Tuesday, January 1, 2008

EWC: Yankees Target Darvish

East Windup Chronicle, required reading for Japanese baseball news, cites a Korean newspaper which reports the Yankees are targeting 21 year-old pitching phenom Yu Darvish.
I’m surprised it took this long, but the Yu Darvish to MLB rumors may have just officially kicked off right along with the new year. A Sports Hankook (Korea) report, relying on a Japanese source (Sports Nikkan), says that the Yankees plan to nab Darvish following the 2008 season.

The report goes on to say that the Dodgers, Mets and Cubs have also made “love calls” (러브콜) to Darvish and that the floor of negotiations is something along the lines of what Daisuke Matsuzaka was able to command during his posting extravaganza in 2006.

Analysis: Well, why the heck would Darivsh want to sign with the Yankees when he can make nearly $2 million big ones playing in Japan? If the Dice K signing is the “floor,” I shudder to think what the ceiling might be. Dice K’s signing could be made to look like peanut shells. Given Darvish’s dominance of the NPB at such an early age (21) would $12-$15 million per year be out of the question?

Not to be a killjoy, but it should be noted that this is a Korean newspaper reporting something posted (blogged) on a Japanese newspaper’s Web site. While I’m of the opinion that both sources are reputable in and of themselves (Sports Nikkan was first to report the L.A. signing of Kuroda), the implications of this rumor are too big to not warrant further checking before we hustle Darvish off to New York.

The report may turn out to be false, considering that the idea of posting a 21 year old superstar goes against all logic. However, the prospect of a posting fee topping Matsuzaka's $50+ million could be an option which the Nippon Ham Fighters franchise would like to secure when his value is at its apex.

He could certainly improve upon his already impressive career in Japan, but there is always the chance of a fall-off, major injury, mental breakdown or one of a million other sidetracks. By posting Darvish following the 2008 season the Ham Fighters would be limiting the possibility of the stud pitcher losing his value to MLB.

Scouting Report:

Darvish throws a low-90s fastball (91-93 mph). At 21 years old, he is 6 foot 5 and under 180 lbs. which means he has the potential to add weight and thereby add velocity.

He throws a plus knuckle curveball along with a sinker, slider, and changeup.

His 2007 season, which earned him the Japanese version of the Cy Young was spectacular:

1.82 ERA, 26 starts, 207 innings pitched, 123 hits, 210 strikeouts, 49 walks and 12 complete games. That works out to a k/bb of 4.29, a batting average against of .170 while averaging 8 innings pitched per start. Wow.

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