I’ve repeatedly said that I think Darvish is going to come to North America and become a sensation reminiscent to the true trailblazer for all Japanese stars who’ve come to the big leagues in the past 17 years, Hideo Nomo.
He’s not a guarantee though.
In Japan they use a smaller ball. The Major League season is longer. The schedules and workout regimens are different. Pitchers in the majors are used in a 5-man rotation rather than pitching once a week as they do in Japan.
Those are just a few of the differences he’ll have to overcome before getting to culture and comfort.
But stuff is stuff and Darvish’s stuff is legit. The Rangers are a smart organization with one of baseball’s most respected pitching coaches, Mike Maddux and the newly added front office assistance of his brother, the future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux. Plus Nolan Ryan is running the place.
Darvish has a two-seam and a four-seam fastball, a wicked off-speed curve, a forkball and a slider. His motion is reminiscent of Tim Lincecum and he hasn’t been overused and abused as Matsuzaka was. He’s pitching in Texas and not New York as Irabu was and his boss won’t be calling him names as George Steinbrenner did with Irabu. Ryan will be able to understand why he’s struggling and take steps to help him rather than screaming and ripping him in the press with no means to an end other than expressing his frustration that his high priced investment isn’t an immediate superstar.
Looking at it under a financial and practical microscope, would the Rangers have been better off having spent that money to keep their own free agent C.J. Wilson or signed a free agent such as Hiroki Kuroda, Edwin Jackson or Mark Buehrle?
With those pitchers, you know what you’re getting. With Darvish, he’s not quite an amateur draftee; nor is he an established commodity who’s done it in the big leagues before.
The posting fee for Darvish doesn’t count against the luxury tax. That’s a consideration for a team with financial limitations like the Rangers. But the total is still $111 million+.
Saying he might wind up as a Matsuzaka is, as mentioned before, based on nothing other than their Japanese heritage—they’re totally different pitchers. Saying he could be a disastrous free agent signing like Carl Pavano or John Lackey isn’t based on anything other than the risk of giving any pitcher a large check.
We don’t know.
Before seeing clips if Darvish, I fell in line with the school of thought that he wouldn’t be worth the fee and the contract. After seeing him, I felt that he had all the tools to be a megastar on and off the field.
Now he’s coming.
Now we’re going to see.