Posted by simon c on 2008 May 12日 Monday
MLB and NPB insiders say that Nomo is ready to return to Japan. This is surprising considering he’s always stated that he had no interest in playing in NPB again, and his single-minded insistence and commitment to playing in the majors. But maybe this time he finally saw the writing on the wall shortly after making a return to a major league mount after a 1000 day absence, only to have his now below average stuff hammered away to the tune of 3 homers and 9 runs in only 4.1 innings in 3 appearances as a reliever (18.69 ERA).
Former major leaguers returning to Japan after being deemed dispensable in the States presents a mixed bag. But Nomo wasn’t just below average dispensable, he has been downright awful since 2004, and this last surgery and rehabilitation didn’t give him back his super-arm (not surprisingly).
The only pitcher who had been comparably terrible in the majors before moving back to Japan was Mac Suzuki, who had in fact started his pro career stateside. He followed up his meltdown seasons in 2001-02 (5-12 with 5.86 ERA, followed by 9.00 ERA in 21 IP) with equally forgettable seasons in Japan (7.06 ERA in 108.1 IP, then 8.57 ERA in 48.1 IP), before attempting a return to the majors with the Cubs (pedestrian 4.11 ERA in 15 IP in AAA).
It’s interesting that some former major leaguers returned to Japan after a below average MLB season and had one successful season before finally meeting their demise in their second season back in Japan (Kaz Sasaki, Shingo Takatsu, and Hideki Irabu).
This offer probably also means that he was got no interest from any teams outside of NPB, and that’s too bad because it would’ve been fun to see how he did in, say, Korea or Taiwan, but it’s more than a few years too late as his last effective season as a major leaguer was in 2003! (Wow, I feel old :P )
Anyways, there were previous rumours linking Nomo with the Yokohama BayStars, but it seemed to be some creative works of sports writers who had no story to file that day. But this time around, his links with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles seem more assured, with various insiders chipping in information like Nomo and the club’s intents, and even specifics like a possibility of an announcement this week before the start of interleague games, and confirming with a quote from Orix Buffaloes (who hold rights to Nomo after his retirement from NPB and the Kintetsu Buffaloes before the club was merged with Orix BlueWave) representative Nakamura saying that Orix have no interest in Nomo (the club and the Mr.Tornado were unable to reach a contract agreement back in 2006) and will not block any other teams from trying to acquire him, meaning that Orix will should be releasing their rights to Nomo soon. While I expect the probability of a successful return to Japan for the pioneering former major leaguer to be very low, the pitching thin team’s partly interested in his services partly to coach the young staff, and any good pitching under Nomura, who is famous for reviving many careers under his watch, would probably be seen as a bonus.
Posted in 02_English, baseball, information, MLB, NPB, opinion | Tagged: baystars, buffaloes, eagles, hideo, kansas city, kc, nomo, orix, rakuten, royals, tornado, yokohoama | 2 Comments »
Posted by simon c on 2008 April 10日 Thursday
Kansas City Royals purchased the contract of 39 year old Hideo Nomo to whom all Japanese major leaguers can thank for opening the door to MLB. He’s tornadoless, but was successful at missing bats during spring training. He joins rookie countryman Yabuta in the bullpen and will be a long reliever.
“We really didn’t bring him in just for baby-sitting services for Yabu,” Hillman said. “It’s a nice advantage to have also because it provides some cultural comfort in a foreign situation for Yabu, but that wasn’t why Hideo was brought in.”
“The fork[ball] was of great interest, because when it’s on, it changes two or three hitting planes and it’s difficult for even the best hitters to follow that. And it’s still there. It’s there at less a velocity, but it’s still there nonetheless.”
Sure enough, Nomo started looking pretty good in camp. He worked hard. The Royals eliminated him from the rotation but put him in the bullpen picture.
One major change was that Nomo got rid of the distinctive twisting windup — the “Tornado” — that helped make him famous in the United States. Now he pitches strictly from the stretch.
“I tried pitching from the stretch before I went to Venezuela,” Nomo said. “The windup position puts more stress on the elbow. I found that out.”
In seven games this spring, he had a 4.80 ERA but was striking out people with regularity — 17 K’s in 15 innings with just three walks. Then, on March 25, he suffered a groin pull in Cactus League game and was put on the shelf. Just temporarily, as it turned out.
Here are couple of fun Nomo videos from 1990, his pro debut year with the (then) Kintetsu Buffaloes (those were some great uniforms).
This one is of his All Star Game matchup against now-Dragons manager and legendary slugger (only person to win the triple crown in both leagues) Hiromitsu Ochiai where Nomo went with all fastballs.
And this one is Nomo’s 1st pro win on his 3rd start. Amazingly he struck out 17, setting a Japanese rookie record (Ohba of the Hawks almost tied it last Saturday) and tying the then-Japanese record for strikeouts in a game. His forkball is absolutely sick as the bottom completely drops out, and his first 9 victims are all finished off with this pitch.
Posted in 02_English, baseball, information, MLB, NPB | Tagged: all star, buffaloes, chunichi, debut, dragons, forkball, hideo, hiromitsu, kansas city, kc, kintetsu, nomo, ochiai, rookie, royals | 2 Comments »
Posted by simon c on 2008 March 12日 Wednesday
Here’s more sabermetric love going to Brian Bannister. It’ll be interesting to see if he can repeat his success from his rookie year where he managed a winning record and sub-4.00 ERA with the Royals.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in 02_English, baseball, MLB, Sabermetrics, statistics | Tagged: baseball, Brian Bannister, kansas city, kc, MLB, royals, Sabermetrics | Leave a Comment »