Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Foreign Players' Health Concerns

A majority of Chunichi's foreign players been suffering various health related setbacks throughout Spring Camp.  The most serious injury so far has been to Maximo Nelson, who has not pitched since February 10th due to shoulder stiffness.  It apparently is not getting better and he is scheduled to have it examined when the team returns to Nagoya this week.

Tony Blanco has been suffering from tightness in his lower back that kept him out of practice for nearly a week.  He returned to practice on the 26th and has been taking things slow in order to hopefully prevent a greater injury.

Enyelbert Soto was slowed by calf tightness early in camp and has been taking thing slow down at ni-gun.  He appears to be improving and should be on track now to start the season in good health.

Victor Diaz missed a couple days of practice with a cold, but is back with the team, he played in the practice game on the 25th against the Marines and was 0-1 with a strikeout.

Jorge Sosa is the only foreign player to maintain good health throughout camp and it looks like he may get a chance to be a starter.

Ranking the NPB's Uniforms

I'm a bit of a uniform nut and since there have been some new ones released recently here are my two cents on the current uniforms around the NPB, ranked from best to worst. 
Quick note: unlike the MLB where Majestic makes every teams uniforms, NPB teams uniforms are made by a variety of manufacturers leading to more variation between the teams.

1. Hiroshima Carp



Not all that original, but these are just so clean, especially the home uni's.

2. Seibu Lions



Another clean look, nice lettering on the chest.  Home uni is a little boring, but the road set is great

3. Chunichi Dragons


I've probably discussed these enough

4. Rakuten Golden Eagles


Unique color scheme, great hats, not overdone piping: these are very solid uni's

5. Orix Buffaloes
Home, Road & Alternate

Really like all of these, my only complaint is that when you see the road uniform live the spacing of the letters and numbers is a little off and the gold and grey don't mesh all that well.  Would have to say the alternate is a favorite.

6. Yakult Swallows



The Swallows uni's are pretty flashy, but I still like them. If they got rid of the colored triangles on the base of the sleeves and pants they would be even better.

7. Chiba Lotte Marines

Road, Alternate and Home

These get bonus points for being such an upgrade over the horrific shark-tooth design that preceded them.  This photo is from a couple years ago when they first came out.  I'm not sure if they still wear that alternate.

8. Yomiuri Giants


It's some subtle things that drop the Giants down the list, mainly the cut-off Adidas stripage on the pants and the differing shades of grey on the road uniform's fabric (that makes vertical stripes).  As much as I don't like the Giants they do have a classic color scheme and cool caps.

9. Fukuoka Softbank Hawks


These aren't bad, but I don't like the double stacked lettering on the home uni and they need to lose the yellow bills and go to an all-black cap.  The double stripes on the sleeves have grown on me, they're different.
10. Yokohama DeNA Bay Stars
People seem to like these, but while I appreciate that DeNA is a gaming company and the uni design is video game-esqe they just look a little too amateurish.  I don't like the new lettering or home cap logo as much as the old logo and script.  I also don't like the black underarms on home uni's or how the color scheme seems to differ between the home and road sets.  I do like the star hats and the idea of the monochrome dark road set.
11.  Hanshin Tigers

Home and Road

I really like their batting helmets, but I don't really have anything else positive to say about the Tigers' new uniforms.  Adding extra stripage to to pinstriped uniforms just never works out.

12.  Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters


I've never been a fan of the Fighters' unsymmetrical uniforms, I do like the use of more blue in their newer home uniforms though, it's a cool shade.  Never liked their hats or home uni lettering either.  The newer (2011) road uni is a slight improvement over it's predecessor, but still has double stacked lettering and it's gold.  There are just way too many things that aren't working for me.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

More on "Where to Watch NPB Games"

Here are some details about the links I have on the right of the screen regarding watching games. is a site I read about on other blogs, mainly, and the first place I was able to watch a NPB game online.  It was my go-to last year for the NPB playoffs and the Japan Series. is a site that allows people to post live video feeds.  Often people who put on the live video also save these videos so that they can be accessed later.  Games can be watched as full-screen on this site and generally have good picture quality.

Keyhole TV requires you to download a viewer.  Once you have done the download, it allows you to watch live Japanese TV or listen to live Japanese radio.  I believe the channels, like, are provided by individuals.  But instead of showing whatever the individual wants to show, Keyhole TV shows the same channel or station 24/7, so you can watch NHK or Fuji TV for example anytime you want to.  The main negative of Keyhole TV (as you could guess from the name) is that the screen is only about 4" x 4" in size and the picture quality in often not that good.  Another negative is that it shows the main network broadcasts of games, which are normally scheduled over a two hour window, starting in the second or third inning and ending somewhere between the seventh and the end of the game depending on the speed of play.  It's nice to know that Keyhole TV is there if you just want to tune in for a couple innings on a random weekend, but Justin.TV is a better option for playoff games that you know someone will be showing on there.

Last year on TBS's (the Japanese TV station that at that time owned the BayStars) website they had a page that had recordings of BayStar home games.  It is a great page that allows you to watch a recording of any game from their season by top or bottom of each inning.  You can either hide the score and be in suspense or turn the scores on and watch only the scoring innings.  The quality is good and any game is on demand, the only negative is that every game features the last-place BayStars  It provided a good place to see the Dragons when they went to Yokohama and I could watch on my terms the day after.  The site is still active in spite of the BayStars' ownership change.  It would be great if they were to continue this site for 2012, but that seems very unlikely. 

There are many other places out there I'm sure and I hope to find some more for the upcoming year. shows Pacific League games for a fee, but I don't know that it can be viewed outside of Japan.  If anyone out there knows of some other good places to watch, please don't be afraid to share.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Dragons New Uniform T's Now at Official Dragons Website

The 2012 uniform T-shirts are now available for purchase here.
Looks like they are standard T-shirts, no piping like on the uniforms.  Their site says that pro-style uniforms should be available sometime next month.  Unfortunatly, they don't ship outside of Japan, so unless you live in Japan you will have to go through an intermediary to get one or anything else off their site.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Kosuke Fukudome Finds a home with the Chicago White Sox

Earlier this week Kosuke Fukudome signed with the Chicago White Sox.  It seemed to be a move that not a whole lot of people saw coming, but in hindsight makes a lot of sense.  Kosuke won't be making much money, $500,000 (just over league minimum), but I'm sure he's still living well off of the contract he signed with the Cubs.  It's a major league deal so it's very likely he will be with the team coming out of spring training. It also has a team option for 2013 worth $3.5 million with a $500,000 buyout if they choose not to retain him after this year.  It actually seems like a pretty unique contract, I don't remember seeing any others with so little pay (relatively) for the first year with an option worth so much more for the second year.  I'm sure most people's first thoughts were that the White Sox have no intention of picking up his option even if he meets expectations for this year.

The Sox should be a good fit for Kosuke as their outfield is a bit of a crapshoot right now.  They ended last year with Alex Rios and a couple of prospects as their main outfielders.  The White Sox are pretty high on those prospects, Alejandro De Aza and Dayan Viciedo, but Viciedo in particular is still very young and neither has proven themselves yet at the Major League level.  So though Kosuke is projected as a fourth outfielder heading into the season he will likely be getting a few starts and maybe an opportunity will emerge for him to be an every-day player again in the Majors.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Quick Notes


  • Shuhei Takahashi had RBI extra-base hits in each of his two first practice games.  He was 1 for 4 with a double in against the LG Twins on the 11th and had a RBI triple against the Samsung Lions on the 12th.
  • From Nikkan Sports via the Dragons have decided to sign Victor Diaz and will make an official announcement on Monday.  Chunichi will have to decide which foreign players to run with to start the season.  They seemed to be a little more reluctant to sign Diaz that Jorge Sosa, so my guess is Sosa is the higher of the two on the depth chart.  Enyelbert Soto has also been hampered by a bad calf and has been training at the ni-gun camp.  It doesn't sound like a serious injury, but it is possible that Soto may not be ready to go when the season starts.  Chunichi needs an offensive boost, but I think it will be Diaz that starts the season at ni-gun to help him get acclimated. 
Update: Diaz signed for about $200,000 (15M yen) with a signing bonus of $50,000 (3.9M yen).  They are definitely not breaking the bank to get him at that price.  May turn out to be a good low-risk move.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Dragons Official Camera

 This photo is from the "Dragons Official Camera" blog on their official website:
It is a pretty cool feature, they put new photos up there almost everyday.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Kosuke Fukudome Still on the Market

Former Dragon Kosuke Fukudome has still yet to sign with any team in the U.S. or Japan.  He has stated that he would like to stay in the Majors and several MLB teams have been rumored to have had interest in him over the offseason.  The most recent team to be linked to him was the New York Mets last week; the Milwaukee Brewers and Cleveland Indians were rumored previously.  It is not too surprising that Fukudome is still looking for work in the U.S.  He has been about a league-average hitter in the Majors, but in each of his four big league seasons he has started off the season very hot and slumped continously downward as the season progressed.  His trade last year to Cleveland inserted him directly into a pennent race, but again he was unable to contribute much down the stretch and the Indians were unable to keep pace with the Detroit Tigers and missed a chance at the playoffs.  Kosuke batted .249/.300/.371 in 59 games for the Tribe in 2011.

In my opinion it is Fukudome's pattern of late season failure that is keeping teams away this offseason.  His overall MLB numbers are not bad at .260/.361/.399, he really has a knack for drawing walks and getting on base and is a solid defensive player, but it is hard to overlook his late-season slides.  At this point he has done nothing to prove to any MLB team that he can put together a full-season and he missed a golden opportunity to do so last year, in his contract year, and in the spotlight of a pennant race.

I hope he gets one more opportunity in the big leagues, but if he is out of chances here, I do think he could definitely help one of he NPB teams.  The Dragons in particular could really benefit from having him back.  He is unlikely to regain his power stroke with the new NPB ball, but he could provide some of the on-base skills that Chunichi truly lacked last year.
I don't know that he would want to return to the Dragons and I'm sure the other NPB teams will be after him as well.  Some have mentioned Yomiuri as a possible destination, but we will see.  Spring Training has already begun in Japan and will be soon in the U.S. and I'm pretty positive that he will be in someone's camp it just may not be in the league that Kosuke is hoping for.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Jorge Sosa to join Dragons on a 1-year deal

Jorge Sosa has been offered a contract after an extended tryout with the Dragons.  According to a report from Nikkan Sports; the Dragons' pitching coaches were pleased with what they saw from him.
Sosa has experience as both a starter and a reliever and pitched most recently as a starter for the Leones de Yucatan of the Mexican League.  He also pitched nine seasons in the major leagues with Tampa Bay, Atlanta, St. Louis, NY Mets, Washington and Florida.  By far his best year was 2005 when he went 13-3 with an ERA of 2.55 over 134 innings.  His overall MLB numbers are not nearly as impressive as he bounced around from team to team. 
Sosa began his professional career as an outfielder, but switched to pitching because of his throwing velocity.  Early in his career he could throw in the upper 90's; his other pitches include a curveball, slider and changeup.  He also has some pop at the plate with five extra-base hits and three home runs in 102 plate appearances in the Majors.  Jorge gave up only one run over six innings as a member of the Dominican team at the 2006 World Baseball Classic.
Sosa joins Tony Blanco, Maximo Nelson and Enyelbert Soto as the foreign players on the Dragons roster.  Victor Diaz has also been practicing with the team, but has yet to be signed.  Blanco, Nelson and Soto appear to be locks for the ichi-gun squad, so if Diaz is signed they will have to choose between Sosa and Diaz for the last foreign-player spot.  Either way, this looks like it was a good opportunity to add depth to the starting rotation.  That is definitely never a bad thing, as injuries always take their toll on starting pitchers over the course of the season.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

New Uni's: The good, the not as good and the ugly

The good:
Everything about the home uniform: script, coloring, piping. number font
Front and back; it's classic, it's clean, it's not all that original but it's different enough to be their own.
I'm even okay with the color change, though I'll have to change the color scheme on here already.  Royal blue isn't the first color that comes to mind when you think of a dragon anyway.

The not as good:
The road uniform, it's solid, but could be better.  I think the chest lettering looked better on the last set; straight across instead of arched.  Grey pants would also look better with the black jersey, too much contrast between the black and the white. 
Not a fan of the new caps at all.  From any distance at all the logo just looks like a blob of red and white, and they look pretty crappy up-close too.  Definitely a downgrade.

And the ugly:

They found a way to make the Tigers' uniforms even worse.