Tag Archives: Hirokazu Sawamura

Giants, Swallows swap

The Yomiuri Giants sent 25-year-old left-handed pitcher Kazuto Taguchi to the Central League rival Yakult Swallows on Monday in exchange for power-hitting 23-year-old infielder Taishi Hirooka in what is looking like a pattern for the Giants.

Taguchi, who has been primarily a fastball, slider pitcher, had big seasons for the Giants in 2016 and 2017. His fastball (average velocity 135.7 kph according to Delta Graphs) was the slowest among ERA-title qualified pitchers in 2016 and second slowest in 2017. In relief the past two seasons, he’s ratcheted that up to 140 kph or so. He began using a split two years ago.

Hirooka strikes out and hasn’t hit for average but does have power, which makes this a kind of bookend to the trade that sent Hirokazu Sawamura to Lotte for slugging infielder Kazuya Katsuki.

That trade sent a right-handed pitcher making $1.5 million for a young left-handed hitting slugging minor league infielder making close to the NPB minimum $60,000. This one sent a left-hander making about $670,000 and brought in a young right-handed slugging infielder making about a quarter of that.

Both of those moves came after we heard the Giants front office justify dumping outfielder Alex Guerrero “to save money,” a phrase the Giants are not well known for using.

As I noted somewhere, Kazuya Katsuki did extremely well for the Giants in the Eastern League after the Sawamura trade. This happens a lot, but if it continues, chalk one up for the Giants’ analytics and pro scouting staff for seeing a player whose ability was under-represented by his performance data.

Steve Martin’s staff

Does anyone remember the Steve Martin line from when he was doing comedy about not getting high but “getting small?” With the addition of the 1.71-meter Taguchi, the Swallows now have three of the 10 first-team pitchers from last season who were under 1.72 meters tall.

The median weighted height of all 12 pitching staffs last season was 181.35 meters. The figures in the table below are based on those published on NPB’s website.

TeamAvg height weighted by IP
Swallows179.01 cm
Marines180.48 cm
Eagles181.09 cm
Dragons181.26 cm
Lions181.47 cm
Buffaloes182.33 cm
Giants182.38 cm
BayStars182.41 cm
Hawks183.16 cm
Carp183.83 cm
Fighters184.33 cm
Tigers185.52 cm

Warren Cromartie speaks

Warren Cromartie recently met with subscribers to talk about his experiences in the majors and in Japan and share his opinions on a variety of topics from “insensitive” comments by former Seattle Mariners CEO Kevin Mather to baseball in Montreal and new Red Sox reliever Hirokazu Sawamura.

Have a listen. If you want to take part in one of the live chats, you need to join jballallen.com on either a free or paid subscription.

Slugging it out in Japan, again

For the last two years, Cromartie has been living in Japan with his wife and child, and spent much of the 2019 season as an on-field advisor to the Giants.

Getting by in a foreign language

Asked about former Mariners CEO Kevin Mather’s candid comments about service-time manipulation and his characterization of players by their language skills, Cromartie talked about the challenges of playing in a country where many don’t speak your language.

Lost in translation?


On-field celebrations can be a tricky subject for MLB players, but in Japan they are welcomed by fans and part of the scenery. So when former major leaguers get in the act there is sometime friction.

Japanese fans customarily cheer the players who drove in runs in the previous half inning as they take the field, upon which the players respond by tipping their caps, bowing or waving. Cromartie tells how his response became one of his trademarks.

Going to America

Asked about Japan stars back in the day that he thought could play in America. Of course prior to free agency, players couldn’t go during their career. And until Hideo Nomo proved otherwise, the prevailing belief both here and in the majors was that Japanese weren’t good enough.

Sawamura goes to the Sox

During his time with the Giants, Cromartie became familiar with right-handed reliever Hirokazu Sawamura, who recently signed with the Boston Red Sox.

Making adjustments in a new country

Everybody goes to Nicks…

…to paraphrase the line from “Casablanca.” On those few nights a year when all of NPB’s teams were in town, the imported players would all gather at Nicola’s Pizzeria in Roppongi, whose owner, Nick Zapetti, was the intriguing anti-hero of Robert Whiting’s “Tokyo Underworld.”

“There used to be two foreign players on a team. There would be times when all the teams would be in Tokyo at the same time, about two times a year, and we would all meet up at Nicks, this pizza place in Roppongi. It was like a brotherhood. We couldn’t wait to all get together. Whenever we played each other during the season, we’d always go out to dinner. We’d get the chance to see two other foreigners, the four of us would go out to dinner.”

–Greg “Boomer” Wells

Here’s what Crow had to say about those nights.

Bring back the Expos

On baseball in Montreal, it’s history and its future.

Should kids from America go straight to Japan?

Crow on conformity

Conformity is certainly a topic in Japan. Do all Japanese play the same way? I’m not convinced but there are times when watching a series of NPB at-bats is like a video representation of those “Can you spot the 10 differences” picture puzzles.

Sadaharu Oh

Ok. This time’s it’s Cromartie’s turn to talk about Sadaharu Oh.

That’s a hit in Double-A rookie

Cromartie talks about his rookie debut with the Expos against the then power Pittsburgh Pirates.

Is Japan’s hustle for show?

The balance of power in Japan

Cromartie expresses his views on the differences between Japan’s two leagues.

Kuwata’s back

Giants manager Tatsunori Hara this year brought former ace Masumi Kuwata onto his staff as a pitching coach, and Cromartie couldn’t be happier.