Friday, February 19, 2021

Oakland A's / Seibu Lions Series: Sean Nolin

Not everyone who goes to Japan tears up the minor leagues before going abroad. Some end up on a crazy journey. 


Sean Nolin

Tenures: 2015 with Oakland Athletics, 2020 with the Seibu Lions

Statistics with Oakland: Six games, (1-2), 29.0 IP, 5.13 FIP, 1.621 WHIP, 4.7 K/9

Statistics with Lions: Five games, (1-2), 21.1 IP, 1.500 WHIP, 8.9 K/9

Born and raised in Long Island, New York, Nolin was drafted in the 50th round (2008) out of high school and 48th after his first year in junior college (2009). It wasn't until his second year of JuCo where his stock went up to being a sixth round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays in 2010.

After a few years in the Blue Jays system, he made his MLB debut in 2013 as a starter, but was hit around for six runs allowed in 1.1 innings against the Baltimore Orioles, giving up a three-run HR to J.J. Hardy in the process. It was his only Major League appearance for the year. 

Nolin earned his way up again as a September call up for 2014, but only made one mop up appearance in a blowout Blue Jays win. 

His career took a change after the 2014 season when he part of a package traded to the Oakland Athletics in a blockbuster trade for Josh Donaldson. Nolin was viewed as a fringe prospect at 24 years old, less upside, but with hopes to contribute sooner than later to thee Oakland A's.

Like the previous season, he spent most of 2015 with the Nashville Sounds in AAA until he became a September call up. He had one win in six starts where that victory happened in Texas against the Rangers. Nolin was later designated for assignment in February 2016. 

His journey took on a lot of changes spending stints in minor league organizations of the Milwaukee Brewers, Colorado Rockies, Chicago White Sox, Seattle Mariners and even the independent league Long Island Ducks. He also had Tommy John surgery after being with the Brewers, which sidelined him for 2016 and 2017. 

Nolin seen with Cory Spangenberg at his introductory press conference

The Lions signed him after the 2019 season with hopes he could be some left-handed starting depth. Even with COVID-19 delaying the 2020 season, didn't make his ichi-gun NPB debut until past the halfway mark on August 29. He won his first career start with six innings and three earned runs against the Rakuten Eagles. By being the winning pitcher, he earned a Hero Interview. His tape from the debut can be seen here:

Nolin's early success was short lived as he lost two outings and had a no decision in another. His final ichi-gun appearance was on September 26, where he left the game after one inning and aggravated an injury.  The video below shows tape from his quality start and no decision here. 

With his inability to stay healthy, the Lions chose to not retain him after the year ended and he is currently a free agent at the time of this writing. He was the only foreign import on the Lions roster from 2020 to not be given a contract for 2021. 

While his time with the Long Island Ducks was short in 2019, he was dominant and the team won an Atlantic League championship. Nolin was given a ring for his contributions and didn't open his package until he returned from Japan as shown in this video. All players from the 2019 team had a virtual ring ceremony in 2020 as the season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 


This concludes our 2021 update to the A's and Lions series. As Zach Neal and Brian Schlitter are currently playing baseball with both teams, they can still write their story.  Until next time or more players come and go, this series should make more updates as time goes on. 


Others in Series:


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Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Oakland A's / Seibu Lions Series: Neil Wagner



Neil Wagner

Tenures: 2011 with Oakland Athletics, 2018 with the Seibu Lions

Statistics with the Athletics: Six games, 5.0 IP, 7.20 ERA, 6.43 FIP, 1.800 WHIP, 7.2 K/9

Statistics with the Lions: 36 games, 32 IP, 4.22 ERA, 1.625 WHIP, 6.8 K/9

A Minnesota native, Wagner played University baseball at North Dakota State, a school famous for producing NFL quarterback Carson Wentz. He was a 21st round draft pick of the Cleveland Indians in 2005 and stayed in their minor leagues until 2010, where he was traded to the Oakland Athletics for cash considerations. 

With Oakland needing depth, Wagner was used as a mop up pitcher for five out of his six games played. He also appeared in the 12th inning of a tied game, where the A's would lose in 16. 

Wagner was claimed by the Padres off waivers in 2012, but later went to the Toronto Blue Jays under a minor league deal. With Toronto, he would spend the most amount of MLB time as he played in 36 games for them in 2013 in relief. His 2014 season was cut short due to Tommy John (TJ) surgery and the team released him after the year. He missed the entire 2015 season recovering from TJ. 

He became a minor league journeyman from 2016-2017, spending only time in the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Meets AAA affiliates. 

The Saitama Seibu Lions signed Wagner in December of 2017, where he was one of two imports picked up in the offseason. They tried to slot him in the 7th and 8th innings as middle relief, but he was mostly inconsistent as was the Lions bullpen for most of the year. He mostly took medium leverage innings. 

With bullpen struggles, the Lions added Deunte Heath and Kyle Martin in the middle of the season and the former proved to be a solid closer while the latter helped as setup man. Wagner fell out of favor when Katsunori Hirai and Shogo Noda were the better pitchers. 

In September, Wagner was lit up by the Orix Buffaloes in mop up duty and that was all she wrote on his career in Japan. The Lions placed him on waivers before the regular season ended and he hasn't played a game since.  


Before he was released, he sold several personal equipment and uniforms on eBay with the Lions permission as it went to charity. I was able to purchase one of the on-field uniforms and it even came with a player card.  


Others in the series:

Mateo "Matty" Alou

John Wasdin

Jose Ortiz

Ty Van Burkleo

Taylor Duncan

Roger Repoz

Jim Tyrone

Esteban German

Bert Campaneris

Hiram Bocachica

Dee Brown

Sean Nolin


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Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Oakland A's/Seibu Lions Series: Dee Brown


When the 2015 NPB season ended, we wrote a series about people who worked for both the Oakland Athletics and Saitama Seibu Lions. In recent years, the Lions have signed several former A's players while we also overlooked another name who escaped our readings. 

With a few names missing, we're doing an update in adding a few more foreigners to this database.  Here is the first of several parts to come ahead, starting with the player we missed who played prior to 2015: 

Disclaimer: Zach Neal and Brian Schlitter are still playing baseball with the Lions and A's, respectively. They will not be considered until their tenures are done with their respective teams. 


Dee Brown

Tenures: 2007 with Oakland A's, 2010-2011 with the Seibu Lions 

Statistics with the Oakland A's: 8 games, 3 PA, .000/.000/.000, 2 SO, 0 R, 0 H, 0 RBI

Statistics with the Seibu Lions: 139 games, 544 PA, .230/.311/.407, 21 HRs, 81 RBIs

Dermal Bram "Dee" Brown was a two-sport athlete in high school while raised in upstate New York. With his skills in baseball and American football, he was committed to the University of Maryland, who gave the right to play both sports. 

He changed plans when the Kansas City Royals drafted him in the first round (14th overall) in the 1996 MLB Draft. It didn't take long to make his MLB debut in 1998 with how he did in the minors as KC rushed him early. 

Brown's best season was in 2001, where he played in 106 games, but only hit .245. His last season with Kansas City was 2004 as he was a part time player. Most of his promise was at the AAA level with power hitting, but it couldn't translate once he made it to MLB. 

From 2005-2006, he spent time in the minor leagues with the New York Yankees, Washington Nationals and Royals organizations before he signed a minor league deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2007. 

Arizona traded him to the Oakland A's for cash considerations and he mostly spent time in AAA with the Sacramento River Cats. In his short time with the A's, he was part a long rotation in the outfield that saw several injuries on the depth chart and became a defensive replacement for eight games. 

He saw two more stints in the minors after 2007 when he spent 2008 with the Los Angeles Angels in AAA (Salt Lake City) and 2009 with the Los Angeles Dodgers AAA (Albuquerque). With a decent year as roster filler in 2009, the Lions took notice as he hit .290/.382/.523 with 19 HRs.  

His 2010 debut on Opening day couldn't have gone better when he hit a go-ahead home run in a 2-1 win. Brown was a DH and outfielder and found some power hitting with 21 home runs. However, most of his success came in interleague play and against the Rakuten Eagles. 

His most significant milestone was hitting the 90,000th home run in NPB history, something he accomplished in the first week of the 2010 season. (Chris Marrero hit the 100,000th for the Orix Buffaloes). 

Even with the skepticism, his contract was renewed for 2011, but his poor condition came early and the Lions buried him in the Eastern League for most of the year. After being called up a couple times, he couldn't repeat his success from interleague play of 2010 and was placed on waivers in August of that season. It was his last time playing baseball. 

Notably, he had a special celebration with teammates Hiroyuki Nakajima and Yasuyuki Kataoka whenever he hit a home run. He was a "Rock Star" as seen here. 

Brown's career will be remembered as a long list of what could've been among talents that didn't work out. It's possible the Royals didn't develop him like they hoped, which set a negative trend in his career. 

Today, Dee Brown does YouTube videos as a coach for anyone involved with baseball. With plenty of tips and tricks given, he also interviews several players and coaches about the game.  


Others in the series: 

Mateo "Matty" Alou

John Wasdin

Jose Ortiz

Ty Van Burkleo

Taylor Duncan

Roger Repoz

Jim Tyrone

Esteban German

Bert Campaneris

Hiram Bocachica

Neil Wagner 

Sean Nolin


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Monday, January 25, 2021

Lions will partner with Baseball Challenge League team in 2021


The Saitama Seibu Lions announced a new joint venture to partner with the Saitama Musashi Heat Bears of the Baseball Challenge (BC) League on Tuesday. This partnership will last through the 2021 season. 

Details from this report indicate the Lions will send Shuichiro Osada to be a pitching coach and Kentaro Kato to be a trainer alongside the Heat Bears. 

Osada, 40, has been working with the Lions academy training baseball players at the youth level. He is remembered for being a pitcher for the Lions from 2003-2013 while also spending time with the Yokohama DeNA Baystars from 2013-2016. His last playing days came from the BC League with Niigata Albirex in 2017. 

The Lions can also send ikusei players to train with the Heat Bears. Currently, the Lions have a total of nine ikusei under contract. This includes Jiyu Okubo, Daichi Nakaguma, Toshihiro Idei and Aoi Tono. There are also five recent draft picks from last October including Yuto Akagami, Shinya Hasegawa, Joseph Miyamoto, Taishi Mameda and Yoshinobu Mizukami.

This isn't uncommon to work with an independent league, as the Softbank Hawks train their ikusei with the Shikoku Island League.  

With this partnership, the Lions also playing to have collaboration with the Heat Bears for community contribution activities in Saitama Prefecture through baseball. They'll also likely play some intrasquad games with the Lions ni-gun and Heat Bears. 

The Heat Bears are also a team that Koki Matsuoka played for prior to the Lions drafting him in 2019. Previously, the Lions had a partnership with the New York Mets from 2019-2020. 


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Saturday, January 23, 2021

2021 Seibu Lions spring training camp lists released


Baseball will be in full swing soon as NPB teams will be travelling to their designated camp sites in Okinawa and Miyazaki next month. The Saitama Seibu Lions announced their camp lists on who will be participating where for the time being.  

Here is the full list for both camps: 

A-Camp (Nango, Miyazaki)

Pitchers (17): Tatsuya Imai, Yutaro Watanabe, Kona Takahashi, Tatsushi Masuda, Tetsu Miyagawa, Wataru Matsumoto, Shota Hamaya, Ken Togame, Katsunori Hirai, Ryosuke Moriwaki, Yasuo Sano, Sho Ito, Ichiro Tamura, Hiroki Inoue, Mitsuo Yoshikawa, Kaima Taira, Towa Uema

Catchers (4): Tomoya Mori, Sena Tsuge, Shoya Makino, Hitoto Komazuki

Infielders (7): Kakeru Yamanobe, Shuta Tonosaki, Sosuke Genda, Brandon Tysinger, Haruka Yamada, Ryota Kawano, Takeya Nakamura

Outielders (7): Takumi Kuriyama, Yuji Kaneko, Fumikazu Kimura, Gakuto Wakabayashi, Masato Kumashiro, Junichiro Kishi, Wataru Takagi


B-Camp (Haruno, Kochi)

*B-Camp willstart in Tokorozawa from February 1-4 

Pitchers (19): Daisuka Matsuzaka, Takeru Sasaki, Tetsuya Utsumi, Ryuya Ogawa, Daiki Enokida, Kaito Yoza, Keisuke Honda, Koki Matsuoka, Shota Takekuma, Shunta Nakatsuka, Hiromasa Saito, Ren Ohmagari, Kaito Awatsu, Toshihiro Idei, Yuto Akagami, Taishi Mameda, Aoi Tono, Juyu Okubo, Yoshinobu Mizukami

Catchers (3): Masatoshi Okada, Masato Saito, Daichi Nakaguma

Infielders (7): Hotaka Yamakawa, Kento Watanabe, Ryusei Sato, Takayoshi Yamamura, Nien Ting Wu, Ryusei Tsunashima, Shinya Hasegawa

Outfielders (7): Shohei Suzuki, Manaya Nishikawa, "Aito" Takeda, Daisuke Togawa, Yuta Nakamigawa, Seiji Kawagoe, Joseph Miyamoto


The two large surprises from an earlier announcement were both Tysinger and Wakabayashi getting an ichi-gun camp look as rookies. Both players were taken in the middle rounds, yet Hatushiko Tsuji will have an up close view for both of them.  

Veterans Matsuzaka, Yamakawa and Utsumi are all under rehab and it appears Nakamura is healthy enough to not be in B-camp as a result. Among players with zero ichi-gun experience getting an A-camp appearance include Inoue, Uema, Y. Watanabe, Kawano and Makino. Should be interesting of one of them can make an impression with this opportunity. 


No Foreigners in camp

What also stands out is who isn't listed, with all foreign import players unable to be in Japan for camp due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Government regulations have been tight in Japan, even though some KBO players successfully got to South Korea early for a quarantine. 

For the Lions, they will be one of multiple NPB teams to have their imports train from home and have multiple calls/conferences online. Ernesto Mejia, Reed Garrett, Cory Spangenberg and Zach Neal all have experience, but it becomes an uphill battle for new signing Matt Dermody. The Lions are also prepared for a possible Opening Day on March 26 in the event they have no foreigners.  


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Thursday, January 21, 2021

Seibu Lions sign pitcher Matt Dermody



The offseason has been slow for both MLB and NPB with two posted players not signing with a club. However, the Saitama Seibu Lions made a move for the first time in two months as they signed P Matt Dermody on Thursday. 

"I am very honored to be a member of Saitama Seibu Lions," Dermody said in a statement. "My biggest goal is to contribute to the team so that the Lions can be the best in Japan."

General Manager Hisanobu "Nabe-Q" Watanabe said he has expectations for Dermody to be a rotation starter. Despite having several appearances as a reliever in the minors, Nabe-Q thinks he can be a power pitcher. 

Dermody, 30, spent most of 2020 with the Sugarland Skeeters (Now an AAA affiliate of the Houston Astros) in an independent league, where he pitched 17.2 innings with four starts, five appearances. It was during this time he was also teammates with former Seibu Lions pitcher Kyle Martin. 

He was able to sign with the Chicago Cubs later in the year and made one MLB appearance pitching only one scoreless frame. Dermody was designated for assignment and brought back on a minor league deal before he was outright released to allow him to join the Lions. 

Majority of Dermody's career has been with the Toronto Blue Jays organization, where he only made it to MLB in 2016 and 2017 having a combined two wins and 25.1 innings pitched in those years. He was drated a combined four different times, once out of high school and three times out of college. After his junior year, the Arizona Diamondbacks took him in the 23rd round, but chose not to sign him for a fear of Tommy John surgery and potential UCL damage. 

Dermody is the only foreign addition for the Lions in this offseason. Previously, they let Sean Nolin go and added Mitsuo Yoshikawa. With the Lions lacking left-handed pitching depth, Dermody hopes to be a regular at the ichi-gun level. Five imports should be allowed on the ichi-gun roster with only four given permission in an active game, allowing Dermody and Zach Neal to trade spots as starting pitchers. 


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Thursday, December 17, 2020

2020 Seibu Lions name translations

One of our most common gags here at Graveyard Baseball is to do a literal translation of Lions players and their family names. On Twitter, it often looks like this:

It's followed up with this as a reply.  

Here is the 2020 edition of every Seibu Lions player.  

To prevent redundancy, we have assigned 田 to paddy and 野 to field. If some guys have the same family name, we've translated their first name as a bonus. When seeing that kanji, the last name is first, first name is last.

For players with the same surname, we also translated their first name.

Italicized names are players who are not returning for 2021.

All draft picks from 2020 are not included since they won't play until 2021. 



Tatsushi Masuda 増田: More paddies

Kona Takahashi 髙橋 光成: Tall bridge, Light growing

Shinsaburo Tawata 多和田: Many harmonious paddies (Note: 和 is the same harmony character that all businesses, teams and work places uses in needing to have Wa)

Tawata will be an ikusei in 2021

Ken Togame 十亀: Ten turtles

Shota Hamaya 浜屋: Beach Roof

Shunta Nakatsuka 中塚: Center mound

Shogo Noda 野田 昇吾: Field paddy, Rising Self

Katsunori Hirai 平井: Flat well

Yasuo Sano 佐野: Assistant field

Ichiro Tamura 田村: Paddy village

Makoto Aiuchi
相内: Inside aspect

Keisuke Honda 本田: Book Paddy

Shota Takekuma 武隈: Warrior shadow

Tsubasa Kokuba 國場: Country place

Koki Fujita 藤田: Wisteria paddy

Tatsuya Imai 今井: Now well (Well as in the noun, not the adverb/adjective)

Hiromasa Saito 齊藤 大将: Adjusted Wisteria, General

Daiki Enokida 榎田: Mushroom Paddy

Sho Ito: 伊藤: Italian Wisteria

Ryuya Ogawa 小川: Small River

Kaima Taira 平良: Flat Good

Yutaro Watanabe 渡邉: Ford Edge (ford as in ferry crossing or transit, not the car).

Kaito Awatsu 粟津: Millet Harbor

Tetsuya Utsumi 内海: Inside Sea (Inlet)

Ryosuke Moriwaki 森脇: Forest Armpit (or side / flank)

Kaito Yoza 與座: Participation Seat

Tetsu Miyagawa 宮川: Shrine River

Daisuke Matsuzaka 松坂: Pine Tree Slope

Hiroki Inoue 井上: Well Top

Koki Matsuoka 松岡: Pine Tree Hill

Towa Uema 上間: Above Space



Tomoya Mori 森: Forest

Masatoshi Okada 岡田: Hill paddy

Hitoto Komazuki 駒月: Horse moon (Interesting note that 駒 [koma] also refers to the knight piece when playing chess or another board game involving a horse)

Shoya Makino 牧野: Shepard Field

Masato Saito 齊藤 誠人: Adjusted Wisteria, Sincere Person

Sena Tsuge 柘植: Mulberry Plant



Sosuke Genda 源田: Root paddy (源 [gen] can refer to the origin or root of something)

Hotaka Yamakawa 山川: Mountain river

Takeya Nakamura 中村: Center village

Daichi Mizuguchi 水口: Water mouth

Kyohei Nagae 永江: Long bay

Haruka Yamada 山田: Mountain paddy

Ryusei Tsunashima 綱島: Rope Island

Shuta Tonosaki 外崎: Outside cape (cape as in headland, not the cloak)

Kakeru Yamanobe 山野辺: Mountain Field Area

Ryusei Sato 佐藤: Assistant Wisteria

Ryota Kawano 川野: River Field

Yuto Morikoshi 森越: Forest Surpass



Yuji Kaneko 金子 侑司: Gold child, Assistant director

Takumi Kuriyama 栗山: Chestnut mountain

Fumikazu Kimura 木村: Tree village

Manaya Nishikawa 西川: West River

Seiji Kawagoe 川越: River surpass

Masato Kumashiro 熊代: Bear substitute (Fun fact: Shiro is a homophone for the color white (白). Unfortunately the kanji shows he's not a polar bear.)

Shohei Suzuki 鈴木: Bell tree

Daisuke Togawa 戸川: Door river

[Aito] Takeda 武田 愛斗: Military paddy, Love Big Dipper / Ladle (Takeda has his first name registered)

Wataru Takagi 高木 渉: Tall Tree, Ford (as in fording or crossing a river)

Junichiro Kishi 岸: Beach



Tomomi Takahashi 髙橋 朋己: Tall bridge, Companion self

Aoi Tono 東野: East Field

Toshihiro Idei 出井: Exit Well

Jiyu Okubo 大窪: Large Cavity (or cave in / depression).

Beware, 窪 has multiple meanings

Daichi Nakaguma 中熊: Center Bear


Manager and Coaches:

Hatsuhiko Tsuji 辻: Intersection

Toshifumi Baba 馬場: Horse Place

Kiyoshi Toyoda 豊田: Rich Paddy

Shigenobu Shima 嶋: Island

Masahiro Abe 阿部: Corner head of Yamato Group (saw Africa for Abe's name, but too confusing)

Kosaku Akimoto 秋元: Autumn Beginning

Fumiya Nishiguchi 西口: West Mouth

Tomoaki Sato 佐藤: Assistant Wisteria

Kazuo Matsui 松井: Pine Tree Well

Hiroyuki Takagi 高木 浩之: Tall Tree, This Abundance

Kento Sugiyama 杉山: Cedar Mountain

Ming-Chieh Hsu 许: Permit

Kosuke Noda 野田: Field Paddy, Abundance of help

Satoshi Kuroda 黒田: Black Paddy

Shogo Akada 赤田: Red Paddy

Hiroshi Hirao 平尾: Flat Tail

Eiji Kiyokawa 清川: Pure River

Tatsuyuki Uemoto 上本: Top Book

Tatsuya Ozeki 小関: Small Connection

Norio Tanabe 田辺: Paddy Border

Hayato Aoki 青木: Green Tree


Bonus: Foreigners

As a continuous gag, we reverse translate the foreigners to see what their name in Japanese would literally look like, not just katakana sounds. Here is what their names would look like in kanji. Chinese names also included, though Hsu is listed with the coaches.

Zach Neal ニール: Senshuken [選手権]. Neal's name has Gaelic origins meaning "Champion." Senshuken could also mean a title besides a championship.

Ernesto Mejia メヒア: Kyuseishu [救世主] . Mejia's name means "Messiah" or "Savior" in latin/greek origin.

Reed Garrett ギャレット: Tsuyoyari [強槍]. Garrett is a "Strong Spear" with German and French origins . 

Cory Spangenberg  スパンジェンバーグ: Tomegane [留金]. Spangenberg derives from Spange, which is a clasp or buckles in German. 

Sean Nolin ノリン: Sake [叫]. Nolin's has Irish descent which can be similar to Neal's "Champion" title, but it can also mean a shout, which is Sake. 

Nien Ting Wu 呉: Giver


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