One of the interesting pieces of news to come in is that the team will not only be installing Trackman, but are currently looking to establish a department devoted to analysing the data. This is quite a big step for a team that is on the conservative side of things. Even considering the Central League, which is generally filled with the more conservative old boys of Japanese baseball, the Dragons are a bit old school so this is a surprising move toward modern baseball thinking. The team is looking to get experts to give lectures on analysing Trackman data as well as getting club scorers and staff in on the ground level to ensure the team isn't left behind by the rest of the league.
In roster news, as mentioned in the previous post, the Dragons were after 2 foreign pitchers at the winter meetings. It appears as though one of those targets has been revealed as sources close to the Kansas City Royals have confirmed that Cuban southpaw Onelki Garcia is on his way to the Dragons.
This is certainly a relief signing but it also spells a bit of concern to me. Looking over Garcia's minor league numbers there's nothing to be overly impressed about. He has a high ERA, a high WHIP, bad FIP and so-so SO/9 numbers. The only thing that sticks out is his one season in Chicago with the White Sox where he had a 12.23 SO/9 in 17.2 AA innings along with a 11.27 SO/9 in 38.1 innings in AAA. With the Omaha Storm Chasers (AAA) in 2017, Garcia started half of his 20 games with a pretty bad 4.88 xFIP. His BABIP was an insanely high .435 which indicates he was a bit unlucky while Fangraphs predicts that should get down to around .297 in 2018 which is just about right. A 7.4% FB/HR rating should play well in Nagoya with even bigger fields so there might be some upside to this signing.The Royals have signed former Nebraska star and Phillie Cody Asche and former Giants right-hander Michael Broadway to minor-league deals. They also released LHP Onelki Garcia from a minor-league deal; he's signing with Chunichi Dragons in Japan.— Rustin Dodd (@rustindodd) 2017年12月18日
|Garcia started his MLB career with the LA Dodgers.|
Garcia throws a 93 mph four seam pitch and generates a generous amount of spin with MLB clocking his average at 2,101rpm which should put him in good company in the NPB. I was pretty skeptical of this signing on first glance, but a look at Garcia's peripherals and what he can otherwise offer, I'm keen to see what he can do for the Dragons.
It will be interesting to see if Garcia will be expected to start, but it seems perhaps unwise to stretch him out too much. We might see him be a bullpen guy that will get spot starts. He's a lefty and with only Iwase really being the most active LHP in the bullpen last year, it makes sense to bolster those options. Toshiya Okada should however be back and Ryuya Ogawa is always there to bolster the bullpen.
Otherwise, if you've been keeping your finger on the pulse you may have noticed that former Boston Red Sox and Seibu Lions star, Daisuke Matsuzaka is looking for one last hurrah before throwing in the towel. The injury ridden starter had a torrid time at the Softbank Hawks pitching only one inning in the first team where he gave up 2 earned runs in the 3 years he was with the club after returning to Japan from the New York Mets. It was a generous $4 million a year deal that really didn't work out for the Hawks at all.
|Will the former major leaguer ever see the first team again?|
After being released by the Hawks in November, Matsuzaka and his team have been sounding out NPB clubs and even clubs in Taiwan for one last crack at the big time. The 37-year old received and offer for a try-out in Taiwan but it appears there has been a bite closer to home, you guessed it, the Dragons.
If the news can be believed, and there are half a dozen outlets reporting this, the Dragons look very likely to be targeting Matsuzaka and are extending an invitation to him to join Spring camp. The only major stumbling point is likely to be the wage that Matsuzaka will ask for. Outlets are claiming he'll drop his demands to the $150 - $200k range but even then that's a lot for a guy that's not guaranteed to be good enough to pitch innings in the first team particularly when you consider that his addition would upset roster flexibility and take away innings from young arms on the farm.
This signing is not the most unlikely thing to happen this off-season. The Dragons have been reportedly nosing around veteran help to foster the development of the young core of pitchers the team has. Whether Matsuzaka is the right kind of veteran is another thing, but if nothing else he will give the Dragons some much needed time in the spotlight as they force themselves to be newsworthy for their results once more. Cynically speaking, this a publicity stunt but perhaps the presence of the "Heisei Monster" will boost morale a bit and give the younger pitchers someone to look to for advice and guidance.
Realistically, outside of a pity appearance at the end of the season, I don't see Matsuzaka as fixable. His efforts on the farm last year were barely mentionable and his form seems to be in a complete mess. I am concerned that signing Matsuzaka means fewer appearances on the mound for guys that still have a lot to prove and can be the Dragons backbone for many years to come and give the state of the club I think the team needs to pass on this opportunity. Media attention will be much greater if "Dice-K" signs on in Nagoya, but I sincerely doubt it's worth the potential cost to player development.