3/22/09 — Orix (home)

March 22nd, 2009

Tokyo Yakult Swallows cap

Orix Buffaloes  2

Tokyo Swallows 5


Streak: Won 2   Last 5: WWLWW

(Jingu Stadium)

Ryo Kawashima pitched six decent innings of six hit, two run baseball to earn the win in this wind-blown spring training game. Both runs were surrendered in the fourth off of a blast by our good friend, Tuffy Rhodes. He’s done that a lot to us over the years.

The rains threatened the entire time, but the crowd (all 2,400 of them) was largely spared a drenching. Instead, they got to watch the front half of the lineup continue to flex its muscles. Add Aoki to the mix and the Swallows look quite a bit more potent at the beginning of this season than they did during the latter half of last season.

The Swallows managed to put three runs on the board in the first inning after Keizo Kawashima brought Fukuchi around to score with no outs, and then Guiel blasted a two run homer to right field.

With two outs in the second inning, Fukuchi tripled to right, and then K. Kawashima hit second double in as many at-bats to make it 4-0, Tokyo.

Tokyo would score its fifth and final run in the sixth inning after Tanaka drew a walk, and Morioka doubled to right. Tokyo 5-2 Orix.

A big round of applause for K. Kawashima who went 3-4 with two rbi’s! Fukuchi, Guiel and Tanaka (two walks) also deserve a pat on the back for reaching base twice in this game.

Relieving R. Kawashima on the mound was Hagiwara, who had a bit of a rough time and was yanked after only a third of an inning (one beaning, and one hit–eight pitches total), and Satou got the birds out of the inning without allowing any runners to cross home plate.

Oshimoto and Matsuoka then came in to pitch the last two innings with Matsuoka earning the save.

Observations:

Aside from the fact that he was charged with a fielding error today, Morioka looks legit. One of the reasons that I like him most is that he, K. Kawashima, Miyamoto, Hatakeyama, D’Antona and Tanaka virtually guarantee that there is no room for Shiroishi on the field (much less in the dugout). And there are several guys that I’m not even mentioning right now (like Takeuchi), who would easily play before Shiroishi (well, if a sane manager was at the helm), so our prayers may finally have been answered!

The outfield is crowded as well. A healthy Guiel means that Fukuchi is in left and Aoki, naturally, will be manning the middle. Iihara is definitely on the fringe at the moment, and there seems to be a real likelihood that he might be observing the first half of many games from the bench. Kajimoto is also making a strong case for permanent first team membership right now, so Iihara is going to have to light it up when he gets his chance once the regular season rolls around.

A couple of guys still haven’t figured out where they left their bats after the end of winter camp. Aikawa (catcher) and Tanaka (2B), two guys who don’t seem to have a whole lot of competition on the first team, are hitting like, well…like it’s spring training. And maybe that’s the problem. There’s pretty good competition on the team at every other position except those two (and center field, of course). Aikawa is lucky because the other catchers on the team hit only slightly better than Dave Watkins does, and Tanaka is the Golden Boy, so his inclusion in the starting lineup is nearly guaranteed. I’m not really that worried about Tanaka, but Aikawa’s hitting scares me. We’ve had such bad luck with catchers since Furuta moved to the broadcast booth that I can’t help but allow a little bit of pessimism to creep into my thinking about the situation. Hopefully he can turn things around once the season gets started in a little over a week’s time.

About Christopher Pellegrini

Christopher is a budding sabermetrician and long-time supporter of Tokyo's more lovable team, the Swallows. He has publicly volunteered, several times, that he plans to buy the team at some point in the future. When he finally runs the joint, it is likely that he will fine any player who swings at the first pitch or sac bunts (unless it's a pitcher, of course). Follow him on Twitter: @chrispellegrini

  • flick

    Haha, you guys rag on Shiorishi too much (not that he doesn’t deserve it).

  • Mr. Pellegrini, I’ll have you know that I have, on at least two occasions, observed, first-hand, Mr. Watkins going 4 for 4 on PS3.

    Aikawa had better do something, lest he earn himself permanent hard-razzing status. He’s starting off at a huge disadvantage after trying to get posted coming off a sub-.250 season for Yokohama and doing nothing behind the plate that’s all that incredible.

    Flick, considering that Shiroishi might be the single least productive player on the squad, but is still paid better than some regulars, we feel he has it coming. If he retires and moves on to something that suits his particular skill set better than pro baseball, we’ll be big fans.

  • flick

    Not only does he get paid well, Shiroishi also married a very popular announcer, so I think he can live with the ragging.
    At Jingu, I have scored a few laughs when he’d strike out, and I would yell something like “well at least your have good looks!”

    Woah, Miyade just got traded to Rakuten for pitcher, Ichiba!

  • Rob

    Oh, well – so much for getting Deanna to sit on the Swallows side.
    That sounds good for both teams. I doubt Miyade was going to get much playing time at TYS, and a new perspective could be good for Ichiba.

  • Look for Miyade to pull an Inaba and play an integral part in Tohoku’s march to the playoffs and possibly even the Japan Series.

    He’ll start at least 130 games this season, bat .298/.425/.535, hit for the cycle twice, and sell thousands of extra-tall t-shirts that will look like nighties on everyone who buys one.

    Then, of course, he’ll end up hitting cleanup for Team Japan in 2012 at the next KJC (Korea-Japan Classic).

    Good luck, Ryuji. Glad to see that you’re going to get a better shot at some playing time now.

  • Hopefully Mr. Araki can work his magic on Ichiba and make him a contender for the starting rotation.

    Welcome to Tokyo, Yasuhiro!

  • It’s a crime that Tuffy wasn’t invited to play for the US in the WBC, but I can’t wait for the season to start to see if he continues on this pre-season tear.

  • Haha! Yeah, that’s almost exactly what I said — “so much for cheering for Yakult this year” 🙂

    I guess I could always join the Beavis fan club instead. It really seems like every Yakult player I’ve liked over the last few years has disappeared from the team, though…

  • I guess I could always join the Beavis fan club instead. It really seems like every Yakult player I’ve liked over the last few years has disappeared from the team, though…

    Wait! Don’t pick Beavis! Shiroishi is a very hard-working and handsome guy. Please start liking him!

  • It might be petty, but it was Tokyo 5-2 Orix when Morioka doubled to right.

    BTW, Shiroishi had worked very hard for three years as the head of the TYS players association until Ishikawa took it over, so I guess he has been paid for that to some extent.

  • It might be petty, but it was Tokyo 5-2 Orix when Morioka doubled to right.

    Not at all. I’m glad that someone is paying attention. Thank you, Tomnish!

    BTW, Shiroishi had worked very hard for three years as the head of the TYS players association until Ishikawa took it over, so I guess he has been paid for that to some extent.

    I had heard that mentioned before, but I can’t remember where or from who. Do you know what responsibilities the head of the TYS PA has?

  • Thanks for your reply, Chris.

    I don’t know much about the internal matters, but the TYS PA is a branch of Japan Professional Baseball Players Association, which functions as a labor union and is engaged in social service.
    Miyamoto had been the head of the TYS PA before he appointed Shiroishi to be his successor.

    The TYS PA is a self-governing body, and the head brings the players together outside the field, whereas the captains play the role inside the field.
    The head also serves as a pipeline between the organization and the players, and I hear he has to handle miscellaneous trifles like someone’s complaint about the location of his locker.

    In addition, he has to go and worship at shrines like Naminouegu and Meiji Jingu along with the manager and the coaches every year.

  • Thanks for that, Tomnish!

    Sounds a little like a ‘coach-in-training’ program, doesn’t it?

  • Chris, do you mean the coaches in the US do those kinds of things?
    I don’t think they do in Japan.

    Aside from that, I believe Shiroishi would be an excellent fielding coach(not a batting coach, of course).

  • No, I don’t believe that there’s a whole lot of schmoozing going on for players trying to get into coaching in North America. Aspiring coaches generally start small, single A (maybe even with a single A short season team), and work their way up as success allows.

    The second half of my last comment was a bit tongue-in-cheek. Sorry.

    I was implying, facetiously, that schmoozing with the VIPs was enough to (maybe) get Shiroishi a coaching job in the future.

    The route to such an influential post, as I just mentioned, would probably not be as bump-free in MLB. You’ll remember that Hillman raised some eyebrows when he was given the reigns in Kansas City despite never having held any top team coaching position in the bigs before the 2008 season (his undeniable success in Hokkaido obviously overrode any doubts that his employers may have had).

    Anyway, I agree that Shiroishi has the potential to be a decent fielding coach. As we’ve seen time and time again, star players do not automatically make good managers. By that logic I am willing to acknowledge that Shiroishi could eventually turn into one of the best managers the game has ever seen. That is entirely possible, but I haven’t heard that that’s what he’s planning to do.

    If it is, then I would appreciate it if he would get out of the way so that some of our younger guys languishing on the farm team can have a better chance at breaking into ichi-gun.

  • Chris, I’ve got your point!
    Sorry for misunderstanding.

    I don’t know if he needs to be the head for schmoozing with the VIPs, as the VIPs and the players don’t seem so distant in the Swallows.
    But in a sense, it can surely be the training for being a coach.
    If I remember correctly, Miyamoto said he appointed Shiroishi to be the head because Shiroishi wouldn’t otherwise show his leadership.

    Incidentally, Manaka too served as the head for three years(2002-2004).

  • Chris, do you mean the coaches in the US do those kinds of things?

    I don’t think anyone writing here is in a position to know what the coaches in the US do or don’t do.

  • Kenzo,
    Good call. But one thing that coaches in MLB generally don’t do (save Robinson, Torre, and Rose in recent memory) is jump straight into head coaching positions.

    I doubt Shiroishi is headed for such a distinction, but he could probably join Dobashi on the ni-gun coaching staff if he is so inclined.

    Miyamoto seems like a more likely choice for head coach in my opinion.