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Yakult looking to improve team through signing or trade

by on May.18, 2010 @ 11:09 am, under NPB

Sponichi is reporting that the Yakult Swallows continue their hunt to find a foreign bat that can contribute immediately.  One of their international scouts is already in the US trying to find a replacement.  In the meantime, it appears the Swallows will also look into other options, such as swapping out their coaches or pulling off a trade.

While I do agree that it's early in the season and that in baseball, you need to take a look at the bigger picture, at what point has enough time passed where it isn't too soon anymore, and you can still pull the trigger on a deal that could potentially change the course of the season?

And assuming you sign a foreign player, you have to take into consideration the time it takes for them to be "game ready."  And that includes the time to secure a visa, actually fly over to Japan, and then play a few games at Ni-gun.  All that could take anywhere from 2-4 weeks.

If you wait two months before making a move, then it means your foreign player probably won't be joining the team until late June, or early July.  That's close to halfway through the season.

So is two months still too soon?

Where do you draw the line?

4 comments on “Yakult looking to improve team through signing or trade

  1. Christopher Pellegrini

    The Swallows are in the midst of a “hunt to find a foreign bat that can contribute immediately.”

    Wouldn’t it be better to find a manager that can contribute immediately?

    And since when are the Swallows willing to spend money on players? The roster isn’t half bad, so why not drop some cash on the farm team instead and allow Araki (the pitching coach) to take the reigns until the end of the season?

    1. Gen Post author

      I don’t think the owner is willing to let go of Takada yet. I’ve read reports that they’re planning on sticking it out with him at least until the end of the season.

      So if the manager isn’t changing, that leaves the coaches and the players. The easiest move is the jumble the players and coaches up a bit. Barring that, signing a foreigner would appear to be the next best move, if money isn’t a problem. After that, trade.

      As for building up the farm system… There’s really only so much they can do there. And I’m sure they’ve got their scouts checking out various prospects for the 2010 draft.

      As for my personal opinion? If they can find a foreigner for cheap, why not give it a shot? They have little to nothing to lose, other than money.

      Other than that, they should probably just sit tight and make do with what they have. One move isn’t going to make this team a contender.

  2. Christopher Pellegrinni

    Gen,
    “Other than that, they should probably just sit tight and make do with what they have. One move isn’t going to make this team a contender.”

    I totally agree. What I actually see happening, IF they bring a new non-Japanese into the fold, is D’Antona will get sent down until the new guy is yanked after three or four lackluster weeks–at which point they’ll trade places and the cycle will continue.

    The bottom line is that the birds aren’t going to luck out and find the next Murton hiding somewhere in MLB’s farm system. I feel it’s far more beneficial for time, energy, and money to be spent on the pieces that the team already has in place.

    And while I may be naive on this point, I view supportive announcements by the higher-ups as acknowledgement by everyone involved that the manager’s job isn’t nearly as secure as it was at the beginning of the season. Therefore, a forced resignation by the end of the season might not be out of the question.

    Takada was rescued last season by very weak Hanshin and Hiroshima teams that basically gifted Tokyo a spot in the playoffs. The same won’t happen again anytime soon, so if the birds keep losing, fans will resume hounding Takada outside the clubhouse like in September 2009, and the GM’s hand will finally be forced (even if he is Takada’s friend from college or wherever).

    Anyway, this is all conjecture on my part. As opposed to taking a wait-and-see approach, a trade, as you mentioned, might be the most reasonable avenue to take. Everyone knows that Takada doesn’t like Tanaka very much, so I’m worried that he could get dealt to another team, but Tokyo’s second baseman would likely fetch a decent bat in return. Alternatively, we’ve got a couple of middle relievers in their late 20’s who could make an immediate contribution to another team, so that’s probably worth considering as well.

    Just curious: how do you think Araki would fare as a caretaker manager?

    1. Gen Post author

      “Therefore, a forced resignation by the end of the season might not be out of the question.”

      I’m guessing you mean before the end of the season. Unless he really bombs out, I’m not sure if it’ll happen. If it’s already close to the end of the season, the Swallows front office may just opt to let him finish out the season and avoid the confrontation, unless of course Takada voluntarily bows out, but I’m not really sure if he’s that type of person.

      “Takada was rescued last season by very weak Hanshin and Hiroshima teams that basically gifted Tokyo a spot in the playoffs.”

      Agreed. In this regard, they were kind of the Eagles of the Central League.

      The worst the Swallows can do right now is push the panic button and start trading away quality players for players that may or may not be able to produce in a Swallows uniform. And the only way moving Tanaka makes sense is if they 1) truly believe Shingo Kawabata is ready to take over at second full time; and 2) get a solid bat in return. I’d rather they kept Tanaka though.

      As for Araki, I’m not really sure what to think of him yet. I’ve heard reports here and there that the Swallows are sort of grooming him to be their next potential manager. And he’s fairly popular with the fans. Plus he’s got a decent resume — he’s been a commentator, he studied coaching with the double-A Indians, and he’s also been involved in a number of international competitions as a pitching coach. But if the Swallows are serious about him being a future manager, I don’t see them bringing him on-board mid-season. And that all goes back to my original thought of the Swallows riding it out with Takada until the end of the season.

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