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Regression

Baseball news from Japan and Asia

Welcome to the Tiger Tails Blog

Featuring Christopher Amano-Langtree (a.k.a. Christopher)

This blog will attempt to report on as many Hanshin Tigers games as possible. Games will be, if possible, reported the day after and on rare occasions the same day.


Regression

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I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that Kanemoto not only lacks management ability but that he also lacks common sense. It is one thing to try a catcher at the beginning of the season and replace him with a better catcher after he proves to be inadequate (step forward Okazaki). However, it is quite another to replace a performing catcher with a non-performing catcher. In fact in the past six games Okazaki has started behind the plate but finished only one game. There was a reason that Okazaki was rejected by all the previous Tigers managers (who weren't exactly the brightest bulbs in the ceiling) and that was he wasn't very good.

Okazaki lasted:
Seven innings (3-2 Giants)
Seven innings (3-1 Giants)
Nine innings (6-0 Tigers)
Four innings (8-2 Carp)
Six innings (7-1 Carp)
Three innings (9-0 Carp)

This is not what one expects from the starting catcher for a team and with game 3 of the Giants series one sees that Okazaki is expected to call the whole game. There is also a considerable tactical naivety here. Okazaki is a No 8 batter and having to replace him all the time with Haraguchi (a No 5 batter) is putting a run scorer in a position where they will be facing less opportunities to drive in runs. Nishioka is not a No 5 batter but gets placed in the slot and Tigers who struggle to score runs as well need as many RBIs as they can drive in. There is an inability to see the essential point. Okazaki is never going to be good and this won't change with all the opportunities he is given.

Another issue that Kanemoto is failing to address is the weakness of the relief pitching. I was amazed at how few relief pitchers are in the bullpen - at least three or four less than you would expect. This limits the range of responses Tigers have to employ and also leads to the temptation for Kanemoto to make the starters go deep. The treatment of Fujinami in the Carp series was a case in point. Fujinami is the nearest thing Tigers have to an ace and does need some considerate handling. He didn't get this against the Carp. He was paired with Okazaki starting the game and got off to a poor start giving up five runs. Okazaki was replaced by Haraguchi and things immediately improved. However, by the seventh Fujinami was out of gas and struggled through the innings. There should not have been another innings but Fujinami was put in and left in for the eighth eventually throwing 161 pitches and giving up another three runs. It was clear to those watching that he was tired and should have been rested but one theorizes that by failing to work with a poor catcher he was being punished for embarrassing Kanemoto. He is due to pitch in the All Star game and has been taken off the active roster to rest his arm and elbow which wouldn't have needed resting if Kanemoto hadn't been so stupid.

Tigers will have a chance to regroup and rethink over the All Star break which is something Kanemoto needs to do. At the moment he needs to settle on a fixed batting lineup with a clear consideration of who can and can't hit - no more Nishioka batting No 5 please. The bullpen needs strengthening as well and the deadwood sent down to the second team where they belong. Starters need to pitch less - seven innings should be the maximum if they are pitching well and with more rest they will pitch better. Currently, Tigers are consistent but they are losing consistently which is the wrong kind. Tigers had things broadly right in May but since then have lost direction rather severely.
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