Yu Got the Right One, Baby, Uh Huh

Eric Chavez intends to play in 2012
The RAB Realignment Plan

The last time the Yankees turned their attention east for a starting pitcher, the club got burned pretty badly. In the wake of the Red Sox’s inking of Daisuke Matsuzaka, the Yanks bid $26 million for Kei Igawa, a lefty with good strike out numbers in Japan, and paid him another $20 million over five years. He lasted all of 16 Major League games and was removed from the 40-man roster in 2008, never to return to the Bronx.

For Brian Cashman and the Yanks’ baseball brain trust, Igawa was the mistake that wouldn’t go away. The Yanks never traded him in order to avoid paying luxury taxes on his salary, and Igawa refused to quit or head back to Japan. He toiled away in the minor leagues as the Yanks moved him around based on roster needs before he eventually became the winningest pitcher in Scranton history. That’s some dubious achievement.

This year, the hype over a Japanese pitcher has returned in the form of Yu Darvish. The groundswell of hype hasn’t been this constant or loud since Matsuzaka made the jump, and in fact, we’ve heard about Darvish for years. We know how great he is in Japan, and we’ve heard varying degrees of success predicted for him in the States. He’s different, they say. His goal has been to pitch in the Majors. He knows what it takes. He will not flame-out.

Meanwhile, hesitation rules the air. American baseball fans have seen Japanese pitchers come over with so much hype and fail to meet expectations. Hideki Irabu was the Japanese Nolan Ryan. Daisuke Matsuzaka and his famed gyroball were to be unhittable. Even Hideo Nomo turned into an average-to-below-average pitcher after his first two stellar seasons in the States.

Yet, these past failures (or successes, as in the case of Hiroki Kuroda) tell us nothing about Darvish’s potential, and the Yankees, burned by their desire to snatch up Igawa, seem to recognize this. While speaking with reporters on Wednesday, Hal Steinbrenner spoke about the club’s process. “Every person is different, every player is different,” the Yanks’ Managing General Partner said. “We’re going to look at every single one, we’re going to look at every single option and we’re going to analyze it. We look at each person as an individual, and that” — previously failures with Japanese pitchers — “is not going to be a factor, at least not with me.”

As The Times and others have noted, the Yankees do not figure to be front-runners for Darvish. That status belongs to the Angels and Rangers, two teams engaged in an AL West arms race. But the Yankees will hover on the periphery, aware of what Darvish can do and not afraid of him because of past failures. That’s the kind of process a team that is looking to spend smartly should follow, and it’s a good sign for the long-term future of the club.

Last week, I explored how the Yankees should take aggressive risks with their dollars this year. Even though we still don’t know if Darvish will be posted this year, the Yanks should plan to be among the leaders for his services. They have laid the foundation for a competitive bid, and they have the money to spend. Armed with the right knowledge, it’s a risk worth taking, and the process should tell them as much.

Thanks as always to Tyler Wilkinson for the graphic. You can find him on Twitter right here.

Eric Chavez intends to play in 2012
The RAB Realignment Plan
  • Craig

    Yu, you got what I need,

    • MannyGeee

      but Yu say he from Japan… but Yu say he from Japan.


      • Normando


  • Mike c

    It’s all about the price. If his is close to what Wilson wants it will be a tough call

  • Esteban

    Yu look wonderful tonight

  • Esteban

    Yu love the people that love Yu

  • Esteban

    Just the Way Yu Are

  • Esteban

    With or without Yu

    • Esteban

      Sorry, I’m done now.

  • Avi

    I wouldn’t touch him with a ten foot poll. Spend $100mm on something that’s far from a definite? You have to be insane.

    • K

      He brings back Japanese revenue, the Yankees can drop a $50 million posting fee and not even sweat, the posting fee isn’t subject to the luxury tax, and his upside is phenomenal.

      The Yankees greatest asset is money, why are people like you so afraid to use it? The Yankees could overpay both Darvish and Cespedes, and if neither one works out they’d be absolutely fine as a team. They could have a $300 million payroll if they wanted…

      • Mattchu12

        This, and to add to it, who exactly is the alternative?

        CJ Wilson? Because CJ comes with a ton of question marks, most notably health and lack of track record. Roy Oswalt? Whom has never pitched in the AL and almost retired because his injuries were affecting him so much? Mark Buehrle? Who thinks that train is going to stay on the tracks much longer?

        Unless you are advocating leaving the rotation as CC-Nova-Hughes-Burnett-Noesi for next year or have a delusion that we’re going to get an Ace via trade, there isn’t a reason to shy away from taking a risk on Darvish. He isn’t riskier than anyone else.

        • Matt Montero

          Exactly, and just to add to the health and track record for Wilson, there’s also control. He has the third most walks in the last two seasons (or something like that). Who says he won’t become the new AJ Burnett? He doesn’t have as great of stuff as AJ and doesn’t have much better control.

      • http://bleedingyankeeblue.com Jesse

        “They could have a $300 million payroll if they wanted…”

        I seriously doubt that, even the Yankees have a budget.

      • Gus fring

        I keep this kind od chest thumping, but Che king revenues against costs shows the Yankees only 20 million in the red in the 2010 season. One wonders where this extra 80mil comes from.(besides mike francescas mouth- yeah, I heard him proclaimt this too)

    • Monteroisdinero

      That’s pole. Don’t worry: ARod has plenty of 10 foot poles we can use.

  • mike c

    soulja boy up in this hoe
    watch me crank it watch me roll
    watch me crank that soulja boy and superman that hoe

  • Rich in NJ

    If they project him to be a #1 or #2 they should be all in, especially with the impending cap on signing some IFA.

  • Bubba

    What I don’t understand is with the posting process how anyone can be the leader for his services at this juncture.

  • http://jukeofurl.wordpress.com Juke Early

    The issue with Japanese players — Hideki Matsui the exception proving the rule — is their cultural comfort. It is known fact the largest US Japanese population is on the West Coast. Due to a psychological need to be by the Pacific Ocean which connects them spiritually & physically to the Land of the Rising Sun. It would be more critical to the psychological make-up of a pitcher, who is not only adjusting to a more difficult league, language barriers & even more importantly a change in days of rest before starts. Feeling much less “at home” in the colder—literally & figuratively—North East, it affects their mindset, along with the tougher hitters, especially in the AL East.

    Darvish being half Iranian might acclimate. But he also has a high profile Japanese celebrity wife. while the uninitiated & intellectually challenged will always dispute cerebral cause & effect, do your best to think about what it might feel like to lace up those shoes. . ..

    Forget Darvish. Cash start dealing & earn your @#%&*! money.

    • Jimmy

      You’re kidding, right? A psychological need to be by the Pacific Ocean? You don’t mention latent guilt over the Japanese treatment of the Chinese during the 20th century, does he have any of that too?

      It’s baseball, man.

    • Bavarian Yankee

      he HAD a wife ;)

      I don’t think him being half Iranian has any effect about him acclimating better because he’s lived in Japan his entire life. Being half Iranian doesn’t mean/help anything.
      Actually his father went to high school in Massachusetts and then to College in Florida where he met Yu’s mother. I think that’ll help Yu more than being half Iranian because his parents obviously know what life in the US is about ;)

      Word is that Darvish also speaks English (I think that’s likely because his parents lived in the US for some years), so the language shouldn’t be a big factor.

    • http://twitter/yankeemeginphl Megs

      Such a good point. With that said, we should sign Darvish and then trade him to Arizona (you know, because he’s half-Iranian and used to desert climates) for IPK. That would be the best deal EVAH and no one would need to go to “camp” and get acclimated to their new surroundings.

      • Esteban

        Best response to crazy Juke Early

      • MannyGeee

        well played… that’s all

    • nedro


      (is such fucking hogwash)

    • S

      He’s divorced it was ugly, word is that’s why he didn’t post last year.

      Also WTF are you high? What does all that even mean?

  • http://www.yankeeanalysts.com/ Steve S.

    “When you have to look ownership in the eye and ask them to put big iron in the middle of the table, it becomes tough to do when the cost of the [foreign] player goes higher and higher,” Cashman said.


    I agree completely. At 50 mil total cost over 5 years I love Darvish. At 75M I’m indifferent. At 100M I think you’re insane.

    • Rich in NJ

      No more insane than AJ or Soriano’s contracts have turned out, and they can afford that because it hasn’t stopped them from spending. It really should be about their assessment of his upside far more than dollars.

  • Another Bronx Dynasty

    I would love to see a opt out clause in a Yu contract executable either party.

    • Bavarian Yankee

      If Yu sucks the Yanks just opt out. No way Yu accepts an opt out clause. And if he’s doing great he’ll opt out to get more money. No way the Yanks accept an opt out clause. Pretty simple, right?

      • MannyGeee

        I think he means its less like a ‘mutual opt out clause’ and more like a divorce clause. Either side could walk away if the fit is not there.

        Truth is this is just as risky as have a no trade clause. If Yu dominates he will be leaving for more money in 2015.

  • Jose M. Vazquez..

    Like I have said before I can see a revival of Abbot and Costello’s who’s on first when Costello asks Abbot who’s pitching tonight. The answer is Yu. Costello responds “I’m not a pitcher”. And so on and so forth. In any case Steven Goldman brings up a point that is worthy of examination. He says that that in essence the Yankees may not be looking at their prospects as viable options if they sign Wilson or Darvish to long term contracts. He says if they do not plan to use them they should trade them.

    • Mattchu12

      It’s not that you don’t plan to use them, it’s that you know that not all of them will pan out. We’ve bene trying to use our prospects for years and it’s gotten us a big question mark in Hughes, a reliever in Joba, and we had to trade Kennedy to get Grandy.

      In a perfect world, we’d just use Man-Ban, Betances, Phelps, Warren, etc in the rotation, but you have to plant a lot of seeds to get even one stud youngster.

      • Jose M. Vazquez..

        I agree with your assessment.

      • Steve (different one)

        Agree with your second paragraph, but I think the first paragraph (and Goldman) are forgetting guys like Nova, Robertson, Nunez, Gardner, Noesi, Montero, etc. The Yankees have been using their prospects, but there is always going to be a bias towards the present in NY. I realize the topic was more about starters, but it still ignores the fact that the yanks will prob start the season with 2 homegrown starters and Noesi as the first callup.

        • Mattchu12

          I agree completely. I was just trying to make a point of even the most hyped of prospects, the Big Three, can fail at the Major League level despite their success in the Minors (even though I have high hopes for Hughes and Joba in 2012).

          The funny thing is that the Yankees are crazy populated with home grown talent right now. Cano, Gardner, Montero, Robertson are all potential All-Stars next year and three of those guys with be a third of the starting lineup. If Hughes straightens out, you’ve got two above-average guys in the rotation in Hughes and Nova (crossing fingers that Joba comes back a starter too to make three).

  • LarryM.,Fl.

    I prefer Japanese positional players and relievers more than starters. The game in general is less than MLB,cultural differences and days rest in between starts is longer. These factors make it difficult for the starter to succeed. Also, I believe the bidding money and contract money is way too high even if you have the money.

    Its a difficult process to determine by the scouts if YU is a winner. Your not going to pay him/ former team 75-100 million and give him opts. in AAA. too much of a crap shoot.

  • Brett Lowe

    I got Yu Babe
    I got Yu Babe

  • uncleargyle

    The Yu Tang Clan

  • Mike HC

    I personally have no idea if the guy is good or not, but I think saying, “Yet, these past failures (or successes, as in the case of Hiroki Kuroda) tell us nothing about Darvish’s potential, and the Yankees,” is slightly inaccurate. You can try to project a guys major league numbers based on past pitcher’s numbers coming from the same league and making the same transition. Trying to project guys coming from AAA to the Majors is done in part by looking at how past AAA players ended up producing in the Majors. Not to say it is going to be completely accurate, but the same could be done with Japanese pitchers to a lesser extent due to the smaller sample. It won’t tell you everything, but it should surely be a tool to use in evaluating Yu.

    • MannyGeee

      SSS rules the air in comparing Yu to Dice, Irabu and Igawa. Projections of AAA guys have a sample size of thousands, not dozens.

      and FWIW, there have been ‘work ethic’ and ‘cooperability’ questions about guys like Dice and Ichiro. again, does dealing with a SSS of dozens of Japanese players mean that NPB players have a history of being douchey or lazy? Matsui would beg to differ. jus sayin

      • Mike HC

        Small sample, sure, but also the entire sample. And is surely something you look at and is not meaningless.

        • MannyGeee

          look at it, sure. but some ppl here will put too much stock in it.

          Should the Yankees never trade for another Puerto Rican pitcher since Javy Vazquez was such a nightmare??? By the logic of some here, apparantly so.

          • Gus fring

            This comparison is truly puerile. The concern isn’t his Japanese ethnicity but his lifelong training in the Japanese form of pitching system and the likelihood of him successfully acclimating to the large adjustment in the US.

        • Ted Nelson

          The issue with small samples is that you do not know if it’s meaningful or not. There’s high variability. It could absolutely be a representative sample, but it could not be.

  • Dave M

    F*ck Yu!!

    Sorry, I had to do it.

    • Jimmy

      It was only a matter of time.

  • Nik

    This is an absolute no brainer. I’m ut

  • RobC

    Ignore the posting process and get some good lawyers and sign Yu.
    Posting fees are anti trust.
    Afterman has experience with this.


    • Gus fring

      So the Yankees should sue Japanese companies for violating Sherman anti-trust laws applicable to the united states only? Where, exactly, will they sue?(in what forum?). Who will enforce such rulings?

      Is the American population becoming this stupid? The critical reasoning is troubling enough. But the lack of knowledge base to which one must apply such abilities seems to be nonexistent in most young people. Frightening.

  • Nik

    I’m utterly confused why there is a debate about not signing Yu.

    -Hands down the best pitching prospect on the market right now, talent wise
    -Only costs the Yankees their most abundant & disposable resource: $$$
    -Doesn’t require trading away any prospects
    -Posting fee doesn’t count against the luxury tax
    -Considering his rock star status in Japan, the Yankees will be able to recoup a good amount of $$$ through marketing him overseas
    -Only 25 yrs old & has the physical build to withstand the rigors of pitching here. Potential cornerstone of the rotation for years to come
    -Most highly touted and statistically best pitcher ever to come from Japan

    So what’s the concern?

    • Ted Nelson

      The concern is that it’s a whole, whole lot of their most abundant resource…

      • Steve (different one)

        This, plus the fact that the amount of money can’t be known. My prediction is the Yankees will make a huge bid, in excess of $50m, but will be outbid by a surprise team. The problem is that the only way to make sure you get him is to bid an insane amount of money. If he was a FA, I think he’d be a lock. But the posting process takes the control out of their hands.

        • Urban

          If Darvish doesn’t post this year, then he’s never going to post. If I remember correctly, he can be an unrestricted free agent after two more seasons (if this correct?), so if he goes into 2012 still on a Japanese team, then he might as well pitch one more year and then be free to negotiate with all MLB teams, not just the one who wins the posting fee, and keep all the money to himself. If MLB team wants to pay $100 million for him between posting and salary, Darvish may just decided he wants all $100 million for himself, while also selecting which team gets his services.

          This scenario is based on my perhaps mistaken belief that he can choose his own team after 2013.

          • Gus fring

            This is an interesting observation. If true, it seems to be particularly relevant to someone of Darvishs age. He can afford to wait a couple of years since he will still be approaching his prime rather than passing it. While there is obvious risk in such a strategy, the corresponding possibility of gain may be sufficient to tempt the risk.

      • Gus fring

        It’s scary that this has to be explained over and over again, isn’t it Ted? Is the application of opportunity cost understood by anyone of these “spend today, spend tomorrow” profligates? Understand this: no matter how much the Yankees have, any dollar spent on one person is a dollar less they can spend on someone else. Both now and down the line.

  • Miles Davis

    I want Yu to want me. I need Yu to need me

  • Chen Meng Wang

    Me and Yu and Yu and me
    No matter how they toss the dice
    It had to be The only one for me is Yu
    And Yu for me, So happy together.