Jan 192012
 
  • Thursday Morning Changeups   Yu Gotta Believe!If Yu ever had a doubt, Yu failed to trust in JD…6 years, $60M.  Yu Darvish is a Texas Ranger.
  • This is a monumental signing for the Rangers, representing well more than, but most importantly, bringing on board the potential ace of the pitching staff.  It’s about the Rangers taking the next step…which was a Texas-sized step…in solidifying themselves as an aggressive organization willing to spend smart money to compete and put a winning team on the field.
  • Jon Daniels - ”We saw a guy that we felt was built to pitch innings. It’s a classic pitcher’s build. He has a real commitment to his conditioning and work ethic and a lot of intangibles that lend him to pitch a lot of innings at a high caliber for a long period of time.”
  • Nolan Ryan - ”There’s a lot of unique things about Darvish.  Obviously his body type, his size, his durability, I think his feel for the baseball, the fact that he’s as comfortable throwing his breaking ball as well as his fastball and to me that he has several really quality pitches. I think, when you look at him, you realize pretty quick that he is special.”
  • Arn Tellem (one of Yu’s agents) – “The Rangers, more so than any other club, showed not only a scouting interest in Yu but also really developed a relationship with him.  There was an intimate connection between Yu, his family and the Rangers organization that was a positive going forward. It’s also a great team that is intent on taking the next step, and with Yu, hopefully they can achieve that goal. Yu is excited about helping them get there.”
  • Farsad Darvish (Yu’s Dad) - ”You are talking about [a] different culture. It would be nice to give it a little time and don’t judge things so fast. I know Yu will find his way. I think the fans are looking forward to the team getting another chance at the World Series, and I really hope Yu can be a member when they get there.”
  • Keith Law of ESPN – “The Rangers’ fallback options weren’t quite as dire, but I’d rather pay Darvish whatever it takes to get him under contract than sign the best remaining starting pitching option, Edwin Jackson, for four years and $40-odd million.”
  • Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas – “It took years of scouting, a gaggle of frequent flier miles, a face-to-face meeting in Arlington between Darvish and Rangers personnel a few weeks ago, a recruiting video and gallons of coffee. Oh, and a willingness by ownership to send a check for $51.7 million to the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters to go along with the $60 million they’ll be sending to Darvish.  The Rangers need to be right about his one.”
  • Thursday Morning Changeups   Yu Gotta Believe!

    Matsuzaka & Darvish Stats from Japan

    Joe LeMire of CNNSI – “Perhaps most compelling is that Darvish’s career ERA (1.99) is better than best single-season ERA (2.13) Red Sox starter Daisuke Matsuzaka had in Japan before coming to the major leagues in 2007.  There is too much hang-up on the recent failures and middling successes of recent Japanese starters in the majors — Matsuzka with the Red Sox and Kei Igawa with the Yankees, to name two recent examples — as Darvish is a very different pitcher.”

  • Evan Grant did a good Q&A related to the Yu signing here.

In non-Yu news, if there is such a thing today:

  • Several sources have reported that it’s doubtful that the Rangers will pursue free-agent slugger Prince Fielder at this point and Jon Daniels’ comments from yesterday’s press conference were in line with this belief – “After going through this process, I’m intimately familiar with our budget.  It’s very unlikely.”
    Just keep in mind that JD has an excellent poker face, and even if the Rangers were wrapping things up with Prince at that moment, he wasn’t going to tip his hand.
  • Rangers SS Prospect Jurickson Profar was ranked as the #2 SS prospect by MLB.com for 2012.  Profar just continues to get better and has some loft expectations in terms of his potential.  He represents a strong trade chip or the future at the shortstop position for the Texas Rangers.  We’ll track his progress closely in 2012.
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Dec 212011
 

Its all about Yu...The Rangers made the bold move.

They went out and got the rights to negotiate with the guy they wanted.  Was this the plan all along?  Was this part of the reason why we didn’t really compete for signing C.J. Wilson, or why we didn’t make a stronger push for Mark Buerhle?  Jon Daniels will never answer that question, nor should he, but it’s what I’m going to believe.

The Bid

$51.7 million.  The amount is fully refundable if a deal can’t be worked out in the next 30 days, which is standard for most Christmas shopping.  While I’m dropping $17.49 on a Harry Potter body pillow for Jasen, Nolan and team ownership dropped a little more on the exclusive rights to negotiate a contract with Yu.

The consensus was that Toronto had the highest bid, but that was based on posturing and not fact.  Daniels played this game perfectly, never tipping his hand one way or the other.  Remember, it’s a blind bid, so each organization had no idea what the competition was.  Sorry Canada.

Its all about Yu...While this was being dubbed as a “record posting”, and it was, it was only slightly above the $51.1 million posted by Boston in November 2006 for the rights to negotiate with Dice-K.  If you assume a 2.25% annual inflation rate (average of annual inflation rates since 2006) over that period, Dice-K’s inflation adjusted posting would be around $57.1 million.  Was the Dice-K posting absurd?  While his inaugural season with the BoSox was good (not great), the general consensus is that he has not lived up to the hype, nor the financial outlay Boston made in order to get him.  So, lesson learned and it helps in understanding why the winning bid for Darvish was not closer to the inflation adjusted Dice-K bid or higher.

There is a lot of debate over how this money counts toward the Rangers bottom-line, and in effect, their ability to pursue other free agents (Prince!).  From a fan’s standpoint, it’s all monopoly money anyways.  In the end, this is money that, assuming a contract is agreed upon and therefore the posting money is gone, is being spent this year,  that could have been used on other players.  That being said, you do not consider this towards next year’s payroll.  It is truly a one-time fee that, in my mind, you recoup through increased revenues from all the Rangers Darvish jerseys that are sold in Japan in the coming year.  It’s simply the price of doing business.

The Contract

It’s been rumored that Yu’s agents are looking for a contact in excess of what C.J. Wilson just received from the Angels ($77.5M/5 Years = avg. $15.5M/year).  That seems a little steep for a player that hasn’t pitched the in the majors yet.  In 2007, Dice-K got a $52M/6 year contact ($8.7M/year), with a $2m signing bonus and a no-trade clause.  Darvish has more hoopla surrounding him and seems to have more upside than what Dice-K had, so I think somewhere between what Dice-K got in 2007 and what C.J. got earlier this month is a nice range.

We’ve heard guesses of everywhere from $55M/5 to $90M/6.  Again, somewhere in the middle seems fair.

Baseball do says $77.5M/6 years.

The Player

Per Wiki, Yu is also known by the Persian name Farid, meaning “glorious”.  You don’t really need to know anything more than that, but just in case your interested…

Yu is a 6’5″, 220 lb 25 year old (will turn 26 in August) right-hander that features up to 7 pitches, with his primary pitches being his four-seam fastball and his slurve, which if you have viewed the “Career Highlights”  YouTube video below, is the pitch that buckles knees with a wicked break.

He’s the best in Japan, and it was time for his transition, which is seems to be excited about.  Stats from his time with the Ham Fighters below:

Its all about Yu...

Its all about Yu...

What’s interesting to note is the league ERA compared to what Darvish accomplished, especially over the last 5 seasons.  He was clearly performing at a much higher level than his counterparts.

Last thing that I think we’d be remiss to not bring up.  Yu is currently going through a divorce from his current wife, Saeko (pictured left).

Saeko is an actress and model.

They were married in 2007, in what Japanese tabloids reported as a good old-fashioned shot-gun wedding.

While we here at Baseball Do don’t believe this will impact his performance whatsoever, we needed a reason to include the picture.

The Future

This was a bold move.  Assuming an agreement is reached with Darvish, it’s a move, that at this point, will be the largest label on Jon Daniel’s tenure as Ranger’s GM whether you like it or not.  For it to be deemed a successful move, Darvish will have to exceed what Dice-K has done in his career (especially since he will probably be more heavily compensated), and will have to become a true ace for the Rangers.  If he does not, the further he is away from these marks will determine what impact it will have on the legacy of JD & company.

Only time will tell.

Just know this…Baseball Do is behind Yu.  <–sorry, but you knew I was going to go there at some point, right?

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Dec 212011
 

Baseball Do Podcast Episode 43rd Base is up for discussion in our weekly off-season position roundup…yo Adrian (greatest pic from last year)!

Jasen and I spend some time talking about the Yu Darvish bid and the potential impact Darvish has on the Ranger’s rotation and bullpen.

And finally, Jasen and I rehash our traumatizing experiences with having to put beloved pets to sleep…forever.

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Dec 192011
 

The Calm Before The Storm

 

It’s been very quiet in Rangers country this last week. The entire baseball world is waiting with bated breath to find out who’s won the right to negotiate with Japanese pitching sensation Yu Darvish. While initial reports are that the Blue Jays of Toronto have made a “massive” $40m plus bid, those “in the know” feel like this is down to either your Texas Rangers or Toronto.

In the meantime the biggest free agent left on the market both literally and figuratively is Prince Fielder. Several teams are said to still be in the mix for the enormous first baseman and well-known shrimp cocktail lover. While many feel like the Rangers would also be in the mix for Fielder, their official response when asked has been tepid to say the least.

The most likely scenario for the Rangers would have them trading for another starter before the season starts. Several names have been thrown out there including John Danks, Gio Gonzalez and possibly Matt Garza.  The Rangers are in a great position to trade for a big name starter thanks to a talent rich farm system built by John Daniels and the Rangers scouting department.

Its quiet…too quiet.  Once the Yu decision comes down, expect the floodgates to open.

 

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Dec 132011
 

Extend the Ankle of Steel...OK, I know that none of us want to start talking about the 2011 World Series yet, but during Episode 1 of Baseball Do, Jasen and I talked about the catcher position in our off-season position round-up, and obviously Mike Napoli was a very large part of that discussion.  I hate the to include the picture, but it still makes me cringe on the inside every time I see it and thought it’d be nice to share that feeling.

In Episode 2 of Baseball Do, I asked Jasen to put himself in Jon Daniels’ shoes and restricted him to extending the contract of only one of the two – Josh Hamilton or Mike Napoli.  Jasen took Hamilton, and it’s almost impossible to argue with that, even though I went the other way.  But it’s crazy to think that it’s even that close.  Had I, at the beginning of 2011, told any of you that the question would even be valid, you would have broken my ankle off and beaten me with it (look at it).

It’s time to get an extension in place for Nap.  His short time here has been filled with big contributions and his 2011 performance exceeded all expectations.  His final line from the 2011 season is very impressive, especially when you consider the limited AB:

  • Total 2011 – .320/.416/.631 with 30 HR, 75 RBI in only 369 AB

But, what will Nap’s role be in 2012?  Similar to what we saw in 2011?  I can’t think that will be the case simply because he is too good to limit to 369 AB.  Extend that line above out over 550 AB, and you’re looking at 45 HR and 112 RBI.  There would be numerous arguments against my simple math approach here, but I think 40 HR and 100 RBI would have been attainable.  So, is he the full time catcher?  Looking at offensive splits in 2011 based on what position he played (or didn’t play in case of DH) makes it look like he should be:

  • As C – .364/.449/.694 with 19 HR and 43 RBI over 209 AB
  • As 1B – .265/.345/.551 with 7 HR and 20 RBI over 98 AB
  • AS DH – .263/.411/.561 with 4 HR and 12 RBI over 57 AB

The splits are too lopsided to ignore.  Clearly, he performs better at the plate when he is playing behind it defensively.

So, we’ve established that Nap needs to be full-time catcher with a target of 500-550 AB (600+ plate appearances) which is a reasonable level for a starting catcher.

Now, how much to pay and how long of a contract?  He’s 30 years old now (won’t be 31 until October ’12).  He debuted when he was 24 years old and played a limited role over his first 3-4 years with the Angels.  It’s reasonable to think Nap could serve as the full-time catcher for the next 4-5 years, after which he could transition to 1B or DH.  If the Rangers have a more than serviceable back-up (like Torrealba), which would allow for more breaks from the catching duties, I think it’s posssible that you extend his time behind the plate to 6 years.  All that said, I think it’s a 4 or 5 year deal with the Rangers that makes the most sense.

Based on his full body of work, last year could be viewed as a bit of an anomaly, but I tend to think 2011 Napoli is more likely than ’06-’10 Napoli.  I say this, because it’s very natural for catchers to take a few years to develop to full potential offensively, because of the demands defensively.  The power was always been there – it’s the BA and OBP that are the new toys under the tree.  Given this, a club option in the final year or even two years of his contract would make sense, in the off chance that he is really just a .250-.270 hitter with a sub .375 OBP.

Here is my proposal - 6 years/ $81M, with club options in the 5th and 6th years of the contract, structured as follows:

  • Year 1 – $12.0M
  • Year 2 – $12.5M
  • Year 3 – $13.0M
  • Year 4 – $14.0M
  • Year 5 – Club option at $14.5M
  • Year 6 – Club option at $15M

Hopefully, we’ll see something get done prior to the start of the 2012 season.

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