Open Thread: The Next Big Import


Via the Worldwide Leader, we learn that Junichi Tazawa is now a free agent. While the Japanese Leagues have recently tightened the rules about players heading to the U.S., nothing prevents teams from signing amateur free agents. The bidding war will not involve a posting fee.

So then attention this off-season will turn to Tazawa. He is a 22 year old with a high-90s fastball and some very good breaking pitchers, according to scouting reports. Early rumors indicate that he will draw plenty of interest from the usual suspects of MLB teams with the Red Sox and Yankees leading the pack.

As we while away the days until free agency, let’s speculate on Japan. The Yankees have gotten burned on Japan recently with Kei Igawa, but he didn’t come with nearly the same level of hype as Tazawa. The Yanks have also seen their rival Red Sox land an overhyped but pretty good pitcher in Daisuke Matsuzaka. What then do you do here?

Should the Yanks pursue Junichi Tazawa within reason? Are we too afraid of the Kei Igawa/Hideki Irabu vortex of overhyped Japanese pitchers?

It would be pretty unprecedented for a young Japanese pitcher to start his career in the Majors, and it sounds like Tazawa has the goods to make a go of it. But as the saying goes, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

Categories : Open Thread
  • Mike Pop

    How much money is he looking for anyone know ????? Id rather put that money on CC unless this guy only costs like 25 mill or something than Id take a look at him real quick… 22 year old thats awesome

  • Manimal

    would he go to AAA or straight to majors. He IS 22.

    And from what I have heard, 97 mph with a good breaking ball is worth it.Depends if we have the money but I would go for it.

  • Manimal

    I congratulate you on that ” fool me once joke”. George W bush ruined it


  • r.w.g.

    has he been pitching in the japanese major leagues? i thought i read something that referred to him pitching in the ‘industrial league’ or something to that effect.

    • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      No, that’s why he’s a free agent. He’s an amateur free agent who asked the Japanese teams not to draft him so that he could come to the U.S. The Japanese teams obliged, and now he’s a free agent.

      • r.w.g.

        well then i don’t see any possible way this guy should start in the majors over here. major league contract maybe.. but he would have to start in the minors i would think.

        • Manimal

          that would be determined at spring training.

          • r.w.g.

            yeah, right after some a-ball outfielder takes him deep. they should still try to sign him though if he really throws 97 and has a curve.

  • Old Ranger

    Didn’t Cash send Stick over to Japan, to do some scouting? Be interested to read his report on this guy. If my memory is right, stick went over there to scout some guys the Yanks may be interested in.
    I would say; if the Yanks are in the mix, it will mean Stick said the hype is for real. We’ll just have to wait and see. 27/09.

    • Manimal

      That was exclusively for Yu Darvish

      • steve (different one)

        are you sure about that? i’m not saying you’re wrong, but i don’t remember anything like that.

      • JeffG

        Yeah I thought I remember the article saying he was scouting multiple players. Yu Darvish is going to cost a fortune if and when he comes to the states. Unless its after he needs to be posted.

  • mustang

    No posting fee, 22 years old, 97 mph fastball and wants to play in the USA I would do it. The mistake they made with Igawa was that they pasted on MLB proven pitchers to save a dime on 4th or 5th starter.
    If this guy doesn’t stop them from their major targets then I’m fine with it just PLEASE don’t substitute.

  • Lanny

    You just cant stop signing guys from a country or region or program because you had 2 horrendous failures. Baseball is littered with failures and bombs. The success rates of people that make it and become stars is minuscule.

    That’s the kind of attitude that makes teams start passing on high talent high schoolers in favor of “sure thing” college kids.

    • Steve H

      Absolutely, especially when the cost is only money.

      • steve (different one)

        also, Irabu was not a “horrendous failure” although he is remembered that way.

        he had 2 decent seasons for the Yankees and then Cashman traded him for a great haul.

        • A.D.

          yeah in retrospect his biggest downfall was being overhyped

          • Lanny

            I wouldnt call irabu “good” at any point.

            Not like he was brought in to be a 5th starter and long reliever.

            You know a guy isn’t good for the Yankees when he didn’t get a start in any playoff game during the past 12 years.

  • http://yankees.com D.B.

    sign him now

  • Alex

    Cashman made it explicit that he intended to honor the “Gentlemen’s Agreement” between MLB and the Japanese League not to sign one another’s amateur players. Even if the Japanese teams have passed over Tazawa in their entry-draft, I would be surprised if the Yanks are involved here.

    On the flip side, if he were to sign for mid-first round money, 22 years old with a plus fastball sounds look a nice prospect. Maybe a bonus at 3-4M with a major league contract? I dont know.

  • http://www.new.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#/profile.php?id=594331910&ref=name Jamal G.

    “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

    Maybe I’m mistaken in what you deployed that quote in regards to; if it’s in regards to personnel decisions, I don’t agree with that mentality. More like, “Fool me once, too fucking bad. Next!”

  • This is LE DAVID

    so bout it bout it.
    lets get em. we can’t afford to lose out on another Dice K

    • whozat

      Yeah, I’d be really upset to miss the opportunity to pay 100 mil for 5 years of a guy with 5BB/9.

      What’s more likely? That he’s a singular pitcher, and will be able to succeed despite giving up so many free baserunners, or that the other shoe will drop and he’ll be the guy with the 4.50 ERA he was in 07?

      • r.w.g.

        based on the sheer number of breaking pitches he has, the quality of his stuff, and his ability to miss a nice number of bats.. i would lean toward matsuzaka being a singular pitcher who will succeed despite his walk totals.

        he’s not walking guys cause he doesn’t know where the ball is going. he’s not daniel cabrera. he walks guys because he never gives in to the hitter. he’s not going to post sub-3.00 ERAs every year, but nobody else does that either.

        • Mike Pop

          Well we all know Joba will ;)

          • r.w.g.

            that’s a great point. joba i think has walk numbers, too, doesn’t he? it’s just instead of 3 or 4 breaking pitches, joba throws 95+ mph.

            talented pitches just get outs. it’s what seperates the david wells from the rich garces.

  • Mike Pop

    Why not take the chance tho if its really gonna be less than 10 mill

  • Mike Pop

    If we miss out on Tex what bout signing Dunn and having him and Nady split time at first ya know.. When one is in left the other is on 1st or right and first however you wanna do it….. Would that be a good idea ? Open Thread so Im pretty sure I can post this…How much should Dunn cost 60 70 mill ? Could we possibly be able to get him and 2 pitchers or him and either Tex or MAnny ?

    • A.D.

      I’m not a bid Dunn fan….his D at 1B isn’t going to be real good

    • Old Ranger

      If you want L/R split at 1st go with Miranda and X-man. Miranda (Mandy) is a power lefty with Ok defence (better than Dunn). Just a thought, he is cheep! 27/09.

  • A.D.

    Is this guy only a reliever?

  • Steve

    Any relation to Maria Tazawa?


  • Bryan

    I know this isn’t on the subject but apparently Chad Cordero is now a free agent. I think that would be a tremendous free agent pickup for the yanks as it would fill the 8th inning bridge. Any thoughts?

    • Mike Pop

      He might not be healthy by the start of the season… I think hed prefer to close but it wouldnt be a bad pickup if he was cheap cheap

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.


    He’s throwing 88-90 in that video, and major leaguers would crush those “breaking balls.” Plus his delivery is rough. He’s also pitching in what amounts to the Japanese minors, which has to be like, rookie ball or maybe low-A here.

    I’m not saying to pass, just more reminding people that the hype is ALWAYS greater than reality. I’m sure they’ve had eyes on him, and if the profile is good, then go after the kid.

    • Mike Pop

      “I’m not saying to pass, just more reminding people that the hype is ALWAYS greater than reality. I’m sure they’ve had eyes on him, and if the profile is good, then go after the kid.”

      we all know that as yankee fans after this year

      • mustang

        I double that lets practice what we preach.

        • Steve S

          You have to let this go stang. Plus, look at a lot of the premium pitchers in this league this yea- Pelfrey, Volquez, Danks, Flloyd- all guys who struggled badly and then got things worked out. Dont start selling Phil and even Kennedy that short, it was dissapointing but expected. We cant bitch about trading our good players and call back to the eighties if the leash on these kids is one season.

          • Steve H

            You mean pitchers don’t come in a dominate right away, and we should expect struggles from rookie pitchers? That’s quite a concept, if the Braves had known that they wouldn’t have traded Glavine and Smoltz after their shitty rookie years. Or the Cubs and Maddux. Oh yeah, those teams did have patience, and what do you know it paid off. And before anyone says I’m comparing these guys to HOF’s, you can compare them to 95% of all young pitchers, and they struggle, whether they go on to become washouts, 15 year major leaguers, or HOF’s.

            • Mike Pop

              Ya dude we gotta give Hughes some time… I love the kid I was just saying we know what its like to be dissapointed.. If you told me Hughes or Ian wouldnt of won a game a piece I woulda laughed at you and spit in your mouth lol

              • Steve S

                No i was more commenting on Mustang who is still a little hung up on Santana but thanks for not spitting in my mouth.

                • Mike Pop

                  Haha I didnt mean you… Is Darvish not coming at all now ? Maybe next year ?

                • Steve H

                  Well you have to agree, we should have traded IPK and Melky for Santana, Mauer and Nathan when we had the chance. Then signed Johan to a 5 year, $10 mil (total, not per year) deal. Can’t believe Cash didn’t pull the trigger on that.

                • Mike Pop

                  I cant believe we brought that jerk back for 3 years

                • Troy

                  Stevie, how could you forget Monreau? It’d only take Christian to make it happen!

                • Steve H

                  So essentially you’d trade Christian for Morneau straight up? Umm, please tell me what else Minny is throwing in.

                • Mike Pop

                  Scott Baker it still be a tough call with Christians upside to look at

          • mustang

            “You have to let this go stang. ”
            The way I see it if things were different we be on our 3rd edition of the “The Big Three” T-shirts by now.
            Regardless time will tell how good or bad this deal was and since we can argue that they already lost one season to it isn’t worth seeing how thing are going to turn out.

            • Steve S

              I guess but Im skeptical as to what Johan Santana would have done for the yankees this year. Would they have been better? Yes- would he have amounted to 8 more wins for this team, thats a lot more arguable. I dont think there is a doubt that Johan was better than the two of them but going into the season did anyone think that they would be better than Johan? Logic dictated that they would struggle and injuries are always a problem.

              Look at it this way. Santana reportedly has a torn MCL, which no one is saying anything about but could lead to big problems for him in the next two years. And if the Yankees sign Sabathia who was actually a better pitcher this year, then they end up with Sabathia up top and then if Phil Hughes even amounts to a good number 3 or 4, then Cashman made the right decision. Look at the stock market today, you need to diversify your portfolio, you shouldnt be reliant on one item. Had the Yankees traded Hughes and Kennedy for Santana, then they would have been sinking all of their resources into Johan- how many championships has he won and how did that work out for the Mets this year?

              • mustang

                “how many championships has he won and how did that work out for the Mets this year?”
                To me if they would of even just won one championship it would of been worth it. I know Yankees fans are spoiled, but those championships are not easy to come by ask the Cubs. And you can’t compare the Mets and their bullpen vs. the Yankees’ pens your talking 5 extra wins for Johan easily.
                With Johan they make the playoff and I would of took my chances with Mussina, Pettitte, and Johan with a back end Joba and Mo regardless of the offense.
                Whatever, now they hope to sign a guy who is only coming here for the money and what happens if they don’t?

            • Steve S

              And those T-shirts are the source of all these problems, I would bet if they were taken down, Hughes would never give up another hit.

    • Steve S

      I didnt watch the whole thing, he did hit 93 when he caught that guy looking. A couple of the breaking balls looked pretty good, even though he did hang a bunch of those curves. And the fastball did look quite straight. I say put the money up. Some people have been saying the same things about Hughes and he is the same age. Take a flier, whatever money you spend on him, think of it as part of it would have been allocated to Gerrit Cole and this guy will probably see the majors even if he isnt dominant.

    • Troy

      I was waiting for the voice of reason to appear. I don’t care so much for this guy… not exactly wowed in the videos I seen of him

    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DK799W6AhBk&feature=user Joey H.

      Seems like he can put the ball where he wants to. so hey give the kid a shot. hes only 22 right? develop him for two years and then give him a shot

  • E-ROC

    The Yanks should sign Junichi Tazawa. What is the price tag? It shouldn’t be enormous, plus there is no posting fee.

  • Mike Pop

    A 22 year old pitcher still has plenty of time to develop but to tell ya the truth Id still take AJ over this guy but I got a mancrush on him

    • Troy

      So would I. I’d love to see AJ as the #3/#4 next year in the Yankee rotation

      • whozat

        Who will you replace him with for about 10 starts each year?

  • E-ROC

    There are some other free agents coming from over the pond: Kenshin Kawakami, Koji Uehara, and Kim Dong-Ju. They are a bit more expensive though.

  • yankeefan91 (sign manny)

    i would love to see manny sabathia burnett and tex

    • Steve H

      that’s all?

  • bliaison

    No offense guys and don’t know if anyone’s posted this already, but he does not throw in the upper 90′s. At least not with any consistency.

    Check out some clips of him throwing and you’ll see him sit in the low-90s with a lot of FB’s at 89mph. His curve is big and loopy and his motion is extremely violent.

    Not saying he can’t be harnessed, but this isn’t Zumaya of the East or anything near resembling it. So be careful with these wacky velocity reports.

  • pat

    here is the website I was referencing in the previous post, the fastest pitch he threw all year was 95 mph-


    Tazawa shows off a 90-93 mph fastball, a 12-6 curve, and a shuuto. Note that his fastball has some movement and he can run it in on righthanded batters.

  • Lanny

    I don’t know whether I should laugh or cry with people saying sign him or don’t sign him based on internet reports.

    I’m sure the yanks have done some scouting here.

    The question is this. Is there scouting dept any good?

  • hoosierdaddy

    as a yank and rab fan i hear all of the concerns.. but i guarantee he will be less of a disapointment than pavano, farnsworth, igawa.. and for less money…

  • DonnieBaseballHallofFame

    Lets just make sure was in charge of evaluating Igawa is not in charge here.

    I still do not see how we ever had any interest in Igawa. Just from youtube vids he looked horrible.

    Send Stick Michael over there to check the guy out, and others.

    If he just costs money and hes the goods GET HIM, and AND and CC.

  • http://Melancon Andy

    SIGN HIM!! Cost nothing but money. And quit the Igawa comparisons – every scout in the country said he was a fifth starter at best, most likely a reliever. We knew before he came over he only threw 88-91, no one ever said he threw 97, and we knew he had no breaking pitch to speak of. The two are not the same. He’s 22, throws 97, has had a lot of success, and costs only money. WHY NOT????

    • whozat

      Well…according to actual scouting reports, he “touches” 94 with his fastball. Which means he throws 91-92. Which is enough, but it’s average. Also, he apparently doesn’t have a dominant breaking pitch at this point. His command is OK.

      So, he’s a bit of a project. Like, a round two or three draft pick. He needs to develop either his slider, his splitter, or his curve/change. Two of the three, and he’s a serviceable mid-rotation guy. Only one and he’s a 7th inning guy, maybe a closer if he develops a dominant breaking with with good command.

      So, basically…calm down, people.

  • Chip

    I think you guys are getting a bit too excited here. IF there’s some way to work this out without pissing off the Japanese league (who hopefully will be sending us more guys in the future), then we should definitely take a look at him. Problem is, do we really know what we’d be getting here? I mean almost everybody is going to be going after this guy which means he’s not going to be cheap. It’s like saying you’d be willing to give a kid straight out of USC a 5 year/$40 million contract. If the price goes up like that somebody is going to step back and say, “wow, this kid has never done anything against high-level competition and we’re willing to give him that?”

    And yes I know, it’s unlikely that it gets that high but just keep in mind what the Red Sox bid just to TALK to Matsuzaka. I would imagine that the bidding will go up at least to where it’s stupid for an unproven kid

  • ortforshort

    One would hope that by now the Yankees have their international scouting in place where they know how good a prospect this guy is. If he’s a primo prospect, then I recommend that the Yankees go after him, whole hog. Money is what the Yankees’ advantage is over other organizations and they need to use it when appropriate. If I were Cashman, I wouldn’t be making paring payroll and saving money as my number one priority right now – the Rays will be a monster over the next few years, the Red Sox have a younger, more talented club and the Jays are poised to pass the Yankees in the standings. If I were Cashman, I wouldn’t be standing around with my thumb up my ass like he did with Inoa and Matsusaka if Tazawa looks like the real deal.

  • SolidSnake24x

    the yanks shud go out and get Yu Darvish!!! he’s the best pitcher in Japan. he won their cy young in 2007 with a 1.82 era and struck out 210 in 207 innings while only walking 49. in 2008, he had a 1.88era struck out 208 in 200 innings and only walked 53. he’s 6’5” and throws 96. this guy is NOT kei igawa. he’s a hell of a lot better than tazawa and he’s a lot better than daisuke!!!