Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Yu the Answer?

Yu Darvish
Photo by Keith Fujimoto licensed
by Creative Commons 2.0
This Article is a Continuation of a FanPost on Bluebird Banter if you haven't seen that you can view it here.

After three straight offseasons in which there was great speculation as to whether or not Yu Davish will, it seems like this year it will finally happen. With that said there is no doubt in anyones mind that Yu Darvish will be probably the best prospect to hail from Japan in a while, and the attention that he is getting from major league teams is definitely warranted. He is highly projectable at 6' 5" 216 lbs and would be the tallest Japanese import player ever from the NPB. To go along with the projectability Darvish holds electrifying stuff with a fastball that can reach 96 and sits around 92, a slider that is said to be absolutely nasty, as well as a curveball, changeup, and forkball that are all supposedly solid pitches.

The stats Darvish has put out in the NPB definitely backs up the stuff.
As you can see Darvish has absolutely lit up the NPB this year and looking at his past stats we can see that he has consistently improved year to year with career numbers this year that include a 1.49 ERA, a 1.62 FIP, a 10.5 K/9, a 1.41 BB/9 all to go along with an average of 8 1/3 innings per start. These numbers are absolutely ridiculous and quite possibly the best ever in the NPB, at least for a starter who is still only 25. 

When MLB fans are making an opinion on whether or not they want there team to sign Darvish they are basing it mostly off the fact that Japanese ballplayers haven't always historically been able to translate well over to the MLB. Specifically fingers are pointed at the man who was the biggest post in NPB history, Daisuke Matsuzaka. Of course we all know of Dice-K as the overpaid oft-injured #4 starter for the Red Sox and rightly so, but that doesn't mean in any way that Darvish and Dice-K should be seriously compared to each other. Darvish and Dice-K are completely different, they have different injury histories and much different stats and stuff and in the end Darvish is just flat out better and more predictable than Dice-K.

Regarding the injury history, during his time in the NPB Daisuke Matsuzaka was not necessarily an injury prone player, but he did have a couple seasons in which he missed significant time. One season in particular was during the 2002 season in which Dice-K only pitched 73. 3 innings due to nagging injuries throughout the season. Another little tid bit of information was that prior to that injury filled season Dice-K had pitched 240 innings for the Seibu Lions, an absolutely ridiculous number these days for a guy who was only in his third season in the big leagues and who at the time was only 20 years of age. In the MLB at that time even top prospects are throwing only at the very most 180 innings and Dice-K beat that by 60 innings. This fact that Dice-K pitched 240 innings at 20 and also that he pitched 180 innings in the NPB at age 18 are often reasons that are pointed to, to explain the injury filled 2002 season as well as the injuries that have incurred while within the Red Sox organization. 

Whether it is true or not is unknown at least by the fans, but what is encouraging is that by looking at Darvish's IP numbers you can see that he was more eased in to the league than Matsuzaka was. Darvish's the innings numbers in his first three years are 94.1, 149.2, and 207.2 innings pitched. Definitely more promising than the 180, 167,  and 240 innings pitched that Dice-K had in his first three years in the NPB. As well Darvish unlike Matsuzaka has avoided any major injuries while pitching in the NPB, and was not taken off the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters roster for injury until 2009, which was his fifth season with the team. The team only classified the injury as "shoulder fatigue" and soon after being removed from the roster Darvish was reinstated and eventually got back to his former self.

Looking at the stats it doesn't even compare between Darvish and Matsuzaka. Yu Darvish holds a lower NPB career ERA and FIP by more than half a run and his career K/9 may not be higher than Matsuzaka, but Yu has been consistently improving year after year, which has culminated with a sweet 10.5 K/9, a level Dice-K never reached. As well when you bring back the projectability factor, it seems pretty safe to say that Darvish is headed for a brighter future then Dice-K, who at the time of signing some were calling a future ace in the MLB. Obviously the "future ace" tag wasn't exactly warranted for Dice-K but for Yu Darvish it is safe to say that it is at least a very good possibility.

Now that we know Darvish is good it brings us to the question and possibility of Darvish becoming a Jay. The Blue Jays obviously need top end pitching and Yu Darvish could be the risk and reward that the Jays are looking for. Earlier in the year it was reported that Anthopolous was over in Japan scouting Darvish and recently Blue Jays President and CEO Paul Beeston was interviewed by the Toronto Star's Richard Griffin in an article seen here.

In the interview Richard Griffin asks Paul Beeston about the possibility of a Darvish signing and the potential marketing possibilities to the asian community in the GTA. Beeston's response showed that he was somewhat holding back on us, but he did say, "I think those people at Rogers who never heard of him before, now know this player is in existence." To me this means that at least the Jays have done due discussion on the possibility of a signing, which is evident by AA's trip to Japan as well as the fact that ownership has been talked to about him, but past that it is hard to tell. You might infer that because Beeston didn't really want to comment on the particular subject that the Jays may be taking a shot at Yu Darvish as a serious consideration, but you could also just say that Beeston probably wouldn't want to talk about it to change any potential postings and contract negotiations.

In the end we will see the outcome, but with the scouting and Beeston's comments to me at least it seems like the Jays are putting heavy consideration into it. If the Jays are willing to buck up the money now, then they may see Darvish become an ace of the staff, but they also run the risk of getting another #3 starter. With the projected $100 million plus investment that it would take to acquire Darvish, which includes the posting fee and the contract, it seems like it would be a heavy risk. Though as we have seen with Anthopolous at the helm it seems like the Jays aren't afraid to take risks as long as they are smart risks (See Jose Bautista's Contract). I would love to see the Jays take a chance at Darvish, but with the evident possibility of high posting fees put out by both the Red Sox and Yankees it would seem like a slim chance that the Jays end up with Darvish, but in the off chance that they do we can only hope he lives up to expectations, unlike the last great Japanese import.


  1. Solid Analysis, i agree with you, i'd like to see a run made. I think he'll pan out, but again it has to be a calculated risk, just as with Chapman, you dont go overboard, especially with the posting fee that can easily get out of hand very quickly

  2. @Anonymous Thank You and really good comp. with Chapman, with the play that was made for him by the Jays and the risk reward factor

  3. I have to point out, of record AA's biggest regret was not being prepared enough to push a Chapman deal further and that he would of liked to of gotten the player.

    So when somebody as diligent as Alex says he'll never get caught playing catchup or with his pants down again... we believe him.

    With Darvish, you have to remember first and formost Rogers uses the Jays as a marketing vehicle. Its on our screens, in the stands, in the dugout, at the blackbarry info center (whatever its called where they do the interviews) as seen on Rogers sportsnet as discussed on the the fan 590 that they own and all of these brought to you live from the Rogers center. (I think i made my point)

    As such they are willing to spend, to if not continue then to put a strangle hold on the market place. All of Canada I might add, from coast to coast, so the more the Jays win (in a city / market begging for a winner) the more they monopolize, the more exposure they get and we all know, advertizing is big business.

    Its nothing short of genius and at the simplest of levels its almost product placing brainwash.

    So to that I say sign Prince -5.5 of Linds deal but Im certain the Jays will be players for Darvish for one simple reason...the ability to touch more demographic and another face to market with Jose... Is AA gun shy.. I think so.

    Just my 2c

  4. @Evil That is precisely what I was thinking in that despite Darvish being half iranian he could very easily bring great marketing possibilities to the Jays which yes may appeal to Rogers

  5. I see some kind of deal being made for a front end starter this off season. If the price is right on darvish then I see this being AA's preference as it won't cost a prospect....just $s
    The added benefit of doing this is that it moves Cecil to the pen as a second Lefty (with Perez) and helps set up the pen better. Lastly it will buy time for Drabek and the 4 promising arms in AA.
    Let's hope we get Darvish!

  6. Rather than pay $100MM for Darvish, you could sign CJ Wilson, Jonathan Papelbon and possibly one more good free agent for the same price. I'd rather go with Papelbon and Wilson, cause with that you have less risk, and a better chance of getting more for your return. While adding a starter is a nice idea, what the Jays and their league leading 20+ blown saves need is a closer. That has to be priority #1.