May
22

Cafardo: Yankees among teams interested in Masahiro Tanaka

By

Via Nick Cafardo: The Yankees are one of several teams with interest in Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka. Danny Knobler recently reported the Rakuten Golden Eagles are expected to make their ace available via the posting system following this season.

Tanaka, 24, has pitched to a 2.08 ERA with a 45/9 K/BB in 52 innings across seven starts this year. Since the start of the 2010 season, he owns a 1.57 ERA with 9.1 K/9 (25.6 K%) and 2.0 BB/9 (3.1 BB%). One scout told Knobler that Tanaka has “a wipeout split-finger fastball” and “a good slider” to go with solid velocity, though it’s unclear if he can remain a starter long-term. He has missed time with shoulder issues (strains and inflammation, mostly) over the years.

The Yankees have shunned the Japanese pitching market since the Kei Igawa fiasco, and Brian Cashman explained why in a recent interview with Index Universe. They’re concerned about difference in pitching routines as well as the cultural adjustment. Tanaka is not Yu Darvish and frankly he’s not even Daisuke Matsuzaka, but he’s still someone worth keeping an eye on over the next several months. The Yankees can’t ignore Japanese pitchers forever.

Categories : Asides, Hot Stove League
  • Jerkface

    Maybe they should have been more interested in Yu Darvish. Tanaka is a good pitcher who is dominating the NPB but he doesn’t have Darvish’s stuff, frame, or pitching mechanics.

    • Bo Knows

      Actually he does on the mechanics part, Japanese baseball really follows a cookie cutter approach when it comes to pitching delivery, they heavily stress. With the exception of a few barely noticeable quirks (i.e. Dice-K’s weird butt wiggle), the delivery is practically the same.

      • Jerkface

        Tanaka has a hesitation style full windup and a much higher leg kick. Yu Darvish is far more drop and drive. But yes there are similarities because the NPB is a copy cat league.

  • Pseudoyanks

    iie

  • trr

    No, we shouldn’t ignore them, but knee-jerk signings like Kei Igawa only set us back in every way possible. Due diligence, heavy scouting, and a resonable approach are needed.

    • Jerkface

      Also needed: bidding a competitive posting fee when a supreme talent like Yu Darvish becomes available.

      If the Yankees keep settling on lesser talents at marked up prices they will run themselves out of the NBP market due to their own illogic.

      • MannyGeee

        The whole “blind posting” process is completely flawed. The entire posting process is flawed as well, but I digress.

        • Bavarian Yankee

          yeah, the blind posting is stupid and it really doesn’t help anyone that’s involved. Some bidding wars would be very nice if you ask me.

          • MannyGeee

            Also, for a league that seems to be bending over backwards to promote parity and strip advantages from the big spending teams, supporting a system that directly benefits teams that are willing to spend like drunken sailors doesn’t seem to fit the mold.

      • pat

        How will that run themselves out of the NBP market?

        • Jerkface

          I think the Yankees may make Igawa-like mistakes where they overpay from a talent stand point, end up with disappointments, and distance themselves from a burgeoning talent market.

          They did fire the scouts from the igawa debacle, so maybe they are getting better in that area, but their bid on Darvish who is like a prime example of the type of guy you should lay money on makes me think they are going to end up misstepping.

          • jsbrendog

            see the way i look at it is the yankees were fair to be cautious until one of these japanese guys distinguished themselves and made themselves worth the money. yes it is a crap shoot but basically every posted player has been a bust.

            nomo “retired” to become a free agent and kuroda played out his contract and became an FA and came to murka.

            so, if darvish keeps this up and shows that they will not all be busts then i would like to think they will put more focus on future posted players. im prob just projecting how i would have done it in hindsight on them but i like to think they know what they are doing

    • MannyGeee

      Yeah, I think the “knee-jerk”-ness of the Igawa signing, in and of itself not only reeked of desperation, but creates(created) an unfair paradox to all Japanese pitchers that the Yankees are carrying around like old luggage.

      That being said, Cashman makes very good points in that article. Its the “same game”, but the approach is as different as bowling and soccer. Look at the trouble (outside of sucking) that Dice-K had to adjusting culturally and in preparation.

  • Fezz

    They can and absolutely should ignore japanese pitchers. go back even further from kei igawa to the hideki irabu experiment. it might be ignorance on my part as well but the competition doesn’t seem quite as high in japan as it is in MLB either; mostly from the fact that the japanese league always seems to be in a rush to sign has-beens, never-weres and washed up players that are cast off here in the states.

    other than Ichiro and Darvish for the first year and a half, matsui for a few years with the Yankees and then matsusaka for about a year and a half .. how many japanese players come over and become stars? for every ichiro there seems to be a half-dozen kaz matsui’s.

    it’s ashame they didn’t think about offering crazy amounts of cash to gerit cole when they drafted him a few years ago, rather than thinking about paying a crazy posting fee to get some japanese pitcher with shoulder issues

    • The Evil Umpire

      If I remember correctly, the Yankees did offer Garrit Cole an insane bonus to sign, but he was hell bent on going to college at that time.

      • Mike

        yeah .. because he wanted to party . smoke pot . .and bang freshman girls .

        • JohnnyC

          You’re only young once…unless, of course, you take PEDs.

        • Bo Knows

          He could have still parties and screwed even hotter girls…nothing says happy bed fun time like the line “Hi I’m a millionaire pro athlete with the NY Yankees.”

          Considering how good he is, he might have already been in the Bronx with a rookie season under his belt had he gone straight to pro-ball.

          • trr

            and a bevy of super models awaitin’
            Oh, the humanity!

        • trr

          you say it like it’s a bad thing

    • Scout

      Hmmm…seems to be the Yankees now have a Japanese pitcher who is performing as well as or better than any other starter. Fellow by the name of Kuroda.

    • Mandy Stankiewicz

      ” …for every ichiro there seems to be a half-dozen kaz matsui’s”
      And for every Derek Jeter there’s 10 dozen Andy Stankiewicz’s…what’s your point?

      • JohnnyC

        The point is you don’t have to pay a posting fee on top of a multi-year contract to get the services of Andy Stankiewicz.

        • mitch

          How many Japanese players require huge posting fees and multi-year contracts? Only a few guys have gotten big money. Most of the Stankiewicz-level guys were bought for pocket change.

          Saying the Yankees should avoid Japanese players because they got burned with Igawa is ridiculous. That’s just closing off a potential avenue to acquire talent.

          • Bo Knows

            The talented ones require a ton of money, Tanaka was the 2nd best pitcher when Darvish was there, now he’s top dog. He probably won’t command the 50+ million, but its not impossible that he doesn’t cost Dice-K type posting fee.

            • mitch

              That may be so. I’d honestly never heard of him until this article. My point is that you can’t avoid Japanese pitchers because of a couple bad experiences. You have to trust the scouting.

              • Bo Knows

                no offense but how often do you pay attention to the NPB league? It’s not unusual at all to never hear about stars from that league until a few months prior to them posting, I’ll be the first to admit I’d never heard of Darvish until a few months prior.

        • Mandy Stankiewicz

          Exactly. Nobody pays a posting fee for a replacement-level player, e.g. Ichiro

          • trr

            look it’s not Ichiro’s fault he got old.
            It’s out fault for overpaying him

            • vicki

              so much wisdom in this.

              • trr

                I’m getting old, but I’m still waiting to be overpayed. Maybe they could set up a posting fee for me?

            • Mandy Stankiewicz

              Opps, I meant he deserved the posting fee and contract when he was a rookie. ROY!

        • Tim B

          I hate these posting fees/bid wars. Why cant they just count as international signings with no salary limit?

          • trr

            It’s what they want in Japan, basically. I work for a Japanese company, and have been fully exposed to their business practices. I love the people, but it’s just a different culture at work

    • jsbrendog

      hideo nomo.
      hideki matsui.
      iwakuma is doing a bang up job in seattle.

      then you have guys like mac suzuki and kurt suzuki who are pretty good players.

      saito was good for awhile too.

      • Bavarian Yankee

        Kurt Suzuki isn’t Japanese and has never played in Japan. I think he’s from Hawaii.

        • jsbrendog

          something that could’ve been brought to my attention YESTERDAY!!!

          but yeah, my bad. haha. oops.

    • Need Pitching & Hitting (but mostly hitting)

      How do you not even at least acknowledge HIROK?

      • JobaWockeeZ

        That’s what you do when there’s a blatant counterexample right in your face.

  • Bavarian Yankee

    the latest Japanese pitching imports around the majors have been pretty damn good, so I EXPECT the Yanks to explore that market.

    • jsbrendog

      exactly my point earlier. now that the latest imports have been pretty damn good you jump bck into the market. I couldn’t blame them for holding back until someone showed they were actually worth it.

    • Tim B

      They are afraid of Japanese pitchers who havent played in the MLB or minor leagues. Basball is different between Japan & U.S., they trust veteran Japanese pitchers who have proven that they can play at the MLB level like Kuroda

  • Manny’s BanWagon

    Hopefully Kuroda’s brilliance will open up their eyes again to Japanese pitchers because I think they made a mistake not going all out for Darvish.

    • Nick

      Even if they had bid 50 Million (which certainly would have been going “all out”), they still would have lost out on Darvish.

      • Jerkface

        If they had bid 50 they’d atleast have shown a desire for the player, and an accurate assessment of his value. Of course, they could have just went all out and bid 51.8 and won the posting :)

        • trr

          well, that goes to heart of what Manny, Bavarian, and a few of the other posters wrote above: the system itseld is flawed

        • Nick

          And for that “desire for the player” and 25 cents they could have gotten a gumball out of gum machine!

          Its tough for me to say that a player who has never thrown a ML pitch is “worth” 100+ million dollars. The Rangers took a gamble and it paid off for them.