Yesterday the sky was blue, today it’s neon pink

Secondly, this would be a lot more believable if the “experience” factor didn’t feel like a constantly moving target around here. Today it’s MLB experience, tomorrow it will be experience in the American League, after that it will be experience in the American League East specifically, etc. “Experience” seems to be a constantly evolving standard based on which player the Yankees are trying to non-sell to the fans and media at any given time.

The Yankees are concerned about Darvish’s ability to make the transition to the majors, the source said, specifically the difference between the baseballs themselves, which are larger here than they are in Japan.

I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve ever heard that excuse.

Another concern is the workload that starters take on in the majors, pitching every fifth day rather than once per week as they do in Japan’s Pacific League, where Darvish has played since 2007.

This one I have heard before, but I don’t really buy it. It’s always struck me as something that was trotted out by the Red Sox to a gullible media when it became clear that they had mis-evaluated Daisuke Matsusaka. By the same token, college and high school pitchers don’t have the same work patterns as major league players, but that doesn’t stop anyone from acquiring them and paying them large bonuses when they’re merited.

Darvish did post impressive numbers last season — he was 18-6 with a 1.44 ERA and 276 strikeouts in 232 innings — but nobody knows how his stuff will translate.

It’s weird; I could have sworn the Yankees had a couple of scouting directors who were hot candidates for general manager jobs around the league. Maybe the other 29 teams should take note of the fact that they are apparently terrible at staffing their departments, as no one in the Yankees’ organization is apparently able to scout the best pitcher in Japan.

The Yankees’ luck with Japanese imports hasn’t been all bad; Hideki Matsui” href=””>Hideki Matsui was a solid performer after coming to New York on a three-year, $21 million deal. Matsui didn’t miss a game during his first three seasons, although he experienced injury issues after re-signing for four more years and $52 million. Despite that, he helped lead the Yankees to the 2009 world championship, winning MVP honors in the Fall Classic.

Matsui was 28 years old when he came to the Yankees, leaving Japan as a free agent after playing a decade with the Yomiuri Giants. The Yankees attribute some of Matsui’s success to the fact that he was already a seasoned veteran when he signed, accustomed to the massive attention that came his way.

Matsui is also a hitter, so I have no idea what he has in common with Darvish other than shared nationality, so, yeah.

The Yankees were confident he would not be intimidated by New York, something that can’t necessarily be said for the younger Darvish.

On the one hand, I really want to ask how the hell they could possibly know this, but, on the other hand, we’ve already trotted out every other cliche and stereotype I can think of, so I suppose there’s no reason not to check of “he can’t handle New York” while we’re at it.

Anyway, I have no idea what the Yankees’ plan to do about Darvish, so take all of this with a grain of salt until after the bids are announced. But keep it in mind if they lowball their bid.


About Brien Jackson

Born in Southwestern Ohio and currently residing on the Chesapeake Bay, Brien is a former editor-in-chief of IIATMS who now spends most of his time sitting on his deck watching his tomatoes ripen and consuming far more MLB Network programming than is safe for one's health or sanity.

14 thoughts on “Yesterday the sky was blue, today it’s neon pink

  1. Spot on. I had many of the same thoughts when I read the News article. The Yankees would be foolish not to go hard on Darvish, for a multitude of reasons many of which you covered in other posts. I hope they're just playing possum, but it's starting to look like they really are gun shy.

    • To cite prior failures as a reason NOT go go forward would be cause for firing. Experience is gained through successes AND failures. Choosing to forgo a bid on Darvish simply because others have failed before is shortsighted and absurdly foolish. If everyone took that route, how would we progress as a society. Successes do not happen on the first try.

  2. I'm still going with possum.

    That said, just two things – first, total agreement on the lack of experience in "the Majors." Obviously, the team has a lot of prospects without experience, yet they're unwilling to trade them for proven players who HAVE experience.

    Brien – I have seen the ball size thing before – if not on this site, linked thru your "Daily Blog Circuit" – earlier this year, when folks first started salivating over the possibility of Yu being posted, that was one of the more legitimate cavaets mentioned. IIRC, not only is the Japanese ball a different size, but the article I read said that the ball isn't even standard from team to team. Maybe Snopes can shoot this down or prove it – I don't know, I'm willing to trust folks you link to. But IF true, wouldn't that help out a pitcher? I can just imagine the Rocket, if he were allowed to switch to different balls – would have to help…

    Even so, I'm still sold on giving him a shot; he's NOT Igawa, nor is he the Fat __ Toad. We're just seeing MSM delivering the company line, which in this case, likely IS a smokescreen. (and I get your argument from yesterday, but I still maintain that since it IS a blind bidding process, there is a far higher degree of gamesmanship involved and required than in anything else IN MLB.)

  3. Another reason why I LOVE this site – just clicked the Fangraphs link on the right, and found THIS:

    "Those who follow the NPB closely will know the league tried out a new standardized baseball this year — it’s supposedly smaller, smoother, and in all ways reviled by hitters.

    Only two players hit over 30 homers this season. In 2010, eight hitters were over 30 dingers. The league-wide OPS dropped from about .740 to .660."

    This was posted in explanation of why Nakajima's numbers regressed last season; wouldn't it also provide a possible explanation as to why Yu's numbers improved so drastically this year? (I know – refuting my argument about funky balls HELPING the pitchers – been wrong before.)

    Just one more bit of datum that needs to be looked at before dropping 60+ mil. When I buy a $10,000 guitar, I research the pooh out of it; I'm happy if the Yankees do the same before dropping what is serious money, even to them.

  4. Somebody is going to take a chance on Darvish. He's worth a shot. The Yankees could be playing coy here. Or they could be just hedging bets by leaking this stuff in case they aren't the high bid. Weird stuff either way.

  5. I don't think they are playing coy. I think they are starting to release this drivel to the media to start their justification to the fans on why the front office are not going to make any big deals this off-season.

  6. Or they're not making big deals in order to save money for the posting fee and contract for Darvish. A possibility wouldn't you say?

  7. Cashman would have to be crazy to gamble $50+ million on Darvish. He has never pitched in the major leagues. No matter how well he pitched in Japan it's not the same deal. For that matter, a guy who's successful in the National (AAAA) League is also suspect coming over to the pressure cooker that's the American League East. Any time a player moves up to a higher level of play, there is a risk he will not perform. That's why the minor leagues are full of "can't miss" prospects. That's why college All-Americans often don't make it. That's why great high school players often sit on the bench for their college teams. Scouting can only help reduce the risk. The best bet would have been a proven major league pitcher like Wilson or Buehrle. If they were not worth $50-75 million to the Yankees then Darvish sure as hell isn't.

  8. Wait, so they think Matsui was ok because he was a seasoned 10 year veteran, but Darvish isn't because he's seasoned but not as seasoned as Matsui? Did I read that right?

  9. I live in Japan and anyone who says he hasn't experienced a pressure cooker is insane. The Japanese are insane about their baseball. Literally they chant (politely of course) the entire game and no I don't mean the tiny chants we get at the stadium this is like real full on fan involvement. I was born and raised in NY and have been to a ton of NYY games. Realize the area right around here where he pitches is a metro area with 40 million people in it. Additionally Japan is only the size of Cali with a 130 million plus population. There is a ton of pressure here and the fans are crazy. If you don't believe me come to a game anytime out here. Even the Yokohama Bay Stars (who suck) draw great crowds, cheers, and attention from their media. Pressure cooker is a BS excuse for either playing coy or being cheap.

    • No Andy, only in New York does the population care about baseball and newspaper employees potentially write unflattering things about you. Those conditions exist literally nowhere else in the world. It's simply un-possible, the entire New York media has told me so repeatedly.