Aug
21

Oppenheimer, Eppler in Japan to watch Darvish

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Via NPB Tracker on Twitter, we learn that the Yankees have sent Director of Professional Scouting Billy Eppler and VP of Amateur Scouting Damon Oppenheimer, two of their top player evaluators, to Japan to check out the 24-year-old Yu Darvish. The right-handed Iranian Japanese pitcher is 10-6 on the season for the Nippon Ham Fighters with a 2.05 ERA. In 20 starts spanning 158 innings, he’s struck out 174 while allowing just 5 home runs and 40 walks. He reportedly features an array of pitches including an upper 90s fastball, a slider, a change, a curve and what the Japanese call a shuuto, and this isn’t the first time the Yanks have expressed interest in him. They sent scouts to watch him earlier in the season, in 2009 and 2008 as well.

Darvish’s situation will present an interesting test case for Japanese pitchers coming to America. He isn’t eligible to be an international free agent until after 2014 when he will be, at just 28 years old, entering his prime, and so far his numbers dictate a big payday. He has a career ERA of 2.18 with a career K/9 of 8.4 and a career K/BB of 3.2. In March, Jeff Passan speculated that Nippon Ham could get upwards of $75 million if they posted Darvish sooner rather than later and that Darvish’s arrival in the U.S. isn’t a matter of if but when, and when that day arrives, the Yankees will be in on him.

  • CNight_UP

    awwwwwwww, YUUUUUUUUUUUU

    /soulja boy’d

  • http://soxandpinstripes.net Angelo

    2014 is so far away. I’ll just wait for Betances and ManBan in the meantime.

  • CS Yankee

    I thought that only washed up pitchers throw screw balls because of the extreme strain the cause on the ligaments & elbow?

    Dice-BB at 50M$ plus another 50 to sign him…
    good miss (though in hindsight)

    Younger version with screwball for 75M$ plus another X to sign…
    run for the hills.

    ironmaiden’d

    • Chris

      I think the extreme strain is a myth. That’s why pitchers don’t throw it, but I believer there is evidence that it is no more taxing than any other pitch.

      • Simon B.

        I don’t think so. It requires a very strange motion.

        Even back in the days of yore when they didn’t seem to care until their arms fell off, they were worried about the screwball. From old Christy Mathewson himself:

        “Many persons have asked me why I do not use my “fade-away” oftener when it so effective, and the only answer is that every time I throw the “fade-away” it take so much out of my arm. It is a very hard ball to deliver. Pitching it ten or twelve times a game kills my arm, so I save it for the pinches.”

  • nathan

    75 M ?

    no more pitching projects from the nippon league plz

    • whozat

      Fortunately, Darvish isn’t a project. He’s actually got the stuff to back up the hype.

      • http://www.twitter.com/YankTheMike yankthemike

        that’s what everyone said about Dice-K. he was “can’t miss” .

        • whozat

          So? Think for yourself. Look at their stuff. Darvish’s is demonstrably, significantly better. We understand more now about translating NPB performance to MLB. Just because people before were wrong doesn’t mean that we can’t look at the data about THIS player and make an evaluation that stands on its own.

        • Thomas

          Matsuzaka actually has good stuff; he misses a ton of bats. In his career of 4 seasons, he has posted an average K/9 of 8.4 (though it is down to 7.8 this year) and a career H/9 of 8.2. His problem is that he walks way to many, 4.2 BB/9 in his career.

          I guess the question is more if Darvish has good control.

  • YankeesJunkie

    Honestly, if Nippon wants to post that is fine, but I hope the Yankees don’t get involved and don’t spend 120 million just to sign him, especially since pitchers from the orient have never fared well in the majors. If he ends up getting to FA with no posting fee I am all in.

    • http://twitter.com/j_yankees j_Yankees

      He isn’t exactly like other Japanese pitchers though.

      He has the ability to throw a upper 90’s FB on a consistent basis. and not being able to do that has been the downfall of all Japanese pitchers that have come over and struggled.

      They find that they’re breaking stuff doesn’t play up aswell over here and they don’t have the FB to make up for it.

      • http://twitter.com/j_yankees j_Yankees

        their breaking stuff. geez.

        • LGY

          Don’t worry. I liked it.

      • YankeesJunkie

        Well if he posts and the Yankees end up spending 120 million over 6 years then you basically are expecting him to be an ace, which is way too big of a risk. I would be less hesitant if ah guy like Matsuzaka had done better in the majors. If he gets to FA then I am all in.

        • http://twitter.com/j_yankees j_Yankees

          this is the issue though. Yu Darvish and Dice-K are completely different pitchers.

          They really have very little in common as pitchers. Dice-K as we have seen is like most Japanese pitchers. likes his offspeed stuff…doesn’t trust his FB…doesn’t have a FB to trust. So he throws a lot of offspeed pitches…he doesn’t have great control of them so he finds himself in bad counts almost all the time.

          Yu Darvish is a lot like american type pitchers. Has a plus FB. Can use it to get ahead. He has great control of his offspeed pitches and is also able to drop one in to get ahead but uses them like any great pitcher does as “out” pitches.

          • ledavidisrael

            ALSO it is slightly different for the yankees because while they are paying for him to be an ace. 75 million of that is OFF the payroll which matters alot to this team becuase they pay somelike a dollar in tax on every dollar that is ON the payroll.

            • http://twitter.com/j_yankees j_Yankees

              This is absolutely true. the posting money is not included into the teams payroll. doesn’t effect the luxury tax.

      • tomaconda

        Tell that to Irabu! The Japanese Nolan Ryan.

  • Johan Iz My Brohan

    But can he become a franchise leader in wins like Kei Igawa is on the SWB Yankees? Doubt it!

    • YankeesJunkie

      Worst 45 million dollars ever.

  • http://twitter.com/j_yankees j_Yankees

    and when that day arrives, the Yankees will be in on him.

    as they should.

  • Frigidevil

    Yu Darvish is such a beast.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bring-Melvin-To-America/193013541601?ref=sgm Andy In Sunny Daytona

    Does he throw a gyro ball? No? BUST!!!

    • http://twitter.com/marcos_aguirre Marcos

      No, he throws a REVERSE gyro ball. Learned it from Melvin.

    • Poopy Pants

      Souvlaki balls are nasty as hell, yo.

  • Chris

    He isn’t eligible to be an international free agent until after 2014 when he will be, at just 28 years old, entering his prime

    At 28, he’ll be on the wrong side of his prime. If he isn’t posted before 2014, then I hope the Yankees pass on him. I’d love to have a young Yu Darvish, but not at 30+ year old Yu Darvish.

    • whozat

      Not true. Prime years for pitchers are 28-32. Prime age for hitters is about 26-30.

      • Chris

        Oh. So Dice-K is still in his prime years?

        If anything, the peak years for pitchers tend to be younger.

        • ledavidisrael

          NOT TRUE!
          But here are two better arguments for ya!

          Maybe Japenese pitchers peak younger because of there high inning totals early on in there careers.

          Maybe pitchers primes should be quantified by innings pitched!

          • ira sparer

            The problem w/Japanese pitchers is that their arms are ready to fall off in their late 20s. There are some games in high school baseball (very competitive) where they may throw 160 pitches & then come in relief the next day if they’re an ace. Most pitchers have some kind of major surgery very early in their careers & have to reinvent themselves. The price tag is way too high. Who sold the Yanks on Igawa, not to mention Irabu?

        • whozat

          Yes. One mediocre pitcher who’s 29 means that all pitchers peak before the age of 28.

          “When viewed aggregately, pitchers, like hitters, apparently age in predictable ways, with peak years likely to take place between 26 and 31.”
          http://baseballanalysts.com/ar.....inst_1.php

          • Chris

            That study is a somewhat flawed comparison for this case. He’s only looking at elite pitchers (the 40 best since WWII). They will tend to be pitchers that have longer careers and thus are successful into their early 30s. There is a whole other population of pitchers (most in fact) that tail off early and don’t accumulate enough career WAR to be included in that sample.

            Even so, if you look at the graph, there is a normal distribution with a peak around 27, and then a sudden spike at ages 30-31. So, if you sign Darvish at age 28, you’re getting the downhill side of his career with the hope that you get a breakout performance in one or two seasons. Based on that, I can’t see him being worth the contract he gets. Of course, with the general struggles of Japanese starters in MLB, it’s possible (but not likely) that everyone will back off and he’ll sign a reasonable deal.

            • Gonzo

              Um, Yu tosses an insane amount of pitches per start campared to his American counterparts. True he only tosses once a week, but his arm will have enough mileage to think he won’t age well.

  • mustang

    Haven’t we learn enough about Japanese pitchers.

    JUST SAY NO!

    • whozat

      Are you really not able to see what a boversimplification that is, or are you just trolling?

      • mustang

        Dude you were doing so well.
        I guess you can’t help being a…..

        • mustang

          And trolling is all you baby keep up the good work.

  • http://twitter.com/j_yankees j_Yankees

    sadly Yu Darvish is not going to get a fair shake from fans because he comes from Japan. But aside from his pitching in the NPB…he really has nothing in common with guys who have made the jump or even guys that have just been great pitchers over there.

    We have seen that Japanese pitchers have a tendency to throw a lot of breaking balls and will throw breaking balls in almost any count. Rarely do you find a japanese pitcher who can crank out a upper 90’s FB. and When they get over here (aside from the fact that the coaches and GMs change their routines) they find that their breaking stuff doesn’t play up as well and they don’t have the FB to make up for that.

    But the great thing about Yu Darvish is: He pitches like an American. He has a an upper 90’s FB and is able to work his other pitches off that instead of what we see with most japanese pitchers as they work everything off their offspeed pitches. He has great control of his offspeed pitches as he can get them over for strikes but can easily make a guy expand the zone for strike outs.

    Think of Darvish more like a Strasburg type guy then a Dice-K type guy.

  • Pete

    I really hope they scout him a tonnnnn because I haven’t been impressed with the cream of the japanese crop thus far. I realize that Darvish has a (supposedly) big edge where FB velocity is concerned, but Daisuke A) had worse velocity than advertised, and B) still had enough velocity to succeed when combined with his other pitches, but didn’t.

    • http://twitter.com/j_yankees j_Yankees

      the issue is more with japanese pitchers lack of confidence in their FB as much as it is the velocity.

      Thats why a guy like Darvish has a HUGE EDGE over just about any other japanese pitcher who has made the jump. He has that velocity but most importantly he has the confidence in his FB.

  • Januz

    Signing Darvish would be a tremendous gamble for the organization (One to be honest, I would not take). There are three possible reasons why they might sign him. 1: Marketing opportunities (One obvious example would be Yankee Stadium signage). 2: You believe he is better than Cliff Lee. 3: You believe the 2011 Draft is so good, you want to hold on to their first rounder at all costs (Which Lee will cost them).
    My problem is not only the poor history of Asian hurlers (Igawa, Irabu, Dice-K etc), but the fact if he fails, there is another Burnett-type bad contract on the books, instead of signing a proven ace like Cliff Lee (Or as I think they should do, take a step back for a year).
    Unless he pitches well, and they win Championships, this is a gamble that could end up costing people like Cashman & Oppenheimer their jobs. It is not worth it.

    • http://twitter.com/j_yankees j_Yankees

      I don’t think there is much chance of Darvish getting posted after this year.

      So Darvish would really play no role in going after Cliff Lee or how you go about the draft next year.

  • ShuutoHeat (Passion>all)

    So has Yu Darvish and his people changed his stance on pitching in the MLB? I remember how he was adamant on pitching in NPB until he racks up 300 wins.

    He has some good velocity in his fastball. His shuuto is a bat breaking pitch against RHBs and provides some contrast to his fastball. That curve of his is pretty nasty, coupled with a splitter. I have never seen him throw his slider though.

    I hope the comparisons between Matsuzaka and Darvish will just fucking end already. They are two different beings just like some posters here have said. Matsuzaka throws junk, nuff said. Darvish has a good fastball and a hard shuuto, which demonstrates his “power”. None of that “I throw 9 breaking pitches” BS. Darvish should be more successful than Matsuzaka pitching in the MLB, he is at least a super 2. Then again, what do I know?

  • ledavidisrael

    Darvish is also a sexy bitch! That will help make him more marketable!

    /lilb’d

  • GermanYankee

    I don’t get this. Just because Dice-K didn’t perform as people expected (and he was WAY overrated because he’s basically the Japanese version of AJ Burnett: stellar on good days, wild like hell on bad days) people are afraid of Japanese pitchers? And let’s be honest: all other Japanese pitchers that came to the MLB were either a) average before they came here like Igawa (his numbers in Japan were okay but his mechanics have always been questionable and that finally caught him) or b) they were in their prime years before they came here.

    Darvish’s a better pitcher than Dice-K and it’s not even close. And he has 7-8 pitches he throws regularly and at least 4 of them are plus pitches. He also revealed his newest pitch at the Japanese All-Star game a few weeks ago: a gyro-cutter (moves like a reverse-cutter). But I have to admit that he has to work on that one ;)

    The only thing I’m concerned about and the better reason why the Yanks should spend a big posting fee (btw: in Japan they’d expect a posting fee of $30-40m): he has to throw a lot of pitches every time he starts and most times he throws at least 120 pitches. I mean even CC couldn’t do that every week. I wonder how his body will respond to that in the future. Oh and I almost forgot: he’s had troubles with his knee earlier in the season and because of that he got a pitch limit of 120 for the following games. 120!!!

    • GermanYankee

      it was supposed to be “and the better reason why the Yanks should NOT spend a big posting fee” ;)

    • ShuutoHeat (Passion>all)

      Actually from what I’ve seen and read, his gyro-cutter pitch is a cutter with the bullet spin.

      The true reverse cutter in his pitch arsenal is the shuuto.

      • GermanYankee

        that’s true, just tried to explain what it looks like for those who don’t know ;)

    • http://twitter.com/j_yankees j_Yankees

      concerns about his workload and the posting fee i think are fair.

      but whats not fair, IMO, is not wanting him because Dice-K failed or because other Japanese pitchers have failed here.

      By stuff alone Yu Darvish is not comparable to other Japanese pitchers.

    • http://theblogthatruthbuilt.com Craig

      Enough with the stupid pitch names. Gyroball, gyro-cutter, shuuto? C’mon guys. We’ve seen these pitches before. Screwball, 2-seamer/sinker. Let’s not make these guys appear more exotic by throwing some stupid names on pitches that already exist.

      • http://theblogthatruthbuilt.com Craig

        That 2-seam FB is nasty though.

  • Shaun

    I’m sorry but we have to take reports about great Japenese pitchers with a grain of salt. Every pitcher from the land of the rising sun that is now in the states was advertised as, “the next(insert star pitcher name)” and every time the team that signed said pitcher is stuck with a huge contract and a “fat pussy toad” (god bless you Steinbrenner and you r great words) I want to believe this guy is good but history says otherwise. I would much rather see the yankees keep the 100 million they would probably spend on this guy and wait to see Brackman,Banuelos, and Betances put in work and end up in the rotation and use that money on a great bat (which there are many of in Japan).

    it’s almost comical that scouts are almost always dead on when it comes to the bats on Japenese position players, but are always dead wrong when it comes to the arms of the NPB pitchers.

    I feel that if Japenese pitchers want to come to the MLB, they need to come up when their still young and prove themselves in the Minors.

    • Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.

      Why do I get the feeling that you’re the person who calls every Russian hockey player “lazy” just because?

      • Shaun

        I don’t understand, also isn’t the NHL 80% Russian?

  • yankees1717

    cmon guys. just because the guy is japanese doesnt mean he won’t be good. that’s like saying a guy won’t be good because of the school he comes from. it’s ridiculous to assume he’ll bust because of previous japanese pitchers.

  • daneptizl

    From the YouTube video available of him it seems he sits more at around 92 with his fastball.

  • VOIII

    The argument about Japanese pitchers is ridiculous, this guy Iranian Besides, rumors are that he doesn’t want to come to the USA…

    • Shaun

      He’s half Iranian, half Japanese

  • Eirias

    Both his mom and dad speak English. Does he, though? English education in Japanese schools isn’t supposed to be so hot.