An Informed Opinion of Yu Darvish

The second worst contract in baseball history
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(Junko Kimura/Getty Images)

Yu Darvish has been and will continue to be a hot topic for at least another week, until we learn which MLB team placed the highest bid for his negotiating rights. It could very well be the Yankees since they have the most money and the need in the rotation, but if you believe what they’ve been saying the last few days, they might not even make a bid at all. I have a hard time believing that, but I guess stranger things have happened.

Meanwhile, until we find out who wins the bid, we’re left debating why the Yankees should or shouldn’t pursue Darvish. We all have our own opinions, but for the most part we’re lacking information. We just don’t know much about the guy, just what we’ve ready over the last year or two. I’m not sure many of us have seen him pitch regularly, and it’s tough to have an informed opinion that way. In an effort to shed some light on Darvish, I’m bringing in Patrick Newman of the indispensable NPB Tracker for some help since he’s actually seen the guy pitch pretty regularly over the last few years.

I met Patrick for the first (and only) time this part March, while in Arizona catching some Spring Training games. We chatted about Darvish and some other players, but what stuck with me most was the list of flaws Patrick rattled off about Japan’s best pitcher. One thing I remembered was him saying that Darvish would get away with some pitches in Japan that MLB hitters wouldn’t let him forget, but otherwise I couldn’t remember much of the conversation. I asked him to repeat that list of flaws to share with the RAB faithful, and he ended up writing nearly 450 words about Darvish. Here are those 450-ish words, unabridged…

First of all, you have a really good memory.

My assessment of Darvish was based on what I saw last season (2010). My big concerns were that he seemed to go to his vertical slider (which is really more like a power curve) quite a bit, and my perception was that he was leaving a lot of them hanging over the middle of the plate. NPB hitters seemed to foul those pitches back a lot of the time, and he wouldn’t get away with those types against MLB hitters. Also last year, he showed a lot of 90-92 mph fastballs, and would top out around 95.

This season he was a lot better. The most obvious difference was his fastball velocity, which was more consistently around 94 and touched 97 on his best days. His cutter seemed to take a step forward this year, giving him three pitches above 90 mph with movement (2-seamer, 4-seamer, cutter). I think the velocity gains are real, as he added 10 kg of strength to his frame last offseason. I didn’t really see the same mistakes with his slider this year, he actually looked like he was using all his stuff effectively. There would be times when decent hitters would start to catch up and foul off his harder stuff, and he’d come right back with a slow curve or softer slider, and the hitter would be helpless. So he looked better overall this year, and my concerns about his mistake pitches and velocity are mostly gone. He’ll certainly still make the odd mistake, as he’s not a robot, but I’m more optimistic about him than I have been of anyone in the past.

Most of these are eyeball-level observations, drawn from memory of the games I watched during the season. So grains of salt apply. Here’s some data for reference and additional context:

This doesn’t mean that Darvish is without question marks. All the usual stuff applies — five-day rotation, different ball, different mound, facing batters that can actually hit home runs, being prepared mentally, coping with travel, etc. I have the impression that Nippon Ham has really let Darvish do his own thing — he tends to tweak his delivery a lot, more than any other pitcher I can think of offhand. Who knows if an MLB pitching coach is going to be cool with that? Also keep in mind that Darvish is going to have more pressure and attention than possibly any player that has preceded him. Ichiro was stalked relentlessly by the Japanese media when he joined the Mariners, but I don’t think the Americans necessarily expected much from him. American fans have been anticipating Darvish for years, so he’ll have the Japanese insanity and the American expectations to live up to. I think he will be successful though, and I hope he is.

I’m glad Patrick reminded us that Darvish isn’t a robot, I feel like we often get too caught up in expecting players — especially pitchers — to be perfect all the time. Jeff Sullivan of Lookout Landing is fond of saying that it’s not easy to throw a strike, and I think we often forget that. Anyway, it’s good to see that I wasn’t just making up all that stuff about Darvish getting away with mistake pitches in Japan, and it’s also good to see that he’s basically as good as ever at the moment. It would be hard for him to pick a better time to come to MLB.

The one thing that I think is important to point out here is that Darvish isn’t Daisuke Matsuzaka, the last mega-hyped pitcher to come out of Japan. Dice-K’s best season with the Seibu Lions was probably 2005, when he pitched to a 2.30 ERA with 226 strikeouts in 215 IP (9.46 K/9). You can make a case that his 2006 season was better — 2.13 ERA with 200 K in 186.1 IP (9.66 K/9) — but I don’t think it’s worth the argument. Now compare that Darvish, who over the last five seasons has averaged a 1.72 ERA with 217 strikeouts in 205 IP (9.53 K/9) for the Nippon Ham Fighters. Dice-K’s best season with the Lions would probably be Darvish’s sixth best season with the Fighters.

Anyway, all we can do now is wait, wait to see if the Yankees placed a bid and wait to see who wins the right to talk to the guy. Darvish certain passes the eye test as a 6-foot-5, 220 lb. right-hander that can dial his fastball up to 97 with an assortment of breaking balls to use when ahead in the count, but there’s always going to be that element of the unknown until he gets on the bump for an MLB team.

The second worst contract in baseball history
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  • Paul from Boston

    Great info. im going to be pissed if the Yanks dont get Darvish. If a posting fee of 60M is a bargain when yo pay the player like a league average starter. It sounds more and more like thats his floor but hes likely to be much much better.

    • Paul from Boston

      If it’s the >Dice-K comparison is true, well Dice-K has been worth almost 10 fWAR in his five seasons. That’s easily worth a $50M contract on top of the posting fee. If Darvish is better, he’ll be a bargain. If he’s exactly Dice-K he will have been worth it.

      • Ted Nelson

        10 fWAR in 5 seasons is worth a $60 million posting fee + ~$10 million per year salary? Even if you cut the posting fee in half to account for luxury tax it would still be $8 million per WAR.

      • Steve (different one)

        You might want to check your math. Also, don’t forget 2012, which he is unlikely to accumulate any more WAR. So, 6 years, 10 WAR, $102m = bust.

      • Slugger27

        none of that is accurate… he was a bust, plain and simple.

        • johnnybk

          For the Yankees purposes we should not count the posting fee. If they’re really trying to reduce payroll a top end starter at 10 million per is a huge asset. I would be very surprised to see them outbid.

      • Tom

        10 fWAR is not 50mil
        A) you are using the made up 5mil/WAR # that Dav Cameron over at Fangraphs has been trying to push on people for the past 2 offseasons now. It’s been in the 4-4.5mil for the past 4 years.
        B) The posting fee is a real cost… the Red Sox paid 100mil to obtain him and got <10fWAR. It may not count toward payroll or salary tax, but it's still money spent to sign the player.

  • Gerald Williams

    Nice write up. Let’s get him please!

  • I am not the droids you’re looking for…

    Well shit if he’s not a robot then forget it. I don’t want him in that case. Though I am not the droids you’re looking for, I could use some company here.

  • Rockdog

    Does anyone know how connected Mark Feinsand and Bill Madden are? I ask because they co-wrote an article for today’s Daily News that states that the Yankees have concerns abotu Darvish and are not expecting to win the bid. Not sure if this is misinformation or real though.

    • Paul from Boston

      Seems like a plant. I bet only a few people know (Cashman, Steinbrothers, Levine) how much they’ll bid while a bunch know they will bid. If the Yankees are going north of $50M to land him, they’ll want to be extremely tight lipped about it, given how the dollars are flying around the sport.

    • Jose M. Vazquez..

      George KingIII in the NY Post also writes about the doubts on the Yankee bidding in today’s post. I would be extremely disappointed if the Yankees did not post a high bid for Yu. I ave seen a million excuses but they seem to want to lower the price on Darvish.

    • MannyGeee

      ‘Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain’

      its a misdirection play I would guess. and they are working hard on selling it. unfortunately, I am not buying, and I am pretty sure the rest of the league is not either

  • Improvident Lackwit

    Hideki Matsui had a ton of attention when he first came over and he did fine. Of course, it helps to hit a grand slam in your first home game.

  • David

    “different ball, different mound,” – what’s this? They use a different ball in Japan? I have never heard that before but it sounds like a significant detail.

    • Bill Tetley

      Yea I saw an article in the Bleacher report showing the insides of both an “American” and “Japanese” ball. Also the mound is softer and the strike zone is bigger.

      These can all be trivial issues that may or may not affect a guy with a ton of raw talent.

    • EricVA

      The ball in Japan is slightly smaller and the seams are raised more.

      • The Big City of Dreams

        I might be wrong but didn’t they switch to the MLB baseball this season?

        • nedro

          In the past, there really was no standardization of the ball in the Japanese leagues; each team had a manufacturer they used, and the balls varied from team to team. Recently there has been a move to use a standard ball, which is more similar to a MLB ball, but not the same. Makes sense, as international competitions such as the WBC use the Rawlings/MLB standard.

  • Leg-End

    Cashman has sent out all the right signals for a ninja move.

    One thing if we don’t win/bid I don’t think this is a “can’t believe we missed him” player, he potentially might be amazing but its risk over reward situation. I will be gutted if we don’t get him but I can see why we would pass.

  • Voice of Reason

    If they don’t want him then they don’t want him, but given that the posting fee won’t count toward the luxury tax (a concern the other likely bidders do not have), you’d think that the Yankees would be more inclined to bid as they’d be “saving” money, so to speak, by sinking their dollars into Darvish as opposed to any other free agent.

  • Bill Tetley

    Darvish is a high risk signing, but the Yankees are the type of team that can afford to gamble. This wont cost us a draft pick and we get to keep the covetted prospects. The only drawback is the luxury tax and the 200+ mill on the books, and the fact that Darvish could struggle.

    An argument can be made either way for this guy but I would be happy as a fan to get him.

    • Uncle Paul

      First of all, love your handle.

      Second, I think everyone is overstating the risk associated with Darvish. I think of it this way – if Darvish were a 25-year-old American-born player who was putting up those numbers in AAA for the past 5 years, he’d be the most coveted prospect in the league. Teams would consider gutting their farm system to trade for him.

      I really do not understand the thought process behind playing coy with the bidding here. If the Yankees want him, they are going to need to place a large bid. I am certain that no other team in the league that “wants” Darvish is going to lower their bid just because Cashman said the Yankees may not be able to bid themselves. If I were Cashman, I would play this the other way – if you want him, say that the Yankees are going all in for Darvish and will be bidding aggressively. That is more likely to scare people off the bidding than otherwise. And in reality, no team is going to exceed $50 or $60 million in their bid for Darvish. If the Yankees lose this bid with something south of $40 million, that would be enraging. Either go all in to win it or do nothing. But playing coy and trying to be cute with a low bid is a fast way to not get your guy. Assuming they want him, of course.

      • Now Batting

        Not really following your logic. If they plan to make a large bid they would downplay their interest. Otherwise teams expected to bid high would probably add a few more million on if the Yankees explicitly said they’ll bet big

      • Bill Tetley

        Oh Uncle Paul…

        I agree, I would be pissed if we lose out because someone like the Nats posts 40 mill and gets this guy.

        Since when are the yanks concered about paying a luxery tax anyway?

        • Steve (different one)

          Since December, when they changed the rules to make it much more expensive to pay it.

      • Voice of Reason

        …yeah part of what makes prospects coveted is that they basically play for free for three years and then at a discount for three after that. Granted there are advantages in not having to surrender a pick and the opportunity to sign a 25 year old free agent of any pedigree comes along once every Alex Rodriguez, but Darvish is a prospect you have to give a guaranteed market value-ish deal to, so the effect is pretty much lost.

  • I Live In My Mom’s Basement

    From Wikipedia: “technical elements are slightly different: a smaller baseball, strike zone, and playing field are used. The Japanese baseball is wound more tightly and is harder than an American baseball. The strike zone is narrower “inside” than away from the batter. Also, five Nippon league teams have undersized home fields (as compared to the post-1958 MLB rule of 325/400/325 with slight allowances for height of fence). “

    • CS Yankee

      Smaller field (to me at least) would mean more outs (GB FB & liners), however it should also play to the long ball.

      I do wonder how much the posting fee is on the up-and-up? Could a Bobby V. get a phone call just before the deadline? Doesn’t sound like a public bid opening & therefore is open to whatever.

      • Rookie

        Given the possibility of such shenanigans, the Yankees would be very foolish to place their bid before the last few seconds.

        • Steve (different one)

          If the bidding was not truly blind, I don’t think you’d have the Sox outbidding everyone by $12-15m for matsuzaka. But if there were shananigans, the yanks should just submit a piece of paper that says “highest bid + $1m”…

          • MannyGeee

            LOL… the price is wrong, bitch!

            /Happy Gilmore’d

    • Jose M. Vazquez..

      If the ball is wound tighter it stands to reason that it would travel farther when hit and in an undersized field more so.

    • Jose M. Vazquez..

      If the ball is wound tighter it stands to reason that it would travel farther when hit and in an undersized field more so. Taking this into account then Darvish is better than advertised.

      • I Live In My Mom’s Basement

        Smaller ball would probably be slightly easier to grip. The spin mechanics would just be different– it would take a slightly different grip and wrist motion to maximize break.

      • MannyGeee

        The ball is wound tighter in order to facilitate better action and conrtol of Gyro-Balls…

    • JohnnyC

      The players as well are “undersized.” For the most part. Tuffy Rhodes, not Japanese, hit 474 homers in 11 seasons in Japan. Tuffy Rhodes.

      • Jose M. Vazquez..

        Tuffy Rhodes hit 3 homers in his debut in the NL for the Cubs. Then he disappeared.

      • John Ya Ya

        And his MLB 162-game average is a sparkling 9 HR’s per year.

  • UncleArgyle

    I’m definately in favor of the Yankees spending upwards of 50 mil just to negotiate with this guy. Flex those financial muscles baby!

  • Avi

    Being better than dice-k doesn’t make him worthy of a $100mm + outlay.

    • Avi

      Also a player’s level of succes in Japan isn’t an indicator to how successfull he’ll be here. Kuroda wasn’t nearly as good as dice-k in Japan and was far more effective here.

      • Voice of Reason

        Indeed, Kuroda’s stats in the states barely differ at all from where they were in Japan, whereas Dice-K’s are drastically worse. Same with Hideo Nomo and Hideki Irabu. Point is there might not be quite a large enough sample of imports to project Japanese pitchers all that reliably, and even if there were you can never really know on an individual basis. I can’t find any GB/FB numbers for Darvish, but based on his homer totals he’d pretty much have to have a strong ground ball tendency, which would certainly help his chances.

        • MannyGeee

          which is EXACTLY where you rely on advanced scouting (and not sample sizes) on Japanese players. they know what to look for, know the factors that would affect the player, and know their real strengths and weaknesses (league adjusted) before throwing the checkbook at them.

      • Gonzo

        If you look at the #’s, Dice-K and Kuroda have similar value in both both bWAR and fWAR. In a fWAR per inning comparison, they are not that far off each other, but Hiroki wins. In a bWAR comparison, Dice-k wins the per inning bWAR comparison.

        I was surprised too.

    • CS Yankee

      His agent would highly disagree.

    • I Live In My Mom’s Basement

      I would gladly take Dice-K’s first two years, extrapolated across 5 years, for 100M. His 2008 season was outstanding.

  • gargoyle

    People are focussing on the posting bid but I think the contract negotiation is going to be just as hairy. He’s going to want a lot more than Dice K got. IMO if the Yankees win the bid he’ll be looking for AJ money.

    • A.D.

      Maybe, but if you don’t come to terms it doesn’t cost you anything

  • Holy Ghost

    From the NYDN article on Darvish today, the Yanks seem like they will make a bid but they doubt that they will be the highest bidder. That could be true given that the Rangers and Blue Jays are expected to go all in for Darvish. It could also be the Yankees playing poker and not letting other teams know how interested they are. We will find out soon…

    • Steve (different one)

      But AJ got $82.5m because the Braves offered $80m (definition of winners curse). Darvish can want whatever, but unless he is willing to go back to Japan (which he may be, who knows) he doesn’t have that type of leverage.

      • Holy Ghost

        In terms of his contract, I don’t think he’ll sign for less annually than what he will be paid if he stays in Japan. I think he makes something like 5 or 6 mil per season in Japan. So the Yanks will probably have to offer him at least 8 to 10 mil per year to sign him.

        • MannyGeee

          for the record, Darvish made 500M Yen in 2011, which converts to a whopping $6.4M.

          yeah, thats about 1M yen more than Bruce Chen just signed for, and just about Aaron Harang territory…

          This was Dice-Ks contract, for what its worth (before award bonuses with such lay-ups as AL MVP and Cy Youngs):
          07:$6M, 08:$8M, 09:$8M, 10:$8M, 11:$10M, 12:$10M

          I think $8M-10M per will get him there.

  • the Other Steve S.

    No gyro-ball? Don’t want…

    • Bob Stone

      I remember the gyro-ball hype. That is funny.

    • Gonzo

      That was awesome. The mystery of the gyro ball!

      • JohnnyC

        No mystery. He never threw a gyro ball. He ate a gyro between innings.

        • Gonzo

          Pay the man, Shirley!

        • MannyGeee

          Japan = Eat Gyro between innings.
          America = Fried Chicken and Natty Lights after the 6th.

          no wonder the Japanese can’t adjust to our style of play!

    • John Ya Ya

      Almost as good as Sidd Finch.

  • Juke Early

    Darvish has true MLB top of rotation SP potential. Some of his personality might actually help him — I don’t know why or care why his pop star wife is splitting. But having that life experience would suit him more than most 25 year olds for the NYC, international urban spotlite. Being multi-racial, he also has lived cross cultures in his own home, during his formative years.

    No doubt the TX Rangers, no matter what their BS is, will be placing a huge bid. No way the BJs beat them. The wild card is if the Yankees are in the game.
    Curiosity alone, makes me hope they are.

    • Jim B

      Rangers are out on Darvish. They owe 30 million to former CEO due at same time Darvish’s posting fee would be due. Also their huge billion dollar TV deal everyone has been talking about does not start until 2015. They are more interested in pursuing cheaper options like Garza.

  • JohnC

    Wouldn’t be surprised if the nationals win the bidding. Bet they dream of a 1-2 punch of Strasburg and Darvish leading their rotation for the next several years

    • Gonzo

      Don’t forget JZImm. Ted Lerner has deep pockets. I was wondering when he was going to flex his financial muscles and was surprised they chose to do it with Werth.

  • Bob Stone

    Great article Mike. Given the small sample size of Japanese players in MLB, this is definitely a huge gamble. Aside from all the stats, you have to take into consideration that the guy is 6’5″, 220lbs.

    I say go for broke, go all in and submit the winning bid. Then negotiate hard but sign the guy.

  • Bob Stone

    Has anyone heard the Red Sox interest level? I’d hate most to see Darvish go to Boston. I would think Bobby Valentine is an asset in helping Cherrington and the Sox to decide their strategy.

    • Jesse

      All I know is that Bobby Valentine thinks that Darvish is the greatest pitcher he’s ever seen.

      • Gonzo

        Josh Beckett is upset by this.

        • I Live In My Mom’s Basement

          Yeah, who wants players in the clubhouse eating tempura and drinking sake during the late innings.

          • Bob Stone

            ++28 – Very funny.

    • JohnnyC

      The luxury tax kicks in above 178 million in 2012. Red Sox are not going over the limit. Especially now that Lucchino is running the organization. They’re going the trade route for guys like Gio, Danks, Andrew Bailey, etc. to fill out their staff.

    • MannyGeee

      Cherington on Posting for Darvish:
      ‘I’m not sure the timing of the offseason puts us in a position to be the most aggressive team,” general manager Ben Cherington said yesterday before checking out of the Hilton Anatole at the conclusion of the winter meetings. “We’ll certainly discuss it and figure out if a post makes sense, but we’ve got a lot of commitment to the starting rotation and feel pretty good about the front end of our rotation’

      Read: I’d love to play, but Lackey and Beckett have my nuts in a vice here.

  • theyankeewarrior

    I have a hard time believing that the Yankees won’t get most/all of their bid back in added revenues from Japanese fans. If Darvish becomes a Yankee, their profits in the (massive) Asian market will soar.

    He will only command a 5/6 year deal @ ~9M per. That seems worth the risk for a 25-year-old fireballer with ace potential.

    Just my 2cents

    • Bob Stone

      The profit potential in the Asian market is usually somewhat overstated. Remeber that sales of Official Yankee Gear go into a pool(as with all other MLB clubs) and are split with the other teams.

      The real revenue potential seems to be advertising in the Stadium, YES and the YES web site that appeals to the Asian market segment. But that being said, I don’t see much open ad real estate in the Stadium and the Yankees are close to being sold out every year. I’m not sure of the implications for the YES web site.

      Asian market revenue sounds great, and makes sense intuitively, but I don’t understand from where is derives.

      If someone knows other facts, I would love to be educated on this topic.

      • MannyGeee

        remove: Utz Potato Chips
        insert: Toyota!

        problem solved

  • Gonzo

    That picture makes him look like he’s in great shape. I mean compared to Red Sox Dice-K he looks like he’s Jack LaLanne. Is that the case?

    • Bob Stone

      It looks that way.

      He is certainly not the “fat pussy toad” that George Steinbrenner said Hidecki Irabu was.

  • Jumpin’ Jack Swisher

    You mean he’s not penciled in already for the 2012 Cy Young Award? I’m shocked. I read here that, without signing him, the Yankees automatically revert back to 1991, and we know Wade Taylor is not as young as he used to be.

    He’s still worth rolling the dice on, but I still view him as one damn expensive luxury lottery ticket.

    • JobaWockeeZ

      Congratulations on learning excggerations. Bravo.

      • Jumpin’ Jack Swisher

        That would have been more effective had you spelled your flame correctly.

        If you want exaggeration, there’s plenty of comments on here in which the team faces certain doom if they don’t sign him.

  • Rookie

    Boston #1, Texas #2, Yankees #3.

    • Rookie

      I think the Red Sox are the one team in baseball who would have the gall to place a huge bid on the posting fee and play super hardball on the contract.

  • Paul VuvuZuvella

    Yu San to Yankee land. Hai!!!

    • Bob Stone

      Dai ichi comment.

  • craig

    I may be wrong, but I thought that I have read the difference in balls should probably cause a loss of 2-3 mph.

    I don’t think that is a deal-breaker (and I am as high on Darvish as you can be on someone you’ve never actually seen pitch), but I think expectations should be tempered. The guy is not likely going to come here and be throwing 97 mph regularly.

  • BK2ATL

    I hope we go all in on the kid. The potential for success clearly appears to outweigh the potential for failure, in this specific instance. The cost benefits is something that we can advantage of now, for the next 6 years, rather than having to struggle with austerity measures leading up to 2014 and after. Plus, Darvish’s AAV salary will be significantly less than most of the top projected 2012 FA class. And he won’t cost any prospects or draft picks.

    One other tidbit that I read from Ken Rosenthal yesterday regarding the previous early favorite for Darvish. Texas might not be a player in this Darvish posting. They are due to make a $30 million payout to the former CEO of the Rangers within the exact timeframe of the Darvish posting period, AND they also must cough up $12 million for some stadium expenditures at the same time. That’s $42 million out the door. If I read it correct, Rosenthal believes that was another part of the reason that they let Wilson go.

    Should be interesting to see how this plays out. I don’t think Boston will be a player in this, but I could see Toronto and Washington make a play. However, Toronto has been trying to get Gio Gonzalez. Texas wants in on Matt Garza. Boston is looking at Danks, Gonzalez and Floyd. I hope Cashman reads the market correctly and waits until the very end to make a substantial bid. I’m thinking $45-50 million takes Darvish’s posting rights.

  • RJA

    Posting Fee……$50 million
    Contract ………$70 million
    Total………….$120 million/5 years = $24 million/year

    CC Sabathia…..$23 million/year
    Roy Halladay….$20 million/year
    Tim Lincecum…..$23 million/year

    The above would make Yu Darvish the highest paid pitcher in MLB without ever throwing a pitch…….is that worth the risk?…does that make sense?

    • Ted Nelson

      It doesn’t make sense from the Yankees’ perspective because you are not discounting the posting fee for the luxury tax. I believe the new CBA taxes 50% for the luxury tax… so if the Yankees are above by Yu’s salary the whole time, he’d save them $25 million. (Maybe they won’t be above, of course… who knows?) That would mean something more like $19 million per… which puts him a lot closer to AJ, Lackey range.

      You also pulled the $50 million and $70 million numbers out of the air as far as I know.

      • RJA

        Well of course no one knows what the final Posting/Contract price will be, but I used what many so called “experts” are saying will be needed to get him.

        Also even though the Posting fee doesn’t count against the Luxury tax, it still represents an outlay of money to sign, whereas you could use that money for another PROVEN pitcher who has at least thrown a pitch in the majors.

        Heh, he might be great or he could just end up being good and a 2nd or 3rd rotation guy. Then you start comparing the OVERALL expense against what others in the majors are making…..just saying.

        • Ted Nelson

          You are twisting the facts to make a point you could easily make without twisting them.

          The “OVERALL” expense is discounted heavily by not paying the luxury tax on the posting fee. He’ll still be very expensive, but not nearly as expensive as the pitchers you compare him to.

          I tried to break it down for you above. If the Yankees signed another MLB veteran) to a $20 million annual salary, they’d actually be paying something like $28-30 million per for that guy (not sure if the new CBA has the luxury tax at 40 or 50%). With Darvish they would not be taxed on the posting fee portion. Say they bid $60 million and then sign him to a 6 year $60 million contract. He is making over $25 million per (when considering time value of money or interest on a loan to pay the posting fee), but that is not the same $28-30 mill per the proven MLB guy would make. Plus the new CBA offers what some have estimated as a $10 million annual incentive for the Yankees to keep their luxury tax number under $189.

          $14 million per in salary would also be a huge increase from what Dice-K got.

          A. It’s expensive, but it’s not accurate that he’ll be the most expensive pitcher in the game from the Yankees’ perspective (since they are above the luxury tax).
          B. MLB vets bust all the time. It’s not a roll of the dice vs. a sure thing. Probably a marginally larger role of the dice, I would agree.

          • RJA

            You are taking it from a uniquely Yankee point of view (or any other team that is up against the luxury tax). I am taking a view from the majority of teams that are not in that threshold. In those cases they should at least CONSIDER my point.

            • Ted Nelson

              You make a lot of assumptions on price and risk vs. a “proven” MLB starter that they might not have to consider at all.

      • Holy Ghost

        “You also pulled the $50 million and $70 million numbers out of the air as far as I know.”

        It’s not out of thin air.

        You don’t really think his posting fee will be less than the 50 million that Boston paid for Dice-K do you?

        • Ted Nelson

          I have no idea. I also don’t know that he’s get $14 millio annual salary, or 60% more than Dice-K. $70 million for 5 years would be $14 million per… Dice-K got 6 year $52 million, or $8.667 mill per.

    • Steve (different one)

      The contract may not be that high. Or it might cover 6 years. Overall, you have a point, but the luxury tax needs to be factored in as well. IOW, if they aren’t paying Darvish $10m to fill the #2 spot, they’ll be paying someone else $17m.

    • A.D.

      This is probably a bit worse case scenario for Yu, but we can go with it. The main argument for is basically the following:

      1. Those players aren’t available (few similar players maybe next year, but not a guaranteed) & all of them cost a bit more than money shown (draft picks, signing bonuses, prospects)

      2. Those contracts (except for Lincecum) require paying for back-end years of production which carry significant risk, just as there’s the risk for Yu not making his ceiling there is risk of decline/injury from ceiling from the veterans as they move past prime(although Yu would presumably carry more risk)

      3. Luxury tax: assuming the extreme of the Yankees are right up against the Luxury tax but below it with Yu’s salary therefore the 50M for a proven MLB pitcher is taxed at 50% and thus the contract costs an extra 25M to the Yankees

  • Chip Chipperson

    Yeah…we should like get this Japan pitcher…yu know what I mean or somethin’

  • Ted Nelson

    The interesting thing is that the Yankees can make an extremely aggressive bid… and still lose. Fans who want the Yankees to guarantee they get Darvish need to realize not only that driving up his price is not in their own interest (as others have pointed out), but also that they have very, very little control over what other teams bid. Saying they won’t bid might just be the best way to exercise what little control they have.

    The sample is tiny, buy the problem with elite Japanese SPs has more been durability than immediate results. People act like he’s a total mystery his first season, and I don’t see that. Nomo, Dice-K, and Koji Uehara all had their career seasons as rookies, and Kuroda had one of his best seasons as well. Even Irabu had his only two full seasons early. Shigetoshi Hasegawa was pretty much as good as he got as a rookie, though he sustained it decently in the pen.
    The guys I found who got better, got better because their IP increased with new teams: Tomo Ohka and Mac Suzuki.
    Kazuhiro Sasaki is about the only guy who noticeably improved after his rookie season, and the ERA stayed the same. Kaz Ishii also had a slightly better second season. I don’t know how their Japanese performance compared to Yu.

    It’s probably too small a sample to draw meaningful conclusions (especially about someone as elite in Japan as Yu), but the trend seems to point towards a strong first season that he may or may not be able to sustain.

    And, of course, he needs to be compared to other pitchers who are not robots. Very few MLB pitchers sustain a high level of success for a number of years. “Proven” MLB SPs who get $70-100+ million contracts bust on a regular basis.

    • Bob Stone

      Just foe the record, I beleive that Tomo Ohka was Korean. I don’t know if that makes a difference.

      • Ted Nelson

        Born in Kyoto (Japan) and was purchased by the Red Sox from the Yokohama BayStars of Japan.

        I don’t know of any connection to Korea, but maybe there is one.

        • Bob Stone

          I guess I am mistaken. I knew he came up with the Sox but thought he was Korean.

          Looked it up. You are right. I was told, years ago by a fairly knowledgeable Red Sox fan, that he is Korean.

          Goes to show how much some Red Sox fans know – LOL.

  • Sweet Dick Willie

    People are making a big deal about the posting fee not being subject to the luxury tax, and while true, I would bet there are still some major concerns on the Yankees part.

    One, the posting fee is due when the player signs, whereas the luxury tax is due at the end of the season.

    So for a totally hypothetical example, if the Yanks win with a $50 million bid and sign him to a 5 year $45 mil contract, the Yankees would be out $50 mil right now, plus $3.6 mil due at the end of each of the next 5 years, for a total of $68 million.

    Alternatively, should they sign Hamels next year to a 7 year $161 mil deal, they would owe $9.2/yr in luxury tax, beginning after the close of the 2013 season, for a total of $64.4 million.

    So not only does Darvish cost more on an absolute basis than Hamels (in my admittedly purely hypothetical example), but the time value of money clearly tips the scales in favor of Hamels.

    • Steve (different one)

      Very good point on the time value of money, but I don’t see how your example shows the Hamels situation is better. The whole trick with the luxury tax is to get under the threshold. Darvish gives them a shot at doing that. Giving Hamels $23m/year is going to make that very difficult. If the luxury tax were a constant tax, starting from dollar 1, your example would hold. But it’s not. The goal is to maximize the talent in your roster and stay under $189m under the luxury tax rules. That is slightly different than trying to spend he fewest absolute dollars.

      The one thing this does is help illustrate that the Yankees will prob not sign Darvish and ALSO be all in for another big contract next winter….

      • Sweet Dick Willie

        My example was that the Yanks were subject to the luxury tax in both scenarios.

        If Darvish’s (hypothetical) $9 mil/yr salary kept them under the threshold while Hamel’s salary put them over, then you are absolutely correct.

        • Ted Nelson

          Again… you’re ignoring half the equation by ignoring the salaries.

          No one is arguing that Darvish’s posting fee is cheaper than Hamels’ luxury tax bill. What they are arguing is that the overall cost of the player is discounted because the posting fee is not luxury taxed.

          You are arguing against an irrelevant point no one made.

    • Ted Nelson

      I totally agree that not being subject to the luxury tax doesn’t make it free money.

      I don’t buy your time value of money argument, though. The Yankees probably have a line of credit they could use to borrow the posting fee and pay back with interest. I have no idea which option they view as preferable given their financial realities, but I imagine the Yankees can get $50-70 million in credit at a pretty good rate if they don’t want to be out the $ now.

      I also don’t get your math. Assuming those numbers, the Yankees would be out $225.4 million on Hamels vs. $113 on Darvish. They have to pay their salaries as well…

      • Sweet Dick Willie

        Borrowing the posting and paying back is not related to my argument. By the same rational, you could say that the Yanks could borrow the luxury tax and pay it back with interest.

        My math is just related to the luxury tax vs the posting fee. The total dollars is higher for Hamels because his contract is higher (because he’s performed in MLB).

        The purpose of my post was to counteract the argument that since the posting fee is not subject to the luxury tax it’s cheaper. Not necessarily.

        • Ted Nelson

          The time value of money argument does change if you can borrow the money.

          Who cares about the luxury tax vs. posting fee without considering the salary?

          It is necessarily cheaper, yes. You compared apples and oranges by ignoring the salaries. Yu is getting a lower salary is part because they team just had to pay a posting fee to get him.

          • Sweet Dick Willie

            I respectfully disagree.

            Darvish will command a lower salary because he has never thrown a pitch in MLB.

            His salary will be < 1/2 of say, Hamels, because of the risk factor, not the posting fee.

            If the (potential) luxury tax won't be factored into Hamel's salary (which it won't), what makes you say that the posting fee will be factored into Darvish's salary?

            • Ted Nelson

              I did not say that there isn’t a difference in risk that also impacts the price. I said one factor is that the posting fee will be incurred by the team, so they are going to consider that in their offer. He also cannot negotiate with any other team, so he either has to sign with the winning bidder or return to Japan.

              Luxury tax will be considered in Hamels’ deal and the posting fee will be considered in Yu’s deal… because those are real costs that the team incurs. If they don’t factor in those costs, they are not doing their jobs. Are you going to ignore the down payment when buying a house? When you budget for the year, do you plan on spending your gross salary without thinking that taxes will be taken out of it?
              That the media ignores those things does not mean that the team’s finance department and owner(s) do.

              • Sweet Dick Willie

                He also cannot negotiate with any other team, so he either has to sign with the winning bidder or return to Japan.

                Bingo! That is by far and away the PRIMARY reason his salary will be lower; he’s not a free agent.

                From the team’s standpoint, of course the luxury tax is factored into the offer.

                From Hamel’s standpoint, and thus the winning offer, it won’t. He’s concerned with what he gets, not what the team has to pay.

                • Ted Nelson

                  Your argument was originally that based around not even considering salaries. I have no idea how we got here.

    • Cris Pengiucci

      Not sure where that extra $3.6 mil at the end of each season or year for the next 5 years comes from. Can you explain? Thanks.

      • Sweet Dick Willie

        That’s the luxury tax on Darvish’s hypothetical $9 mil/yr salary.

        • Cris Pengiucci

          Not necessarily a valid assumption. One of the advantages of signing Darvish (over a current FA or a trade candidate) is that the AAV of the contract could allow the Yankees to stay under the luxury tax threshold after 2014, thereby eliminating that $3.6 mil/yr. We don’t know for sure either way.

  • JohnnyC

    Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Rangers are not bidding on Darvish due to budget restrictions. More likely to trade for Garza or Wade Davis.

    • Ted Nelson

      I view that the same way as I view reports about the Yankees not bidding: as likely to be invalid as valid. Not only can expressing luke warm feeling behoove them in the bidding process, but also the negotiations process should they win the bid. If you come out and say the kid is the next Roger Clemens before you even bid, his agent is probably going to remind you of how much Clemens got paid. If you mention you’re about as interested in Wade Davis as Yu… you can remind his agent how much Davis gets paid. Not necessarily a game changer, but should be a marginal help to the team.

  • Todd

    Just a question for those that are more informed… Why couldn’t the Yankees front load a contract for this guy? It would keep the future budgets where they would like them and if he is a bust it would be easier to trade him.

    • Bob Stone

      As I understand it, total team player payroll is calculated on AAV (Average Annual Value) of each player’s contract. So it doesn’t matter when it is actually paid out.

  • jay


  • gc

    Does the player *have* to sign with the team that wins the bid? I honestly don’t know, so any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

    • RJA

      No the player doesn’t have to sign with the team that wins the bid. He would then go back to his Japanese team.

    • MannyGeee

      sign or go back to Japan.

  • Jose M. Vazquez..

    I have been pondering that Matzuzaka may have been injured after his second year and most of us fans have attributed his inefficiency to just being no good. I mean, he did have two pretty good seasons. I mention this because of all the comparisons between him and Darvish.

    • MannyGeee

      so he went 3 seasons with his bum shoulder? something that was never caught during any of his off-season physicals? and just now they decided to shut him down?

      sorry, not buying. he got figured out because he was touching 89 on the gun and didnt have the secondary stuff to back it up, contrary to popular belief

  • Sam

    GC: No, the player does not have to sign with the team that wins the bid. He can’t negotiate with any other team though. So if a deal is not reached between the winning team and the player, the posting money is returned and, I think, the player returns to Japan.

  • Bob Stone

    at the risk of irritating some posters here, I am reposting an earlier comment because I would really like to know if I have these facts right:

    “The profit potential in the Asian market is usually somewhat overstated. Remeber that sales of Official Yankee Gear go into a pool(as with all other MLB clubs) and are split with the other teams.

    The real revenue potential seems to be advertising in the Stadium, YES and the YES web site that appeals to the Asian market segment. But that being said, I don’t see much open ad real estate in the Stadium and the Yankees are close to being sold out every year. I’m not sure of the implications for the YES web site.

    Asian market revenue sounds great, and makes sense intuitively, but I don’t understand from where is derives.

    If someone knows other facts, I would love to be educated on this topic.”

    • Ted Nelson

      I have no idea exactly how revenue and costs break down for the Yankees, but not having open billboards doesn’t mean the sold billboards can’t go up in price next season. Same with seats. Same with ads on YES. Greater demand should increase the price for a good with a fixed supply.

      I also believe that the Yankees are or were on network television in Japan. Darvish could certainly sweeten that pot if Japanese viewers are interested in following him in MLB.

      I think one estimate had Matsui’s revenue generation at $19 million per year. Can’t remember the details and I don’t know what a comparable player from another country would generate, but if that estimate is accurate he seems to have paid for himself off the field.

      I certainly think some people overstate it. But I do think there’s a marginal benefit to having a superstar from Japan. Might be of even greater benefit to a team no one is currently watching in Japan that would suddenly gain popularity, assuming the Yankees are already pretty popular there.

      • Bob Stone

        Thank you Ted. You’ve made several good points.

        I remember the same figure you state for the extra value of Hidecki Matsui. But, I also think that others argued that it wouldn’t be anywhere near that high due to Yankee gear going into the MLB pool and other factors like the Yankees being sold out.

        I agree that there is definitely some incremental revenue benefit with a established Japanese star player (and I think that value is higher when he plays for a team like the Yankees or Red Sox, Philly or the Dodgers). I am just not sure how you arrive at an accurate estimate.

  • ash

    when was he posted again? was it last week?

  • Kosmo

    How many teams will post a competitive bid for Darvish ?
    The only teams in MO who would figure to be in on Darvish are the Yanks, Red Sox, Toronto, Nationals and maybe Texas. The rest of MLB either have for the most part their SP in order or are teams that would not be able to pony up the 100 million or so for Darvish. My feeling is the Sox are not in on it, at least competitively . Would a team like Toronto post a 50 million fee ? Makes me wonder.
    If NY posts 54-56 million that would just about blow everyone out of the water.
    And if NY wins the bid and signs Darvish it opens up other trade possibilities.

    • Bob Stone

      I believe he was posted last Wednesday and bids have to be submitted by tomorrow (not sure what time – 5pm EST??)

    • CS Yankee

      like AJ to the Mets for a used Reyes bobblehead?

  • Patrick Newman

    Matsui didn’t have the years of build up on the US side that Darvish has had. He also had the benefit of playing for the Yomiuri Giants, who are probably most scrutinized team in the world, so he was kind of prepared for that aspect of the MLB move. Darvish has the scrutiny as well, but the attention on him is going to be immense, at least until we get used to him being a Major Leaguer.

    • Bob Stone

      He was built up to some degree as the first Japanese player that could have real home run power in MLB. There were some pretty high expectations for his home run power in MLB.

      • CS Yankee

        He was no Godzilla with the bat, but still real solid and worth every dollar in the end.

        His nickname should of been reduced to one of those “sea monsters” that Godzilla would destroy after losing the first few rounds to.

  • Rookie

    Isn’t it amazing that according to Rosenthal the Rangers aren’t going to bid aggressively. According to the Boston GM, the Red Sox aren’t going to bid aggressively, if at all. And based on Cashman’s nonchalance, the Yankees aren’t going to bid aggressively or at all either.

    Based on the journalists and the teams, maybe Tampa Bay will win the auction with a bid of $9.99.

    (Reminiscent of the articles before the Dice-K posting, huh?)