Friday, August 29, 2014

Dragons Streaking the Wrong Way: Dreadful August Puts Them Out of Contention

It's been a rough month for the Dragons.  Chunichi is currently 7-18 in August with only two more games to play.  What was shaping up to be a five team race for the Central League playoffs has turned to an undramatic three team race with Yomiuri, Hanshin and Hiroshima separating themselves from Chunichi and Yokohama over the course of the month.  Chunichi's uncharacteristic lack of pitching depth has come back to haunt them as they've given up six runs or more in 11 of their losses this month.  That's not going to get it done and so they are left to hope for next year.

Chunichi's talent level isn't that far (if at all) behind teams like Hanshin and Hiroshima so there is hope for next year.  The Dragons didn't get a ton out of their foreign players this year except for Hector Luna, while the Tigers and Carp have gotten quite a bit, so there is room to improve there.  Chunichi's young pitchers may do better next year with more seasoning and with better health and a little luck they could be back in the playoffs.  Unfortunately though 2014 will not be their year.  Fortunately though for me, as this has been a backwards, flip-flopped year, while my favorite NPB teams Chunichi and Rakuten are near or at the bottom, my two favorite MLB teams the Mariners and Royals are now contenders after years of mediocre play.  I guess a guy can't have it all.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014 Says Goodbye has unfortunately been shut down.
It's been a great resource and allowed me to enjoy Japanese baseball in a way I would never have guessed years ago when my in-laws were still sending/bringing us VHS and DVD recordings of games.
It has also been the best, easiest place to find recorded playoff games the last few years.
But now it's gone and there are alternatives out there, Reddit NPB is a good resource for finding games.

Update: Where the heck am I going to watch college football games?  Go Dawgs!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Dragons Trade Kyohei Iwasaki to Orix for Taiki Mitsumata

In one the few trade deadline moves Chunichi sent Kyohei Iwasaki to Orix in exchange for Taiki Mitsumata.  I don't know a ton about Orix's roster, but I imagine this was a move to add a little depth to their middle infield as it doesn't appear to be a move that would improve Chunichi's playoff chances, at least for this season. 

Iwasaki is 28-years old and wasn't seeing much time with the ichi-gun team this year.  He had less than 100 plate appearance at ichi-gun in his career with the Dragons.  He's a bit of a light hitter and hasn't had much success as a hitter in his ni-gun career either, though he did have a fairly high OBP this year.  I'm sure Orix is looking to add him for his defense and hoping he'll at least be able to get on base at a reasonable rate.  I don't know if they are planning to use him much, maybe for late-inning defense.

Though this looks to be minor trade, Mitsumata could eventually turn out to be an interesting player.  He is only 22-years old and was a 2nd-round draft pick of the Buffaloes out high school in 2010.  So far he's been about a .230ish hitter in ni-gun and has had limited opportunities at ichi-gun.  He showed power in high school hitting double-digit home runs in his final year at Shutoku HS.  He's not likely to give Chunichi much this year, but he's young and still has time to improve.

For the time being I'm liking this trade.  I think Mitsumata has a chance to be a better player than Iwasaki is or will be and hopefully can be a future middle-infield piece for the Dragons.  Chunichi needs more middle-infield prospects, it's kind of a weakness right now as they've had to sign a foreigner to play shortstop, pretty uncommon, and have an aging second-baseman.  So far the prospects they have haven't stepped up and though Shuhei Takahashi is looking promising right now he's probably more of a corner infielder than a middle-infielder long-term.  This hopefully will end up being a trade that benefits both teams, Orix in the short-term and Chunichi in the long-term.