Yokohama finished up their offseason shopping last week, introducing Takayuki Shinohara and Daisuke Hayakawa, and announcing the signing of Termel Sledge. Here’s the complete list of BayStars acquisitions, which ran on Sponich and was helpfully translated on Yakyu Baka:
Pos Player Name Age Previous Team P Shimizu, Naoyuki 34 Chiba Lotte Marines P Bootcheck, Chris 31 MLB – Pirates P Shinohara, Takayuki 33 Softbank Hawks P Sakamoto, Yataro 27 Nippon Ham Fighters P Matsuyama, Suguru 20 Nippon Ham Fighters P Sugihara, Yo 24 Nomo BC P Wang, Yi-Zheng 24 CPBL – Bears C Hashimoto, Tasuku 33 Chiba Lotte Marines INF Inada, Naoto 30 Nippon Ham Fighters INF Castillo, Jose 28 CPBL – Lions OF Sledge, Terrmel 32 Nippon Ham Fighters OF Hayakawa, Daisuke 34 Chiba Lotte Marines
That’s a decent group of players, but the key here is the guys they’ll be taking plate appearances and innings away from.
Yokohama has some decent core hitters (Shuichi Murata, Seiichi Uchikawa), but in 2009 they had too many positions that they got no offense from. In 2009, the ‘Stars had four who got over 100 plate appearances despite hitting under .200. Dropping the number to 40 pa’s reveals another four. The additions of Hashimoto, Inada, Hayakawa and Castillo should be a huge improvement over that group. A little improvement from younger guys like Keijiro Matsumoto wouldn’t hurt either.
On the mound, Yokohama only had one reliable starter (Daisuke Miura) in 2009, and only three relievers who threw more than 50 innings (Hiroyuki Sanada, Shun Yamaguchi, Kentaro Takasaki). To that end, Shimizu is a nice pickup. He’s really not the ace he’s sometimes billed as, but should absorb about 150 innings. The real improvements to the rotation, however, are already on the roster: full seasons from Hayato Terahara and Stephen Randolph. I see the bullpen arms ‘Hama acquired mostly interesting question marks — a former dominator who hasn’t pitched recently (Shinohara), a guy with a couple good seasons to his name (Sakamoto) and an American with good velocity but poor command at the MLB level (Bootcheck).
Finally, there is a feel-good story amongst this: Sugihara is a former Lotte farmhand, but was released after the 2006 season. He had been working at a Docomo mobile phone shop in Osaka and getting by on 80,000 yen ($800) per month while moonlighting with the Nomo Baseball Club, and now he’s getting another chance.
Is all this enough to get Yokohama off the cellar? We’ll have to see, but the BayStars should definitely be closer to the pack in 2010.