The Yomiuri Giants have had an interesting collection of foreign players on their roster this year. Let’s take a look at them:

Alex Ramirez (OF, Venezuela) Ramirez is in his ninth season, and has accrued enough NPB service time to no longer count against the foreign player limit. Only a few guys have last this long, Tuffy Rhodes being another. Ramirez is having another productive season with a .303 average and 55 rbi, but his numbers aren’t as eye-popping as they were during his MVP season last year. The Giants have taken advantage of his new non-foreign player status by keeping additional import players on the roster.

Seung-Yeop Lee (1B, Korea) Perhaps Korea’s most accomplished hitter, Lee is in the fourth and final year of his contract with the Kyojin-gun. He was dynamite in his first year with the Giants, hitting .323 with 41 home runs, but in the subsequent two years we’ve seen him slip to .274 and 30 and then .248 and 8. Lee’s power has recovered a bit this season, as he has 17 homers through July 11, and though his batting average is still sub-par at .240, he has a respectable .848 ops.

Edgardo Alfonzo (IF, Venezuela) The Giants went to the scrap heap with Alfonzo, and though he made the team out of spring training, he failed to impress in a limited look during the season, hitting just .118 in 38 at-bats. Alfonzo has been with the Giants’ farm team, where he hasn’t played much. There is occasionally news about him practicing with the top team, but I figure it’ll take an injury for him to get another look at this point.

Seth Greisinger (SP, United States) The veteran American lead the Central League in wins the last two seasons, and was rewarded with an opening day start this year. Greisinger hasn’t been quite as good this year as he had been previously, but he’s still one of Japan’s top innings eaters with a 3.66 era through 103 innings pitched so far this year.

Marc Kroon (RP, United States) The Giants poached Kroon from Yokohama prior to last season, and it paid off as he set a new personal best with 41 saves. Note the trend here — Ramirez, Lee, Greisinger and Kroon were all signed after having success with other NPB teams. Kroon has dealt with injury problems this year, but has been solid in limited action with a 1.12 era.

Dicky Gonzalez (SP, Puerto Rico) Gonzales is another guy with previous NPB experience, haven’t spent a few years with Yakult, being a Tommy John veteran coming off a mediocre season, he was more of a reclaimation project coming in this season. Suffice to say that he’s exceeded expectations with an 8-1 record and 2.31 era through 11 starts. He’s gotten by with supreme control, striking out 48 against just six walks. Gonzalez also took the monthly top pitcher award for May.

Wirfin Obispo (SP/RP, Dominican Republic) Obispo has been a small triumph for player development. He came to Japan as an ikusei player, prior to the 2007 season at the age of 23 without significant professional experience. Obispo spent 2007 and 2008 working on his game with the farm team, and was given a chance to pitch at the top level with Kroon down with a hand injury. Obispo has impressed in his recent starts, which will give the Giants something to think about when Kroon comes back.

Adrian Burnside (SP, Australia) After putting up a respectable 3.48 era in 75 innings for the Giants last year, Burnside is buried on the Giants’ farm team, where he’s only made eight appearances.

Levi Romero (RP, Venezuela) Former Houston and Texas farmhand Romero joined the Giants this spring as an ikusei player, and has been promoted to the regular roster, which means he’ll be around until the end of the year. I doubt we’ll see him with the top team this year, but the Giants like his velocity and he’ll get a chance to continue working on his game in Japan.

Lin Yi-Hau (P, Taiwan) and Lee Yi-Fong (P, Taiwan) I have no idea if I’m romanizing these names correctly, but Lee and Lin are a couple of teenagers who signed with the Giants as 15 year-olds. Lin, 18, has made one appearance for the farm team this year, allowing two earned runs in two innings. Lee is still just 16 years old, and doesn’t have any stats I can find.

So we have a tenured NPB veteran, one of Korea’s all-time great hitters, a former MLB all-star on his last legs, a couple of dependable American veterans, a surprising reclamation project, two Latin American development projects, two Taiwanese teenagers, and an Australian lost in the shuffle. Interesting group of guys.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Continue reading...

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

NPB Bullet Points (2008/07/21)

» 21 July 2008 » In npb » Comments Off

English Links:

Japanese Links:

  • New Hanshin reliever Chris Resop has arrived in Japan. “Great!” he said adding, “they really cheer feverishly. I’ve never been to this kind of ballpark before. I’ve never seen this in America.” (note: translation of a translation).
  • Uehara pitched two innings and struck out three in Yomiuri’s 4-1 loss to Yokohama.
  • Former Twin Lew Ford has been demoted to Hanshin’s farm team for the third time this year.

Continue reading...

Tags: , , , , ,

Giants to Sign Taiwanese Teenager?

» 01 July 2008 » In npb » 2 Comments

Edit, 7/1: corrected spelling of Yu-Hung Lee

Interesting news being reported by Sanspo & Sponichi: the Yomiuri Giants are moving to sign a 15 year-old Taiwanese pitcher named Lee Yu-Hung. Neither article says much about him, but he hits 92MPH on the gun and will be heading to Japan on July 1 to join the Giants as a practice player. If things work out he could be signed as an instructional player in August. The Giants also have 17 year-old Lin Yi-Hao under contract as an instructional player.

Signing & developing international talent represents a new direction for the Giants, and I hope we’ll see more of this from other NPB teams. NPB relaxed it’s foreign player roster rules a year or two ago to allow more flexibility with Asian players; perhaps the rules can be relaxed again so that players that sign with NPB teams as amateurs won’t count against the limit at all.

Continue reading...

Tags: ,