Cubs To Meet With Masahiro Tanaka

If you've been reading for the past 3 years, you know I don't really go gaga about every free agent.  For me to talk about major free agents I need to believe that A) the Cubs can sign him and B) the Cubs want to sign him.

That hasn't happened very often.

I didn't talk about the possibility of signing Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols, or even Michael Bourn because I didn't think the Cubs had the desire to sign them.  I didn't get too excited about Yu Darvish because I didn't think the Cubs could sign him.  Texas had a bead on him from day one and they weren't about to lose him.  They lapped the rest of the field when it came to the posting bid.

I was, however, optimistic about Jorge Soler and Hyun-Jin Ryu.  They fit the timeline and the Cubs were in on them from day one.  The Cubs got Soler and just missed on Ryu.  Of all the major free agents the Cubs have missed out on, the only ones that were disappointing for me were Ryu and Anibal Sanchez.

Since early September, I have felt the same about Masahiro Tanaka, both in terms of optimism and the potential genuine disappointment if they don't land him.  I haven't heard anything since then that has caused me to change my mind on that.

Now Luke Stuckmeyer is saying the Cubs are going to meet with him,

I believe the Cubs don't want this to turn into a bidding war so it's not surprising to me that they'd downplay their interest in the press, but it also wouldn't surprise me if they make an aggressive play for Tanaka from day one -- a  full court press to try and sell him on the plan, the city, and the organization.  We also know that they'll have done their homework on what motivates Tanaka from a personal standpoint.

And maybe, as they did with Curt Schilling, they can appeal to Masahiro's ego.  If you want to surpass the legend of Ichiro, Hideo, Hideki, and Yu there is no better way to do it than to be a part of the team that ends the World Series drought at Wrigley.  He can carve his own place in history right here in Chicago.

In the end, however, this is going to come down to money and this is the part that gives Cubs fans pause.

Do they have the money to spend?

I believe they do, though I do think they'll have to be creative.  I believe the talk about the finances and the concerns about revenue are at least in some part, a little sleight of hand.  While everyone is paying attention to the rebuilding, the renovation saga, the Yankees, Dodgers, and the Mariners, the Cubs could pull a rabbit out of their hat on this one.

One way or the other, we'll find out in the next couple of weeks or so.  And for one of the few times since the Cubs started rebuilding, I'm actually excited about the possibility that the Cubs just might land the big fish.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm not some kind of naive, wide eyed optimist, I realize there are tremendous challenges involved.  There is some serious, highly motivated, highly financed competition and there is a good chance that it won't happen no matter how aggressive, creative, and prepared the Cubs are in their pursuit.

But that doesn't mean that I won't be disappointed if the Cubs lose this particular derby.


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  • I predict the next three weeks leading up to his decision will be worse than the winter meetings shark trade saga.

  • I may be more optimistic than most, but I think the Cubs will have the money for Tanaka. They have shown that they will pay the right guys that fit their needs and are the right age. Tanaka fits this to a tee.

  • In reply to HailSzczur:

    I agree and that's why I think they'll be in big on Tanaka.

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    In reply to HailSzczur:

    I don't think money will be a problem...there are a number of other obstacles, however.

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    John, if someone lets say the Yankees want to make an all out stupid offer that theyll be paying thru the nose on for the next decade let them hang themselves, id be happy to see the Cubs lose out then.. Lets hope we can land Tanaka with out selling our soul to get him

  • In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:

    I have to think there are limits as to how far the Cubs will go. At some point, it doesn't represent value anymore.

    I don't know enough about finances to know how much the Cubs can get back in terms of revenue, but I'm sure the Cubs do and that will be factored into their offer. They may be able to overbid to some degree, but I agree that if it gets ridiculous they may have to let him go.

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    John, I love your work, great post as usual. What $$$ number makes the Cubs walk away from the table and wish Tanaka the best of luck?

  • In reply to Chi City Classic:

    Thank you. I wish I knew on that. They bid way higher than I thought they would on Anibal Sanchez, so whatever I guess might be too low. $20M/yr?

  • Gosh, I want him. We need him. He takes the rebuild to warp speed. I am optimistic and perhaps unrealistic in thinking we gonna get him, so at want point, John, does it become "rediculous" in your view?

  • In reply to Nondorf:

    I'd start getting pretty nervous at $20M/yr, maybe a little before that, but considering he's going to draw in some revenue, I can live with it.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Just checked the Luke link. I'll die if ChiSox get him!

    John, I certainly recall that you were big on Tanaka from way back when we were gnashing teeth in September and how he should be the No.1 priority in the off season. And, indeed, as you predicted it appears it would be soooooooooo huge to land him. So I know it's not a fair to put you on the spotvwith thus, but what would you say are the odds that we'll get him?

  • In reply to Nondorf:

    I'll die of shock if the White Sox get him. I think it's due diligence for them.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    If the White Sox land Tanaka I'll shave one of my eyebrows.

  • In reply to JLynch2247:

    If that happens (and I don't think it will), you'll have to send a photo!

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    I think we're going to get him. But I do think it's going to be a stunningly high contract. And things will get ugly, quickly, if he does not bring in revenue.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Wow. Happy to her you think we will get him, Mike. I've said before that I think we'll be buyers in July if we get Tanaka in January. He's a game changer for the rebuild! Can't tell you how thrilled I am with the prospect that he will actually get him! Exciting times! Finally!

    I'll go on record that I'll buy Felzz all the drinks he can handle up in Section 319 (1st row) at Hawks game to celebrate Tanaka signing. You too John! And you too Mike (hope you're feeling better).

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Count me in the camp that also starts getting nervous in the $20M/yr range, but will note that we paid the Fonz $19M last year for about 1.2 WARP as a Cub. We've shaved about $50M out of our annual payroll on a year over year basis (13 vs projected 14) even still being on the hook for $14M of the Fonz's number for 0.0 Cub WARP in 2014 and then he comes off the books.

    With all due respect to Mike's point I'm not sure that things get ugly quickly if he does not bring in revenue given some of the headroom Theo and Jed's moves have given us. It sure would be a nice problem to have though, figuring how to make the numbers work on a potential 4+ WARP SP!

  • I think $20M/yr is a good guess. I could see the Cubs topping out at 7 yrs/$140M ($160M if you include the posting fee or sales tax as I like to call it). If the Yankees decide to go crazy and bid 7/$175M or 8/$200M I don't see the Cubs trying to match that price.

  • In reply to Zorb:

    That's about what I'm thinking.

  • John, how are his pitching mechanics to stay hopefully, injury free?

  • In reply to edubbs:

    There's some mixed opinion on his mechanics, but nobody I know thinks they're bad. I think there are some slight flaws, but I think he's strong enough to withstand the workload and athletic enough to repeat his delivery consistently.

    Mechanics are a tricky thing. Many probably would have bet on Mark Prior and Angel Guzman having a longer career than Kerry Wood or Carlos Zambrano. I think in the later two cases, especially Zambrano, their natural strength, build, and durabilty helped them withstand a bit more or a longer period of time.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Good point John. Until the day I die (and this will always make me feel very apprehensive about lucrative, long-term contracts for pitchers), I will never understand the decline of Mark Prior. I am not a pitching coach nor do I claim to understand what represents good pitching mechanics, but all we heard during Prior's progression through the Cubs' minor league system and eventual call-up to the majors was what great mechanics he had. It was discussed ad nauseum all of his work with Tom House. His delivery looked robotic and repeatable. His frame looked very sturdy and maintained. Mark Prior will always make me doubt what good mechanics and having a sturdy frame to repeat those mechanics should look like in baseball. Conversely, how the hell did the 5'10", 160 lb flame-throwing Ron Guidry have a 14-year MLB career?

  • In reply to travelguy:

    I don't remember the game, but 2004 Mark Prior flipped over a second baseman while caught in an awkward base running situation. He landed on his shoulder and was never really the same.

    A lot of people blame Dusty Baker for the wear on his arm in 2003. If that was in fact the problem then we should be terrified about all Japanese players coming over.

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    In reply to KC Cubs Fan:

    I do remember that game, and agree that could have been the play that messed up his shoulder. That was against the Braves. Was Marcus Giles

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    In reply to brober34:

    I wanted to jump through the tv and beat Giles senseless

  • In reply to brober34:

    No wonder I always hated Giles.

  • In reply to KC Cubs Fan:

    That game was actually 2003, July 11th. I remember it well b/c I was at the hospital waiting for my wife to deliver our first child.

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    In reply to travelguy:

    Mark Prior - a Tom House student - incorporated a delivery called the 'Inverted W'. It's a Tom House technique, and is very bad for shoulders. Most coaches and pundits will tell you (in hindsight) that its a bad delivery. Prior's delivery was effortless and smooth, but none of that matters when your pitching arm shoulder extends higher than your shoulder AND behind your shoulder. It's an unnatural position for the arm and the small muscles and joints in the shoulder cannot sustain that level of abuse over time. In general, the overhead throw is unnatural and risky to shoulder health and when coupled with additional unnatural actions, we see the injuries that came out of that instruction. Others who use the 'inverted W' are John Smoltz (long career, injuries derailed his SP career), Adam Wainright (TJ surgery), and Stephen Strasburg (ailments in brief career to arm). Others have been less injury prone, but basically, the inverted W is now frowned upon.

  • In reply to Tom McNelley:

    Nicely put, Tom. Thanks for the input.

  • In reply to Tom McNelley:

    Good point. The "inverted W" was not recognized as being detrimental back when Prior was debuting with the Cubs. But I think the consensus is that the W causes elbow problems, more than shoulder problems, FWIW.

    IMO it's likely that anyone who pitches as much as Prior did in college and in his first few seasons with the Cubs as a pro is probably something of a risk--although there's really no way to know which guys will break down and which guys won't.

    I'm a bit leery of Tanaka because of that. Whatever people say, he's a big risk. Despite his young age, he is a guy who could fall apart as early as in 2014 and essentially be done. Think of guys like Gooden and Tanana, who pitched a lot as teenagers and in their early twenties. They both had big arm injuries as 25 year olds and were never really the same after that. It's tough to think of guys who pitched as much as Tanaka did as a teenager who haven't broken down early in their careers (in part because few pitchers make it to the bigs early as TOR guys to have that kind of workload at that age).

    Tanaka has it made though. He's going to get 6/120 or 7/140 from someone, whether his arm breaks down or not. Because of the injury risk, I think he makes a lot more sense for a win-now team than for the Cubs. I'd be happy if the Cubs add him, but they would really be putting a lot of their eggs in one pretty risky basket. You have to take some risks, but the level of risk with Tanaka makes me a bit ambivalent about the prospect of them signing him.

  • In reply to travelguy:

    Tom's post reminded me of this cool ESPN article from last year. It speaks of the "inverted W" more in relation to effects on the UCL, but does mention that the shoulder is stressed equally. The image at the top of the page with Wood and Wainwright's deliveries side-by-side gets cutoff, but the similarities in the hard copy were plain spooky.

  • Let's go get him! I have a hunch the Cubs have sufficient financial power to bid appropriately as well.

    I'll try to post anything about his visit from the reports that Japanese television are sure to provide over here.

  • In reply to TokyoCraig:

    Cool! Thanks Craig!

  • In reply to TokyoCraig:

    Thanks. Looking forward to some (hopefully) good news!

  • Let the 'fun' (and of course the rampant speculation) begin anew!

  • 2 weeks and 2 days. John, any chance we can get a Tanaka Clock up and running... ;-)

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Ha! I probably should have done that before ST clock.

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    MLB keeps screwing the NPB. Now, the posting fee is to be payed in 2 installments, 13 million in year 1, 7 million in year 2.

  • Guessing 5 yrs with 6yr option at 23-25 mil a year gets him.

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    "If you want to surpass the legend of Ichiro, Hideo, Hideki, and Yu there is no better way to do it than to be a part of the team that ends the World Series drought at Wrigley."

    This is the key. Well said.

  • In reply to Michael Standaert:

    That pitch will really work coming from Theo too. He left Boston to come rebuild the lowly Cubs and cement his legend in Baseball lore. There is no fan base in the world that is in more need of a savior and Tanaka could be just that. No pressure.

  • I, like everyone else here, certainly hope we land Tanaka. I also believe that the dollars are there for this deal. And since I've never been in a situation like (who has??) at what point does it make a difference whether it's 20 mill/yr or 22 mill/yr and other factors weigh into it? I hope John's right that it's about the dollars and all the peripheral stuff we've heard about west coast, other Japanese players, weather, etc are all rationalizations for his signing somewhere else. Good luck Theo and all.

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    One thing I've been wondering tho. How would teammates see a guy like this, who has never thrown one pitch in MLB or the minors, get $20 mil a year for 6 or so years. How does a guy like Samardzjia see that? Wood? Etc.

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    In reply to Michael Standaert:

    If anything, they appreciate it. It drives up their own salaries when the time comes for free agency. These guys aren't dumb (for the most part). They understand basic economics. If any pitcher says they wouldn't accept some huge contract before proving themselves then they are lying, or not very good businessmen!

  • In reply to Michael Standaert:

    I think they understand how this works to some degree -- or at least I hope they do! We know Samardzija does because he's willing to wait until he gets closer to free agency. But he must also see that teams aren't all that eager to pay Ubaldo Jimenez $14M, which is probably a good comp to what Samardzija will see when he becomes a free agent. I hope they see Tanaka as a special case.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    This is slightly unrelated, but the thought crossed my mind so wanted to get opinions on it. Do you think the Cubs did Garza a favor by trading him at the deadline? He definitely seems to be getting more attention than Santana, at least in part due to no draft pick compensation. Do you think Garza and Samardzija see it that way?

  • In reply to KC Cubs Fan:

    I do think players recognize that it's better to go into free agency that way, but the favor was unintentional. The Cubs would have probably traded him earlier if he didn't get that untimely injury.

  • As long as the money demanded is not unreasonable I think the Cubs will have it to offer. I trust the FO to back away if and when it becomes a bad investment.

    I also agree, as I said a few columns ago, that a unique thing the Cubs can offer him is the chance to win in Chicago and become immortal in the baseball world.

  • All along I thought the posting fee and player bid could reach upwards of 180 million if we want to land him.A lot depends on how desperately the Yankees need him and how much Monopoly money the Dodgers throw at him.

  • John. Would it help convince Tanaka to come if the Cubs told him they would trade for Ichiro?

  • In reply to cubs25:

    I don't know. But if I were to trade for Ichiro, I'd wait until after they sign Tanaka. No sense helping the Yankees out yet.

  • Keep him away from this weather

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    They should meet with him in La Jolla and tell him it's Chicago. By the time he finds out he'll already be signed.

  • In reply to TheThinBlueLine:

    Hmm (strokes chin)...that's just crazy enough to work.

  • Patrick Mooney says the Cubs will be meeting Tanaka on the West Coast. On one hand, I was disappointed that he wasn't making the trip to see the city, but then I look at the conditions and think maybe that is OK.

    If we do hear that he is making a trip to Chicago in a week or so, could be a good sign that the Cubs are right there.

    Yanks could make a crazy offer, but they are also of the understanding now that they can't keep throwing money like that around. Even with the addition of Tanaka, they will struggle this year.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    ? Mooney says most likely to meet on the west coast but then links Luke Stuckmeyer as his source who states it's likely to occur in Chicago.

  • In reply to Rbirby:

    If I had to guess, I believe the Cubs will fly out to meet him. That's what I would do right now. Stuckmeyer did say likely in Chicago, but it wasn't a certainty.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    That makes sense. That's a better idea for everyone involved.

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    Make it so! ~ Jean-luc Picard

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:


  • Let's hope that our farm system impresses him and its better
    that what the other teams have

  • SI had an article about how many innings he has already logged on his arm. It's an old arm for a 25 year old. A longer contract may come back to bite us. Also, if/when we pay him big, can we then afford to resign the Shark? Do we need/want to?

  • In reply to Oneear:

    i don't think it is an old arm as much as it is an over used arm. Last year he threw 160 pitches came back the next day and threw 15 to close out a series. I am not sure if it was for the championship or not.

    He has major pitch counts on his arm

    I realize he is impact talent, but what impact does 24m have on our roster on the IR.

    people think we overpaid for fonz at 19m, at least he was in the lineup providing a little

  • In reply to waitingOn2015:

    The pitch counts haven't affect his velo. In fact, it's gone up a little in the past couple of years. Usually you associate wear and tear with a slight decrease. Japanese pitchers are different. They throw a lot more early and perhaps that wears them down, but prepares if they survive it, it builds up arm strength/endurance and prepares them for a bigger workload later.

  • I've felt all along the one advantage that the Cubs can have in the Tanaka bidding is that they have the payroll flexibility over the next year or two that allows them to essentially give him a signing bonus that other teams that are close to their spending limits or luxury tax will not be able to match. I really do not care what his salary is in 2014 or 2015 because the rest of the team's payroll commitments are so low. They could pay him 55 million dollars those first two years for all I care. Front load it as much as possible. Tanaka gets his money up front, and the Cubs mitigate the risk to their payroll down the line and it provides them insurance down the line in case he underperrforms or gets hurt so that the back end of his contract would be more movable if necessary.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Payroll flexibility is huge for the Cubs. Not only can they give Tanaka more now, but they can also spend more in the next couple of years.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    mjvz, great point about payroll. You could pay him 20mil this year
    and 35mil next year (soriano money) then 14mil a year after that.
    Then next deadline you trade jackson (save 14mil) and bring up Hendricks. In essence 40 million signing bonus above payroll
    then free after that (traded Jackson money for Tanaka money).
    Years 3-7 of the contract he would actually be pretty cheap. This
    also might cause Shark to be less offended, his potential contract
    would be in the neighborhood of 12-14mil per year.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    You'd have to think a signing bonus would also be nice for family reasons. Easy to establish your base either here or in Japan with gobs of money up front, and then just worry about playing baseball after that.

  • I know a lot of people are hoping Tanaka sees the current state of the organization from a pure baseball standpoint and comes away thinking that it's on the upswing, but I think the biggest factor is going to be TheoJed and the team they've assembled in the front office.

    The decision for Tanaka becomes less daunting, in my mind, when he realizes he's joining a group of respected professionals saying "We came in to fix this place the right way. It's been tough, but we're making huge progress and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Join our - already impressive - team of fixers and become a legend"

    Knowing you have that backing and that a core group is already in place at arguably the most important position in the organization should be the selling point.

  • Was he the ace of the team in Japan? Another appeal to his ego would be come to Chicago and you'll be our ace and day 1 starter. Seattle, LA, and New York can't sell that.

  • In reply to Ike03:


  • Being the face on the new Cubs might get him

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Opening day bobblehead

  • The past two seasons he was the clear cut ace, but what is interesting is the dynamic between him and Seattle pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma. They both pitched for Rakuten from 2007-2011. I haven't heard what if any sort of relationship the two had while at Rakuten. Tanaka may want to compete with Iwakuma for the spotlight. He might not care. Or it is possible that it will help Seattle. Ultimately, my guess is it comes down to money, and I am not confident if the Yankees don't care about getting below 189 million now.

  • In reply to dabynsky:

    Good points. We know there will be obstacles here, but both those scenarios seem plausible. He may want to go and pitch with Iwakuma -- but he also may want to carve his own identity in MLB rather than sharing it with a former teammate again.

    The money factor is there, however, and there are apparent financial constraints for both NY and Seattle (and Los Angeles, who has to sign Kershaw).

  • I hate to be a pessimist because Ia m not by nature, but I don't see any way we can land him. I'm sure the FO will try, but how appealing is the line, "We have a great farm system and will contend in a few years". I wouldn't by it. I'd be looking for a team that is in contention now. Of course, it all depends on whom we are bidding against, but I think we have a huge hurdle to get him to come here on that arguement.

  • In reply to cubman:

    "show me the money" is the American way

  • In reply to cubman:

    That is certainly an obstacle, but we can't assume we know what motivates players. A 70 something A's team that just traded all their top players signed Yoenis Cespedes when half the teams in baseball were chasing him. Ichiro signed with a non-playoff Seattle team that was good, but was no sure thing (79, 76 wins in the two seasons prior). They won 91 that year but won less games than both NY teams and had to compete with other very good big market teams like the Dodgers and Red Sox, not to mention a 97 win GIants team.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Wasn't Ichiro posted under the old system where the Mariners won exclusive rights to negotiate a deal with him? And I believe Oakland was the only team willing to offer Cespedes free agency after four years. I don't think the situations are completely analogous to this one.

  • In reply to dabynsky:

    It's not analagous because Oakland chose to make a creative offer? It was an open market and they beat the big boys to the punch with what is a potentially more lucrative deal long term. The Cubs structured a deal creatively to land Soler. I don't think it changes anything. Those players still didn't go to the biggest market and/or the taem with the best record.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I suppose the reason I would say that was because there were questions about Cespedes being major league ready at the time of his signing. The offer of four years to free agency provided the extra incentive to sign with Oakland over all the other teams after him. If we do consider it similar then it only highlights the point that ultimately financial considerations are the most important in this scenario which is both positive and negative for this team.

  • In reply to dabynsky:

    It just seems to me that whenever a free agent becomes available, everyone assumes he'll just sign with the best team and/or the biggest market.

    It does happen from time to time, but it happens a lot less than people think it does. I'd bet the field wins most of the time -- and this time the Cubs are a major part of that field.

    Not saying that's not an obstacle, but to throw up your hands and say the best or richest team will win every time in these situations is far from the truth.

    When and if somebody besides the Dodgers or Yankees sign Tanala, I'm sure people will say, "Well, this time it was different because..."

    Well, I believe the "Because" factor favors the creative and the prepared. And because of that I like the chances of this front office being the latest so-called surprise team to land a major free agent.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Exactly, John!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I don't think what we are saying is too far off from each other. I questioned the Cespedes comparison due to the unique situation. The A's gambled that he was ready right from the beginning and made a creative offer that provided the best financial situation for Cespedes. There are no such pretensions with Tanaka.

    I am not throwing my hands up and saying that the Cubs have no shot. I am suggesting that ultimately this is going to come down to money. So Tanaka might take a slight discount due to preference, whatever those might be, but at the end of the day I am guessing the biggest offer lands the fish. Hopefully it is the Cubs since the entire offseason has revolved around Tanaka, but I do fear the Yankees in this scenario given their apparent lack of concern for getting under the tax threshold.

  • In reply to dabynsky:

    I do agree it ultimately comes down to money. I also expect a 2-3 offers to be pretty close, so other factors could come into play. One obvious disadvantage for the Cubs is that they are currently a losing team. That hurt the Cubs in the Sanchez bidding.

    On the other hand, the Cubs, as other teams have in the past, can overcome that with creative structuring of a deal and the kind of preparedness and personal touches they added with a guy like Curt Schilling.

    Money is king, but as long as it's close -- creativity and forging personal relationships go a long way toward tipping the scales, and sometimes more so than an apparently better opportunity to win right away.

    The Rangers won the Darvish bid and the most direct reason is that they outbid the rest of the teams. But I can tell you with certainty that the Rangers were in on Darvish the longest and built a strong bond between him and the organization long before the bidding even started. That made it imperative for them to win the bidding. And I'm willing to bet Darvish was hoping the Rangers would win -- so much so that even if Darvish got on the quasi-open market the way Tanaka has, I'm quite sure the Rangers would have won the bidding anyway.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Choo is a good example this year. It's been reported that the Yankees offered him $140M but he didn't sign. He settled for less money to sign elsewhere. The Evil Empire doesn't always get what they want...

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    You also have to understand that his agency representing him is American and certainly have a pulse on what is going on short term and long term with each MLB team.

    So they can certainly point out to Tanaka as to what the future of the Cubs looks like and how it might benefit their client.

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    Seattle, LAD, Yanks all have their intangibles besides money. As for the cubs, I doubt Tanaka gives a rat's patootie about being on the team that breaks the curse. The only intangibles I can see they have are: theo's history with daisuke, and the fact that the Golden Eagles owner thought enough of theo to want to hire him at one time.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    I obviously can't speak for Tanaka any more than you can, but having the desire to "break the curse" is very real in certain athletes. It may not be the sole reason, but if the money is close I could definitely see a world where Tanaka chooses the Cubs to take on what is essentially the ultimate challenge in major league sports.

  • In reply to Elden14:

    I agree and I think this succinctly points out what I've been trying to say with my past two Tanaka articles. I think many special talents prefer challenges. It is why Theo came here. It's why Schilling chose Boston after everyone thought the Yankees had it in the bag. If Tanaka is that kind of person, then I think the Cubs have a great chance. If he's not, then maybe he's better off on a win-now team.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Maybe. But I think we have yo guard against projecting our desires on other people. Breaking the curse may be the holy grail in Chicago, but most other people really couldn't care less until it gets down to game 7. At that time the whole country will be cub fans. But until then, if you present that as a selling point to a free agent, all he's going to see is 100 years of losing.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    and I think that's where Tanaka as a person and athlete comes in. Some people see the Cubs purely as 100+ years of futility, while others, myself included, see the organization and a world series win as the potential experience of a lifetime going forward.

    It's the ol' glass half full/empty argument.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Schilling was traded to the Red Sox. He didn't choose them. The meeting they had was to see if he was going to sign a contract extension and waive his no-trade clause, which he did. While Schilling's input made the trade happen, it was Arizona that chose Boston. That's like saying Dempster chose Texas, I guess while it can be looked at that way, it fails to consider that a team has to put together the right package to get him, it's not as cut and dry as it seems on the surface.

    Anyway, it doesn't seem like it's hard to sell a player to come to a 95 win team. The pretty girl is going to say yes to the date with the guy with the money and nice car. It's a lot harder to get her to say yes to the guy who is promising he'll have the nice car in the future...and that has 30 wins less.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    A technicality that really doesn't change the dynamics of the situation all that much. Schilling had one year left and was bent on testing FA waters (where the Yankees were reportedly would have been ready and waiting to swoop in and give him a ton of money). You should read about how the the front office did their homework to sign him from nearly the moment they acquired him, signing him a few months later as the season started.

    The pretty girl analogy is a tired and cynical one to me. My wife is much prettier than me and also makes more money than I do.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Post a picture

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    Are you trying to say that I'm prettier? I'm flattered that you suspect that but I can assure you that it isn't true.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Point being he didn't choose the Red Sox. It's not close to the same situation at all, especially when you consider that the Red Sox were title contenders with or without Schilling.

    The only similarity is that they are trying to woo a player.

    A free agent compared to a player still signed, and one of the best teams in baseball, to one of the worse, makes the situation night and day.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    I disagree. The situations are different, but night and day is a gross exaggeration. And your main point is still the same -- that players will always sign with the best and wealthiest teams, but history, even recent history, has shown that just isn't true.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    "And your main point is still the same -- that players will always sign with the best and wealthiest teams"

    That's not my main point at all.

    The Diamondbacks were heading into a free fall after the '03 season. Schilling saw the boat sinking and grabbed onto an instant title contender. Lets not give Theo too much credit. *that's the main point* Schilling probably waives his no-trade clause even if Theo forgets the brownies. *main point again*

    That's not to say Theo's pitch wasn't great. But who's to say Schilling wouldn't have waived his no trade clause for any contender with the direction the Dbacks were going? especially when they were rumblings on how he was unhappy with management after how they fired Brenly. Or who's to say that other front offices who employ guys that make a lot of money and also have Ivy League backgrounds wouldn't also do their due diligence and put together just as good as a pitch? I expect people that make it to being a baseball GM to have enough business/baseball savvy to put together a great pitch. Having a great team doesn't hurt. When you don't, get the Anibal Sanchez situation. MOST of the time you get used for leverage. Now there's exception to the rules of course but the 95 win Red Sox franchise sold itself.

    The way you wrote it makes it seem like Schilling was a free agent and chose Boston over New York. I don't know if that was your intention but this happened nearly 10 years ago, you can't expect people to remember all the details. The fact that Schilling was being traded should be acknowledged.

    A gross exaggeration is calling the Yankees everybody's favorite. They weren't in the picture AT ALL because Schilling was going to be traded regardless. If not that off-season then surely over the course of the their 51 win 2004 season. A contender surely would have came knocking and it's hard to imagine him not waiving the no trade clause to stay with such a horrible team that was he reportedly unhappy with. The Yankees were never in the picture.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    My point is simply this: Money is a factor, by far the main one. Having a contending team is one as well. But there are other factors that have tipped the balance in past deals and will continue to do so. One of them is the ability to creatively structure a deal. Another is forging a good working relationship early. Scouts and FOs put a great deal of time and effort into that for a reason. And some GMs are better at it than others. Players want to go where they feel most comfortable (and yes, that includes money), but it isn't the only factor and it's different for every player. That we can put out a blanket statement that the pretty girl will choose the guy with the money and the fast car isn't necessarily true. Maybe if that girl is shallow, but not all girls and not all players have those particular values.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I imagine that she is 'light years' prettier than you.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    LOL! People who know us both would agree. And did I also mention my car is pretty slow?

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    The "administrator approval" delay gets old - it really throws off the rhythm of the debate.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    it's apparently a problem that cannot be fixed right now.

  • Let's hope the Japanese "mind set" is what really guides him
    in his selection

  • I do agree that he may go for the biggest contract no matter what the other factors. Can we have the highest offer? I don't know, but don't think we would. We can't compare this to past Japanese players because the new posting system results in many teams being in on the bid. In he past it was only one team he could negotiate with and he had no control over who that team was.

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    I could be way off, but I think whoever signs him will end up paying an average of $21mil over 6 or 7 years.

  • Does anyone have a guess on how much difference is there between a Japanese and a US baseball? And what if any affect it could have on a pitcher's arm? I see some of these pitch counts and it scares me.

  • In reply to SFToby:

    A 'team player" should do whats good for the team, not himself

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    That's certainly debatable - just look at JR Richard and his reporting of not feeling well, and being reviled by teammates and fans as being lazy and not wanting to pitch until the symptoms manifested as a stroke that ended his career.

    But do you know anything about the differences in baseballs between the two regions?

  • Off topic, but this has the Cubs as one of the big bounce back teams of the season

  • In reply to Ike03:

    I was just about to post that myself. Pretty good stats-based case to be made there by Keri. I'd love to see the Cubs improve by 10 games this year.

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    Totally OT, but I thought of this while watching the BCS game the other night. Am I the only one here who wants to see the dad catch that smug looking little %$#& in the Taco Bell commercial?

  • It would make a big slash at the Cubs convention to get a good
    indication he might be coming

  • I have no idea what the Cubs chances are, but if Tanaka is willing to meet with them I suppose they have as good a chance as anyone.

    I do hope they sign Tanaka. I do believe he can be an important part of a seriously contending Chicago Cubs team.

    I do not think that signing Tanaka accelerates the timeline much, if at all. The 2014 Cubs are not likely to contend with or without Tanaka. 2014 has the potential of being an exciting season as many questions about the future contending roster may get answered. It is not beyond the pale that 2015 could contend, but given the likely youth of the has been often mentioned here.

    On the other hand, NOT signing Tanaka is not the end of the world, it does not even slow the timeline much, if at all. 2014 is slightly less interesting, but only slightly. By the time the Cubs are ready to SERIOUSLY contend, there will have been other opportunities for adding/developing front line pitching.

  • I wonder what sort of impact Koske Fukudome's experience will have on Tanaka's decision-making. The way Fukudome was treated by the fans may be a big negative.....

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    In reply to Dork64:

    64, I don't think he was treated poorly until he stopped producing. If he was billed as a 4th OF with a $4mm/yr deal, I think the fans wouldn't have been so hard on him. But that's really no different than a player of any other heritage. If they are overpaid and underperform, fans will turn on them, regardless of the player's nationality and regardless of what team he plays for.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    Go ahead and call me "Dork", Mike. I promise to not be offended.

    Your point is valid, but I seem to recall some racist (or at the very least xenophobic) t-shirts and signs around Wrigley, even when Fukudome was producing.

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    In reply to Dork64:

    I don't think the "Horry Cow" shirts were meant to be offensive, but they certainly were tasteless.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    Stereotypes and caricatures of entire races of people are always going to be considered offensive by many people. There's no excuse in my opinion. There were people trying to make a quick buck at the expense of the dignity of other people/races. They can't get let off easy because they claim they didn't mean it. They knew better.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    Sure, but there was also some pretty racist merchandise for sale at the height of his popularity. It made a lot of people cringe well before he went into a funk.

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    In reply to Dork64:

    And on that subject, do you remember how horribly Jim Eisenreich was treated early in his career, especially in the minors? There was more awareness about Tourettes by the time he played for Philly, but I know he said there were times he thought about giving up baseball for good because of the "fans"

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    Completely agree that the way Eisenreich was treated was wrong, but it doesn't justify treating others without respect.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Absolutely. I wasn't implying that it does. I certainly hope I didn't give that impression.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    I think I know you well enough, Mike, that I'm sure you wouldn't want to imply that. I just wanted to make sure nobody misinterpreted what you said. It's a shame that Eisenreich was treated the way he was for something he had no control over. Now if people want to say or do something that brings on the ridicule of fans (as players like Bonds, Sosa, and Rose did for many fans), then that is their own doing. I have no issue with that.

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    Congratulations to Greg Maddux on his election into the Hall of Fame.

  • In reply to Ray:


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    Hope the HoF lets Maddux go in as a Cub.

  • In reply to Ray:

    Me too, but unfortunately I find that unlikely. As a Cubs fan, I'd be thrilled if he got in as a Cub, but I won't be angry if he doesn't. On the other hand, if I was a fan of the Braves, I think I'd be crying bloody murder if he didn't go in with an Atlanta cap.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    And we can thank Larry Himes and his over-inflated ego for that.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    Himes is the perfect example of a guy who knew baseball but was done in by his lack of people skills. He alienated everyone.

  • My favorite baseball moment of my life: sitting in AT&T Park and watching Greg Maddux throw his 300th win. In my humble opinion, the greatest pitcher of all time.

  • 1- A long time reader and Cub fan and first time blogger. I couldn't let the 300th Maddux win pass as I was there as well sitting in the right field bleachers. Cory Patterson placed a home run in the bay that day as well. It was a proud day to be a Cub fan. Congratulations to Greg Maddux!
    2- Any thoughts on the DH being a negative factor with Tanaka?

  • Disappointed, John? Why let it get to you? True life long fans are both numb and immune to "disappointment" at this stage. At this point, if they somehow managed to sign Koufax in his prime, true, life long Cub masochists would possibly open their eyes, halfway...tops. At this point all true Cub fans must embrace the famous chant from Missouri..."SHOW ME."

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