Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Report: Seibu Lions sign Akiyama to three-year contract

In the period of contract negotiations, the Saitama Seibu Lions kept one player to stay with the team. Shogo Akiyama was signed to a three year contract on Thursday.

Akiyama, 28, would have been close to being a domestic free agent about to reach seven years of service time with the Lions after 2017. He will make an estimated ¥200 million next season, an increase of ¥50 million from last year.

In 2015, Akiyama set the single-season record for hits with 216, breaking what was once set by Matt Murton in 2010. Last year, Akiyama would have a slashline of .291/.362/.417 with 11 home runs and 32 doubles. He continued to be the team's leadoff hitter while spending time around the lineup in the middle of the season.

Akiyama was one of two players to be play every single game for the Lions in 2016 with the other being Hideto Asamura. He also appeared in every inning without being substituted.


Other notes:

-Ginjiro Sumitani will make ¥100 million in 2017 as he enters a contract year. (The second of a 2-year deal). No wage change from 2016.

-Takeya "Okawari-kun" Nakamura will enter a contract year and make ¥410 million with no change in salary from 2016. He is in the last of a four-year deal.


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Monday, November 28, 2016

Kishi thanks the Lions, fans in final farewell

The Saitama Seibu Lions hosted Thanks Festa on 11/23 at Seibu Dome as a final goodbye to the 2016 NPB season. All other NPB teams do the same, as in Japan, they do their equivalent of fanfest after the season rather than before it.

Despite leaving for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in free agency, Takayuki Kishi was in a Lions uniform for the final time and attended the event. He was introduced like every other player at the start of the event and was greeted with cheers by the fans.

Throughout the league, this has been a common procedure even though players aren't required to attend this event. Like Kishi, outgoing players Yoshio Itoi of the Orix Buffaloes and Daikan Yoh (Yang) were in attendance at their respective fanfests. Last year, Ryota Wakiya was a participant after it was already known that he filed to be a free agent and wasn't likely to return.

For Kishi, he was given a chance to speak to the fans one last time before leaving. He admitted he wasn't comfortable participating, but felt it was part of his duty to be present.

"I was worried about if I should join the thank festa today, but I decided to say thank you here as I don't like to leave without saying anything all the fans who have supported me," Kishi said in a speech.

Kishi was given a medal to commemorate reaching 1,500 career innings pitched. In 1,521 innings, all with the Lions, he had a career 3.05 ERA and 1,243 strikeouts over the course of the last 10 seasons. He was the final Kibouwaku draft pick, where the Lions would forego the first three rounds of the 2006 draft in order to obtain his rights.

He will be most remembered in 2008, where he took the Japan Series by storm. He would win Game 4 and later take a must-win Game 6 in long relief en route to the last Seibu Lions Japan Series championship. Kishi was named the 2008 Japan Series MVP as a result. He also threw a no-hitter in 2014, which is the last one to occur in NPB.

As Kishi turns 32 next week, he will get to return home to be with the Eagles as he is a Sendai native. Earlier this month, he signed a four year contract worth an estimated $4 million in annual salary.

Fans who listened gave him applause, but everyone knows he will enter another chapter in his baseball career.

"I have managed to play for these 10 years thanks to all your warm support, which I really appreciate and am so grateful for," Kishi said. "I will continue doing my best with this grateful feeling. Again, thank you all."


Special thanks to @shiba_scope and Mizuho Miyazaki for translation help. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

An open letter to all minor leaguers: Embrace baseball abroad

Note: This is a hypothetical letter I would write to any baseball player who has spent a significant amount of times in the minor leagues. This is nothing more than my thoughts expressed in the form of a mock letter to them.

Dear Minor League Player:

It's that time of the year again where free agency strikes and many are looking for jobs. Sure, there are some high profile guys who are guaranteed to some a big contract somewhere else with a Major League club.

However, we're aware of how tough life can be for someone who spent a lot of time in the minors. It's not even easy for someone who will bounce up and down between the 25-man roster and on the fringe of the majors.

I give you the message to embrace baseball abroad. Offers won't come everywhere and understandably so. Straight up higher pay will be an easy option if a team in Korea or Japan gives more than a minor league contract. Yes, it will take a lot to swallow some pride of turning down a shot at the majors, but this journey is a unique experience.

Signed a contract to play overseas?  Great! Here's some tips:

Embrace the culture of where you're headed: Whether it's Korea or Japan, there will always be plenty of changes besides the obvious language differences. Don't approach your team as only a place to collect a paycheck. Sure, it can understandably be a first motive, but don't show it. Making early impressions within the team and area can go a long way.

Learn a few sayings in another language: Don't be like Jonny Gomes and be in shock that players speak another language. You will be dependent on your interpreter quite a bit and no one will blame you. However, don't be reserved, go out of your comfort zone and take some pointers from former players and others.

Inspect your bags before and after packing: Don't be caught with something illegal. Bring what you feel would be appropriate in the new country you're headed to. Anything that is inappropriate (i.e. weapon, drugs) should be removed. 

Never give up: Yes, this sounds like a cliche phrase that we always hear, but you'll notice that players abroad will workout to death. They will have a lot to expect from you too. You will have to pounce at any opportunity you're given.

Did you sign in Japan? Here's some advice we can give based on observation with the league:

There are no fastball counts: If you are a hitter, don't expect a fastball to ever come on a 2-0 count. It sounds easy to hear this and let it go, but beware. This is one of the largest differences between Japan and baseball in the States that everyone seems to notice. Pitchers in Japan will throw what they are comfortable with and do whatever it takes to get someone out. There is no "control your fastball" mentality in Japan. If you're a pitcher, expect the catcher you're working with to do the same.

Be careful with your body: As earlier mentioned, players will workout to death and you'll notice it right away. They practice before a scheduled practice and will continue to even do activity afterwards. It might sound insane to you. If you're not required to take part in some exercises, don't take it all at full speed. Japan's players may not be strongest or fastest athletes in the world, but they have to be one of the better conditioned with how much training happens all year long. An early injury could lead to a setback.

The manager is always right: This might sound subjective, but in the world of baseball in Japan, questioning authority is not going to help. It would be disrespectful and dishonor to make long arguments with the boss. So even if the manager is objectively wrong, players will have to knuckle under. Do not build a bad relationship or burn bridges if possible.

Every run counts: You're going to notice teams trying to play for one run with bunting (which might sound obvious), but also on defense there are shifts. Even early in a game with a runner on third, expect the infield to play in. Sometimes the outfield will play in if they trust their pitcher.  Don't be shocked to see how aggressive defenses are in this case.

Fan Service is taken seriously: When we think of fanfest, it's a simple gathering of fans with a few autographs and some hellos from others. Japan will have crazy marketing in the views of American lenses. While you don't need to sign autographs to every fan out there, don't be a stiff to others when away from the game. There will be fans who will embrace you as you join the team.


With the new journey ahead, nothing will be easy. Nothing is guaranteed, which you're probably familiar with. I hope going away from North America can bring a new life in you and not just be a business trip. Open up, get out of the comfort zone and take advantage of the resources you have while adapting away.  

Don't take your trip overseas for granted. Embrace it. Enjoy it and live life to the fullest. Best of luck in your endeavors. 

Graveyard Baseball.


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Thursday, November 17, 2016

Report: Seibu Lions sign Shogo Kimura to ikusei contract, change two jersey numbers

The Saitama Seibu Lions announced they signed infielder Shogo Kimura to an ikusei contract on Friday afternoon.

Kimura, 36, will be rehabbing as he is recovering from a torn ACL, which he suffered on June 22. Having him under an ikusei contract will be a road to recovery, according to Senior Director Hisanobu "Nabe-Q" Watanabe.

In a limited time in 2016, Kimura had a slashline of .221/.262/.263 in 38 games and 95 at bats.  He only had three extra base hits for the entire season. Kimura spent time as a reserve infielder for both 3B and shortstop

This is the first time the Lions have used ikusei since 2015..Previously, he was with the Hiroshima Carp and Yokohama DeNA Baystars.  As an ikusei, he will be eligible to play in ni-gun games and will wear a triple-digit jersey number in No. 121.

In 2015, the Lions had 67 players on their 70-man roster with three players under ikusei contracts. Assuming that Kimura could earn an in-season promotion for 2017 and that they don't max out their roster, the Lions will have four roster spots available after the loss of Takayuki Kishi.


Other note: The Lions announced that Hideto Asamura will be wearing No. 3 after having No. 32 for his entire career with the team. Nabe-Q said he suggested the change as Asamura earned his way through a strong 2016 season. Infielder Kyohei Nagae will be switching from No. 59 to No. 32.

The last Seibu Lions player to wear No. 3 was Hiroyuki Nakajima from 2004-2012. Kazuhiro Kiyohara also wore this number from 1986-1996.  


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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Report: Rakuten Eagles to sign Takayuki Kishi

After filing for free agency several weeks ago, it appears the big question for Takayuki Kishi is finally answered.

The Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles are expected to sign Kishi to a four year contract on Thursday. His contract is estimated to be worth ¥1.6 billion (about $16 million) in total. If this was averaged out, it would make about $4 million in 2017, which is expected to be higher than Ernesto Mejia's salary.

Kishi, who will be 32 in December, is a Miyagi prefecture native as he went to high school in Natori, Miyagi and attended Tohoku Gakuin University in Sendai before he was drafted by the Lions in 2006. He is essentially returning home to where his baseball career started.

He is the final Kibouwaku Pick in Seibu Lions history, as they would forego the first three rounds of the University draft that year in order to obtain his rights.

The Lions had no chance to retain Kishi with an offer that Rakuten made. They had a set offer at four years with the financial terms undisclosed, but it was well-under the ¥1.6 billion that Kishi will make with the Eagles.

Kishi put himself on the NPB map as the 2008 Japan Series MVP, where he would win two critical games, including a Game 6 where he finished a must-win outing in long relief. He also threw a no-hitter in 2014, the last one to date in NPB.

With Kishi gone, the Lions have five open roster spots on their 70-man roster. They will have some big holes to fill with several young pitchers in the fold. This includes Yusei Kikuchi leading the way, followed by three straight first round draft picks in Kona Takahashi, Shinsaburo Tawata and a future projected ace in Tatsuya Imai.

The Lions will now have to choose the compensation with Kishi being a Type A free agent. They can either select 80% of Kishi's salary from Rakuten in cash, or 50% of the salary plus an unprotected player of their choice from the Eagles roster. The Eagles will protect 28 players from being selected.

Last time the Eagles signed a free agent which requires compensation, Toshiaki Imae was picked up from the Chiba Lotte Marines. The Marines would select the cash option with no player deemed worthy enough to pickup.

Kishi is the third player to leave the Lions in the Type A or Type B range. Previously it was Yasuyuki Kataoka, which the Lions would take Ryota Wakiya as compensation from the Yomiuri Gaints. Hideaki Wakui also signed with the Chiba Lotte Marines and the Lions took Taiki Nakago.

For us, this news was somewhat expected, but it also hurts. The Lions management refused to increase their offer when negotiating with Kishi before he filed for free agency. Historically, they don't put value on the ace pitcher like they do with an everyday hitter. It was a foregone conclusion he would leave when offered more money than what Mejia will be making.

The rotation will have to show some balance, but Kishi was also injured for two months in both 2015 and 2016. In the last two drafts, the Lions selected 12 pitchers combined. Unfortunately for Lions fans, there will be big shoes to fill with Kishi leaving for his hometown.


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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Graveyard Baseball Podcast: Lions ŌenDEN Episode 13

This is the 13th episode of the Lions ŌenDEN podcast.  In this episode, Christian and Wes talk about the Seibu Lions drat results, NPB Draft as a whole, a few offseason headlines and even discuss the U23 Baseball World Cup.

Other topics includes the Japan Series, retirements and more!

We apologize for any mispronunciations or errors that might take place in this podcast. Be sure to give us any feedback in the comments if possible. Click here to Download.  Click here if the embed doesn't work.


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Monday, November 14, 2016

Transcript: Brian Schlitter's introductory press conference

Brian Schlitter was signed by the Saitama Seibu Lions last week to a one year contract. He will make an estimated 80 million yen ($800K) for the 2017 season.

After signing him to a contract, he was given uniform number 47 and had a brief introductory press conference. Here is a transcript of what he said below:


"My name is Brian Schlitter, I am from Chicago, Illinois, and I am very excited to be here, very happy."


On differences between American and Japanese Baseball: 

"In a lot of ways it's similar to American Baseball, but at the same time, it's different. Everyone seems to be happy to be here and everyone makes the most of their opportunities. Everyone is giving their best."


On playing in Japan:

"I'm looking forward to it. I'm ready for this season and I know right now it's still early, but it feels like it's going to be a good season."


On profiling yourself as a pitcher:

"I am typically a power pitcher, per say. I give my best every single pitch. I'm very determined and I think that's a good thing to have in a pitcher and I can assure you that every time I pitch, I am giving everything I have."


Schlitter's measurements:

Date of Birth: 12/21/1985

Height: 195 cm (6' 5")

Weight: 106 kg (234 lbs)

Teams played for: Philadelphia Phillies (minors only), Chicago Cubs (2010, 2014-2015), Colorado Rockies (minors only)


Schlitter will remain with the team in fall camp until November 17 in Miyazaki prefecture.


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Friday, November 11, 2016

2017 Seibu Lions schedule opens against defending champion Fighters

Opening Day for the Lions will be against the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters
The 2017 NPB regular season schedule was released on Friday afternoon. For the Saitama Seibu Lions, they will be facing the defending champion Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters on March 31.

With the World Baseball Classic happening in March, the regular season for NPB will kick off a week later than before, making the season end a week into October as a result. This will be the second straight time the Lions play at the defending champion's home opener as they saw the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks in Fukuoka for 2016.

Here are links to the full schedule for the Seibu (西武) Lions:

(Home team is listed on the left)

April 2017 Schedule

May 2017 Schedule

June 2017 Schedule

July 2017 Schedule

August 2017 Schedule

September 2017 Schedule

October 2017 Schedule


Here is the list of special or irregular games to pay attention to on the schedule:

3/31 - Opening Day against the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters in Sapporo Dome

4/4 - Opening Day for the Seibu Lions home opener facing the Orix Buffaloes

4/11 - The Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles play a home game in all 5 surrounding Tohoku prefectures besides their normal home at Kobo Stadium in Miyagi prefecture. For April 11, the Lions will be the road team in Koriyama, Fukushima. It will be the first time they've been in Fukushima since 2015, when they faced the Yomiuri Giants.

4/18, 5/25 and 8/25 - The Lions will play in Omiya, which is deeper into Saitama prefecture. This is usually a tradition to have three games out there. They will see Rakuten on 4/18, Fighters on 5/25 and Orix Buffaloes on 8/25.

4/25, 5/12, and 9/1 - The Lions will have three games in Hotto Motto, Kobe against the Orix Buffaloes.

5/23 - The Lions will have a home game in Maebashi, Gunma.  This is the same city where Kona Takahashi played baseball in high school and he will most likely start the game in front of his home crowd barring no injury.

6/27 and 6/28 - The Lions will have two home games in Naha, Okinawa against the Chiba Lotte Marines. NPB always has two games in Okinawa every regular season and this time it falls on the Lions. The cool bonus is how Hotaka Yamakawa and Shinsaburo Tawata are Okinawa natives. This will be the first time the Lions have played a home game in Okinawa since 1961, when they were Nishitetsu Lions.

7/3 and 7/4 - The Lions will be the road team in Tokyo Dome against the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters. As with tradition, the Fighters play a handful of home games in Tokyo Dome, their former home building before they moved to Sapporo as a way to satisfy their fans who live in the Kanto region.

7/15 - All Star Game #1 will be in Nagoya Dome (Chunichi Dragons)

7/16 - All Star Game #2 will be in QVC (name change coming soon) Marine Field in Chiba.

7/19 - The Lions will be in Kitakyushu (northern part of Fukuoka prefecture) to face the Softbank Hawks.

10/5 - The final scheduled regular season game for the Lions will be in Seibu Dome against the Fighters, like last season.  Like anything, there could be makeup games after this date.

In the event there is rain at any of these special location games and no official game was played, the makeup will happen at the home team's traditional home and fans in the area away get robbed of seeing a game.


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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Report: Seibu Lions sign Brian Schlitter

Photo Credit: Seibu Lions
The Saitama Seibu Lions have fall camp ongoing for the month of November, but they already brought an addition to the fold. They have signed Brian Schlitter after he passed a physical.

Schlitter, who will be 31 in December, was last with the Colorado Rockies organization in 2016. After being drafted by the Phillies out of college, he spent majority of his career with the Chicago Cubs. He would appear in the majors for the first time in 2010 and was part of the Cubs bullpen mostly in 2014. In 78 major league games he has a career 5.40 ERA, 4.26 FIP and a WHIP of 1.691.

In AAA with the Rockies, he had a 3.64 ERA, 1.500 WHIP, but a 9.2 strikeouts per nine innings in 42 innings and 36 games.

The Lions most likely hope Schlitter can be a reliever for the 7th or 8th inning. His strikeout ratio was interesting in AAA and best yet, they will have an up close look at him in Miyazaki's fall camp.

Schlitter will be with the team November 10-17 for one week for a early evaluation.

With Kishi filing for free agency, the Lions currently have five roster spots open on their 70-man roster.


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Thursday, November 3, 2016

Three Lions to work down under with the Melbourne Aces in Australian Baseball League

Graphic Via Melbourne Aces
The Saitama Seibu Lions continued their offseason partnership with the Melbourne Aces as the latter announced three players joining them for the season. Pitchers Keisuke Honda and Shogo Noda as well as outfield Hitoto Komazuki are going to be working Down Under for the winter (summer down under) in Australia.

All three players will be with the Aces from November 14 to December 25.

Honda, 23, was the Lions 6th round draft pick in 2015 and is more remembered for sharing the same name (sound and kanji) as a midfielder currently playing for AC Milan. He was given one spot start last year and made his ichi-gun debut out of the bullpen in September.

For the U23 World Cup in Mexico, Honda was the opening starter where he pitched 7 shutout innings and should appear for the next round for Samurai Japan's team. He was the only Lion to be represented for Samurai Japan.

Noda, 23, was a third round pick in 2015 out of an industrial league team. He would become part of the bullpen in the middle of the year and served as a lefty specialist. At one point in the season, he would receive some high leverage innings as a setup man. In 22 games, he registered 18.1 innings with a 3.93 ERA to go with 15 strikeouts and five walks.

Komazuki, 23, was drafted out of high school in the third round of the 2011 NPB Draft. He has never played an ichi-gun game and has remained buried in the farm. He also never had a batting average above .230 in his ni-gun career. Last season, he had a slashline of .230/.314/.362 with the Lions farm team, who went 58-48-8, which was good for third place in the Eastern League.

This will be the sixth consecutive year that the Lions send players to get work with the Aces as it began in the fall (spring down under) of 2011. Notable players who have been sent to Australia on the current Lions 70-man roster includes Yusei Kikuchi, Yasuo Sano, Fumikazu Kimura, Hirotaka Koishi, Makoto Aiuchi, Toshihiro Iwao, Komei Fujisawa, Shota Nakata, Isamu Sato, Kazuki Miyata, Kentaro Fukukura and Ryohei Fujiwara.


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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Report: Takayuki Kishi will file for free agency

With the Japan Series now over, attention turns to free agency and the offseason. Takayuki Kishi informed the Saitama Seibu Lions that he will exercise his international free agent option and test the market on Wednesday morning (in Japan time).

Kishi, who will be 32 in December, is eligible to sign anywhere as an international free agent for the first time in his career. He has been the Lions best pitcher over the last decade and put himself on the map during the 2008 Japan Series by winning the MVP award.

In 2014, Kishi threw a no-hitter against the Chiba Lotte Marines and it's the last one to happen in NPB. Last year, Kishi missed two months of action with an abductor muscle injury, but went 9-7 with a 2.49 ERA in 130.1 innings.

When healthy, Kishi's value have been important for the Lions and it would be a huge loss if he were to walk to another team. Here is the current path choices that Kishi could take based on reports:

Return to the Lions

In his last game with the Lions, fans put up graphics wanting him to return. The sign on the right says fans want to be with Kishi. 

The Lions reportedly offered him a four year contract, but it wasn't enough to get him to sign without filing his option. It's possible that this is all about testing the waters to see his value and possibly find a better offer elsewhere. Kishi wouldn't commit one way or another after his final game, but there is still a change he can come back.


Sign with the Rakuten Eagles

The Eagles are the only NPB team known to openly want Kishi at the time of this writing. Location makes even more sense, as he went to university directly in Sendai and is a Miyagi prefecture native. In a lot of ways, he would be returning home if he signed with the Eagles based on geography. This doesn't mean the Eagles were his team growing up, as they didn't exist when he was a child and only started as a franchise in 2005, his junior year at University.

Last year, the Eagles signed former Chiba Lotte Marines infielder Toshiaki Imae and it's likely they aren't scared of opening up their checkbook. Manager Masataka Nashida and the Eagles cleaned house with several players cut, making plenty of room in what is a new era for the team.


Sign with another NPB Team

There hasn't been any links about other teams who are interested in Kishi, but adding him wouldn't hurt their rotation. Maybe a dark-horse comes in with an offer?


Sign with an MLB Team

This would be an unlikely scenario given his age, but he is eligible. If Kishi signed with someone in North America, it would presumably be for less money than what Japan would pay him. However, it would give him an opportunity he wouldn't get elsewhere in the States (or Canada).  There is no way he signs to a similar contract to what Seung-Hwan Oh made with the St. Louis Cardinals, but if someone wants a cheap minor league signing for organizational depth, it wouldn't hurt them.


So what is likely to happen? 

Here's how I see it happening: If he gets an excessive offer from the Rakuten Eagles, he is as good as gone. The Lions are known to not value the ace or top pitcher to make them the highest paid player on the team. Ernesto Mejia will make around $3.5 million in 2017 and should be the highest paid Lion based on the year he had.

If any team gives Kishi a five year offer with the first year being more than Mejia's salary, say goodbye. There is no way the Lions match an offer and win a bidding war of a $4 million salary and/or lengthy offer.  Of course if an MLB team has interest and he wants a chance to see what it's like in North America, there could be a chance he leaves.

However, it is still likely that it will be a bidding war between Rakuten and the Lions for his rights. If he signs with the Eagles, the Lions presumably will get compensation through either cash + unprotected payer or more cash. Last year when the Eagles signed Imae, Chiba took the cash option and with the way their roster is through a wave of rebuilding, it wouldn't be surprising if the Lions did the same.


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Seibu Lions part ways with Vasquez, Paulino and Lee

In what was another offseason announcement of cuts, the Saitama Seibu Lions announced three players who would not be back for next season. Imports Esmerling Vasquez, C.C. Lee and Felipe Paulino will not be offered a contract and have become free agents, as announced on Tuesday.

Vasquez was the only foreigner retained from the wave of imports from 2015. He would end up being inconsistent with control and was eventually demoted after a poor inning in July where he hit multiple batters with the bases loaded. Vasquez had a 5.51 ERA in 16.1 innings.

Lee would fail to earn meaningful innings outside of opening day and fell out of favor with the coaches early on. It just never came together in spring training and it stemmed over into the regular season.

The team tried to ease him in during a 6-0 lead against the Softbank Hawks back in March, but he failed his test and only had low leverage outings since then. In 16.2 innings with the ichi-gun, he would have a 6.48 ERA.

Paulino was a mid-season addition after it was clear the Lions didn't have the starting pitcher depth they needed as both Yusei Kikuchi and Takayuki Kishi were injured. He would start a handful of games, but earn no wins and began to fall off with a demotion to the bullpen.

While his record was not good, Paulino should have earned at least one win, but he either wasn't getting run support or defense behind him. With 44 innings pitched, he would go 0-6 with a 4.70 ERA and didn't see ichi-gun time in September.

With the Lions cutting three players, that means two other imports will most likely be retained for 2017. Chun-Lin Kuo will be 25 in February and the most recent gaijin Brian Wolfe passed his audition test with a strong end to the regular season.

Wolfe, who turns 36 at the end of this month, had a decent run of four games where he had a 3.04 ERA in 23.2 innings. The Lions gave him enough run support to have a 4-0 record, but he gave them a chance as well.

Compared to other imports, Wolfe already has experience in Japan and knows what it's like being in the Pacific League. Despite his age, his arm does not have the same mileage on it like other pitchers as he spent most of 2014-2015 recovering from an injury.

The Lions also gave Ernesto Mejia a three-year extension right before the regular season ended. If we include Atsushi Okamoto's retirement, the Lions officially have cut 10 players from their 2016 roster. With six players drafted, assuming they all sign, it would create four open roster spots which should bring in a new wave of imports.

Their obvious need will be pitcher once again, but a defensive minded infielder wouldn't hurt. Expect at least two foreign signings from this winter with the possibility of up to four.


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