The NPB regular season wheezes to a close tomorrow with the final make up game between the Carp and the Swallows. The playoff teams are all set and the post-season will start for them next weekend. For the six teams that didn't make the playoffs, the off season starts now and three of those teams have started to 2022 with a different guy in charge. Tusyoshi Yoda of the Dragons, Kimiyasu Kudoh of the Hawks and Hideki Kuriyama of the Fighters are all stepping down and will be replaced by Kazuyoshi Tatsunami, Hiroshi Fujimoto and Tsuyoshi Shinjyo respectively.
Of the three of these, the only one that makes a whole lot of sense from a baseball perspective is Fujimoto, who's been on the coaching staff for the team since 2011 and was the Hawks' farm team manager last year. Tatsunami has been rumored to be in line for the Dragons job for years but he hasn't done any coaching since he retired as a player in 2009 other than a brief stint as hitting coach for the Japanese National Team for the 2013 World Baseball Classic. He was elected to the Hall Of Fame in 2019 so he has that going for him. Tatsunami has at least been a baseball commentator on TV in the years since he retired which is more than Shinjyo can say. As far as I can tell, Shinjyo hasn't been involved in any capacity with baseball since his retirement in 2006 and for a while wasn't even living in Japan. He did attempt to make a comeback as a player in 2019 as he attended the 12 team tryout that fall but no one was interested in picking up a 47 year old outfielder. I had been under the impression that the Fighters job was going to go to Atsunori Inaba, who had stepped down as the Samurai Japan manager after leading the team to the Gold Medal last summer. Inaba, however, has been made General Manager of the team instead.
Here's cards of all three new managers from their playing days:
|03 Chunichi Sports Tatsunami|
|1993 Tomy #198|
|2004 Calbee #026|
With Kuriyama stepping down, the manager who's been at the helm of his team the longest is now Hatsuhiko Tsuji who has been leading the Lions since 2017. Tatsunori Hara's current stint as Giants manager started in 2019 but his first iteration running the team was in 2002.