tanakaAI

Jays fans hellbent on overreacting to the club’s failure to land Yu Darvish two winters ago by being insistent that the club go hard after Masahiro Tanaka, the latest supposed big time NPB talent to be set for a move to North America, have some potential reason for disappointment today. (Or… well… actually like five days ago, actually, but it’s still a topic worth exploring).

To wit, via David Lennon of Newsday:

Multiple sources told Newsday that significant changes to the current posting system for Japanese players seem to be imminent and could take effect as soon as this November. That would enable the next coveted Japanese ace, Masahiro Tanaka of the Rakuten Golden Eagles, to benefit from an expanded — and presumably more player-friendly — process should he follow through on his reported desire to play in the United States next season.

. . .

According to sources, one of the proposals for a new system would have as many as three teams chosen among the top bidders, with the Japanese player then allowed to choose the club he’d prefer to play for and negotiate with.

Now let’s not maybe get all apoplectic about this too quickly. As advantageous as the current posting system’s blind bid and single winner setup is to a team like the Jays who aren’t as desirable a landing spot as other suitors– which was precisely why going after Darvish made all the sense in the world, as I argued from the outset– we’re not talking about Darvish level talent here with Tanaka, as everybody seems to be quick to point out.

They would appear to be right, though.

Yes, the numbers are gaudy, but let’s not forget that they’re gaudy numbers in a league where Munenori Kawasaki was twice named among the “Best Nine” and sports a career .294 average and .345 OBP (he’s at .214 and .301 as a big leaguer). And while Tanaka’s third straight season of a sub-two ERA– it currently sits at 1.23– is impressive, as is the low walk rate (27 in 190 innings), it’s the ability to strike guys out that separates Darvish from his countryman, and some other red flags to be wary of as well.

In his final year in Japan, Darvish struck out 276 in 232 innings, while Tanaka has struck out just 163 batters in 190 innings this season. He was, however, closer to a strikeout per inning last season (169 in 173) and was better than that in 2011 (241 in 226.1). That maybe suggests this year’s low total is a blip, but it also is a little troubling, especially given the number of innings on Tanaka’s young arm. He turns 25 on November 1st, and has logged 1293 innings since 2007, which is more than all but eighteen big league pitchers, none of whom is within two years of Tanaka’s young age. (Felix Hernandez is two years older, while the next-closest of the 18, Matt Cain, is four years older).

None of that necessarily means anything– taking any pitcher for any amount of time is a gamble, frankly– and we certainly can’t know too much about a pitcher by “scouting the stat line,” as they say, but those are certainly pretty clear reasons to maybe think twice about insisting that Tanaka is the answer. Which isn’t to say he won’t be good, he just won’t be Darvish. And, if MLB and NPB manage to get the changes to the posting system through in time, he that much less likely to be coming here anyway.

The Jays could certainly still wind up landing him, if he’s the target the club really zeroes in on, but I don’t know… I don’t know. You’d figure Alex Anthopoulos maybe ought to look to something that better resembles a sure thing. Then again, he’s obviously got to do something.

2013, you guys!

Comments (32)

  1. I know Griff in one of his chats said that from everything he’s heard it doesn’t sound like the Jays are even that interested, unless of course they’re intentionally trying to downplay their interest after the Darvish cluster fuck.

  2. Two posts before noon???

  3. Where’s the fast forward button you guys?

  4. At the time, I thought it was a mistake
    not to go “all in” on Darvish.
    And I still do.

    But that,in itself, is no reason to go after Tanaka.
    Like. ’cause its a different guy.

  5. We need one really good pitcher either way (as covered in the post yesterday).

    We don’t really have anything (except pitching prospects) to trade for pitching.

    So…

    1) What would Tanaka cost in total? 80M for 5 years?

    2) Is there a better alternative for that kind of money?

  6. Rogers, Dickey, Beurhle, Drabek, Hutchinson, Redmond, Morrow, Happ, Stroman, etc. etc. etc.

    I think there’s more than enough quality there to get us to the Playoffs next year.

    :)

    Oh don’t forget Dustin.

    • I do feel like we’re fogetting just how highly regarded Drabek was at one point, and that he’s only like 25.

      • I agree, with the talk about how his command has improved post surgery, I would have liked to see him get some starts to pump up some value, either if you believe he could be an answer next year or else for trade value in the off season.

    • They need more than that to make the playoffs

  7. I’d give Tiny Tim a shot for the right price….

    • I would too, especially if both of our first round picks end up becoming protected.

    • I was thinking the same thing. Sign him early and get him on the weighted ball program to regain some of that lost velocity. Only thing about Tim, is he has pitch alot of games in those big NL west parks, and then there is the unorthodox delivery coupled with a shit load of innings already in his young career. You can never have too many ex cy young winners I suppose. I’m really interested to see what kind of deal he gets.

      Might be able to get him on a discounted 2 or 3 year deal, giving himself a chance to regain some of his previous value. That being said, I don’t think he would want to come pitch in the band boxes of the A.L. east. Sigh.

    • Good lord no.

  8. I posted the link from Baseball America when the article came out a few weeks back but their version of the changes to Japanese posting/signings seems different. At the time I stated I didn’t know whether it would help or hinder the Jays as more teams would gain access, but to me it would definitly give the Jays a leg up against teams like NY/Bos/LA (teams worried about the luxury tax)

    http://www.baseballamerica.com/majors/as-teams-scout-masahiro-tanaka-posting-system-changes-could-be-coming/

    From what I get out of it, due to the cap on the posting fee the Jays would in theory have a better shot at Japanese players.

    If the cap on the posting fee were say 25 million and a number of teams hit that cap then they all had a chance to negotiate a contract. It would make it easier for the Jays to outbid a team up against the cap like the Yankees because in the past, posting fees didn’t count against the cap, only the players salary did. So if the jays and Yankees both put up the 25 million then we could offer more then the Yanks could afford (in player salary) with the luxury tax…

    In the past rich teams like the Yanks and Texas have put up as much as 40-50 million dollars in posting fees to blow the small markets out and then given much less in player salries.

    Just my thoughts.

  9. Zaun just ripped JPA on Tim and Sid just now.

    • Talk about beating a dead horse

    • I really am just tired of hearing Hayhurst, Zaun and JP talk. None of them should be talking.

      Can you imagine a guy batting .199 and saying anything other than “I really plan to improve myself over the offseason cause I suck right now.”?

      • I think everyone who knows the situation, would like to hear anything other than the fans don’t know what they’re talking about. It’s his stubbornness that is misguiding him from the truth and he sounds a lot like Romero, that he deserves to be here, regardless of production. You don’t need to be a ball player to figure out that pro sports is a business, a business where employees look at their athletes and say “what has he done for us lately”. Look at your stat line, and ask yourself, is this a line of someone who is an everyday major league ball player. He is making his horrible season worst by acting as if there is little to be concerned about here. I was a huge supporter of his before this season, and I feel for the guy, but get off the self righteousness already!!!

  10. If we had this system in place for the Darvish bid, the Jays might have been one of the top 3 bidders.

  11. I’d rather AA went after someone who had actually pitched in MLB. Tanaka’s a nice glittery package which, when unwrapped, might turn out to be nothing at all. I’d like someone less shiny but more substantive please.

    And, yes, AA has to do something!

  12. Why not? DO IT!

  13. [...] message the team could send is its desire to invest in the international market. However, Andrew Stoeten at Drunk Jays Fans notes that the new posting system in Japan make take that decision out of Toronto’s hands, at [...]

  14. Is there any way we can post JP for a Japanese team?

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