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Tigers 2016 Season preview

Baseball news from Japan and Asia

Welcome to the Tiger Tails Blog

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 2016 Season preview

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Given that I gave up blogging the 2015 season the chances of people reading this blog are very low. However, here it is. Tigers started well and then faded badly. This was enough for the management to decide that Wada should go and that they needed a replacement. It does rather beg the question of why appoint him in the first place but this can be explained by the need to give struggling old boys an income. Once again and one must get used to this Tigers management went for an old boy. This time they landed on Kanemoto who took some persuading but eventually agreed to take over the role. He started by telling the fans that they shouldn't expect an immediate improvement and that it would take about 4 years before he had a championship level team. This was promptly ignored by the fan base who are predicting and hoping for great things in equal measure. So what are Tigers chances?

Trades and Free Agents
Tigers have added several new foreigners Matt Hague, Nelson Perez, Rafael Dollis and Marcos Mateo. How they pan out is anyone's guess. Tigers though do have high hopes for Hague. The other big signing was the return of Kyuji Fujikawa from the US. He will, though, not be used as a relief pitcher but as a starter. For those who remember his early outings this was the original role for him.

Batting
The loss of Murton does mean a drop in RBI production and Tigers are eyeing a bigger role for Ryota Arai. They are also hoping that Hague can step up and take over the Murton role. Gomez is still around and with Kanemoto as manager one hopes that batting will receive the attention that it lacked last season particularly in regards power. What is needed is for players like Yamato to do well and the team as a whole to hit.

Pitching
Tigers pitching core is slated to be Fujinami, Messenger, Nohmi and Fujikawa. To be honest apart from Fujinami the others do seem a bit long in the tooth. Messenger in particular tired badly last season and one would hope to see Akiyama and Iwamoto given more of a role. With the retirement of Fujii we have the opportunity to see more of Umeno (who's bat also has a bit of pop) behind the plate. Tsuruoka will also be back and he actually impressed though he struggled with the endgame when things were tight. Komiyama and Shimizu are also both worth a run.
The relief like the starting pitching is a bit long in the tooth with only Ryoma showing true talent. The loss of Oh will leave a gap at closer and I am not sure that Mateo will be able to fill that. Tigers did add Takahashi from Chunichi but whether he can step up is questionable. One has to think that the relief has regressed.

Prospects
Kanemoto's assessment that this is not a championship winning team is probably accurate. In fact Tigers will probably do well to finish A-class and a fourth place is the most likely placing. I am basing this prediction on the fact that the relief seems pretty bare and that this will inhibit Tigers later in the season. There is considerable excitement in Kansai about Kanemoto taking over but one does have to allow him to find his feet and to be able to build a team with young talent.
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