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03/06/2006 Archived Entry: "Japanese Baseball: Yomiuri Giants Preview 2006"

Japanese Baseball: Yomiuri Giants Preview 2006

Japanese Baseball:Yomiuri Giants Team Preview 2006
By Glenn Davies,Tokyo.
Tatsunori Hara returns to the Giants as manager in 2006. Hara left the club after the 2003 season in which the Giants finished 3rd (they won the won the Japan Series under Hara in 2002). Expectations are always high for the Giants and after slumping to 3rd and 5th in the last two years under manager Horiuchi, the search began for a new manager. Many thought Hara would not return, but back he is and the fans will be hoping that he can weave some enthusiasm and team spirit into a highly skilled, paid and ultimately underachieving squad.

Probable Lineup
2005 Stats
Pos. Name Avg. HR RBI SB
1. LF Takayuki Shimizu .300 15 40 4
2. 2B Makoto Kosaka .283 4 31 26
3. RF Yoshinobu Takahashi .298 17 41 1
4. 3B Hiroki Kokubo .281 34 87 1
5. 1B Y.S.Lee .260 30 82 5
6. C Shinosuke Abe .300 26 86 0
7. SS Tomohiro Nioka .301 16 58 3
8. CF Yoshiyuki Kamei .143 0 1 0
PH IF Motosugu Kawanaka .280 5 15 1

League worst .260 team batting average and league best 186 HRs in 2005 tells you the tale. Hara will instill more of a productive mind set with Shimizu and Kosaka at the top of the order. They will get on base and have enough speed to get the offense going in e06. The trades for Lee and Kosaka from the champion Marines filled two weaknesses in the Giants lineup and will both be catalysts for what should be a successful season for the giants. Takahashi is back from an injury-plagued season (88 games) and has power to all fields. Kokubo continues to prove himself to be one of the best pure hitters in the league and with Lee batting behind him he will see even better pitches this year. Abe continues to show good offense but needs to improve game calling or he will find himself spending more time at 1B, this was possible last year but with the addition of Lee there are few other positions he could play. CF is the only position up for grabs, Kamei was good defensively but Keni Yano may get a look (.281 7 14 in 203 Abs in 2005).

Probable Rotation
2005 Stats
Name Games W L Sv ERA
SP Koji Uehara 27 9 12 0 3.31
SP Hisanori Takahashi 27 8 12 0 4.47
SP Jeremy Powell 28 14 12 0 3.51
SP Shigesa Noguchi 13 3 6 0 4.00
SP Kimiyasu Kudo 24 11 9 0 4.70
SU Hideki Okajima 42 1 0 0 4.75
CP Kiyoshi Toyoda 35 3 1 19 3.97

Giants pitching went for a CL worst 4.79 ERA in f05 and starters tiring early and the continued inability of the bullpen to hold leads the leading causes. The team, as always, has the arms in abundance and will again look to Uehara to anchor the staff and come up with 15 wins. He failed to reach 10 wins for the first time in his career and should bounce back if his form in WBC exhibition games is anything to go by. Takahashi has yet to fulfill his projected role as left handed power pitcher but the addition of Powell bodes well for the Giants. Powell never really had the run support he can now expect and may win 18. Kudo continues to defy age and will look to add 10 wins to his career 212. The Giants got the closer they wanted in Toyoda form Seibu and his experience and 135 career saves will be welcome. All in all the Giants may finally have enough pitching in place to pick up the CL pennant.

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