Jul 27, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; General view of the tarp on the field for a rain delay prior to a game between the Boston Red Sox and the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Orioles – First Look at the Tanaka Implications

The deal has been announced today that Masahiro Tanaka has come to terms with the Yankees for a seven-year, $155 million contract. Though the Baltimore Orioles and their fans may well groan over this being in the AL East instead of the NL Central, here are a few quick thoughts I have on the situation.

1.  This prevents the Yankees from getting under the luxury tax of 189 million because of the Rodriguez deal being cleared off the books… which rankles O’s fans with a sense about the Yankees that, even when they lose, they still win. Although it could be asserted that it freed up money to do this deal, yet, the Yankees were still likely to pursue it with or without the ARod mess.

2.  This means that, even though the Cubs or a National League team would have appeared to be a better destination relative to the AL East Orioles, the Yankees will not now be in on signing other pitchers that the Birds may now be able to land. The Cubs were only likely to make a splash for this one big name, and without him, it is not certain they will spend that money for the likes of remaining free agents of the Bronson Arroyo caliber. To some extent this may be true of other Tanaka suitors.

3.  There is no guarantee Tanaka will do the same in MLB that he did in Japan. In fact, it is guaranteed that he is not going to go 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA. This may well play out like the Daisuke Matsuzaka deal – whose career record is now 53-40 with a 4.52 ERA. Yes, the former Red Sox pitcher had one great 18-3 season in 2008. But maybe a closer and better comparison is Yu Davish – who after two years is 29-18 with a 3.34 ERA … nice numbers for sure, but not unbeatable and lights-out. And I just don’t think Tanaka is going to be unhittable and unbeatable either, even if he is likely a better pitcher than Matsuzaka and Darvish.

Pulling together some stats from BaseballReference.com, here are the top 10 Japanese pitchers (ranked by WAR – a stat I’m not entirely fond of) who have come to MLB before age 30 …

 

Player

From

To

Age

G

W

L

SV

IP

BB

SO

ERA

1

Hideo Nomo

1995

2008

26-39

323

123

109

0

1976.1

908

1918

4.24

2

Tomo Ohka

1999

2009

23-33

202

51

68

0

1070.0

302

590

4.26

3

Shigetoshi Hasegawa

1997

2005

28-36

517

45

43

33

720.1

265

447

3.70

4

Yu Darvish

2012

2013

25-26

61

29

18

0

401.0

169

498

3.34

5

Daisuke Matsuzaka

2007

2013

26-32

124

53

40

0

707.0

337

642

4.52

6

Hideki Irabu

1997

2002

28-33

126

34

35

16

514.0

175

405

5.15

7

Junichi Tazawa

2009

2013

23-27

117

8

8

1

140.2

27

134

3.45

8

Kazuhito Tadano

2004

2005

24-25

15

1

1

0

54.1

18

40

4.47

9

Kazuhisa Ishii

2002

2005

28-31

105

39

34

0

564.0

354

435

4.44

10

Kei Igawa

2007

2008

27-28

16

2

4

0

71.2

37

53

6.66

 

4.  I’m still not that overly impressed with the New York Yankees, even with this addition. Tanaka will lead a rotation followed by C.C. Sabathia (after a weak 2013), Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova, and ????  (David Phelps? Vidal Nuno? Adam Warren? Michael Pineda?).  Does that scare you? Of course, one could say, “Why would Tillman, Chen, Gonzalez, Norris, and Mystery Man scare anyone?”  I get the point, but we’re talking about the Yankees now. And yes, Brian McCann was a nice addition for them, along with Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran (those three, along with Tanaka, ringing the cash register at $438 million!). The Yanks have other problems, including Mark Teixeira not being ready to go at the beginning of the season, along with the ARod mess, Jeter’s return, etc.

5.  And finally, think of it this way – Now the Orioles won’t have to face Tanaka in the World Series. They can become familiar with him in the AL East, beat him there, and move on! Hey, I guarantee this is the way Buck Showalter is viewing the situation.

So let this road block clear, and let’s see where these remaining free agents fall.

Tags: Baltimore Orioles Bronson Arroyo Masahiro Tanaka

comments powered by Disqus