Saturday, December 1, 2012

Foreign Players Roster Reload

The Dragons look like they have decided to start over with their foreign players roster by allowing Tony Blanco, Enyelbert Soto and Jorge Sosa to become free agents last week.  Chunichi had already cut Maximo Nelson loose prior to that.  All of the players listed were major contributors to the team, but Blanco, Soto and Nelson had flaws as well.  Jorge Sosa was excellent in his sole season with the Dragons but it's been reported that he was interested in moving on and wasn't entirely pleased with his role last year.  Nelson wasn't able to help the team much last year due to injury, he pitched only 11+ innings, and it's unclear when he will be healthy again, so it's understandable why the Dragons let him go.  Soto has been a top-of-the-rotation starter when he's been healthy, but he hasn't been healthy all that often, including during the last two postseasons.  Tony Blanco has had injury problems as well, but he's played well, and has provided the only true power bat in Chunichi's lineup the last couple years.  On the negative side Blanco has also struck out quite a bit and his production has gone down since his first year, mainly due to injuries.  I'd would have liked for Chunichi to have re-signed Soto and Blanco and they still might, but at this point it's looking unlikely.

With Blanco, Soto, Sosa and Nelson out of the picture Chunichi has some work to do this offseason.  Their main holes are first base, third base and the outfield.  It also never hurts to have more pitching, as was evidenced at the end of last season when nearly the entire rotation went down to injury.  Looking at available free agents (Gen posted a list on yakyubaka) there aren't a lot of impact players available.  Kosuke Fukudome isn't on the list but is available though it's likely he'll have better offers.  I could dream about Ichiro and Daisuke Matsuzaka joining Chunichi, but there's about a 0.001% chance of that happening.  Each should find a MLB team to give them a chance, plus I'm not sure exactly how much either of them would help.

So far Chunichi has signed Hector Luna and "Big Bad" Brad Bergesen.  Both players have multiple seasons of MLB experience and I think should be good pick-ups.  Luna has played all over the field, both infield and outfield, but he hasn't shown a ton of pop, so I think he would be suited well for 2nd, some 3rd and possibly RF.  He's listed as 6'1" and 190 pounds, but he looks at a little heavier in his more recent pictures.  I'm hoping he can still be useful in multiple positions, because if they mean for him to be strictly a first-baseman things may not go well.  Brad Bergesen is a 27-year old right-handed pitcher formerly of the Baltimore Orioles and Arizona Diamondbacks.  He's not really a hard thrower, which is a bit unusual for imports, but he's had some success as a major leaguer so he should have a good chance in the NPB.  Luna and Bergesen join Victor Diaz, the only import holdover from last year as Sang-Hoon Song was moved to Ikusei status, and so Chunichi still has some available slots to fill.  They absolutely need to bring in a slugging first-baseman who can battle with Luna, Diaz and Masahiko Morino for time there.  Hopefully Shuhei Takahashi will take over at third, but Luna and obviously Morino are options there as well.  I'd like to see the Dragons pick up another pitcher that's capable of starting as well as being a relief option.  I feel good about Chunichi's young starters and the bullpen, even if Iwase can't return to form, but it would be good to get someone, along with Bergesen, that can fill either spot depending on what is needed.

The offseason is still young, but with some of the bigger names having already signed, it will be interesting to see what the Dragons come up with over the next month or two. 


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