The rumors flow like a dark figure in the night. His legend precedes him wherever he goes. He is said to be the master of many pitches and will revolutionize the way Major League Baseball pitchers attach the game.
Sounds a little far fetched? Well it should, because I just described the mystique that surrounded Daisuke Matsuzaka before he commanded a record-setting posting fee or pitched a single game for the Boston Red Sox.
Daisuke came to MLB with the stuff of legends. Said to have command of SEVEN pitches, including a Four-Seam Fastball, Change-up, Slider, Curveball, Splitter, Cutter, and the mysterious Gyro-ball, Matsuzaka has proven that it is foolish to spend money on word of mouth alone. With an average of close to 4.5 walks per 9 innings pitched, he has also proven that he struggles to command just one pitch, and has fizzled to the point of nonexistence.
That said; call me just a bit skeptical in regards to the newest Japanese import, Yu Darvish, who finally signed with the Texas Rangers on Wednesday for 6 years and $60 million. Keep in mind, that contract also comes on the heels of a $51.7 million posting fee, so he will essentially cost Texas $111.7 million over the next six seasons.
Hey Nolan, I recommend you and Jon Daniels start really pushing the Japanese advertisement sales on the outfield walls quickly.
Like Matsuzaka, Darvish is said to command an assortment of pitches, including a 94-97 MPH Fastball, a hard slurve, a two-seam fastball, a cutter, a curve-ball, and a splitter. Unlike Dice-K, he didn’t come to the U.S. trying to peddle the mysterious Gyro-ball that never came to fruition.
Like Boston, Texas is taking a huge risk here, but the prize isn’t just with finding a quality pitcher. The real windfall comes from the creation of additional revenue streams in the Japanese market, where players like Ichiro, Matsuzaka, and now Darvish, are revered like gods. They come with a travelling circus of media attention that brings with it increased funding sources, like loud advertisement scrawled on outfield walls, that will in turn help the Rangers remain a viable franchise for years to come. They want his arm to replace CJ Wilson, but they want his celebrity fame more. Remember, this is a team that was in bankruptcy court just before Ryan and his ownership group swung in with a golden chalice and saved the day.
Still, this is a team that has played in and lost back-to-back World Series. This is a team that has suddenly become very good and has just struggled to put those final touches on the first championship in club history. This is also a team that watched their closest division rivals swoop in and steal not only their ace from last season, but also spend exorbitantly on Albert Pujols, perhaps the best player this generation has seen.
Darvish’s true value lies somewhere in the middle, swinging his celebrity weight for a team in need of a marketable star while also keeping the Rangers in the championship picture, where his talents and celebrity can be viewed on a world-wide viewing stage. Boston got that out of Matsuzaka in 2007 and the Rangers can only hope that Darvish can have as quick a turn of it.
The Rangers can only hope that his time on that stage isn’t as short.
- Speaking of “Who Are You”, the Indians Fausto Carmona was arrested in the Dominican Republic after using a false identity to acquire his work visa, which he needed to get to spring training with. Turns out that Carmona isn’t Carmona after all, as his real name is Roberto Hernandez Heredia.
Oh, and he’s not 28 either; he’s 31-year-old.
Just more great news for the folks in Cleveland. Major League Baseball needs to really get this age and identity issue under control, but what does this say about the U.S. government for not being able to spot false identification?
- Tim Lincecum is looking for $21.5 million in arbitration while the Giants are offering $17 million. With Matt Cain set to be a free agent next season and Lincecum the season after that, the Giants are likely faced with a decision of which one they want to keep. The choice is obvious, as Lincecum is a two-time Cy Young winner, but keeping Cain is also essential to the Giants long-term.
- Speaking of arbitration cases, the Red Sox are likely headed there with David Ortiz, who countered the Red Sox offer of $12.65 million with an asking price of $16.5 million. This will be an interesting case to watch because Ortiz has no peers to compare him to, and this may also be the first time that a 36-year-old career designated hitter sits before an arbitration board.