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Tigers season - hopes for the future

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Featuring Christopher Amano-Langtree (a.k.a. Christopher)

This blog will attempt to report on as many Hanshin Tigers games as possible. Games will be, if possible, reported the day after and on rare occasions the same day.


Tigers season - hopes for the future

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This season turned out much better than the previous season. Wada was still a moron but he managed to take his side to the Japan series winning four straight against the Giants in doing so. Tigers will be rejigging his coaching team but the worrying thing is that the incompetent Nakanishi has not been replaced. His inept coaching and handling of the pitching was part of the reason that Tigers didn't get any silverware and he should go as soon as possible.

Pitching
Tigers pitching regressed somewhat from the previous year. This highlights a major structural deficiency in the Tigers organisation; the ability to develop and coach pitchers. Young pitchers are never given the chance to develop the consistency needed. If they mess up it's down to the second team and if one does show consistency he is pitched until his arm breaks down. The currently extremely limited catchers also restrict pitchers. Of the starters Messenger was the stand out with some very fine performances but some dreadful pitching counts. Iwata showed flashes of the brilliance we know he has and Fujinami did well enough. However, the starters could be said to have under performed and Tigers were two pitchers short of a full rotation. The thing is the talent was there Iwamoto and Akiyama had both shown talent but this had allowed to go to waste. Tigers have considerable work to do if they want to start 2015 with a reliable rotation.
Relief was a nightmare with the veterans Andoh and Fukuhara providing the main engine of the bullpen. Other young pitchers never really got development and the most generous thing one could say about the choice of pitchers for the relief was that it was totally incoherent. Once again there is talent - Matsuda is still interesting but he was rushed back from injury before he was ready. Tigers new closer Oh did well and was a positive asset. He though is likely to be gone in 2016 when his contract is up. Even with Oh there was a time when Nakanishi was talking about sending him down to the second team because of a couple of blown saves. It about sums Nakanishi's ability up.

Catching
Tigers relied on two main catchers Tsuruoka and Umeno. Both had their faults Tsuruoka was often shaky with the relief and Umeno was often inexperienced but both persevered and became a very fine catching team. Umeno does need to practice more and this means making him the starting catcher for as many games as possible. He has talent and is exciting behind the plate. Tsuruoka needs to do something about his nerves - he does lack the big game temperament. The catcher we really need to see the back of is the abysmal Fujii. Incompetent and without an arm this rigid fool blew too many games for Tigers when he returned. His predictable calls gifted the opposition runs time and again and what was amazing was the amount of time he got in the big games where he was completely out of his depth. The truth is Wada and his team panicked towards the end of the season and brought Fujii up 'because he was experienced'. Watching his petulant incompetent performance in Game 4 of the Japan series with Iwata will long be remembered by Tigers fans. However, the Fujii blight is likely to be around for a bit longer until Tigers discover someone with the guts to sack him.

Batting
This showed distinct signs of improvement but needed to be better at times. The inconsistency was quite damaging and pointed to issues within the team management. To have all your hitters fail simultaneously over a series of games and against mediocre opposition (not the Hawks by the way who were top class opposition) was indicative of issues that were left unaddressed. Gomez was an excellent find but needs more consistency. Toritani should have done more but his departure to MLB will leave a gap in the side. Too much reliance was placed on favourites and lightweights who couldn't hit. Imanari was one - he was preferred to Takahiro Arai at third when Gomez took first. This was quite the disaster it looked like being. Arai on limited playing time drove in more runs than Imanari but was disgusted by his treatment and left Tigers to take a far lower offer with the Carp. Tigers needed people to drive in runners and frequently when the clean up failed didn't have them. Fukudome was a waste of time in his second year and despite showing a big game temperament did precious little else. He has been a big waste of money. Nishioka also falls into that category and Tigers do need to look at adding RBI men. The trouble is non of their ni-gun team look to have that ability. Time to get the check-book out again.

Coaching
A team of bumblers took the best team in Japan and turned it into a second place team. Nakanishi was a failure and so was the rest of the coaching team. We now have Hirata as head coach though and this offers a chance for a better performance in 2015. Hirata will have to solve the issue of Wada's lightweights though.

Free Agents
Tigers are chasing Nakajima and typically have offered him lots of money to come and join them. Given their record in this area and the number of faded players they have signed and furthermore Nakajima's own undistinguished record in MLB one wouldn't be misplaced in considering this another huge wad of cash down the drain. They are also interested in Kyuji Fujikawa though what he can do now is debatable. He has also been a disappointment in the US. Also think about any and every player who even sees the words 'free agent' and Tigers will express an interest. They would be better off getting a decent coaching team and developing the talent they have. So this season - a good team with the potential to be even better.
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