At 4:30pm today in Osaka, newly appointed manager Tomoaki Kanemoto met the press for the first time since his hiring was made official. The press conference lasted no more than 10 minutes but gave Tigers fans plenty to get excited about. Here are some of the key things brought up, and my thoughts on them.
– He wants to create a team that will be interesting and exciting to watch.
– He further explained that this might mean a lot of 1-0 or 3-2 games, but that the Tigers would come out on top. As a guest on the news program that showed the conference, recently retired Kentaro Sekimoto said that this was kind of a yokozuna type of mentality, meaning that no matter what the other team comes at us with, we will always end up on top – whether the score is 1-0 or 10-9.
– He thinks the current Tigers team lacked some of the desperation that is needed to win. He also said the team should be ready to put in a lot of practice, both to address their weaknesses and further develop their strengths.
– Sekimoto admitted that this was probably true – the team lacked some intensity and also needs to improve its work ethic in practice.
– The ideal manager, in his opinion, is one who will win at all costs. (Sounds a lot like his mentality as a player.)
– He desires to rebuild the team, but win in the process. (Obviously this is a tall task, and he admits it is not easily done.)
– He looks to players like Taiga Egoshi, Shintaro Yokota and Naomasa Yohkawa to be future sluggers – something the team has lacked but has desired for years. (He was asked which current young Tigers he has his eyes on, and he admitted that the first place people look is at the big guns. These were the guys he thinks can provide power for the team. He did not name other names, but surely he has thought beyond home runs.)
– He will attend the draft and hopes to select players who will become core members of the team, not just fringe players, who can be traded for. (He knows the importance of the draft and wants to give the team a chance to build a quality roster, not just players that are half-decent.)
– Ideally, he would love to win with the current roster and not bolster the lineup, but realistically that is not an easy task. (Hard question to answer, as he cannot exactly say at this point that he wants a new so-and-so, thereby putting pressure on the de facto players! He also said he wants more time to evaluate the current roster and the team’s needs before he goes out and tries to sign free agents or make trades.)
– He will select coaches who are filled with passion for the game, for the players, and who can keep up with his level of passion. (Obviously there have been rumors of guys like Tsuyoshi Shimoyanagi, Akihiro Yano and Yutaka Ohno joining the cabinet, and since they all played with Kanemoto, this makes some sense, but nothing has been announced. Except that on one TV program on the weekend, the MC accidentally called Shimo-san coach, which caused the ex-ace to stutter and try to back-track on the slip-of-the-tongue.)
Overall, I felt like he spoke frankly and did not put up any fronts or try to deceive the press or candy coat anything. He has high expectations for himself but at the same time, he ended the press conference by saying, “I do not know whether I am capable of changing the team or bringing about the results that people expect. But I do know I am going to give it everything I’ve got.”
Can’t wait to see how much he’s got and how the players respond to him. Don’t expect a championship in 2016, but you can bet this team is going to be a lot fiercer than the one we saw barely squeak into the playoffs in 2015.