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Monday, January 15, 2024

[Interview review] Shigekazu Mori reveals some tasty morsels from his time as manager

 I wanted to spend a little time talking about this interview that Shigekazu Mori gave to SportsNavi on YouTube. He has a very insightful talk about some of what goes on in the background at the club, and otherwise gives some tasty scoops. I'll post the video below but I'll summarise some of the points I found the most interesting. 

  • Has had very little to do with foreign signings since leaving as senior director.
  • In the trade that sent Masato Matsui, Yusuke Matsui and Steven Moya to Orix, it was the Buffaloes that approached the Dragons first, but Takahiro Matsuba and  Kengo Takeda weren't the first on the trade list. From inference, Mori says (although bleeped out) that Yutaro Sugimoto was offered up by Orix first.
  • Team has had a philosophy of defence first, drawing on Muneo Nakata's (recently retired Dragons scout) book, the suggestion is that if a player can't defend first, they're likely to be overlooked. Vantelin Dome seems to be the reason for this. This played into the reason why the Dragons chose Takeda in the trade. 
  • Scouts, Manager, Team Organisation Department (hensei'bu), Owners have their own priorities - industry tie ups seem to come into play particularly with owners. Mori mentions Yamaha among others (coincidentally, Hiroshi Suzuki was drafted out of Yamaha)
  • Managers like to go after pitchers because they're easy to use first up. 
  • Some insight about GM vs Manager control. Says "whatever works." Current system has worked for Dragons in the past, maybe why they won't go back to a GM seeing as how that experiment failed. 
  • When you're only looking at a 3-year contract, you're not thinking about the long-term future - can have effect on team development. (Scott's note: Ironically, Ochiai's longer tenure ended up wrecking the team's future because of his continued use of veterans)
  • Mori was just a bridge to the next manager which was meant to be Michiro Ogasawara who was 2-gun manager at the time and not quite deemed ready enough. 
  • His objective was to get Nobumasa Fukuda, Shuhei Takahashi and Yota Kyoda past the plate appearances required to qualify for post-season awards.
  • Previous owner Bungo Shirai was the step between current owner Uichiro Oshima and his father. 
  • Mori is more okay with defensive failings for second/short positions if they can hit. This doesn't seem to be the opinion of the Dragons scouting team.
  • Mori looking forward the most to seeing Mikiya Tanaka; feels that Shuhei Takahashi would still be a good option at second. 
Overall I found the behind the curtain takes really intriguing. How the Dragons might prioritize their picks with focus on defense or relationships with teams, and the confirmation that Mori was a bridge between Tanishige and another full-time manager who was meant to be Michio Ogasawara, a pretty strong rumour at the time. There is a part 1 where he talks about the 2023 season, and there is a part 3 on the horizon discussing the season ahead. 

Hope you found this as interesting as I did. If your Japanese is up to scratch, by all means give it a view.