Around the Central League: January 4, 2012

Think Hanshin would give us a half-decent pitcher for Iihara?

Happy New Year, everyone. Here’s another stab at a news roundup for our beloved Central League.

Chunichi Dragons

  • Under new management, the Dragons seem to be taking the whole ‘fan experience’ thing very seriously. Both the manager and the head of the team’s player group, starter Kazuki Yoshimi, have a bunch of ideas that range from more face time between the players and fans to cheaper tickets at Nagoya Dome. I would suggest making draft beer cheaper and playing a style of baseball that doesn’t put people to sleep, but hey.
  • Despite making it all the way to the Japan Series yet again, the Dragons lost money on the year. Second season in a row, apparently. Not that it’s that big of a deal though. The parent company, Chunichi, can just write it off as an advertising expense.

Yomiuri Giants

  • There will not be a special veterans group at spring training this year, according to the team’s manager, Tatsunori Hara. Players such as Abe, Takahashi, Ramirez and Tani were granted special privileges during spring training last year and everyone except for Tani missed time with an injury in 2011.

Hanshin Tigers

  • Sounds like the Tigers are on the prowl for a right-handed bat. Any chance we can offload Yasushi Iihara for a number four or five starting pitcher?
  • Left out of Hanshin’s plans for 2012, former ikusei infielder, Marco Vechionacci wouldn’t mind another shot at playing in Japan.

Hiroshima Carp

  • There’s a new cafe or something going in at the stadium, but other than that not a whole lot is going on down there.

Yokohama Baystars

  • The closer’s role has yet to be decided according to Nakahata. Shun Yamaguchi has been getting better and better over the past three years, but in announcing that the ninth inning is still up for grabs it seems like Nakahata doesn’t want him to relax too much.
  • The team has been salivating over the sliver-thin possibility that Hideki Matsui could return to Japan. This is, of course, despite the fact that Matsui himself has stated publicly that he has no desire to play in Japan at this time. However, if he does play in Japan again one day, it would be absolutely hilarious if he decided against playing for the Giants.
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

  • Michael Westbay

    Yamaguchi getting better the past few years?  I’d much rather have Kaga as the closer.

    Kaga for Closer, 2012!

    • Michael,
      Fair enough. I only pay close attention to him when he pitches against the birds, and Kaga is definitely a serious bright spot for Yokohama. 

      I guess I’m just thinking about his three seasons of 50+ appearances and a continually dropping ERA. His strikeout ratio is dropping, if memory serves, but he’s not giving up more hits or walks than he used to.

      Maybe 2011 numbers should be tossed just because he had the benefit of the new non-carrying ball?