Andoh Announces Retirement – Who Else Should Go?

Veteran relief pitcher Yuya Andoh held a press conference on Friday afternoon to announce his retirement from playing professional baseball. The 39-year old righty said the biggest reason for his decision was because of the wear and tear he felt on his body, and the fact that he was unable to get his game together enough to be called up to the top squad at all this season.

Andoh played for the Tigers for 16 seasons, and was a part of the 2004 Athens Olympics, representing Japan, and won two pennants with the Tigers in 2003 and 2005. Despite those highlights, he says his best memory as a professional came this year on the farm. (Perhaps old age has prevented him from remembering much before this year!) He says it gave him a chance to practice with the younger players and really re-think his own game.

He was also named Opening Day starting pitcher in three consecutive seasons from 2008 until 2010. In all, roughly half his seasons were spent as a starter; the other half as a reliever. Both had good points and bad points, he says. He never imagined he would have this long a career, but said he was very thankful to the fans for all their support through the years.

Now, with the season nearly over, perhaps we can examine some of the other players on the farm (and maybe the top squad) and talk about who else should be on their way out of town.

Click here for the full 2017 roster.

First, the newspapers reported a few days back that both Eric Campbell and Jason Rogers would likely not be part of the team in 2018. How much they know for sure, I have no clue. But honestly, I am so tired of how Hanshin treats its foreign hitters. I am OK with both men leaving, since neither really got a proper shot at staying in the lineup. If this is the direction the team wants to take, there is no point in keeping them around… or recruiting another import hitter. I’ve talked about this before – the points all remain valid today.

On that note, I really don’t see room for Roman Mendez or Luis Mendoza, either. I think the team needs to start looking for the next Randy Messenger, but obviously he still has a lot of innings left in him. He should (and will) stay. I think the two Dominican relievers, Marcos Mateo and Rafael Dolis, will also be back.

As for the Japanese crew… there can never be too many catchers in the system. You kind of need at least seven – three on the top team, three on the bottom, and one just in case there are injuries. (The physical demands of the position will cause all to be injured at some point!)

So unless we draft another catcher or two, I say they all stay. Obviously Shinya Azuhata and Shinji Komiyama are unlikely to make an impact, but their warm bodies will keep the bench toasty.

In the field, I’m quite honestly done with Tsuyoshi Nishioka. Too many injuries… he has already hit the disabled list twice since his return in mid-July. This after three straight injury-plagued seasons.

I’m not a fan of what Yuto Morikoshi has done on the top squad, and I’m willing to part ways with him. Not as slick a fielder as he’s been made out to be, and definitely not much of a hitter. His trip up on his way to first base and his goofy grin after his errors are enough for me to want to punt him out the door myself.

I’m not sure if Naoto Nishida has done much since escaping “development player” status, but he’ll be 25 next spring and has yet to set foot on Koshien soil as a pro.

Ryosuke Ogata will be 28 next year, and just doesn’t seem to stand much of a chance at getting playing time in the outfield. He’s way down on the depth chart and doesn’t offer much that other guys don’t have.

Though Keisuke Kanoh is still 34, his body has been around a long time, and I do not really see a spot for him, either. The “designated pinch hitter” thing can only get you so far. With the depth this team has, there are plenty of guys who can do what he does.

* UPDATE: Kanoh’s retirement announcement was made official on September 16.

When it comes to pitching, well, right now the team has fallen upon desperate times. But still, there are a few guys who just don’t seem to have what it takes to excel at the top level.

I’m willing to give Yuya Yokoyama one more year, but this “one good start and out” injury nonsense is getting tired. He’s the pitcher version of Nishioka.

Hiroaki Saiuchi is just 24 but has already played 6 years as a pro, and this season he didn’t see any action on the top squad. Perhaps he will be cut. I wouldn’t mind seeing him given “development player” status for a year or two, to see if he can get back what he had in 2015.

There seems to be no reason whatsoever to keep Kazuya Takamiya around. He turns 36 this offseason, saw no action on the top squad this year, and “boasts” a career ERA of 5.50 – which is only slightly worse than his farm ERA this year.

I feel like Koki Moriya has shown us that he wasn’t worth being drafted a few years ago. Unlike Yokoyama, who was drafted a few spots ahead of him, Moriya has stunk it up every time he’s been called up. He’s also smelling pretty bad on the farm this year.

Akihiro Yanase was an offseason acquisition, a SoftBank Hawks castaway… and he didn’t do much during his time here. He got married and two days later gave up 8 runs in one inning of relief work. Cut him one final check and send him packing.

Hiroya Shimamoto is a feel-good story – former developmental player who shed triple digits, has fought hard to stay around, but just hasn’t made enough of an impact to get up to the top squad this year. He’s only 24, but I really don’t need to see another “Happy Birthday, Valentine Boy” story next February 14.

Kojiro Tanabo is another who need not come back. He’ll be 27 this offseason, and has just a few innings of top squad experience to show for his age. Collect your paycheck elsewhere, man.

Well, if I have my way, we’ll be cutting 11 guys, plus losing Andoh to retirement and 4 imports as well. That’s 15 roster spots open. Obviously some of these guys are going to be allowed to feed off the Hanshin teat for another year, because I have never seen a team draft a dozen or more guys. And did you notice I didn’t even throw Ryota Arai into the discard pile? I have a heart, after all. (Just maybe not a brain.)

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T-Ray is the founder, chief writer and Junior Executive Vice President of Hanshin Tigers English News (H-TEN). Find him on Twitter @thehanshintiger.