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Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Staff Update: Meet the new crew for 2018

There has already been a lot of murmurs about which coaching staff are leaving and who are staying on, but it appears that the dust has settled and next years coaching staff has been decided upon. The names that might pique your interest would be messers Morino, Araki and Iwase who will all have roles in the back room in 2018. Araki and Iwase will be coaching on a part-time basis as they will still be playing, but Morino has been officially instated as the 2-gun batting coach.

1-Gun open for Asakura?
Let's take a look at what the staff looks like now.

Shigekazu Mori (62) - Manager
Masahiro Doi (73) - Batting Coach
Toshio Haru (47) - Batting Coach
Kenta Asakura (36) - Pitching Coach
Shinichi Kondo (49) - Pitching Coach
Fujio Tamura (58) - Battery Coach
Hiroshi Moriwaki (57) - Infield and base-running coach
Hiroshi Narahara (49) - Infield and base-running coach
Kiyoyuki Nagashima (55) - Outfield and base-running coach
Kousei Katsuzaki (52) - Conditioning Coach
Takemi Miyamae (48) - Conditioning Coach

Kojiro Miyako in his first stint.
Michihiro Ogasawara (44) - Manager
Akio Ishii (62) - Batting Coach
Masahiko Morino (39) - Batting Coach
Takashi Ogasawara (40) - Pitching Coach
Kojiro Miyako (58) - Pitching Coach
Shinji Iwata (30) - Pitching Coach
Hitoki Iwase (42) - Pitching Coach (PT)
Masatoshi Ogawa (38) - Battery Coach
Kazuo Hayakawa (57) - Outfield Coach
Hiroyuki Watanabe (47) - Infield and base-running coach
Masahiro Araki (40) - Infield and base-running coach (PT)
Hidenori (41) - Outfield and base-running coach
Kosuke Matsuoka (74) - Development Coach
Hiroshi Tsukamoto (42) - Conditioning Coach

To be honest, I'm guessing where a few of these guys will fit in. Kenta Asakura might well end up with the top team, but it's possible that Iwase will be the third pitching coach with the top team if he's going to be spending most of his time there, same goes for Araki where we may see someone like Narahara drop to 2-gun. Unfortunately we won't clearly know exactly for a little while. I'm saying at the moment that Asakura gets the nod for the first team pitching coach role while Ishii will take charge of the younger pitchers.

Outgoing coaches include Yui Tomori [1-gun pitching] (now with international scouting), Hideji Kato [2-gun batting], Hideki Takayanagi [2-gun batting], Ikki Shimamura [2-gun batting] (now with Baystars) and Ikuo Takayama [2-gun pitching].

A lot of the batting coaches in 2-gun have been completely cleaned out. A big reason for this was the absolutely abysmal performances of batters on the farm this year with many barely hitting .250 AVG. Akio Ishii comes back into the fold after previously being a coach with the team in Morimichi Takagi and Senichi Hoshino's backroom in the 1990's. He was the chief scout for the Kanto region for the Dragons before moving into his current role.

Yujiro Miyako was drafted first round by the Dragons in 1976 and he pitched with the team for 12 years. He has previously had a coaching position in 2003 under Hisashi Yamada/Kosuke Sasaki but was employed as a scorer following that year and later became the team's chief scorer in 2007. This seems nothing more than a low cost, in-house option as I'm not sure what the team hopes to achieve by bringing in someone so removed from coaching and playing experience.

Kawakami does expert analysis for
local broadcasters. 
The other biggest surprise is the employment of Shinji Iwata who retired as a Dragon last year. Known for his no-spin fork-ball as a player, Iwata represents a slightly puzzling choice. He did not have a glittering career as a player and most of the team would have played with him in the last couple of years. I have read that higher profile names are avoiding coaching positions with the Dragons in fear of being brought into in house squabbles which is why we haven't seen the likes of Kenshin Kawakami, Kazuyoshi Tatsunami, Kazuhiro Wada or others of that ilk that could provide very valuable experience to younger players coming through. The story also goes that many that would want to work with the team are declining until a new owner comes in because of fears of a clean-out under new management despite what they may have left behind. Bungo Shirai is known for being a bit stuck in his ways and at age 88 there probably isn't that much longer to wait and their are already murmurs at Chunichi Shimbun as to who will take over from Shirai when he eventually steps down.

There is very little to be really excited about here. Pitching coaches in 2-gun however are going to have a lot of responsibility with the high school arms coming in. Sho Ishikawa and Takumi Yamamoto are going to need some very clever guidance and I'm very skeptical that Iwata is the one that is going to provide. Someone like Kawakami would be ideal. If you hear him speak about pitching mechanics you'd understand how valuable his teaching could be to the young guns with the Dragons but this is a dream unlikely to come true at least not for a little while.

Last of all, the scouts who have been decided somewhat later. This is what the team will look like in 2018.

Director: Muneo Tanaka (60 - RP)
Central Japan: Isamu Nakahara (67 - P), Mitsuru Sato (39 - SP), Akinobu Shimizu (34 - P)
East Japan: Masamichi Yamamoto, Eiji Settsu (45 - RP), Tsuneo Koyama (37 - C), Tomoya Yagi (34 - SP)
West Japan: Akira Yonemura (58 - P), Shigeki Oto (54 - OF), Koji Mise (41 - RP)

Firstly, interesting little caveat, all but two of the scouts were pitchers when they played professional. I unfortunately can't find any specific info on Masamichi Yamamoto for some odd reason, but he played for the Dragons some moons ago. Only one or two of these guys I believe has never played for the Dragons. Recently retired Tomoya Yagi is the most recent addition to the team.

There has been one more scout added to the team since last year and the Dragons have beefed up their presence in their local Chubu region by adding an extra scout in 2018 to dig up as much talent in their own backyard as possible.

Furthermore there has been some organisational change. The pro and amateur areas of the scouting/talent discovery department has now been put together. That is the amateur scouting including the draft area of the organisation will be melded by the FA/Trade section of the organisation to supposedly increase more communication between to two when looking to strengthen the team.

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