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Monday, November 13, 2017

2018 Contract Negotiations: Money, money, money

It's hit the time for contract updates in the off season as the current roster is assessed on this year's performances while the 2017 draftees get signed up.

This should give us a bit of an idea as to how much we have on the wage bill. The Dragons were 12th in overall wage in 2017 and with the retirement of Masahiko Morino and Daisuke Yamai's contract running out, there will no doubt be little change to the Dragons rankings in 2018. Just losing those two adds an extra $2,000,000 a year to play with. With few outstanding performers last year, there shouldn't be any massive movers upwards but I'd expect Kyoda, Fukuda, Ogasawara, Suzuki and Kasahara to all get notable increases.

Losing Akasaka and Nomura, former #1 picks, also frees up about $200k.

As this is ongoing, I will be updating this table each day as more information comes to hand. I have included the draftees that have not yet been signed to a contract on this list as well as those that have as we know they'll be getting something eventually. Hopefully by the end of the month we'll have a better picture of what the overall wage bill is and how we'll look in 2018.

For the sake of simplicity and to make it easier to understand I've gone with a straight 100 yen = $1 approach. Please also note that an asterisk denotes farm appearances as that player has not played with the first team. Also note that 未 refers to undecided.

Update: Now that the numbers have been finalised I'll be doing a more in depth analysis in a follow-up post. Dayan Viciedo and Jordan Norberto appear to still be up in the air with the latter apparently having been released.

In a short summary, big increases were given to Tajima and Matayoshi whom have proven to be the elite relievers in the team. Big decreases were given to Yamai whose $1.2M per/year deal ended in 2017 and to Keisuke Tanimoto who still probably signed for more that his worth. In terms of hitters, Kyoda and Oshima were given the biggest increases on the back of significant 2017 stats while the catchers Sugiyama and Katsura took hits to their cheque books.

Shinji Tajima27CP$1,100,000.00 $280k6325342.87
Katsuki Mataysohi27RP$880,000.00 $380k508302.13
Keisuke Tanimoto32RP$850,000.00 $150k180106.00
Yudai Ono29SP$800,000.00 $64k247804.02
Hitoki Iwase43RP$750,000.00 $250k503624.79
Kazuki Yoshimi33SP$750,000.00 $50k143705.23
Daisuke Yamai39SP$720,000.00 $480k22001.50
Onelki Garcia28RP$500,000.00 FA Signing
Toshiya Okada25RP$310,000.00 $90k90205.14
Daisuke Sobue30RP$290,000.00 $10k352212.57
Koji Fukutani26RP$280,000.00 $70k251105.74
Shunta Wakamatsu22SP$250,000.00 $50k71405.55
Shinnosuke Ogasawara20SP$210,000.00 $30k225804.84
Junki Ito26RP$170,000.00 $95k390203.88
Hiroshi Suzuki20CP$150,000.00 #1 Pro Draft Pick
Yuya Yanagi23SP$145,000.00 $5k111404.47
Ryuya Ogawa26RP$120,000.00 $10k180002.19
Ryosuke Oguma27SP$120,000.00 $20k40309.53
Shota Suzuki22SP$120,000.00 $75k155504.17
Takuya Mitsuma25RP$120,000.00 $76k352104.06
Shotaro Kasahara22SP$120,000.00 $40k181303.14
Yu Sato24RP$110,000.00 $10k132005.40
Hiroto Fuku25RP$100,000.00 $30k50007.94
Tatsuro Hamada23SP$85,000.00 $12.5k-----
Takuma Achira24SP$80,000.00 -40104.85
Taisuke Maruyama22RP$75,000.00 $3k80008.25
Sho Ishikawa18SP$70,000.00 #2 Pro Draft Pick
Tatsuya Shimizu18RP$60,000.00 #4 Pro Draft Pick
Tomohiro Hamada25RP$56,300.00 -6*0000.00
Takumi Yamamoto17SP$55,000.00 #6 Pro Draft Pick
Kento Fujishima19SP$54,000.00 -5*0106.75
Masashi Yamamoto23RP$45,000.00 ------
Yusuke Kinoshita24SP$30,000.00 -22*---6.14
Shu Yoshida21SP$30,000.00 -3*0002.45
Mikihiro Nishihama24P$30,000.00 ------
Akito Okura23P$30,000.00 #1 2017 Development Pick
Kento Mark Ishida22P$30,000.00 #2 2017 Development Pick

Yohei Oshima32OF$1,800,000.00 $300k1190.31332923
Ryosuke Hirata29OF$1,200,000.00 -660.2446294
Shota Ono30C$833,000.00FA Signing
Masahiro Araki39IF$700,000.00 $4k850.249085
Atsushi Fujii36OF$550,000.00 $150k1280.2656425
Zoilo Almonte28OF$500,000.00FA Signing
Steven Moya26OF$500,000.00FA Signing
Yota Kyoda23IF$400,000.00 $280k1410.26443623
Nobumasa Fukuda29IF$360,000.00 $135k950.27118490
Naomichi Donoue29IF$300,000.00 $30k910.205180
Kyohei Kamezawa29IF$260,000.00 $80k980.2872136
Takahito Kudo36OF$210,000.00 $20k820.235003
Masato Matsui30C$200,000.00 $65k870.2212170
Shota Sugiyama26C$200,000.00 $58k390.091000
Shuhei Takahashi23IF$165,000.00 $25k410.2332100
Yusuke Matsui30OF$160,000.00 $43k560.2774180
Shingo Takeyama33C$150,000.00 $30k500.227170
Tetsuya Tani32IF$130,000.00 $17.5k530.2172110
Takuya Kinoshita26C$120,000.00 $20k510.192040
Issei Endo28IF/OF$120,000.00 -500.2252112
Iori Katsura26C$113,000.00 $30k-----
Toshiki Abe27IF$100,000.00 -210.268021
Kei Nomoto33IF/OF$98,000.00 $32k150.200000
Masataka Iryo28OF$90,000.00 $10k220.219030
Hiroki Kondo24OF$81,000.00 $15k140.207110
Shota Tomonaga26OF$70,000.00 $5k50.250020
Ryota Ishioka25IF$70,000.00 $5k20.000000
Taiki Mitsumata25IF$70,000.00 $5k80.000000
Hayato Mizowaki23IF$65,000.00 $10k120.071110
Shun Ishikawa27IF$65,000.00 -90.353110
Wataru Takamatsu18IF$60,000.00 #3 Pro Draft Pick
Takuma Kato25C$55,000.00 -10.000000
Kosuke Ito18OF$55,000.00 #5 Pro Draft Pick
Masumi Ishigaki19IF$54,000.00 -10.000000
Masaru Watanabe24OF$30,000.00 -*670.2283163

Players Released/Retired
Rondon, Guerrero and Araujo all cut loose.

Elvis Araujo26RP--$800,000.0061006.48
Jorge Rondon29RP--$500,000.0040005.79
Raul Valdes39SP--$400,000.00236903.76
Jordan Norberto31RP--$300,000.00186402.30
Tomoya Yagi31SP--$150,000.00111404.47
Ryosuke Nomura24SP--$84,800.0060109.75
Takeshi Kaneko24RP--$60,000.00*394213.59
Junki Kishimoto21RP--$40,000.00*120003.75

Alex Guerrero31OF--$1,500,000.001300.27935861
Masahiko Morino39IF--$840,000.00220.244010
Kazuyuki Akasaka28OF--$100,000.00*500.2234120
Takeru Furumoto27OF--$46,000.00*240.146130
Ryuichiro Akada29C--$44,000.00*490.2171110
Tatsuro Iwasaki33IF--$40,000.0010.000000

Data correct as of 14th December 2017

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Future of the Chunichi Dragons : This year, next year and beyond

Now that the draft has finished and the post-season clean-out has all but happened let's have a look at the coming and goings and what the future is going to look like for the Dragons going forward. I'll be approaching this in 2 or 3 parts.

I've been crunching the numbers based mostly on age and position and have tried to see what the farm is looking like and what the team may look like in 5 years or so. As you might guess, there's still a fair bit that needs to be addressed but the old guard that featured so prominently in the 2014-15 season has been all but cleaned out with only Araki, Yamai and Iwase remaining of the veterans that took part in the 2007 Japan Series win.

There's still some ways to go with recruitment but to get the ball rolling, let's have a look at the in's and outs following the 2017 Draft and second round of senryokugai notices.

As you can see here, there's been a fairly big clean-out. For those that haven't been keeping tabs on my twitter or on the news, there's probably a few surprising names on this list. The biggest surprise in the first round of senryokgai notices was probably Ryosuke Nomura who was drafted #1 in 2014. It's rare for #1 picks to get turfed so early in their career but there hasn't been any signs of improvement from Nomura in recent years. Nomura was however not the only former #1 to go out the door as Kazuyuki Akasaka joined him on the scrap pile. Akasaka was originally drafted as a pitcher but injuries forced him to change to the outfield. He never quite converted and was hence rendered dispensable. Other names on this list are really no surprise if you consider their age and the kinds of numbers they've put up on the farm.
Yagi, Iwasaki, Nomura. Gone.

The second round of notices released after the draft contained two names that were perhaps a little surprising to see. Junki Kishimoto was only upgraded to a first team contract earlier this year after being with the team on a development contract for a few years but with 3 new pitchers coming in and limited opportunities available on the farm, it was deemed time for he and Kaneko to pack their bags. Kaneko was another 2014 pick that also hasn't really worked out the way anyone was hoping.

As for other releases, Valdes, Rondon and Araujo have all be confirmed to have not been offered new contracts for next year. Valdes can perhaps consider himself a little hard done by considering the amount of good work he put in particularly in the first half that earned him an All-Star call-up. Unfortunately, his age and reported demands for a 2-year deal saw him out the door. Rondon and Araujo however never looked like getting offered new deals. Araujo reportedly was not very well liked and Rondon had major control issues.

That brings us to the home run king, Alex Guerrero. The Dragons want to keep him and have been chasing him but Guerrero and his agent Scott Boras have been holding out for more money which the Dragons just can't seem to provide. By all accounts, Guerrero says Nagoya is his first choice, but if other teams offer more money, he's leaving. Mori is reportedly going to meet with Guerrero this off-season in the US to have a final set of negotiations but it appears as though the former Dodgers slugger will be heading off to "greener" pastures. Softbank Hawks seem like the most likely suitors in Japan with the Yomiuri Giants also mentioned, but a return to the MLB is not off the cards either. For all intents and purpose however, let's say he's gone.

The only retiree this year was Masahiko Morino who just couldn't find his bat this year. On the farm in 2016 he was averaging over .300 showing that he could offer something and did find some opportunities in the first team. This year he platooned DH with Guerrero in inter-league but that was about the entirety of his involvement as he struggled to hit either in the big leagues on on the farm. We will however keep seeing the Doala look-a-like on the farm however as he's been officially unveiled as the second team hitting coach.

All in all, we have 14 players out on their bums. Now let's have a look at who has come in so far and who we might be looking at.

Apart from the draft, the rest is speculative based on rumours and news that I've seen. 

4 right-handed pitchers were drafted this year to fill out the farm and the first team bullpen. Hiroshi Suzuki was of course the top pick who should slot right in, while the rest are very much ones for the future. 

For stop-gaps, the Dragons are rumoured to be after Yuya Kubo (Baystars), Hisashi Takeda (Fighters) and Eishi Soyohi (Carp) who have all recently been senryokugai's themselves. The thought I guess would be to add some experience to the bullpen or provide another option at third in Soyogi's case. I personally don't think we need them and they are no more than rumours so I haven't included them in my total incoming this time around. The big thing however is the chase for a catcher. Senior management have been very under-awed by the current group of catchers. Sugiyama completely fell out of favour this year despite being the team's OBP leader in 2016 while Katsura was consumed by injury and Kinoshita generally just got a run as the third catcher. I highlighted these 3 last year as an enviable trio, but Mori and his crew don't seem to be high on any of them. Masato Matsui and Shingo Takeyama saw a lot time behind the plate this year, but neither really scream long term option nor are they particularly outstanding themselves. 

Two names that have come up are Kyle Higashioka, a 4th generation Japanese-American in the Yankees organisation and Shota Ono, the Fighters first team catcher who looks to be electing for free agency this year. 
Ono or Higashioka on their way to Nagoya?
Higashioka would be the first foreign catcher the Dragons have had since David Nilsson in 2000. Yui Tomori seems to think that Higashioka has the kind of power to get 20 homers in the NPB and thinks that he'll be better behind the plate than current options. The major issue with hiring Higashioka will be the language barrier. According to reports, Higashioka has a rudimentary handle on Japanese and Spanish which he has picked up to help Masahiro Tanaka at the Yankees as well as the club's many Latin players however having a rudimentary knowledge of the language and being able to use it every day with pitchers, young pitchers at that, is going to be a challenge. The other issue is if Higashioka even wants to leave as he seems to be third in line to the Yankees mask behind Garry Sanchez and Austin Romine.

Shota Ono to me is the better option if Mori is fixated on bringing in a catcher. He will cost money but he won't cost a foreign player spot and he's a local boy having grown up in Ogaki in Gifu Prefecture. He's 30 so ideally has a few good years left in him but hasn't put up superb batting numbers in any sense. He has successfully guided the Fighters to a Japan Series win and has experience guiding younger pitchers like Kohei Arihara, Hirotoshi Takanashi, Shohei Otani and Takayuki Kato so he could be a good option to help the younger pitching staff out.

The only other possibilities that have been suggested are that Mori is looking for an MLB level pitcher to be the team's ace next year along with another starter. Cuba and the Dominican Republic are the most likely places where they'll find these guys given the team's and Mori's connections. However with Akinori Otsuka and Yui Tomori working over in the US, you never know what they might turn up.
It seems however that there aren't any plans to replace Alex Guerrero at this stage.

If we go after all the above players suggested, we would likely only have one roster spot for wiggle room which would likely be given to a developmental player either at the beginning or half-way through the season.

Let's now look at a projected roster for 2018 that I've put together that ignores possible new acquisitions and focuses on what we have now.  Viciedo hasn't resigned yet, but is likely to stay as with Jordan Norberto.

This give you a general look at what we'll probably look like next season. There will be injuries and fluctuations in form of course. I see only Suzuki as the draft member that can make the most immediate impact. Relying on Fujii for another year in left-field is going to be dangerous, but Yusuke Matsui showed at the end of this season that he can be a useful addition to the line-up. Kyohei Kamezawa put up very impressive numbers this year and will likely have the lions share of games and second. Araki will likely be appearing less and less while Shuhei Takahashi is a chance to play second as well if his bat is hot. Let's now have a look at what would likely be the back-ups for each position to get an idea of what depth we have.

I've omitted pitchers for this one as we have a bit of depth there, but if you look at the back-up option for each position, things start getting very thin and old. The only player here that is under 28 is Shuhei. It's a little worrying when there's no one younger realistically knocking on the door for these positions. Sugiyama, Kinoshita, Katsura and even Kato are still a look in for the mask which would add some needed youth to that position but there's not a whole lot here to be excited about. Hiroki Kondo is a name that could be thrown in here, but out of he and Endo battling at centre-field at the end of the season it was Endo that eventually got the nod. I'm quite concerned with our outfield depth and perhaps at the 2018 draft we might see some focus on college age outfielders to bolster that area. Kosuke Ito and Hiroki Kondo are really the only two names under 25 that are in the team. Masaru Watanabe is one other who might be offered a spot on the roster following his stint as a development player.

In terms of the immediate future, I don't think there's anything here to get one excited for 2018. The homerun production of Guerrero will largely be propped up by Fukuda and Viciedo next year as well as, hopefully, Ryosuke Hirata. I feel that there is enough about the pitching to see us have a decent year, plus if we are able to add the arms we're after we'll be in a good position but I still think a playoff spot is a little far away unless we see a massive up-tick in production from the likes of Hirata. 

Looking Forward

This team as it is, is going to be riddled with holes without significant reinforcement over the next few drafts. Outfield really needs to be addressed as does the corner infield positions. Catcher is also another area that the Dragons senior staff are really looking to strengthen and if you look at the kind of staff we have at the moment, unless someone clicks pretty soon, we're going to have issues down the track. 

To get a better idea of where the farm and where the team is at I've put together a couple of charts.

This is of the 2017 roster as of around when Tanimoto joined the team. You can see there there's a lot of players in that 26-30 range that should be reaching the peaks of their powers. Most of our outfielders are in that age group, but only Hirata is a relatively permanent first-team player. Others like Iryo and Tomonaga haven't really ever looked like usurping anyone. The biggest problem I can see is that we lack younger outfielders. High school talent is always a bit tricky but in the last 3-4 years or so, the Dragons really haven't looked at high schoolers. Ogasawara, Ishigaki and Fujishima were the only U-21 players on the roster in 2017 which is a bit disappointing. 

The image of the retirement village is slowly seeping away as there were only 6 over-36 y/o players on the roster with only half seeing regular game time (Iwase, Araki and Fujii). What we can however see here is a team that is going to be in major trouble in the mid to long-term. 

After the 2017 draft, senryokugai notices and retirements however we have a slightly healthier looking team age-wise. 

The team is getting a bit younger here with Morino retiring and players like Yagi given the flick. We can also see a decrease in the 26-30 range with a marked upswing in the 18-21 range with all 6 draftees being in that age range. The only major issue that really remains here is that we don't see a lot of outfielders or catchers under the age of 26. In the next 2 or 3 drafts the Dragons are going to have to go after college level outfielders as there's no one to really take over. The catcher position will also need to be reinforced if players like Takuma Kato, Shota Sugiyama and Iori Katsura can't step up to the plate. 

Now that we have a bit of an idea of where the Dragons are and where they're going, I'd like to propose a bit of an imagining of what the team might look like as challengers in 2023 with a much younger line-up.

It's always hard to predict what a team is going to look like in 5 years, but this is what I'm proposing. I've done a little bit of projecting, a little bit of theorizing and have come up with the kind of team that the Dragons should at least aim for using information based on up and coming players at university and high school now that will be useful down the track should we end up drafting them. 

For the time being, ignore the relievers. These could quite easily change over time and players like Sato and Maruyama may not get anywhere near being that reliable, but I'm going to say that they will be. I've also taken a lot of creative license with future draftees that may or may not be realistic. These are indicated in bold purple. 

First of all, the outfield. Kosuke Ito is a 2017 draftee and looks to be the only real heir apparent for the spot in centre-field after Oshima trends downward. He's still got a long way to go to fulfill that promise, but he seems like the type that could make it. I've gone with Masami Ishigaki in left-field because there's been a lot of talk about him being played in outfield. He wants to play short, and their might be a future for him in the infield, but I feel that given his speed and mobility, he'd be well suited to an outfield role. 
There is currently no one with the team that could fill Ryosuke Hirata's boots long-term. Yusuke Matsui and Atsushi Fujii are the wrong side of 30 and Masataka Iryo won't be much younger than Hirata when 2023 comes around. I've gone with current Tokai Uni Sagami High School slugger, Shota Morita. He'll be starting his 3rd and final year of high school next year and has slugged 37 homers in his high school career thus far. He'll be eligible in the 2018 draft should he choose to make himself available. Chunichi scouts are already looking at him and Morita's drafting would continue a long history of Sagami HS players coming to Nagoya. 

I'm banking on Shuhei Takahashi to come good under Morino's tutelage and secure his spot at third base. I'm also suggesting that Wataru Takamatsu's development will go well and his athleticism at short-stop will eventually see Yota Kyoda moved to second base. At first-base I've gone with another possible future draft pick Kota Marumo who is currently with Senshu University. Marumo is in his first year so he won't be available to be drafted until 2020. Still a long way to go for him, but he's shown power at high school and is a big lad standing at 184cm tall and 95kg. He has good bat speed which has been clocked at 149km/h (92.5mp/h) which could be promising going forward. There's every chance this hole at first get filled by a foreign slugger, but for the sake of argument, I'm going with an all Japanese roster. 

This was an interesting one to consider. I've decided here that none of Chunichi's catchers are going to work out. There is however an interesting local option that could be the man to turn to when he's available and that's Chubu Gakuin University's Kazuma Kubo. He has a reputation for a power bat and a strong arm and has the added bonus of going to a university in the Chunichi catchment. In high school at the 2015 Wakayama prefectural tournament Kubo had a .417 average over 3 games which included a 2-run homer as well as 6 RBIs. He seems to have a lot about him and would be available at the 2019 draft. 


There is always room for strengthening, but the starting rotation I have picked is essentially what we already have plus one. Shinnosuke Ogasawara and Yuya Yanagi have the potential to be a domineering top 2 while I expect Sho Ishikawa to develop to be the number 3. Rounding out the rotation is Shotaro Kasahara, Shota Suzuki and another guy I'm really high on, Ryoji Kuribayashi.

 As you can probably already tell, Kurabayashi has already played for the university level Japanese national team and he's also playing at Meijo University which is, among others, outfield Hiroki Kondo's alma mater. Kuribayashi is also an Aichi native which only increases his value. He's a right hander that throws 153km/h (95 m/ph) and had a K/9 ratio of 10.02 this Fall. He also became the first Aichi League pitcher since 2004 to mark a no-hitter taking 9Ks and giving up 5 walks against Chukyo University. While his walk-rate is a bit high, Kuribayashi will surely be a top 2 pick at the 2018 draft. Once again, Chunichi scouts are already well on top him with head scout Muneo Tanaka commenting that he was a little disappointed that Kuribayashi couldn't beat batter with his fast-ball when gunned down the middle of the zone but was otherwise impressed by his breaking balls and velocity.

Relief is something I haven't thought a lot about, but my thoughts are that Tatsuya Shimizu will be there abouts and I've otherwise smattered through a few talents that won't be too old by the time 2023 comes about to fill-out the bench a bit. I expect Hiroshi Suzuki to be the full-time closer by then. 

This was a fun little exercise for me, but what should be taken away is that there is a lot that needs to be filled in before this team looks like a force to be reckoned with. Foreign players will likely fill holes as Japanese players develop to fill them but I think you can understand that from the future selections I've made there's a few areas that need to be addressed: outfield, first base and catcher. There is really no one here coming up that is filling anyone with confidence. I also believe there's room for at least one more starter in Ryuji Kuribayashi but as long as the starters stay relatively consistent, the rotation should be pretty imposing for years to come. 

For some concluding remarks, in the short-term, we're still not looking very good. I forsee another season of missing out on the play-offs while we wait for younger talent to come good and the older guys to burn out. The next two years are going to be a big test for those guys who are entering the 26-30 age mark. If they can't start putting some pressure on the incumbents with any consistency, they will find themselves out of a job very quickly to younger players coming through the system.

There are still major question marks over whether or not this team has the structure and the staff to develop the kind of talent that is required for the modern game, but we can only hope. Let's see what the future brings. Doraho-!

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.