January 5th, 2014
The entire Masahiro Tanaka posting situation is fascinating to me. Basically, much of an industry is in a “holding pattern” while the process plays itself out.
The Tanaka signing could be like pulling the one card in the wrong place or in an awkward way that makes the entire house of cards fall.
Or, it could be like adding the one card that puts the roof on the house and keeps the elements from ruining the rest of the house. For a long time. Good roof.
But lots of teams playing with their houses of cards are just biding their time waiting to figure out where that card plays best.
I still like the Yankees.
Man-Masahiro Tanaka puts a roof on that house that they really, really need.
Consider that much of the Yankees rotation is steeped in “what ifs.” What if C. C becomes just so so? Or worse. What if Pineda doesn’t come back? Or what if he only comes part of the way back? What if Kuroda is more erosion that explosion? Not to mention the untested David Phelps. The still developing Ivan Nova. Yes, the Yankees need Tanaka. And they have the Cano money to pay him.
I still think the Blue Jays will do whatever it takes to get Tanaka. Is money is the key that unlocks the secret passage to the place where the golden contract is hidden? If money is the issue-the Blue Jays can go all in. They need him. Badly. And I think they can pay.
The top priority for the Blue Jays this off season is and has been—pitching. And that’s where the consolation prizes of Garza, Santana and Jimenez come to play. If the Blue Jays can’t get Tanaka, I look for a full court press on Jimenez and Santana. And maybe even Garza.
The Mariners? I get it. I get the interest. I get the comfort level Tanaka may feel in Seattle. But. Does he want to wait to win? Does he want to put the team on his back and make them win? That could happen. But they still need more than him. True-they have Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker. And then? Danny Hultzen is hurt. I’m not bullish on James Paxton. Their short a pitcher. Maybe two. Tanaka would sure help cut the waiting time.
Yes- the Mariners really, really need Tanaka. And he may just go there.
The Rangers? I think pairing him with Yu Darvish would be awesome. Can they both sing out of the same hymnal? Probably. Tanaka could bring them a World Championship. I worry about the shoulder of Alexi Ogando. And I don’t know who their No. 5 pitcher will be. Tanaka slots nicely behind Darvish, and ahead of Harrison (if he’s healthy) Holland and then Perez. Great rotation.
Tanaka has a great split-finger fastball. He can pitch in a smaller park and induce some ground balls. But in a larger park? Like Seattle or Toronto? Nice fit. He has a low-to-mid 90’s fastball. But he has better command than most pitchers. Even better than Darvish- so it says in everything I’ve read and seen. We’ll see.
Tanaka is only 25. He can pitch for five years before his contract starts getting more “iffy.”
But my real “if” is still in the number of pitches he’s already thrown in Japan. How will that translate here? Will he hold up? Hot weather? Cold weather? Designated hitters that can really hit? Lots of questions remain for me.
I’ll be convinced when I see him throw strikes and get hitters out over and over. And then over and over again. Like Darvish. Who got no run support by the way. He did it over and over and over and…
I think it’ll be the Yankees. They need him more than anyone and will pay. And believe it-the Yankees still have that special something. Panache. Glitz. Broadway.
But-we wait. The house of cards is still being built. It crashes for some and it protects one team for at least four to five more years of the eight or nine in the contract. Cause I think it’ll be at least eight.
And I remember Jerry Reinsdorf saying he wouldn’t give Jack McDowell more than a couple years because—well—-because he was a pitcher. And pitchers get hurt.
Man. How times have changed.
That’s it. I’m done. And by the way—Happy New Year.