Darvish is Coming

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Totaling up the posting fee and the reported contract for Yu Darvish, the Rangers have made a commitment of $111.7 million over 6-years for what amounts to a talented unknown.

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.

While comparisons to Daisuke Matsuzaka, Hideki Irabu and any other Japanese imports are silly and somewhat stereotypical bordering on racist, the questions with Darvish are viable.

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?

Maybe.

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.

It happens.

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.

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Yu Darvish and the Rangers

All Star Game, Ballparks, Books, CBA, Cy Young Award, Draft, Fantasy/Roto, Free Agents, Games, Hall Of Fame, History, Hot Stove, Management, Media, MiLB, MLB Trade Deadline, MLB Waiver Trades, MVP, Paul Lebowitz's 2011 Baseball Guide, PEDs, Players, Playoffs, Politics, Prospects, Spring Training, Stats, Trade Rumors, Umpires, World Series

After the rumors and speculation based on nothing other than ill-informed non-reporting, the Rangers won the bidding for Japanese star pitcher Yu Darvish.

Let’s look at how it affects everyone involved.

For Darvish and the Rangers.

The Rangers are a high-quality organization with a loyal fan base and newly formed winning tradition; they’re smart and cohesive and do what they have to do to improve and adapt on the fly.

Mike Maddux is one of baseball’s most respected pitching coaches; the team won’t expect Darvish to arrive and be a Roy Halladay-like force. He’ll be a cog in the machine backed up by a deep and diverse bullpen, a high-octane offense and great defense.

The club will make every possible concession to help Darvish be comfortable on and off the field; they know pitching and have benefited from a pitcher in Colby Lewis who’d gone to Japan after failing in North America, changed his approach and had success before returning to be a durable, solid and mentally tough starter.

Darvish will still be seen as something “other” because of his unique heritage of being half-Japanese and half-Iranian; he’s very good looking and has a marketable personality.

It also helps that he’s a star-level talent.

I analyzed Darvish’s mechanics and projected his future in the big leagues here on October 20th complete with video comparisons to other pitchers—past and present—and photos.

Despite losing C.J. Wilson, the Rangers have bolstered their starting rotation in a relatively inexpensive fashion. They signed Joe Nathan to take over as closer and are shifting Neftali Feliz into the starting rotation; now they’ve won the right to negotiate with Darvish.

They’re not surrendering any draft picks for Darvish.

The cost—$51.7 million—is steep, but if they were going to sign Wilson, they would’ve needed to match the Angels contract of $77.5 million; Darvish will cost them the posting fee plus around $60-70 million to sign to a contract; but he’s younger than Wilson and potentially much better. He’s going to be worth every penny.

For those not realizing how good Darvish is or that the team that bought his rights are the best in the American League, you’re going to learn. Soon.

Hope for the weary and downtrodden.

Former Rangers owner Tom Hicks had the club essentially taken away from him when his financial empire collapsed; GM Jon Daniels traded Adrian Gonzalez and Chris Young to the Padres for Adam Eaton and Akinori Otsuka.

The Rangers newfound status as a force is a lifeline to teams like the Mets and Dodgers with ownerships that are teetering and whose financial and on-field futures are clouded.

The Rangers were mired in bankruptcy and run by a GM who’d made possibly the worst trade in the history of the sport.

Look at them now.

They’re the dominant team in the American League for two straight seasons; are spending money and spending it wisely; and are a legitimate threat to the decade-long, preseason ticket-punched playoff berths for the Yankees and Red Sox.

Things turn around quickly once the house is in order; the Rangers are proof.

The balance of power.

Amid all the controversy and disarray surrounding the Red Sox; with the Yankees being the Yankees and a large segment of their fan base acting as if they’ve just won the World Series and they’re going to get whatever they want (just because) regardless of reality, it’s glossed over that the Rangers are the two-time defending American League champions.

The Red Sox dysfunction is still palpable; the Yankees have done absolutely nothing this winter aside from making sure to keep CC Sabathia and re-signing Freddy Garcia.

With the Angels having spent over $300 million on Wilson and Albert Pujols; the Rangers winning the bidding on Darvish, signing Nathan and shifting Feliz to the starting rotation, the balance of power has shifted West.

If you want to see where the Wild Card is likely to come from, don’t look to New York and Boston; look to Anaheim and Arlington.

The posting fee nonsense.

MLB needs to act more like the NFL—they’re a monopoly; they hold all the power; they need to exert that power.

The NFL takes great advantage of their status; MLB doesn’t.

With the posting process, what are the Japan counterparts going to do if MLB changes the plot?

Nothing.

The posting process should be altered so the Japanese club gets their money and the player will have an option of where to go rather than being a purchased piece of chattel who has no option but to go wherever he’s sent regardless of preference.

Teams interested in a Darvish-type should be asked beforehand to ante up an pre-set, non-refundable amount of money into the pot; the total amount of money accrued is the posting fee; and each team that contributed has the right to negotiate with Darvish.

The Japanese team would get their money and it would probably be close to what the Darvish posting bid was; each MLB team would be taking on a certain risk by bidding because they wouldn’t get the money back; and the player would be a free agent and allowed to go where he wants and would make more money than he would under the current rules. It could even be tweaked so his former Japanese club gets a percentage of his contract for more incentive to partake.

And if they don’t want to, MLB should pull the NFL strong-arm tactic and say they’re doing it anyway and if you don’t like it, take a hike.

That’s how to run a dictatorship!

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