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03/01/2006 Archived Entry: "Japanese Baseball: Hiroshima Carp Team Preview 2006"

Japanese Baseball: Hiroshima Carp Team Preview 2006, Glenn Davies

The only way is up for new manager Marty Brown and the Hiroshima Carp as they have not finished higher than last in the Central League since 2001. The team continues to hit well for average and power but with pitching giving up nearly 5 runs a game in f05 it was never enough. Out slugging other teams to a title has never really worked in Japan or even for MLB teams from memory, starting pitching will be the key to pulling them out of the cellar.

Probable Line-up 2006
(2005 Stats)
Pos. Name Avg HR RBI SB
1. CF Koichi Ogata .306 21 57 3
2. SS Yoshinori Ogata .303 6 21 9
3. LF Tomonori Maeda .319 32 87 1
4. 3B Takahiro Arai .305 43 94 3
5. RF Shigenobu Shima .288 27 77 4
6. 1B Kenta Kurihara .323 15 43 0
7. 2B Takuya Kimura .246 2 16 3
8. C Yoshikazu Kura .210 4 22 1

The power packed lineup returns with Arai emerging as one of the premier power batters in Japan with last yearfs performance. Arai set career highs for Avg, HRs and RBIs in f05 and will need to replicate those numbers in f06 for the Carp to hope to contend. Veterans like Koichi Ogata and Maeda can be relied upon to drive in runs and 2004 efindf Shima is a free swinger with 30HR power. The team has no real base running threat and will likely have to save a bench space for one. Pinch-hitting duties will mainly fall to Itsuki Arai, a former starting lineup player who hit .265 with 0HR and 9RBIs in limited action last year.

Probable Rotation 2006
(2005 Stats) Probable Rotation
Pos. Name W L Sv ERA
1. SP Hiroki Kuroda 15 12 0 3.17
2. SP Kan Otake 10 12 0 5.62
3. SP Yasuhiro Oyamada 6 11 0 4.67
4. SP Sean Douglas Did not play in Japan
5. SP Takayuki Oshima 2 2 0 8.33
6. CL Corey Bale 2 1 24 3.19

The team ERA of 4.79 was second worst in the Central League in f05 and doesnft look likely to drop much this season. Kuroda will again be expected to pitch 200 innings and pick up 15 wins to keep the ship afloat. The rest of the starting crew lack experience with Otake and Oshima converted middle relief men and Douglas the unknown quantity. Otake did however rack up the strikeouts and if he can last more than five - six innings a start, may pick up more wins. Bale showed good poise and power as closer rather than a starter last year and will continue in the role. The bullpen consists of a collection of past Carp starters ready to step back in as necessary.

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