MLB

Tanaka is the Next Darvish

Now that it is pretty clear that Masahiro Tanaka is going to be posted by the Tokohu Rakuten Golden Eagles, what can we expect from him in the Major Leagues?

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The last successful Japanese pitcher to come to the MLB was YU Darvish, but he was one of the few Japanese players who’s had similar success in the United States. Below I listed some Japanese players that have been starting pitchers in Major League Baseball. I included their stats for their last year in Japan before being posted, as well as their career stats in Japan.

Tanaka 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA.  / 99-35 with 2.3ERA in 7 seasons

Darvish 18-6 with a 1.44 ERA / 93-38 with a 1.99 ERA in 7 seasons

Matsuzaka 17-5 with a 2.13 ERA / 108-60 with a 2.95 ERA in 8 seasons

Kei Igawa 14-9 with a 2.97 ERA / 91-70 with 3.20 ERA in 10 seasons

Hiroki Kuroda 12-8 with a 3.56 ERA / 103-89 with a 3.69 ERA in 11 seasons

Based on these statistics you would assume that Tanaka and Darvish are the most likely candidates to have successful careers in the Majors. While Hiroki Kuroda, the pitcher who dominated the least in Japan, would have the least successful career in the US.

Stats in MLB:

Yu Darvish 29-18 with a 3.34 ERA  in 2 seasons

Matsuzaka 52-40 with a 4.52 ERA in 7 seasons (18-3 with a 2.90 ERA in 2008)

Igawa 2-4 with a 6.66 ERA in 2 seasons

Kuroda 68-70 with a 3.40 ERA in 6 seasons (Never had an ERA above 3.76)

Despite Kuroda having the least dominant career in Japan, he has proven to be the most effective pitcher in the Majors. He has been a consistent Major League pitcher for 6 seasons, as he has never posted an ERA over 3.76.

When signing pitchers from Japan, it is often very hard to know how their game will translate into the MLB and it often forces us to over analyze statistics. Now that Tanaka is being posted, we can most comfortably compare his career in Japan to Darvish’s. They are both powerful pitchers who have similar pitches, which makes us think that Tanaka could have as much success here as Darvish.

After seeing Darvish pitch these past 2 seasons, I would be very disappointed if the Yankees did not sign Tanaka. We can be pretty confident that we are getting a proven pitcher who can have similar success to Darvish. If Tanaka joins the Yankees, he will join a team that has Ichiro Suzuki and Hiroki Kuroda, two of the most sucesfful Japanese players in the Majors (probably the best situation a Japanese player could ask for).

If the Yankees don’t sign Tanaka, this offseason will have been a waste.

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MLB

Cano And The Yankees: A Divorce That Should Never Have Happened

Going into the season, it was pretty clear that resigning Cano was the Yankees’ #1 priority but the two sides never seemed close to reaching an agreement. Ever since the start of the offseason, the divorce between Cano and the Yankees has gotten worse and worse.

As Robinson Cano was introduced today as the newest member of the Seattle Mariners, he had a few words to say about the Yankees, some of which really angered me.

“I was looking for a contract where I would just be able to play and focus on the game and wouldn’t wonder when I’m 37, 38 would I have a job one day. Would I be able to play?” Cano said. “The one thing in Seattle is I get the change.”

The fact that Cano is talking about the fact that he was worried he wasn’t going to have a job when he was 37 or 38 absolutely infuriates me. If you look at the most recent Yankees legends who have come up through their farm system, they have had a job with the team for as long as they wanted. Did Rivera ever worry that he wouldn’t have a job? Did Jeter ever think he wouldn’t have a job? Yankee legends are taken care of by the team management.

The contract the Yankees were offering Cano was 7 years for 175 Million (25 Million per year) while the Mariners were offering him 10 years for 240 Million (24 Million per year). On paper the only difference is the extra 3 years on his contract. But as Cano said today, “I didn’t feel respect. I didn’t get respect from them and I didn’t see any effort”.

Was it disrespectful of the Yankees to only offer him 7 years instead of 10? Cano seems to feel that way, so lets look at why he’s wrong.

Lets start and look at the #1 Reason why the Yankees will probably never offer a 10 year contract again → Alex Rodriguez. In 2007, the Yankees offered Alex Rodriguez a 10 year $275 Million contract which was worth up to $300 Million with incentives. A-Rod had just come off a season that saw him hit 54HRS, 156RBI’s and a .314BA. At that point it was pretty clear that he was the best player in the league and the Yankees decided to offer him the biggest contract in MLB history. Ever since he signed that contract, his time in New York has been disastrous (apart from winning the world series in 2009). He has been involved in steroid allegations and is currently fighting a 211 game suspension. He has been fighting off numerous injuries and most importantly he has not been performing the way the Yankees expected him to. It has only been 6 years since he signed his huge contract, leaving him with 4 more years in Pinstripes. As a big Yankee fan, I can assure you that we are all excited for the day his contract is over. He has deteriorated so much that its hard to even say he’s beneficial to the team. A-ROD’s WAR was 9.4 in 2007, and last year it was down to 0.3. Some might argue that he was injured most of the season which explains such a low number, but let’s remember that A-ROD is getting old and is very injury prone so he won’t be playing full seasons anymore.

A-ROD’s 10 year contract was clearly a mistake but Cano still thinks he deserved a 10 year contract. So lets look at the contract the Angels gave Albert Pujols.

In 2012 Pujols signed a 10 year $240 Million contract with the Los Angeles Angels. The first year into his contract, he hit 30HRS 105 RBI’s and had a .285BA. Those seem like good numbers for a baseball player but his HR total and his batting average were each career lows, and his RBI total wasn’t far off from being a career low as well. In case that didn’t raise many red flags in Los Angeles, he followed up with the worse season of his career. He hit 17HR/64RBI/.258BA. Some might argue that he was injured for part of last season but now that we’re 2 years into his 10 year contract its pretty clear that we won’t be seeing him put up the same numbers he was putting up in St Louis.

It’s pretty clear at this point that 10 year contracts are not worth it. For some reason Robinson Cano and Jay-Z thought it was still the norm for teams to offer those types of contracts. Apparently its only desperate franchises like the Seattle Mariners that will give you a contract like that.

There is one more thing I would like to point out regarding Cano’s stupid decision to go to Seattle. Cano had the opportunity to be one of the most marketable players in the Majors and make millions in endorsements. Going to Seattle will make him even less marketable now. The most marketable players in sports almost always come from big cities. Felix Hernandez is one of the best pitchers in baseball but playing in Seattle makes him less marketable.

The Yankees would have most likely signed Cano to an extension after the 7-year contract. Cano would have been the face of the Yankees organization and would have had his number retired as well as having a plaque put up in Monument Park. He would also have made millions more in endorsements in New York than he will in Seattle.

Over the last 10 years, the Mariners have not made the playoffs and have had only 2 winning seasons. But luckily for Cano, he can buy front row seats to every postseason game each year because we all know that baseball won’t be played in October in Seattle for a long time.
As a Yankee, all I can do is wonder what could have been but I’m happy that Robinson Cano has found “the RESPECT” in Seattle that the Yankees were not giving him. But one thing is for sure, in a few years Cano will wish that he had taken that 7 year offer from the Yankees.

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