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Trey Hillman surprised Yu Darvish didn’t post this year

by on Dec.14, 2010 @ 6:04 pm, under NPB
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As briefly mentioned in a post yesterday, Trey Hillman visited the Nippon Ham Fighters on Monday.  Nikkan Sports has two articles with comments from Hillman: one on Yuki Saito and the other on Yu Darvish.

The first on Yuki Saito:

"I still remember the Koshien game [in which Saito beat] Hokkaido's KomaDai Tomakomai high school in the Finals."

In response to whether Saito could have as successful a first year as Masahiro Tanaka:

"There are a lot of unknown variables, but if the offense can provide him with runs, I think it would be possible for him to have similar success.  I think he'll meet everyone's expectations once he gets used to pitching in the pros."

On how Saito might relate to other first year MLB players like Derek Jeter and Zack Greinke:

"They all have one thing in common: they don't let the situation take control.  I'm sure [rookies like that] feel a lot of pressure, but they know how to work through that.  The players that stay composed in those situations end up succeeding."

And now on Yu Darvish:

"The media in the US made it sound as if he decided he was coming so when I heard he was going to stay, I was surprised.  But it is good news for Nippon Ham.  There's still a chance I'll be able to see him [back in the States] at some point in the future."

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Nippon Ham Fighters News and Notes: December 13, 2010

by on Dec.13, 2010 @ 6:00 pm, under NPB
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Ryo Sakakibara and his wife Eri held a wedding ceremony in Nagoya on Sunday.  About 92 people attended, including teammates Eiichi Koyano and Naoki Miyanishi.  The two are scheduled to spend their honeymoon in Europe.

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Masao Kida's advice to Yoshinori Tateyama:

Japanese team personnel are very organized.  Don't take that same approach in the US otherwise you'll ned up stressing yourself out.  And don't let that get the better of you.

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Trey Hillman dropped by the Nippon Ham Fighters offices in Sapporo today.  Hillman apparently arrived in Japan on the 12th and will be returning to the US on the 20th.

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Trey Hillman fired as Royals manager

by on May.14, 2010 @ 12:32 pm, under MLB
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Huge fan of Joe Posnanski and his work.  Here's what he had to say of the Hillman firing:

The line of thinking was that he could bring home some of the discipline and emphasis on fundamentals that defines Japanese baseball. ...

I watched Hillman manage in the Japan Series -- Japan's World Series -- and I was impressed. His Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters were a decidedly mediocre team (they finished last in runs scored that year) but they were so disciplined and together and had such good fielding and such good pitching (featuring worldwide sensation Yu Darvish) that they went to the Series anyway. They lost decisively -- the final game was a perfect game -- but I saw what the Royals saw.

Wonder if he'd make a comeback to Japan, Bobby Valentine style.  Don't know if the Fighters would hire him back, although if they finish in dead last, who is to say they wouldn't see that as an opportunity to bring back one of their more popular and successful managers.

I actually think and interesting fit for Hillman would be the Yakult Swallows.  Shigeru Takada is in the final year of his contract.  The Swallows are still fairly young and like the Fighters, they're team is more about small ball and pitching than it is about offense.  And having a foreign manager for one of the metropolitan teams in the  Tokyo area might help bring in a new fan base.

Unfortunately, it probably won't happen.  The way I see it, the suits will probably look at two things (regardless of how incorrect the cause-effect correlation is):

  1. how the Marines turned their season around the year after Bobby left.
  2. how the Eagles have gone from a second place team to a middle of the pack or lower team after hiring a foreign manager.

...and decide that hiring a foreign manager is the wrong thing to do.

I can still dream though.