Godzilla and Masahiro Tanaka Taking America by Storm, Chicago Next

Godzilla and Masahiro Tanaka Taking America by Storm, Chicago Next

Godzilla isn't the only Japanese import wreaking havoc on American soil these days. And despite an estimated $93 million box-office haul this past weekend, he's not the the wealthiest either. No, that honor belongs to Mr. Masahiro Tanaka, he of the $155MM contract, 6-0 record, 2.17 ERA and .914 WHIP. He's also got a 9.4 K/BB ratio, just in case you're interested in stuff like that.

And just in case you're not familiar with him, he's the guy whose pursuit was the talk of the town in Chicago -- and, really, all of baseball -- this offseason. Much like his larger, louder, and...lizardier(?) counterpart, there was a great deal debate on Tanaka's value and the ability to make the leap to the States.

Japan's NPBL is on par with our minor league system, some said. Japanese pitchers haven't fared well in the past, they said. Never mind that Yu Darvish guy or the fact that Dice-K helped the Red Sox win a World Series, or that Hideo Nomo won the ROY and stuck in the majors for 13 years. Oh, and let's not forget Koji Uehara. The list goes on, but I'm trying to be less wordy than usual.

Comparing Tanaka to past Japanese pitchers is sort of like saying that since Roland Emmerich slapped together a thoroughly 90's destruction-porn flick thinly veiled as a monster movie 16 years ago, a Godzilla reboot wouldn't work. But far be it for me to stand in the way of false narratives. I was really excited for the movie from the start, and my desire to see the phenom pitcher on the North Side of Chicago was no less tempered.

Since being right isn't a regular practice, please allow me to indulge myself in the obligatory I-told-you-so boast as I share an article I wrote back in October. Of course, I was also one of the first in line to quote that bad mother-shut-yo-mouth, John Shaft, who said: "Not at these prices, baby!"

The money the Yankees put up for an "untested" rookie import seemed exorbitant at the time, but Tanaka's performance thus far is making it look like a fairly wise investment. At the very least, it's significantly better than putting your money in WWE stock. I mean, Vince McMahon took a huge haircut and is now wallowing with us po' folks, his net worth reduced to a piddling $750 million.

The Cubs got a first-hand look at what they had missed out on when they squared off with the Yanks in the Bronx just over a month ago. Tanaka got the better of his would-be teammates in that matchup, allowing just 2 hits while striking out 10 and walking just 1 over 8 innings of shutout work.

They'll get another shot at him on Tuesday night, coming out of an off day that followed consecutive victories over the division-leading Milwaukee Brewers. Unless they want a sequel of the first go-round though, the Cubs are going to have to significantly improve on their hitting vs. RHP (.225), which is nearly 40 points lower than vs. LHP (.262).

Here's to hoping the Cubs can stop the monster in his tracks and prove me wrong, even if it's only for a game. After all, sequels often fail to live up to the performance of the originals, right.

I'm interested to hear from the peanut gallery too. What were your thoughts on Tanaka prior to the season and have they changed based on what you seen so far from him? Knowing what you know now, would you have been okay with the Cubs throwing $160MM at him? Talk amongst yourselves.

Follow me on Twitter: @DEvanAltman

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  • Thought they should have grabbed him if possible and built their future rotation around him. Isn't that what you're supposed to do with a baseball team? Choose the best guys? But he might have ended up like the Shark -- whose ERA is second best in the majors and you know the rest. If they had signed Godzilla, they would have traded him for "prospects" in June.

  • In reply to Floyd Sullivan:

    First, congrats on all the attention and great work on your Comsikey Gate post!

    Tanaka is exactly the kind of player the Cubs wanted to splurge on. However, money or not the Yankees where was Tanaka wanted to be. Still want this FO to feel like they can realistically aquire these types in the future. Sigh.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    "Comiskey Gate": Another "brilliant" Cubs marketing idea that someone wants us to ignore.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    Thanks for the kind words about "Comiskey Gate"! Didn't someone tell Tanaka that the Yankees would be a better choice because they'll win a lot of games, unlike the other choice? Whoever that someone was kept it simple and correct.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Floyd Sullivan:

    You think they'd have been able to get Mothra and Megalon in return for him? Perhaps even a MTBNL?

    As confident as I was in Tanaka's abilities, I had no idea he'd be this good this fast. He's at, what, 30 straight victories now? I'm not sure even matching the Yanks would've won him, but I'd sure feel better about losing out on him if he was 2-4 with a 4.50 ERA.

  • I would have been ok with them throwing $160M at him without the benefit of hindsight. 25 year old ace caliber SP simply do not reach free agency anymore, he would have cost the Cubs nothing in terms of current talent or draft choices/pool money, and there was an obvious need for a TOR starter to pair with the hitters that are filtering up to the big league roster. I was upset when the Cubs missed on him initially and I'm more upset now. Think they had a chance to give the rebuild a shot in the arm and the business side got in the way.

  • On the WWE stock, it may be similar to Tanaka as far as trying to be ahead of the curve instead of behind it. Stephanie McMahon, who now runs the company, may have the right idea that the current method of cable distribution will not last, with Netflix and the like going to streaming, so she made the leap, and her husband, Paul Levesque pushed it. At the moment, it looks foolish to give up the $60/PPV income from the meatballs for $10 a month, but would you rather invest in that or the newspaper arm of the Tribune Co.?

    The other thing one has to figure that Tanaka is 6-0 while the Yankees are 23-20. The Yankees would look far worse at 17-26. But, as someone is about to point out, this is not a Yankees blog. But maybe with the Cubs he would have been 0-4, like Jeff, probably soon to be a Yankee (Blue Jay or Rockies). Thus, why Tanaka wasn't coming here to be buried, anyway.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to jack:

    The main WWE issue to which I referred was the dramatic drop in stock prices on the heels of less-than-expected returns on both the subscription and the renewed TV deal.

  • In reply to Evan Altman:

    Yes, but the subscription model was blamed for cannibalizing the TV deal, and the blame for the subscription model being below expectations was that the server couldn't keep up with demand (sounds familiar in the cyber world).

    Now, if you are saying that fans are tired of Paul Levesque, head of creative, personally having to give Daniel Bryant pop, and being teed off that C.M. Punk and A.J. Lee left caused the loss of TV revenue, that's possible, but I didn't see that cited in the business press. On the other hand, the over the air "TV partners" (such as Ion on Wednesday) seem to have simply flown the coop.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to jack:

    Nope, I was referring quite literally to the idea that if you had invested in WWE, you'd have lost 1/3 of the money you had in it. As with any stock, it can always bounce right back. No innuendo, no reading between the lines in terms of corporate leadership from HHH, just leveraging a buzzy news piece in my post. It seems that an inordinate number of my Twitter followers are huge WWE fans too.
    Personally, I used to really like WCW when they had all the former WWE talent and I migrated back on the strength of The Rock, but I haven't followed it in years.

  • In reply to Evan Altman:

    Which illustrates that like anything in the stock market, short term doesn't mean much, compared to, say, WCW and ECW going out of business at the same time.

    To get back to the Tanaka analogy, I guess that after someone finally put down Godzilla last night, the Yankees should DFA him. But as they say, you have to play the game. And The Game is....

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