With mediocre scouting reports, Sox offer Tazawa a deal


Yankee fans these days are a predictable bunch. As soon as the Red Sox do something — anything — they flip out and, of course, blame Brian Cashman.

Case in point: Last night, word got out that the Red Sox may have offered Junichi Tazawa a contract. The deal is rumored to be a $3 million for three years.

In response, a RAB commenter Bryan left this gem:

I cant believe that the Yanks didn’t offer Junichi Tazawa a contract, now MLB rumors is speculating that he has already decided on the sox. It seems stupid that we should miss out on a 22 year old just because Cashman has some moral issue with the Japanese league! I tell you one thing, we better get Yu Darvish when posting time is up.

It is hard to believe that Cashman should shoulder the blame for the fact that the Red Sox are the first team to offer Tazawa a contract. Never mind the fact that the Yankees could still get involved. Never mind the fact that the Red Sox haven’t actually done anything. And never mind the fact that Tazawa might not even be that good.

Wait a sec, you might be saying. Isn’t the bunch on Tazawa that he’s supposed to be some Major League-ready 22-year-old stud? Not quite.

Over the weekend, Jim Allen, a Japan-based sportswriter who has actually, you know, seen these guys pitch, offered up some scouting reports on the less-than-impressive Japanese free agents, including Tazawa. He hardly had impressive things to say about the youngster:

Tazawa, who stands 5 feet, 10 inches — “5-11 if you really like him,” Wilson said — will get a major league deal this winter but is unlikely to make it to the majors during that first season.

He has good command of his fastball and slurve, but he lacks velocity, stamina and the ability to keep the ball down. The talk of a deal worth as much as $4 million is testimony not to Tazawa’s talent, but to the soaring appreciation of Japan’s game…The right-hander would have gone in the first round of Nippon Professional Baseball’s recent draft, but that is a long way from being ready for the majors.

At 22, Tazawa is unlikely to throw much harder than he does now; his fastball barely tops 90 mph when he is rested, and he struggled to hit 88 mph at the end of last season. In Class A or Double-A, Tazawa likely will get hit harder and harder as the season wears on.

Because he knows what he’s doing against corporate league hitters here, there is a chance Tazawa will make adjustments, although [Isao] Ojimi is a skeptic. The Mets scout believes the pitcher’s body is too stiff to allow him to keep the ball down in the zone and Tazawa lacks the smarts and toughness to hang in and learn the lessons needed to apply his talent in the majors.

For what it’s worth, East Windup Chronicle, another on-the-scenes site, echoes Allen’s less-than-glowing endorsement.

So there you have it; a few writers who actually have seen Tazawa pitch aren’t that impressed. He frankly sounds like another Kei Igawa to me who will be in way over his head in the minors. Japan’s industrial league is a far, far cry from the Majors.

As the Hot Stove heats up, we can’t lose sight of objectivity. If Cashman isn’t too keen on ruining the Yanks’ relationships with the other Japanese teams, perhaps it’s because the potential free agent just isn’t that good, and when writers on the scene say that, I’m inclined to believe them.

Categories : Hot Stove League


  1. I tell you one thing, we better get Yu Darvish when posting time is up.

    or what? you’ll go root for the Mets?

    • jsbrendog says:

      hopefully he will. anyways, if he reads then he would have seen the article 3 or 4 posts below the one he is whining about that says darvish not interested inmlb and wants to win 200 games in japan.

      and opnly has 46………

  2. Chris G. says:

    We should also take into consideration the fact that the Industrial League would prefer this kid to remain unsigned. The Sox taking him could create some backlash against them for stealing Japan’s talent away from them, if not among the fans then among the teams themselves. If all of the Industrial League teams decided never to hear another posting bid from the Sox for signing this guy, I’d laugh my ass off.

  3. nick blasioli says:

    ok forget the japanese pitchers for now…just get something done over here to help our staff…just dont drag your feet….get ur dun…..

  4. Andy In Sunny Daytona says:

    “He frankly sounds like another Kei Igawa to me..” I think that is is an insult to Kei Igawa. At least Igawa has had some success in some levels of professional baseball.

  5. Yank Crank 20 says:

    Commenter Bryan is exactly the Yankee fan I have grown to dislike, and the kind I would hate to become. I’m not speaking against who he is or what kind of person he is, that would be a blind insult and frankly he’s probably a very cool guy…but i hate the kind of Yankee fan he represents. That kind of Yankee fan is the one who wants every big name signed, despite cost, and if the Sox get a good player than it’s absurd that Cashman didn’t come up with some brilliant plan to prevent it. That fan wants CC, Burnett, Lowe and Tex all signed because we’re the Yanks and we have an endless flow of money so why not spend it wildly on every big free agent. Please…

    Why does Cashman have to create the perfect team and at the same time swipe up every player the Red Sox may want? If they want to take a chance on a 22-year-old and ruin their relations with Japanese teams, than they can do it. We have way too many holes in our roster to worry about right now, so let’s spend less time worrying what the Sox do and spend time on improving our team reasonably. I think the Swisher deal was a great, intelligent start to the offseason and I hope more of those are to come.

  6. Tripp says:

    Thank heavens someone pointed out the fact that no one in the States have ever seen this guy pitch.

    Who was the 22 year old Japanese kid who could touch 97 and threw a big hook?

    Am I mistaken on that guy existing?

  7. Double-J says:

    I saw this on the crawl last night, and figured that at best, the Sox are getting themselves a prospect, at worst they’re trying to entice the Yankees to get incensed and do something stupid like offer the guy a huge fee (ala Igawa).

    Just get CC for now. I’ll take the big man over this “Taz” any day.

    • at worst they’re trying to entice the Yankees to get incensed and do something stupid like offer the guy a huge fee (ala Igawa).

      nah, completely different scenario.

      • Double-J says:

        I just meant that, since Ben mentioned the Yanks could still make an offer, perhaps Epstein thinks Cashman might overreact and they could drive up the price for Tazawa?

        • radnom says:

          Cashman has maintained from the begining that he was never interested in Tazawa though.

          I could see if the Yankees were preparing to make an offer or something, but I don’t think they are going to overreact because they are not going to get someone whom they didn’t even want in the first place.

          • Double-J says:

            Oh, I agree, I don’t think Cashman is going to do that. I’m just saying, I wouldn’t put it past Boston to try and do that, especially since, as we’ve said, there will be plenty of fans who will go apeshit with the “OMG CASHMAN SUX0RZ” because we didn’t get Tazawa.

  8. Matt says:

    Here’s the thing, this is bad water….their has always been a ‘handshake agreement’ that MLB teams wouldn’t offer contracts to Japanese amateur players. I dunno, he looks pretty good, but it may set a bad precedent.

    • jsbrendog says:

      plus the yankees have a working agreement with a japanese team right? so their interests are our interests to a point right?

      so why in the hell would cashman do something to jeopardize that revenue stream that is part of the reaosn he has blank checks to sign people like sabathia. think people

    • Reggie C. says:

      it makes sense for cash to not want to break whatever informal arrangement exists. As long as the Japanese league produces interesting players, the Yanks are going to be in on the posting process. Japanese owners seem to collude and it wouldnt shock me that whatever team signs Tazawa would probably miss out on the next “great” Japanese player posted.

  9. Conan the Barack O'Brian says:

    The ongoing besmirchment of thought under the derivative alias “Bryan”!
    How do you Steves all get along? Really? You are a model of shared moniker governance!

    My sense is that the Red Sox are willing to take the prospect/corporate risk by believing they have built up enough good will in Japan. It may be so. The Yanks could take the same risk, but it’s just not good business. And even if it were, Tazawa’s a dubious proposition. I will, however, acknowledge that slighting Tazawa’s skill-set may also be good business, so we have to be careful with that, too.

  10. Axl says:

    Mets scouts opinions on bullpen arms shouldn’t really be taken seriously…should it??

  11. pounder says:

    I think the Japanese leagues are wary of MLB coming over and establishing working relations with their teams,ala the NYY and KC love affair during the 50′s and early 60′s.

  12. Reggie C. says:

    Wasn’t the ATL offer to Tazawa for more money? I think ATL has got the lead. I heard it was at least 6 Million and a ML deal.

  13. Matt says:

    Kei Igawa is a Rule 5 guy, let’s pray to God someone picks him up, haha…

  14. A.D. says:

    MTBTR had in an article that multiple teams have put out offers to Tazawa, I remember the Mariners being one… I think mainly this kid isn’t that exciting

    • radnom says:

      Hmm, I wonder why the Mariners would be so willing to damage their relations with the Japanese teams.
      That is really important for them.

  15. Reggie C. says:

    When will the Japanese league produce another quality hitter like Hideki Matsui? The “hot” pitching properties seem to be a year in, year out occurrence. Cash should look to bid on the next Hideki Matsui.

  16. E-ROC says:

    Dang Ben, you just put Bryan on blast for everyone to see. Thanx.

  17. sabernar says:

    Cashman can’t move on Tazawa because of the deal the Yanks have with the Giants of the Japanese league.

  18. Count Zero says:

    Does anyone else find it amusing that the same posters who say Hughes is a failure because his fastball hovers around 90-91, say a Japanese kid the same age with less experience, top end fastball of 90 and no devastating curve is someone we should get right after?

  19. Jeff G says:

    I’m not always a huge fan of Cashman, but I think he is doing the right thing in this case. Even if Tanzawa was better than he appears to be I would still support us sitting out on him. Having respect for their league will only serve us better in the future.
    Further, I think it is a dirty move for the Red Sox to pursue talent that should be developed in Japan. Hopefully the Sox will feel some backlash if they do sign him. But then again I don’t think too many people sport Boston hats in the first place.

  20. Mike says:

    I like the guts of this kid. Challenging Japanese baseball and going for his dream to pitch in the MLB as soon as possible. It seems like the Red Sox are the front runners because of their success with Okajima and Daisuke. I guess it helps that Daisuke is also a superstar in Japan. It looks like he’ll start at AA and move up if he does well. Lets all hope for his continued success in the majors.

    • Ben K. says:

      If he’s on the Red Sox, I can unequivocally say that no one here will be hoping for his continued success in the majors. Plus, how can his success be continued if he hasn’t any in the first place?

      • K.B.D. says:

        A low 20′s year old righty with good control and middling velocity… Are we talking about Junichi Tazawa or Ian Kennedy?

        BTW, I say this as a Kennedy supporter, but find it funny that some people will yell about not going after Tazawa and at the same time KILL Kennedy for 13 MLB starts.

  21. Mike says:

    He has been successful in Japan. I hope he brings over that success in the majors. Maybe he can convince more young stars to come over instead of staying in Japan and making MLB clubs pay Igawa-like posting fees when they leave. How much is this guy costing the Red Sox? 6 million?

  22. JH says:

    It is unprecedented for the Red Sox to sign someone from Japan when they are not a proven commodity overseas before moving here to North America. Who knows how this will pan out. Maybe he will be a bust or maybe he’ll be the next Matt Garza – no one knows yet, my thoughts

    • K.B.D. says:

      Matt Garza was a #1 prospect for the Twins not too long ago and sports an average fastball velocity over the last 3 years of 93.5 and has a pitchers frame at 6’4″. I don’t know if the comp between Tazawa and Garza is appropriate at all.

  23. [...] All is quiet on the Yankee front. No one on the team has accidentally shot themselves. And while the Red Sox seem to be closing in on Junichi Tazawa, no one seems to be too impressed with him. [...]

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