Archive for the ‘Masahiro Tanaka’ Category

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I’ve weathered many years of being called an apologist for arguing in the past that it was understandable when the Jays didn’t go after significant — or, frankly, any – free agents because of the hard lessons learned at the end of J.P. Ricciardi’s tenure, when ownership began to balk at the notion of throwing good money after bad. The absurdity of the posture, given that Rogers could buy the whole of Major League Baseball and still not bankrupt the fucking company, was immaterial; that’s the way they operate. So, with that in mind, the fear of Alex Anthopoulos having followed his predecessor down that same futile path after last season’s huge rise in spending has become increasingly palpable over this long, dim winter.

That the Jays didn’t land Masahiro Tanaka today makes it all the more so. But, of course, the winter isn’t over yet, and the Jays still have time to stop hiding behind narrow talk about value and nonsense about contract length. It would be premature of us to go rant and rave about this, our heads full of fear for what might be happening behind the scenes at Rogers with respect to payroll. But… uh… probably going to do that anyway.

It would be especially off-base if we did so, as fans sometimes have the tendency to do, forgetting that everyone operates under some conception of which costs are palatable, relative to valuation — even the Yankees, who walked away from Robinson Cano and last year from Russell Martin, and the Dodgers, who failed to make good on their reported bluster about not being outbid on Tanaka.

It’s not unfair that Alex Anthopoulos says that he values players only to a certain point. I’d say, then, that what’s frustrating is how often it seems that where he’s willing to go in an offer to a player falls short, but actually that may just be selective memory on my part and the part of other fans. For example, he overpaid, and fended off other suitors, in landing R.A. Dickey last winter, and it’s a safe bet he was the first to blink and offer an extra year to get a deal done with Maicer Izturis, and possibly did the same with Melky Cabrera as well. Ironically, those three deals are likely as reviled as any Anthopoulos has made, by the exact same sorts of people who today are aghast that the club didn’t explode the doors off the barn and go all-in on Tanaka.

The reality is, it’s easier for the Yankees or the Dodgers to blow past their valuations on top end players like Tanaka, because they have the willingness — not the resources, because just about every teams has those — to spend the money, and the understanding that more money will be there to be spent when they need another piece, or, inevitably, one of their big money deals goes terribly bad.

The Jays insist that they have the resources — Alex Anthopoulos was on the radio last week saying that there were deals he could have had done that night, if he thought the value was there — but so far they’re not showing the willingness.

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So It Was The Yankees…

yankeedouche

Ugh.

The Yankees.

Damn it. And sorry, some late night tennis and my running on cold medication the last couple of days and yelling at people on Twitter have conspired to bring me late to this little shindig. Which… is fine, because this isn’t exactly a party I want to be at for long anyway.

It was the Yankees. Masahiro Tanaka has signed with the Jays’ division rivals — the favourites from back when this whole race started, you may remember — inking a seven year deal (with a fourth year opt-out) for $155-million, according to a tweet from Ken Rosenthal.

There were several teams that New York eventually separated themselves from, but “not by much,” according to another of his tweets. The Jays were not among them, so far he’s saying and so far as we know.  So much for the Dodgers and Cubs saying the weren’t going to be out-bid, eh? And so much for our fun little pipe dream, which has now turned on us in nearly the ugliest of ways, with the spectre of having to face the pitcher we were just drooling over multiple times per year.

I say “nearly,” because the Red Sox would have been worse — not that they’re in the running, nor did they need to be — and actually it’s kind of hilarious that the Yankees seemed to be trying so hard, to their own detriment, to get under the luxury tax threshold. They deferred to the Pirates last year on Russell Martin, and declined to go after big ticket pitchers the last couple of years, relying instead on Andy Pettitte’s carcass to save their rotation, only to now blow way past the tax number anyway.

Also, they’re still kind of terrible, even with the addition of Tanaka.

But this, of course, isn’t about them, it’s about us. So here are a few thoughts on what this all means for the Jays. Y’know… just as soon as I write them down.

MORE FORTHCOMING!

bmostand

Well here’s something that probably should turn into a regular feature, but never quite seems to — but that I’ll make to look like one anyway in order to keep from having it seem too terribly out of place: a collection of Monday morning thoughts on what was going on over the weekend…

Noise Of Jays Being Out On Tanaka Just That

It’s a very long shot that the Jays will be able to sign Masahiro Tanaka. Notice, though, that I’m not saying it was always going to be a long shot for the Jays to acquire him, as though the club is already out. That was the prevailing thought on Saturday night, though, as MLBTR passed along a report from Nikkan Sports suggesting that a bunch of teams had made formal offers to Tanaka, with the Jays not among them. Bernie Pleskoff of MLB.com passed what seemed like merely that along without attribution, simply listing the teams in the report, expressing surprise that the Jays wouldn’t have made an offer, and later half-heartedly walking it back, explaining, “Teams listed for Tanaka are those reported so far. Who knows, there could be even more. Doubt it though.”

Because this is the internet, that, apparently, was plenty to start sourpuss Jays fans tweeting at me about what an affront it was that the club wouldn’t even make a bid. Of course, as I said at the time, colour me not dumb enough to take it as gospel. The ultra cynical could suggest that I’m just twisting myself in knots to keep alive this silly fantasy for my own cynical, pageview-related reasons, and I guess I couldn’t blame them. But what I didn’t say at the time was that, once I started talking about what Pleskoff was saying half seriously on Twitter, I was approached by a person that I trust telling me not to bother even giving it that much attention.

That isn’t to say that I was being told that the Jays did make an offer, or anything like that, but it certainly affirmed my instinct, at least about Pleskoff’s tweets, if not Nikkan. So again: colour me not dumb enough to take it as gospel. (Or to post about it as such.)

This will all be cleared up by Friday’s 5 PM ET deadline, and it’s probably best not to believe any of it until then.

 

Argos To BMO Gathering Steam?

“Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment could expand BMO Field in time for the July 2015 Pan Am Games, its chief executive says — but only if MLSE and the government can come to a financial agreement ‘very’ soon,” begins a report this morning from Daniel Dale of the Toronto Star.

The soccers are up in arms about the spectre of such changes, and rightfully so. BMO is utilitarian, but also kind of perfect. Not only that, it’s theirs. Plus, ”unobtrusive” doesn’t seem to be a word in Tim Leiweke’s vocabulary, so obviously there is trepidation about the scope of the changes that sound more and more like they’re coming.

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tanakaAI

I’m perhaps a little more optimistic than most that the Jays might actually try in good faith to land Masahiro Tanaka, but I’m not delusional enough to actually think they’re going to land him — not with the Yankees and the Dodgers as determined as they appear to do so in their own right. [On Friday, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweeted that the Dodgers would go "all-out" for Tanaka and "certainly won't be out-bid," only to completely walk back the suggestion later.]

In a way, then, I agree with the latest from Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun, who tells fans not to get their hopes up about the Japanese star pitching in a Jays uniform next year. In another, more realistic way, though, the piece really grinds my gears, forcing me, as it does, to read yet more lazy utterances of the completely bogus suggestion that the Jays’ fake policy limiting contract length will have anything to do with the club’s pursuit of Tanaka ultimately ending up futile.

I hate to sound like a broken record on this [note: not really -- it's super easy!], but I find that I can’t not push back when I get so damn exasperated by stuff like this:

It will be easy for teams to plunk down $20 million to buy their way into the bidding. It won’t be easy to sign him as he will command a seven-year contract, one he will get, with maybe 10 teams interested.

And the Blue Jays, while they like Tanaka — and scout Danny Evans, former Chicago White Sox general manager, has seen him pitch — are not into seven-year deals, rightly or wrongly.

Once again, the suggestion that the Jays’ supposed insistence (though they’ve already admitted it’s bendable!) on not offering deals of that length has anything to do with what will likely ultimately be their inability to sign Tanaka is a giant steaming load. I can’t fathom why so many people are willing to simply swallow the company line on it.

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Let’s not go too crazy with this one, because the back-end of the sentence that’s quoted in the title is “but there was no word they had a meeting planned as of yet,” and there are many other teams who reportedly do have meetings set — the Dodgers, Angels, Cubs, Yankees, White Sox, and Diamondbacks. But according to the latest from Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, “the Jays are among several others teams to have had multiple discussions with team Tanaka.”

The Yu Darvish thing this is obviously not — the Jays seem firmly on the perceived periphery of the situation, as would be entirely expected of a club who does their due diligence on everyone available — but it’s certainly interesting, given the club’s need, lack of other activity so far, and ownership’s obvious willingness to invest in sports beyond simply reinvesting earned revenue (hello $100-million on soccer players!) despite what we’ve often been told.

There are, of course, also the less-than-entirely-credible rumblings we’ve heard about the Jays being very much in pursuit of the Japanese ace, about whom one executive even goes as far as telling Heyman is “the better pitcher” when compared to his countryman, Darvish.

Well this is just getting nutty, isn’t it?

No, not Darvish nutty. Not yet. And I’m sure Anthopoulos and Beeston are hoping that it never does get to that level. And perhaps for a more favourable outcome than two years ago as well!

So… there’s that.

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I’m a few hours late on this one, for obvious reasons, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t make a quick post about the off-season having finally, finally turned the long corner towards spring with the world coming tonight that Japanese star Masahiro Tanaka will indeed be posted, and free to sign with any Major League club, provided they pay the Rakuten Golden Eagles a fee of $20-million. The news team here at theScore has all the details you’ll need.

The Jays will be hard pressed to land the free agent market’s best available pitcher– though I wouldn’t necessarily rule them out, if only because so many other teams have already spent themselves out of the market for pitching– but this obviously has greater implications than the landing spot of this one man. Alex Anthopoulos continues to need to find as much of a starting pitching upgrade as he can, and with clarity in Tanaka’s situation, movement may soon be afoot when it comes to Ubaldo Jimenez, Matt Garza, and Ervin Santana. Clubs’ seriousness about those pitchers will take shape as suitors drop out of the running for Tanaka, and while the agents for the trio of alternatives may wait until the bitter end of that process in order to maximize the number of teams bidding for their clients, we can at the very least now see the finish line on the horizon.

The Jays may not be able to land any of these guys, but they certainly have a better chance to do so with four of them available than with three. They also, perhaps quite wisely, kept all of their other trade chips this winter, which will allow them to try to use the trade market in order to acquire a big arm as well– either as an alternative to a free agent market they find themselves getting priced out on, or perhaps even as their primary target, should the bidding war on the trade market slow down as other clubs get wrapped up with free agents and, ultimately, find their options filled.

Anthopoulos has protected his flexibility well this winter, but now the time has arrived for him to make use of it.

tanakaAI

The title of this post may not seem to make a whole lot of sense to you at first– I mean, why would we care what the manager of the Buffalo Bisons has to say about Japan’s top pitcher?– but what if I told you that Buffalo Bisons manager Marty Brown has a more interesting baseball past than you perhaps grasped?

What if you remembered that when the Jays hired him to manage the Las Vegas 51s for the 2011 season, it would mark his return to the United States from having managed five seasons in Japan? What if you then realized that not only was he managing in NPB in the recent past, but that his last gig there was managing the Rakuten Golden Eagles, where he had both Masahiro Tanaka and Hisashi Iwakuma on his staff?

Because all that is true. And Brown brought his insight on those two former charges– as well Hiroki Kuroda, who he managed for two seasons in Hiroshima– to the local radio airwaves this morning, speaking with Jeff Blair on the Fan 590 (audio here) about what North American fans can expect to see if/when Tanaka lands in the big leagues– and, perhaps more importantly, what his next club will likely be paying something north of $100-million for.

Brown was coy about how much information Alex Anthopoulos has canvassed him for, but he made clear that, if he was asked, his report would likely have been quite glowing.

“I think the one think that kind of sets him apart is physically– he might be a little more physical than all of those guys,” he explained, comparing him to not just Kuroda and Iwakuma, but Yu Darvish, as well. “Obviously he hasn’t had issues with health and anything like that. And that might be something, I think, that gets him over the hump. And I think he can carry innings.”

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