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Hanshin Tigers Sign Kevin Mench

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Hanshin Tigers Sign Kevin Mench
The Tigers just signed Kevin Mench for $1.8M for 2009. I don't like this move nearly as much as the recent transactions for Dan Johnson (BayStars) or Jamie D'Antona (Swallows). Mench had some fine major league seasons in 2004 and 2005, when he was 26 and 27 years old respectively, but his production has fallen off dramatically in 2008. His major league OPS last year was .678 in 115 at-bats, and his AAA OPS was about .760 in 184 at-bats. He will be 31 in 2009, and he looks an awful lot like a guy with not a lot of juice left in the tank.

By way of comparison, Lew Ford, the player Mench will be replacing for Hanshin, was 31 in 2008 and had a terrible year. I don't think it was so much that he couldn't adjust to the Japanese game, as it was that his skills had deteriorated with age. By crunching the numbers, Bill James showed that major league players as a group peak at age 27. Lew Ford and Kevin Mench are perfect examples. Ford had his best major league season by far in 2004, the year he was 27, with an .827 OPS. In 2005, his OPS was .715, and in 2006 and 2007 his major league OPS was below .700 and his AAA OPS was about .750.

The upshot is that Kevin Mench might have one good year left, but I wouldn't count on it. He's a better player than Lew Ford, but the trend in his American career is down, down, down.
Comments
Re: Hanshin Tigers Sign Kevin Mench
[ Author: Guest: gotigersredsox | Posted: Jan 13, 2009 11:23 AM ]

Any other predictions or thoughts on this signing? The Tigers have had very bad luck with signing MLB batters (Spencer, Ford) in recent years, so hope this isn't another mistake. To make it worse, the "slugger" is usually one of the highest paid players on the team, of course. The Tigers have done better in signing players from other Japanese teams (Sheets, Arias), so I wish they would have explored that option more.
Re: Hanshin Tigers Sign Kevin Mench
[ Author: Guest: N26 | Posted: Jan 13, 2009 8:54 PM ]

What will happen to Lin? I have always thought of him as a good batter when he is not injured. Mayumi is looking for a slugger who can boost the line up with home runs, but I doubt he will do anything with the heart of the line up. Toritani, Kanemoto, Arai, then Mench. We'll see how Mench will cope in pitcher friendly Koshien.
Re: Hanshin Tigers Sign Kevin Mench
[ Author: Guest: gotigersredsox | Posted: Jan 15, 2009 10:35 PM ]

The problem is, Lin usually is injured. Once he finally got his shot, he has never been able to play a full season. I think he has had some serious injuries that may keep us from ever seeing what he could accomplish in a full season.

I imagine the Tigers will platoon him with Mench.
Re: Hanshin Tigers Sign Kevin Mench
[ Author: Bigball123 | Posted: Jan 16, 2009 3:34 AM ]

Hmm, not liking this deal for the Tigers. Kevin's career after the Milwaukee trade has deteriorated. He is a wash up, and with the exception to the first 15 games to the '06 season (maybe one of the finest starts ever), he will never be that good again.
Re: Hanshin Tigers Sign Kevin Mench
[ Author: Guest: gotigersredsox | Posted: Jan 16, 2009 10:23 AM ]

I'm worried about this trend with the Tigers of giving lots of money to an ex-big leaguer to come fill their right field position. The Tigers are full of lefties who can fill that spot or pinch hit (Lin, Katsuragi, Hiyama). So, the big investment ends up being platooned and can't get used to Japanese pitching. Hopefully Mench will work out better than Spencer and Ford, but I haven't heard from anyone who is optimistic about this signing.
Re: Hanshin Tigers Sign Kevin Mench
[ Author: Guest: Tom Ogden | Posted: Jan 28, 2009 6:57 AM ]

I have followed Kevin since high school. Kevin loves Baseball. I am convinced that he will come to camp prepared to prove that he has Big League ability. When Kevin was given the chance to be an everyday player his play and statistics have been comparable to many in MLB. He is a streak hitter and when on a streak he can carry a team. I am convinced that if plays everyday he will be back in the Big Leagues next season.
Re: Hanshin Tigers Sign Kevin Mench
[ Author: Guest: PhilFever76 | Posted: Jan 28, 2009 5:07 AM ]

I realize that this is an old thread, but I just need to add this.

Trust me, Kevin Mench has a Tiger in his Tank!

I have followed his career for years. Sadly, Mench has gotten a bad rap in the MLB that he can only be a platoon player against left handed pitching. Mench is a streak hitter who has to play regularly to get to his streaky periods. As he plays everyday, he will put up some strong offensive numbers and hot streaks.

Pencil him in the line up every day at the 5 or 6 hole in the order and let him go. He is a better than average fielder and he will be a very productive offensive player.

Mench will be a great guy in the club house and for the fans. He doesn't take himself too seriously. I think the fans will love him.

I look for Mench, with his big personality and fun loving persona, to be a cult hero in Japanese baseball.

Kevin will prove to his detractors that he can be a very productive everyday player. Look for him to be back in the American MLB next season.
Re: Hanshin Tigers Sign Kevin Mench
[ Author: Guest: gotigersredsox | Posted: Jan 29, 2009 4:53 PM ]

It worries me a bit that two supporters are calling Mench a streak hitter. If he starts hot, that's great. If not, however, he could be benched and suffer the similar fate of Spencer and Ford. I don't know how things will work out with a new manager and how patient he will be.

Anyway, it's been a while since we had a big foreign bat in the line-up, so hopefully he will start hot and stay hot.
Re: Hanshin Tigers Sign Kevin Mench
[ Author: Guest: xbalanque | Posted: Jan 30, 2009 4:05 AM ]

Mench became a platoon player in the majors because he has a huge platoon differential. In his Major League career as a whole, he had a .900 OPS against left-handed pitchers and a .729 OPS against right-handed pitchers. The former number is terrific, but the latter number is not nearly good enough for an everyday corner outfielder.

I don't see him getting off to a "hot streak" at the start of 2009 unless the Tigers face a lot of left-handed starters during the first month of the season.
Re: Hanshin Tigers Sign Kevin Mench
[ Author: Guest: N26 | Posted: Feb 4, 2009 4:45 AM ]

I don't understand why people keep saying that Mench will be a hit and then he can return to MLB again. If Mench becomes a hit he would want to stay in Japan with Hanshin. If Mench thinks of being a success he has to have his heart in the right place. That will be no other place than Nishinomiya. He must be willing to give sacrifices and embrace Japan. If he is going to play in Japan he will not be successful if he goes around thinking that he can return to MLB. If he has that kind of attitude he'd be better not to come in the first place.
Re: Hanshin Tigers Sign Kevin Mench
[ Author: No.1BayFan | Posted: Feb 4, 2009 3:21 PM | YOK Fan ]

Since we are just now entering Spring Camp, I'm willing to give Mench the benefit of the doubt for the time being. Who knows, this might be the year that Hanshin actually gets it right with their foreign players.
Re: Hanshin Tigers Sign Kevin Mench
[ Author: Guest: STLCARDS | Posted: Feb 19, 2009 6:15 PM ]

Kevin Mench has a lot to offer a team. If he gets in a groove he will do a lot of damage.
Re: Hanshin Tigers Sign Kevin Mench
[ Author: Guest | Posted: Apr 23, 2009 4:04 PM ]

I think he is pretty close to be "done." I mean, possible kidney problems? I highly doubt that this is something he suddenly developed in Japan. With the amount of money Hanshin spent, they should have asked for physical exams first.
Re: Hanshin Tigers Sign Kevin Mench
[ Author: Dan Miceli | Posted: Apr 23, 2009 10:35 PM ]

Nice work, infimum. You were spot on with your concerns about the Kevin Mench signing from the beginning.
Re: Hanshin Tigers Sign Kevin Mench
[ Author: Guest: zman | Posted: Apr 24, 2009 12:07 PM ]

Wow, Hanshin management seems to have a knack for picking gaijin clunkers. Any way overpaying them as well.

Bonds is still available, the Tigers can go all in. Brings back memories of Kevin MItchell.
Re: Hanshin Tigers Sign Kevin Mench
[ Author: Guest | Posted: Apr 24, 2009 6:07 PM ]

Are you being sarcastic? That was my first post in this thread.

Anyway, the possible kidney problems turned out to be false positive.
Re: Hanshin Tigers Sign Kevin Mench
[ Author: Guest: gotigersredsox | Posted: Apr 26, 2009 10:29 PM ]

Well, Katsuragi had 4 hits and 3 RBIs Saturday in Hiroshima, so hopefully he can stay hot as the replacement. However, he didn't start today because Hiroshima started a lefty.
Re: Hanshin Tigers Sign Kevin Mench
[ Author: Guest: guest | Posted: Jun 28, 2009 4:33 PM ]

I realize that this is an old thread, but I just need to add this.

So what did the Tigers end up doing with Mench? Was he sent down to ni-gun indefinitely or is he back in the States? Does he get his full salary for the year?
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