Tag Archives: Bobby Valentine

DeNA’s dilemma

I hope some of you got to listen to this week’s Japan Baseball Weekly Podcast, when we raised some of the topics from last week’s post about someone in the DeNA BayStars organization blaming former manager Alex Ramirez for this year’s lousy start.

Through Sunday, the BayStars under new manager Daisuke Miura are 4-19 with four ties. Without the big imported bats of Neftali Soto and Tyler Austin, the BayStars have struggled to score despite terrific contributions from a number of youngsters. They now have scored 73 runs, next worst to the Chunichi Dragons’ 67, while allowing an NPB-worst 135.

Why blame Ramirez?

Twenty-seven games are a little less than a fifth of the season, and there’s no doubt that the BayStars are a much better team than their record appears. The problem is that it’s a bad look, but the team backed itself into a corner last year by claiming that its successful run under Alex Ramirez ended in failure, and therefore Miura couldn’t fail to do better.

The propaganda line was that the BayStars were a championship-caliber outfit being handicapped by Ramirez’s inferior management. These arguments shifted over time from when they started in July 2020 to when he stepped down in November, but here’s a brief list.

  • Bats pitchers eighth
  • Bats an unqualified hitter (Keita Sano) fourth — Sano ended up having a tremendous season, so people shut up about this one.
  • Built a good offense that didn’t score as many runs as expected.
  • Did poorly in close games
  • Destroyed team morale by basing lineup decisions on players’ previous performance in specific ballparks.
  • Does not bunt or steal bases — this comment was always pegged to farm manager Miura, whose squad led the Eastern League in sacrifices and steals.

Lessons from the past

Some may remember that this was the same excuse given for sacking Bobby Valentine in 1995 — that his mismanagement cost the longtime Pacific League doormats the pennant that year in his first season.

This argument is perhaps occasionally valid, but more often than not it is just lazy. The BayStars, a former executive has told me, are under a huge amount of pressure from their owner to succeed, and that admitting the reality of the team’s decent but not over-powering talent base has not been an option.

The BayStars are not yet a championship-caliber team, just as the Marines weren’t in 1995. Pretending that they are doesn’t change the fact. And if your argument is, like Lotte GM Tatsuro Hirooka’s was in 1995, that an average manager would win the pennant, well then the new guy will be the answer. Hirooka, of course, was fired the following year, largely for convincing the owner to fire Valentine.

Manager Ramirez

Ramirez was fairly good at giving opportunities to young players and was as hyper-prepared for games as any manager since Katsuya Nomura.

As a player, Ramirez was extremely adept at reading situations in order to make the most efficient contact with his bat. He understood the catcher-batter-pitcher dynamic as well as any player of his generation. The focus on optimal contact, I believe, was a hard one to get over.

I’ve argued that his batting the pitcher eighth was a solid longterm option both from a mathematical perspective and the fact that his teams produced better batting the pitcher there in 2017 and 2018. Fumihiko Sato, in Delta Graphs’ Delta Baseball Report Vol. 4, went through those games and the ones from 2020, counted the runs. Sato found that each turn through the BayStars lineup with the pitcher batting eighth produced 0.1 runs more than with the pitcher batting ninth.

Relative to the previous five seasons, Ramirez took over a .414 team and played .499 ball. That’s the second-best turnaround in franchise history after Hall of Fame manager Osamu Mihara, who turned a .356 club into a .485 outfit and won a Japan Series to boot.

Daisuke Miura may be a step forward. It’s too early to say. The biggest handicap he may face is the organization’s conviction that the team is a pennant winner now, and the burden of being the one to turn around a team after a failure, who was in fact a success.

NPB wrap 4-22-21

Buffaloes win thriller

Buffaloes 7, Lions 6

At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Orix’s Takahiro Okada tied the game with two outs in the top of the ninth with a two-out, three-run triple, and Yutaro Sugimoto plated the game winner with a single off Seibu closer Tatsushi Masuda (1-0).

The Buffaloes, trailing 6-3 after Aito Takeda’s three-run eighth-inning double put the Lions up, opened with singles by Yuma Mune and Masataka Yoshida. Adam Jones, nearly missed extra-bases before grounding sharply to third. Ryusei Sato tried to get the easy force at second, but all were safe on a fielder’s choice after a video review kept the game alive.

Okada, who had already double and singled, followed with a good at-bat in which he fouled off a pair of two-strike pitches before pulling a fly into the right-field corner. Sugimoto grounded a good 3-2 pitch into the hole at short but Golden Glover-winner Sosuke Genda couldn’t stop it.

Reed Garrett struck out two in a 1-2-3 seventh and was the pitcher of record for the Lions before the blown save. The Buffaloes’ three-run hole was partly due to a decision to prevent the runner on second from scoring with two outs in the eighth. With the outfield pulled way in, the Buffaloes had no chance to catch Takeda’s high fly to the warning track in center.

Fighters 3, Marines 1

At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Takahide Ikeda  (2-2) a journeyman right-hander acquired in a low-voltage March trade with Rakuten turned in his second straight solid effort for Nippon Ham, allowing a run on six hits and a walk while striking out seven over seven innings. Lotte starter Daiki Iwashita (2-2) allowed two runs over five innings.

The Fighters broke a 1-1 tie in the second on a Ryo Watanabe single and a Ryo Ishikawa double. The pair contributed to a sixth-inning insurance run as Watanabe doubled and went to third on an Ishikawa single before scoring on a sac fly.

Thursday’s games marked the Japan debut for new Fighter Ronny Rodriguez, who batted sixth and started at third. He struck out swinging twice in three at-bats. Bryan Rodriguez began his fourth season in Japan with a scoreless eighth before closer Toshihiro Sugiura earned his fifth save.

Giants 8, Tigers 3

At Tokyo Dome, Hanshin starter Takumi Akiyama (2-2) more than doubled his ERA in a three-inning crash and burn, walking none but giving up six runs on 10 hits. Giants starter Yuki Takahashi (4-0) gave up a weird double to open the game, but managed to give up two doubles and a walk but no runs in the first.

Takahashi entered with a 0.41 ERA. He walked four and allowed three runs over six innings, but the game was never out of hand. Kazuma Okamoto, who homered twice on Wednesday, opened the scoring with a two-run first-inning double and scored on a Shinnosuke Shigenobu single.

Hayato Sakamoto made up for being caught looking in the first by capping the Giants’ second with a two-run home run. Prior to the game’s start, NTV’s video feed showed two Tigers fans walking into Tokyo Dome, one wearing a Fumiya Hojo shirt, which made me wonder if Hojo was currently even on the first team. He proved he was with a two-run pinch-hit homer in the sixth.

Giants-Tigers highlights

Dragons 1, BayStars 0

At Yokohama Stadium, Koji Fukutani (1-1), Chunichi’s surprising Opening Day starter, allowed four hits and a walk over eight innings while striking out seven, and the Dragons scored the game’s only run on a ninth-inning throwing error after stranding six runners over the first four innings.

Pinch-runner Wataru Takamatsu scored from first on a two-out ninth-inning infield single. Shortstop Tatsuhiro Shibata made a diving stop to keep a grounder in the infield, but his needless throw to first short-hopped Neftali Soto for an error. With the win – and the BayStars’ 10th straight losing decision, the Dragons now have their first win streak of the season.

DeNA official: Bad start former manager’s fault

BayStars starter Haruhiro Hamaguchi worked six scoreless innings despite walking six. He allowed back-to-back singles to open the game and another single in the fourth.

Shibata foreshadowed his ninth-inning error with a wide throw to first. His attempted throw to complete a 3-6-1 double play missed but was saved when first base coach Masahiro Araki couldn’t get out of the way. The Dragons lead runner tried to score but was out first-to-short-to-first base coach-to-pitcher-to-third-to-catcher. Does this go as “3-6-C-1-5-2?”

Tyler Austin had two of the BayStars’ four hits.

Swallows 7, Carp 4

At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, the fourth time taking the lead was the charm as Yakult finally overcame Hiroshima, breaking a 4-4 eighth-inning tie on a Kotaro Yamasaki’s two-run triple off 24-year-old lefty Atsuya Horie (0-1).

Scott McGough (2-0) who allowed the Carp to tie it for the third time on two hits and an error in the seventh, got the win after one-out pinch-hit singles by Yudai Koga and former batting champ Shingo Kawabata set the table for Yamasaki. The Swallows leadoff man had walked twice and scored on rookie Hiyu Motoyama’s third-inning homer and came home in the eighth on a Motoyama squeeze.

Hiroki Kondo and Taichi Ishiyama each worked a scoreless inning to close it out with Ishiyama getting his Japan-best seventh save.

DeNA skipper Miura throws extra BP

First-year DeNA BayStars manager Daisuke Miura dusted off his pitching form on Thursday and threw over 100 pitches in early batting practice in an effort to wake up his offense, Hochi Shimbun reported.

“Out batting practice pitchers are all pretty tired,” said Miura, the BayStars former ace. “It didn’t mean anything. I was glad I was able to throw strikes.”

Former Lotte coach, Hawks player Robson dies

Tom Robson, who finished his playing career in 1976 with the Nankai Hawks and returned to coach the Lotte Marines starting in 1995, died of natural causes in Chandler, Arizona, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.

Bobby Valentine, who had Robson on his coaching staffs with Texas, Lotte and the Mets, tweeted the sad news. Robson stayed on with the Marines in 1996 after Valentine was fired. He rejoined Valentine with the Mets and returned to Japan with him as a Marines coach from 2004 to 2006.

Starting pitchers

Pacific League

Fighters vs Buffaloes: Sapporo Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Drew VerHagen (0-0, 3.00) vs Taisuke Yamaoka (0-2, 2.74)

Eagles vs Lions: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Hideaki Wakui (3-0, 1.24) vs Kona Takahashi (3-0, 3.18)

Marines vs Hawks: Zozo Marine Stadium 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT

Toshiya Nakamura (-) vs Shuta Ishikawa (1-2, 3.25)

Central League

Giants vs Carp: Tokyo Dome 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT

Tomoyuki Sugano (1-1, 2.05) vs Allen Kuri (3-1, 2.77)

Swallows vs Dragons: Jingu Stadium 5:30 pm, 4:30 am EDT

Yasunobu Okugawa (1-1, 7.20) vs Takahiro Matsuba (0-2, 4.80)

Tigers vs BayStars: Koshien Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Shintaro Fujinami (2-0, 1.90) vs Yuya Sakamoto (0-1, 5.40)

Active roster moves 4/22/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 5/2

Central League


CarpIF51Kaito Kozono


CarpIF61Masaya Yano

Pacific League


MarinesP37Fumiya Ono
MarinesOF38Akito Takabe
FightersIF53Ronny Rodriguez


MarinesOF2Kyota Fujiwara
EaglesC55Takaya Tanaka
EaglesIF30Toshitake Yokoo
EaglesIF48Yoshiaki Watanabe
FightersIF48Kyohei Ueno