Sunday, May 27, 2012

Week in Review: May 21 - May 27

The Dragons went 3-1-1 this week against Rakuten, Nippon Ham and Softbank, putting their interleague record at 5-2-2.  They continue to stand in first place 2 games ahead of the charging Yomiuri Giants, who are the only team with a better record than Chunichi so far though interleague play.  Here are few notes from this week:
  • Pitching coach Hiroshi Gondo told reporters that Masa Yamamoto will most likely to be taken off of roster after another sub-par start.  Opposing teams have been getting to him of late as they see him for a second time this season.  Hopefully this isn't the end for Masa, I don't think it will be as NPB roster rules aren't as restricting as the MLB's.  If it is he at least made the start of 2012 memorable with a great start to the season and some record-setting nights.  I do hope he continues until the end of the season and then calls it quits on his own terms.
  • Motonobu Tanishige moved into 4th on the list of NPB games played at 2,678.  Very, very impressive for a catcher.  Tanishige is one of my favorite Dragons and at the age of 41 he's still a solid defensive catcher.  Prior to last year's Japan Series, I've always thought of him as a good clutch hitter as well and I love the icy "c'mon man" stare he sometimes gives teammates when they do something dumb in the field.  His longevity and toughness is just amazing, his first season was in 1989 for Taiyo, and he's caught over 100 games in 16 straight seasons including 141 games in both the 2005 and 2006 seasons for Chunichi. He's probably been hit by 1,000s of foul tips and all the other things that take their toll on catchers, yet he keeps coming back for more, the guy is truly an animal.
  • Ryosuke Hirata is still out with a lower back strain, he didn't play in any games this week.
  • I was very impressed with Shinji Tajima's outing on Saturday against the Fighters.  The rookie came into a high pressure situation, bases loaded in a 2-run game, and got Micah Hoffpauir to hit into an inning-ending double play.  Tajima then followed that with a scoreless 8th inning. 
  • Tony Blanco mashed this week: 9 for 16 with 2 HR.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Vintage Dragons Uni on Craigslist

The Uni-Watch blog today linked to a Hawaiian Craigslist ad for vintage Japanese baseball shirts.  The ad lists them as semi-pro and industrial league, but clearly one is not.  To be honest though, that era of Dragons uni is not one that had seen before and I wasn't sure if it was some sort of replica for fans or what.  Looking online I was able to find a very cool Flickr collection of photos with a pretty much complete history of Dragons Uniforms.  Thank you mimflyer436!

The uniform for sale appears to be what the team wore from 1969-1973.  A pretty awesome design that I can't believe I hadn't seen before.  Also check out the color photo of the 1968 uni's with the Dragon on the cap, another great look, especially the road version.  Hopefully they will throwback to that 1968 look at some point. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Week in Review: May 14 - May 20

Interleague play began this week with the Marines and Lions visiting the Nagoya Dome.  Chunichi lost their first game against Lotte, then were unable to hold a 9th inning lead in the second game and had to settle for a 3-3 tie.  The Dragons swept their 2-game series with Seibu behind a strong pitching performance by Soma Yamauchi in the first game and a huge 8th inning rally, led by Wada's 2 RBI triple, in the second game.  Another solid week for the Dragons, keeping them in first place.

  • Masahiko Morino returned from injury this week and was 5 for 15, 5 for is first 11 prior to Sunday's 0-fer.
  • Maximo Nelson returned from injury as well and pitched a scoreless inning in relief against the Marines, it was reported that he may return to the rotation soon.
  • There were reports this week that Masa Yamamoto needed to have a good performance in his scheduled Sunday start in order to keep his spot in the rotation after getting rocked for 5 ER over 2 innings last week.  He responsed with a solid start, 2 ER, 4 H, 2 BB over 6 innings and likely has earned himself another start or two at least.
  • Takuya Asao, has been taken off of the active roster because of recent "struggles."  Doesn't sound like he has an injury, but is being given some time to rest.  If anyone deserves a rest it would be Asao, he's one of the most used (overused) pitchers in the NPB, he appeared in 79 games last year and has pitched in 21 of 42 games so far this year.  I don't really think this roster move was neccessary, he hasn't been as unhittable this year as last year, but he has still gotten the job done more often than not.  Takagi just needs to give him a few more days off over the course of the season and with Tajima and Sosa in the bullpen as well, Chunichi now has other 8th inning pitching options.
  • The Dragons plan to use Takeshi Yamasaki as the DH during inter-league games at Pacific League stadiums.
  • Kazuki Yoshimi is working his way back from injury and could pitch in a ni-gun game next week.
  • Ryosuke Hirata was taken off of the active roster Sunday with back pain.
  • Yohei Oshima has been hitting well of late.  His totals for the season so far are .303 BA, .383 OBP, 15 BB, 12 extra-base hits.  Very good numbers for a lead-off hitter, especially one with the speed and glove he has.  He's a guy I thought would break out last year, that didn't really happen, but this year may be the year it does. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Nobumasa Fukuda

Nobumasa Fukuda has been getting more playing time of late and is a guy that I didn't really know much about.  He has been mainly a pinch-hitter so far at the ichi-gun level, but seems to have some potential as a hitter and has been seeing some time at several positions over the last few weeks.  Here's some more on Fukuda:

He's 23 years old, and was drafted in the third round as a catching prospect in 2006.  He attended Yokohama High School and had 49 HR's during his career there.  He was also the clean-up hitter for Yokohama HS when they won the 2006 Spring Koshien Championship.

Fukuda started his ni-gun career as a catcher, but Hiromitsu Ochiai was impressed by his offensive skill and had him switch to the infield, hoping this would provide him with more opportunities to play.  Since then he has played mainly corner infield and been a consistantly solid performer at ni-gun.  He is the current record holder for most doubles in a game in the Western league with 4 in one game.  Fukuda was also an alternate on last year's fresh all-star team, but didn't play because of injury.

This year Fukuda has been asked to return to catching in order to take the place of Keiji Oyama who was traded to Rakuten.  He's now the third-string catcher behind Tanishige and Oda, but has also seen some innings at 1B, 2B and 3B so far this year.  Fukuda has hit .300 with a HR this year in 20 ichi-gun at-bats.  Hopefully he can keep it up, Chunichi could use a useful catcher under the age of 35 and a potential successor to Tanishige at some point.

Fun fact:  Fukuda became the 49th player to hit a home run in his first pro NPB at-bat against the Swallows on July 8, 2009.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Week in Review: May 7 - 13

A 3-2-1 record for the Dragons over the past week.  They won the series against the Swallows, their first series win against the Swallows this year.  They won their game in Toyohashi 1-0!!!  Then had a bit of an offensive explosion in the game the next night in Gifu, before returning to the Nagoya Dome for a loss on Wednesday.  They split the weekend series in Hiroshima 1-1-1.  Inter-league play begins on Tuesday against the Marines.  The Pacific League has had the upper hand recently, but Chunichi has normally done better in it than the other CL teams.
  • Takeshi Yamasaki is back at ichi-gun, Masahiko Morino, Maximo Nelson and Kenshin Kawakami are supposed to be back from injury in the near future, possibly this week.
  • Good week for Tony Blanco, with 3 multi-hit games and 2 multi-homer games.
  • Shuhei Takahashi got his first NPB hit, a double, on May 11th against the Carp.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

New Dragons Logo, I Wish

I'm not a big fan of the new logo the Dragons have been using on their caps this year.
See below:
It seems generic, a little unballanced, and from a distance it just looks like a blob of color on the fronts of the caps.
So instead of just griping, which I will probably continue to do since it unlikely the logo will change any time soon,  I've come up with an alternative logo.

My logo incorporates the C & D with the chu kanji used in Chunichi.
Here's what it would look like on a cap:
It could be cleaned up a bit more, but that's about the best I can do with MS Paint.
I think it's a more Chunichi-specific look, a more balanced design and from a distance, though you wouldn't likely notice the C & D, you would clearly see the chu. 
I may have my wife send it to the team mailbox, why not?

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Week in Review: April 30 - May 6

Another winning week for Chunichi (3-2-2) and an impressive 5-2-2 record over Golden Week.  Only Yomiuri had a better record over Golden Week at 6-2-1, which propelled the Giants to within half of a game of a playoff position.  Chunichi, on the other hand, is solidly in 2nd place right now holding a 4 game lead over Hanshin. 

The week started nicely for the Dragons with three home wins and a tie, but the Dragons ran into a bit of a buzzsaw on their weekend trip to Yokohama.  The BayStars really got their home run bats going against the Central Leagues' leading pitching staff.  The series started with Iwase giving up back-to-back solo shots in the bottom of the ninth, allowing the BayStars to draw even in Friday's game, which would end in a tie.  Yokohama's Yoshimura hit two home runs in Saturday's 12-1 drubbing of Shinji Iwata and the Dragons.  On Sunday Yoshitomo Tsutsugo had two almost identical home runs off of Yamamoto accounting for all 4 of Yokohama's runs in a 4-2 victory over Chunichi.  A tough ending to the week, but even good teams have stretches like that.  Hopefully they can get things together for Tuesday's game against Yakult in Toyohashi and can put on a good show for their fans there. 
  • Masa Yamamoto picked up the win against Yokohama on April 30th making him the franchise-record holder with 212 wins for the team.  He went 7 strong innings giving up only 2 hits and 0 runs.
  • Shuhei Takahashi got the start at 3B on Sunday, he was 0 for 3, but hit the ball hard a couple times.  He's still looking for his first career hit.  He also had a throwing error and a "fine play" charging a bunt during the game.
  • I saw Jorge Sosa pitch live for the first time on Sunday.  He has a dreaded pony/rat tail thing going on with his hair.  Pretty Awesome!  He also kept his scoreless innings streak going as well.
  • Kazuki Yoshimi could be out until June with some sort of an arm bruise.  Doesn't sound like a serious issue, and appears to be on his non-throwing arm.