Welcome to the Monday Review, in which we’ll look back at the week that was and look ahead to the week that will be. We hope a recurring weekly review column will help readers identify some trends that can’t be covered in a single game report. We’re still trying to work out the format, so let us know what you’d like to see in the comments.
We need to officially change the name of this column, since it’s not Monday and I don’t want to be limited by the title. It’s something we’ll have to work on in the offseason. In the meantime, I’ll be giving you some news updates and roster analysis to mull over before the start of the Climax Series next Saturday.
Senryokugai Players: Earlier this month the Swallows announced that 8 players will be cut by the team at the end of the season. The players are LHP Masaru Sato, RHP Shun Takaichi, RHP Hiromitsu Takagi, RHP Masahiro Yoshikawa, LHP Naoya Okamoto, C Atsushi Kinugawa, INF Ryo Yoshimoto, and OF Toshihiro Nakao. Of the listed players, Kinugawa will be given a front office position with the team, and many of the other players were undecided as to what they wanted to do in the future. No major surprises here, and we wish all these players the best in their future endeavors.
Potential Roster Moves: The Swallows have been going crazy with roster moves since the last Monday Review, and we won’t be going over them all. Instead, we’ll be examining where certain players are now and how our post-season roster is shaping up. As of today the Swallows only have 23 players out of a possible 28 on their active roster. Any player removed from the active roster on or before the 19th would be eligible to return in time for Game 1 of the Climax series on the 29th. Among the players not on the active roster who may get recalled in the playoffs are Ishikawa, Kawabata, Whitesell, Kyuko, Barnette, Muranaka, Yoshinori, Shichijo, and Iihara. I’ll give a quick update on the status of each player.
- Ishikawa was removed from the active roster on the 19th, and he should be expected to return on the 29th. Many outlets are now reporting that Ishikawa will be the Swallows’ game 1 starter, and that he may throw in a Phoenix League (fall league) game as warm up. The chances of Ishikawa NOT getting recalled seems slim to none at this point.
- Kawabata was removed from active roster at the same time as Ishikawa. Apparently he had been feeling pain in his left wrist since a game against Hiroshima in September, and was taken off the active roster for that reason. The pains may have been what contributed to his 5-for-45 batting in October. He’s said he’ll be aiming to return in time for the CS, but the status of his health is concerning.
- Whitesell was taken off the roster with right flank pains on the 9th. But there have been no other reports as to his status since. Obviously having Whitesell’s bat on the bench would be a big help to a team struggling to get its offense going.
- Kyuko returned to the team on the 11th, but had a couple of rocky outings (2.1 IP, 5 ER, in 3 appearances) and was taken of the active roster on the 20th. No word as to whether Kyuko is injured and whether he can be expected back for the playoffs. Since Kyuko was taken off the active roster on the 20th, he would only be eligible to return for Game 2 of the first round.
- Barnette’s case is even more mysterious than Kyuko’s case. Barnette was recalled to the active roster at the same time as Kyuko but was taken off the roster 3 days later without ever getting into a game. Barnette has not pitched in a first team game since September 3, and hasn’t pitched in ni-gun games as far as I can see. No details have been released as to Barnette’s condition. Like Kyuko, we’d love to have a prime Barnette back for the playoffs, but it would be a concern if he takes the mound for the first time in the CS.
- Muranaka was taken off the active roster on the 15th after pitching ineffectively on the 14th. Muranaka is healthy as far as we know, so I’d expect him back on the roster for the playoffs.
- The current word on Yoshinori is that he could potentially return if the team makes it to the Nippon Series, but not any sooner.
- Shichijo was demoted from the team after a series of rough outings in late September, but would be available to the team unless he has a hidden injury. He was not on the initial Phoenix League roster so he may be rusty if he were to join the team.
- Finally Iihara would be available to the team if he is needed.
As you can see from the above list our team has been suffering through injury and our roster is somewhat in flux and other players have not been able to fill in the gap. As reported earlier by Chris, Keizo Kawashima will not be able available to the team as he underwent ligament surgery (possibly Tommy John surgery?) on his right elbow and will be out for a whole year.
Left Field: One of the first topics I ever handled on the Monday Review was our left field situation. At the time, the solution was putting Hatake in left, and that worked for a while. However, the big man’s defensive inability in left combined with some cooling off by Whitesell led to a re-opening of the hole in left. The team has tried Iihara, Ueda, and Fukuchi over the last month. While all of them are more than adequate replacements in left field they haven’t been able to make up for the offense lost by having Whitesell come off the bench. It seems the team has settled on Ueda for the stretch run.
2011 Draft: The 2011 Draft will occur on the 27th. I will be posting a draft preview sometime next week. Let me know if there are any players you’d like me to cover.
Retirement Game: Our last game is on Tuesday, and as predicted in the last Monday Review, the final game will be a retirement game. Hirotoshi Ishii will be given an opportunity to pitch in one last pro game prior to his retirement. There were no comments in regards to Hamanaka and Guiel, but it seems those players will not be coming into the game.
I Want Love: As mentioned by Chris and Dave in their last podcast, I”m in need to love and feedback for this column. Let me know if you like this column and if there’s anything I can do to make it better.