Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Tokyo is Crap Again

It's been rough since the All-Star break.

We have done very little winning, and a whole lot of people have forgotten how to play baseball.

The tear that we went on at the end of the first half of the season has been reversed by a humbling slide back down toward the basement of the Central league.

Tokyo is now 18 games below five hundred.

We haven't won the series since the break, and more and more people are starting to blame Furuta for the slide. He has been uncharacteristically impatient with our starting pitchers as of late (although they have given him ample justification for his change of heart), and he isn't really trying to conceal the fact that there are certain players he likes more than others (even though their performances don't necessarily warrant the extra playing time).

In Furuta's defense, the parent company, Yakult, spends very little money on developing young talent through the farm system (why does Yakult have only one minor league team?!?!?!!!!), so he doesn't have a whole lot of options.

The bad news: our relief pitching, on the whole, has gotten worse. Veterans such as Endo, Kida, and Takatsu have blown several leads between them (Takatsu has since been sent to the minors), and Yoshikawa isn't nearly as effective as he was during the first half of the season. Also, Fukukawa has been given the most opportunities behind the plate since the break, but continues to swing for the fences. Perhaps even worse is the fact that he seems to call for a lot of pitches that end up in the bleachers. Our starting pitchers aren't the best in the league, but it's hard to call a pitch a "mistake" if it was headed right for Fukukawa's glove. Personally, I would like to see Kawamoto start a larger percentage of games. While we're on catchers, if Furuta doesn't plan to put the pads on any more, he should at least be pinch hitting more regularly. And might I add that when he does decide to make a plate appearance (as he did last week versus Yokohama), he needs to approach the at-bat with a bit more purpose (a la Manaka). There are several guys on the bench that are capable of weak dribblers to second base.

The good news: Kawashima's back in the starting rotation! He had a very strong outing last week (seven innings), and he will hopefully inspire some of our other starters to dig a little deeper. Ramirez and Aoki are still duking it out for two of the batting titles (hits and average). Riggs has returned, and he's slowly getting back into the groove at first base. Iihara and Tanaka are contributing more consistently at the plate, and Guiel leads the league in "taking one for the team" (actually he's been hit by a pitch 21 times so far this season).

So, despite the drubbing of Yokohama tonight (10-3: Hanada got the win in relief and Ramirez went three for five with two home runs and six rbi's), Tokyo has a whole lot of work to do. There's still a hefty chunk of season left, but that coveted third playoff spot is 12.5 games away (we are 15 games behind league-leader, Yomiuri).

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