Cubs and MLB Focus Is On Masahiro Tanaka

The wait on the Rakuten Golden Eagles making Masahiro Tanaka available this winter ended on Thursday morning (7:00am CST) when MLB teams were officially informed Tanaka had been posted. The focus throughout the game quickly shifted to which team will be able to sign him and how much it will cost to land the 25-year old right hander. Teams that inform MLB and the NPB they are willing to pay the $20 million release fee to Rakuten, if they sign Tanaka, have until 4:00pm CST on January 24 to work out a deal with Masahiro Tanaka and his agent Casey Close. And look for the negotiations to last the entire 30 days as Casey Close tries to find the best deal, and team, for his newest client.

Gabe Kapler posted an excellent report on the bidding war that will take place over the next 30 days for Masahiro Tanaka. Kapler talked with one GM that expects Tanaka to sign a six-year, $105 million contract while Kapler thinks a contract for Tanaka could jump into the seven-year, $125 million range. Kapler spoke with an international scout “who suggested that the contract negotiations will start at six years and $100 million.”

The Yankees are widely viewed as the favorite to sign Masahiro Tanaka with every other interested team finishing a distant second in The Tanaka Sweepstakes. Multiple reports have suggested the Yankees are willing to sail past their self-imposed $189 million salary cap for next season in order to sign Tanaka. Plus, Brian Cashman and the front office will have a better idea of how much they can offer Tanaka once they find out how many games, if any, Alex Rodriguez will be suspended next season. The decision on Rodriguez is expected just after the first of the year and hopefully before the results of the 2014 Hall of Fame Class is announced on Jan. 8.

The Cubs are on a long list of teams that are thought to have interest in Tanaka. Along with the Yankees, the Dodgers, Angels, Mariners, Diamondbacks, Rangers, Red Sox, Phillies and Braves could be a part of, what has been labeled as the bidding war for Tanaka.

Bruce Levine and David Kaplan have reported the Cubs are all in on Masahiro Tanaka and will not be outbid in order to land him. The Cubs’ front office will have to sell him on pitching for the Cubs and not a team on the West Coast or the Yankees.

Joel Sherman posted a report on the eight teams that could challenge the Yankees for Masahiro Tanaka. The Dodgers, Angels and Red Sox topped his list followed by the Phillies, Rangers and then the Cubs. Sherman pointed out how good the position prospects are in the Cubs’ system as well as the Cubs’ need for pitching. Sherman sources expect the Cubs to be “significant bidders” for Tanaka.

Joel Sherman did not include the Mariners as one of the teams that could land Tanaka. Some question if Seattle has enough left in their payroll to sign Tanaka. As for the possibility of Tanaka signing with the Mariners, Jason Coskrey of The Japan Times acknowledged the signing of Robinson Cano might make Seattle more attractive to Tanaka. Coskrey pointed out Tanaka signing there would be “interesting” after he played second fiddle to Hisashi Iwakuma for the first several years of his career. Tanaka and Iwakuma were teammates with the Eagles from 2007 through the 2011 season.

The Dodgers have downplayed their interest in Tanaka according to Dylan Hernandez but they appear to be a perfect fit for him. The Rangers are considered to be “longshots” for Tanaka according to Evan Grant, Texas cannot be counted out because they could move players to create payroll space to sign Tanaka.

Masahiro Tanaka intends on making an impact in the majors next season according to a report from The Japan Times. Tanaka does not plan to just show up and be satisfied with being a Major League pitcher. Tanaka said he will continue to play “his style of baseball no matter where he is” and wants to keep improving as a ballplayer.

Masahiro Tanaka told the Japanese media that he plans on “giving back” to the Rakuten Golden Eagles with financial support and donations. Tanaka mentioned helping with Rakuten’s facilities and stadium “to make sure the Eagles are a team the Tohoku fans continue to love.”

Tanaka vs. Kuroda

The comparison frequently used for Masahiro Tanaka is Hiroki Kuroda, or Mr. Complete Game as he was known as prior to signing with the Dodgers in 2007. Kuroda completed 74 of the 244 games he started in Japan. The Cubs had interest in Kuroda before he signed a three-year, $35.3 million contract with L.A. Kuroda was coming off a down year at the time and was 32 years old.

Kuroda threw a fastball that ranged between 92-96 mph, a slider and a forkball in the high-80s. But more importantly he kept the ball down, and still does. Kuroda was 12-8 with a 3.56 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP (176 hits, 42 walks and 123 strikeouts in 179 2/3 innings) in 26 starts during his last season (2007) with the Hiroshima Carp. But it was his 2006 season that created the buzz about Kuroda at the time. In 26 appearances, 25 starts, Kuroda was 13-6 in 2006 with a 1.85 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP that included 144 strikeouts and 21 walks in 189 1/3 innings. Kuroda ended his career in Japan (11 seasons) with a 103-89 record that included a 3.69 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP.

Hiroki Kuroda was projected as a middle of the rotation starter, at best, when he first signed with the Dodgers. Kuroda has been slightly better than was projected six winters ago and re-signed with the Yankees this winter on a one-year, $16 million deal.

Masahiro Tanaka is seven years younger than Kuroda was when he signed with the Dodgers, but Tanaka has completed four fewer seasons in Japan. Tanaka throws a little harder than Kuroda (91-97 mph) and features a four-pitch mix. Tanaka reportedly throws the best splitter in the world (70 on the 20-80 scouting scale) that ranges from 86-89 mph, a slider (82-85 mph) that has been labeled as a plus-pitch and a curveball (72-76 mph). The concern with his fastball is that “he sinks on the backside of his delivery, which causes his fastball to come in on a flatter plane and makes it a more hittable pitch than the pure velocity would suggest” according to Baseball America.

Tanaka is a two-time Sawamura Award winner (The NPB’s version of the Cy Young Award) and is coming off a 24-0 season with Rakuten. Tanaka appeared in 28 games, made 27 starts this past season and finished with a 1.27 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP. In 212 innings, Tanaka allowed 168 hits, walked 32 and struck out 183 batters. Tanaka posted a 99-35 record during his seven-year career in Japan with a 2.30 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP. Tanaka completed 53 of the 172 games he started and recorded 18 shutouts.

Gabe Kapler pointed out there has not been a Japanese pitcher with a substantial sample size in NPB history that has matched Tanaka’s dominance through age 24.

So if Hiroki Kuroda is a fair comp to Masahiro Tanaka, the team that signs Tanaka will get a very good Major League pitcher and at an age where he should be effective throughout the duration of the contract. But labeling Tanaka as an ace on a Major League staff, at this point, would be premature at best. There are not that many true aces in the game (there is a difference between a number one pitcher and an ace) and the expectations associated with the label is unfair to hang on any pitcher, regardless of the projections … or the hype.

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  • Tony_Hall

    Great report Neil. I am amazed how experts are predicting 6/100 (16.6 AAV) or 7/125 (17.9 AAV) yet on here yesterday we had the talk about 20M and 25M like it was just a little more than what he will ask to be paid. Of course even the experts projections don’t make sense, as when you add a year, the AAV should go down, just like when you subtract a year the AAV should go up. I expect a large signing bonus to be paid, to reduce the future annual cost to what teams may feel is more inline, but use the bonus to put them over the top. If one offer is 6/120 evenly spread out (or back-loaded like so many have to do) and the other is 6/100 plus a $20M signing bonus, I think he will say cash is king.

    Of course Tanaka will be “giving back” to build better facilities for the Rakuten Eagles. That is a very nice way to say he had to pay the Eagles to be posted. The Eagles will get their money for him, one way or another.

    • DWalker

      that is the one place the cubs do have an advantage. Even with their restricted budget, they should have plenty of salery room to not only give a bonus, but also front load a contract for the next year or two. That is a huge advantage, both in current negotations and in future planning because if they do need to unload him year 3 or 4, its a much smaller amount to deal with. I am sure they are also looking at this as the one chance to get a FA impact player people will be interested in coming to see before spring training and the slim chance one of the kids breaks camp with the team. That may be all the incentive they need to offer that big bonus.
      That also makes me wonder if that might be a hang up on the shark negotiations. they may be offering him a straight per year or even declining with a front end bonus, while he wants it even through out the contract so his contract doesn’t look so attractive to trade in the last year, especailly without a NTC. If he really wants to stay with the cubs, and he has been saying that since he came up, he may be looking at something to carry him through ’18 so he has 5/10 protection?

    • cubtex

      With all the buzz about this guy and so many teams needing starting pitching…do you honestly believe it will be a 6 year 100 mil deal? You also need to count the 20 mil posting fee. With the Yankees all in, the Dodgers and other teams looking to win now, I just want this to end so we can end this fantasy and move on.

      • CubbyDenCritic

        I said long ago that Tanaka will not come here for various reasons, but there are other Cubs sites whose writers believe Tanaka will sign here…..base only that the Cubs have enough money to Tanaka……well boys & girls, it takes more then money to persuade a major player to come here…….if the Cubs had winning seasons, close to Playoff contention, I would say “yes”……..at least Cubtex is not drinking that Blue Kool Aid that other people are drinking…..When Tanaka does sign with another team, go outside in the Texas night air and you will hear the cries, moans & curses all the way from Wrgleyville.

      • Tony_Hall

        I wasn’t stating what I thought he would sign for, but where the bidding would START!

        And yes, if you are adding up the total cost you have to pay to get him, you need to include the posting fee, but I guarantee you Tanaka and his agent are not going to let get in the way of getting the money they feel he should get.

        • cubtex

          Agreed

    • paulcatanese

      Pretty much on the money Tony. I know I predicted a much higher amount (in jest) of 400 mil. Overall the support (in players) the Cubs bring in to make Tanaka feasible will amount to close that figure. Cannot see the Cubs (if they get him) not bringing in guys to make it worth it.
      Of course they may just sit with Tanaka for one or two years until some of their prospects are ready, but with 1300 innings already pitched, that is a gamble. Anyway, may all be a moot point, Tanaka has to get to the Cubs first.

      • cubtex

        I agree Paul. Any team who gets him will have to overpay. It is the simple rule of supply and demand. Too much demand for a TOR starter who is only 25 years old. His agent got Zach Greinke 25 mil per year. I can’t imagine Tanaka will not get at least 20 mil…. if not more.

        • paulcatanese

          Yep, it will be nothing short of a miracle if he comes to the Cubs.
          Plus too many other things to improve with the roster. That will cost money

        • Tony_Hall

          It is the simple rule of FA. The team that signs the player had to overpay the market, that is how they signed the player.

        • cc002600

          anything can happen. I think the cubs have a shot. I agree with you that the price is going higher and higher. Whoever signs him will have to pay him 25m / yr, which I think will eliminate teams like the Angels, Phillies, Dbacks.
          Yankees and dodgers already have HUGE payrolls, and are now in luxury tax territory, so whatever they offer, you can add 40% to their cost. I am not convinced they are both all in when you take that into consideration. It will be HUGE committment for either team, and both already have bloated payrolls.

          • cubtex

            If Yanks go over luxury tax they will go way over. What is the point of going over by 3 mil or 20 mil over?

          • cc002600

            big difference,. You pay 40% tax on every dollar over the threshold, so yes, it makes HUGE difference.

      • Tony_Hall

        Not sure why anyone thinks that if they sign Tanaka, they are going to swoop in and sign what is left in FA at ridiculous prices.

    • daverj

      The “experts” almost always seem to underestimate free agent contracts. Given the apparent demand from both current contenders and rebuilders, I can’t see a unique commodity (25 year old free agent with ace potential) like Tanaka signing for less than $20 mil per season (and closer to $25 mil per season sounds more likely to me).

      • Cubbiemacg

        Everyone said darvish was North of 100000 but it ended up at 60

        • daverj

          You may be right as I can’t recall the details, but I thought the expectation for Darvish was over $100 million when taking into account the posting fee. In that case, the total exceeded $100 million.

          • Cubbiemacg

            He was expected to get a bid of over 100 plus a contract north of 80

  • Tony_Hall

    Maybe we have an idea of where the bidding will start.

    ——————-
    Bob Nightengale ‏@BNightengale8m

    Team officials involved in Tanaka sweepstakes say the Japanese star will cost a minimum of $17 million a year

    ——————–

    Think round numbers, 5/85 is $17M AAV. That may be the starting point then, 5 years.

    • cc002600

      with this many teams involved, I think Tanaka easily gets $25M / yr. and I think the cubs have a real shot. I know everyone thinks its slam dunk for yankees or dodgers, but I think their payrolls are really stretched. I say look out for Mariners. They have very little committed at this point, and he was teammate of the other japanese pitcher on their team in Japan.

      But I think the cubs are going to come out guns a blazing for this guy. I would not be shiocked if we get him.

      • cubtex

        Yanks are done! 78 wins. Mark my words. They are old and have no money for Tanaka! Cubs will have more wins! They are younger!

        • Tony_Hall

          About time you understood.

          Not sure if I gave this link, but it is right on the money.

          http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/10150907/the-new-normal-new-york-yankees

          “The New Normal – Robinson Cano and Mariano Rivera are gone. Derek Jeter is old. It’s time to accept that 2013 wasn’t a fluke: The Yankees aren’t good, and they aren’t getting better.”

          • cubtex

            I guess they shouldn’t even play any games next year :)

          • Tony_Hall

            Sigh, same reason the Cubs shouldn’t then, because the almighty and powerful Cubtex has said they will lose 90+ games.

          • cubtex

            Tony Tony Tony. Wasn’t that a singing group in the 80’s? Be realistic. Who has a roster that COULD be a playoff team? Who has a roster that doesn’t have a snowballs chance in hell of making the playoffs and has a GM that is not even trying to win next year?

          • Tony_Hall

            I will assume this was a rhetorical question.

          • cubtex

            Is it that obvious? Lol

          • Tony_Hall

            That you spend all of your time bashing the team you say you like, while pumping up teams like the Yankees, you supposedly don’t like….Yes, that is pretty obvious, that when you say something negative, it will be about the Cubs.

          • cc002600

            that is true for 2014. But as you move out a couple years, the cubs arrow is pointing up, yankee arrow is down. WAY down.

          • John_CC

            Thanks Tony, that is a great article.

        • cc002600

          LOL
          now, you finally get it !!!!

      • Tony_Hall

        I really don’t think the Yankees are going to be the winner. It will be over $20M/year for sure. I don’t think the Dodgers will win this either, way too much money for what amounts to a 4th starter in their rotation.

        Mariners makes sense to me as well.

  • Eugene Debs

    Wood, Tanaka, Samardzija, Jackson, and a duke ‘em out for opportunity between Arrieta, Rusin, Grimm, and a handful of prayers. Tanaka immediately upgrades the rotation and brings a young arm to the top/near top of the rotation.

    In my opinion, there is huge depth in the bullpen with a few “swing guys” that can spot start. The minors offers Kendricks if/when you trade one of you top 5.

    I actually sort of like the pitching staff. I like it even more if we can somehow convince Tanaka that the last 100 years or so is typical collateral damage on the way to the eventual Cubs dynasty.

    • 07GreyDigger

      I really don’t think a silly curse is enough to deter Tanaka. It’s all about the $$$. If they can land him, that speeds the rebuilding process up considerably. Sure, the offense needs work, but if Castro and Rizzo continue to improve and 2 of Bryant, Baez, Almora, Alcantara, Soler and Vogelbach live up to their promise this is a contending baseball team.

      • Eugene Debs

        I feel like the hitting prospects will deliver soon enough. However, I’d like to see a stopgap with talent – say Nelson Cruz – join the team to provide real depth.

        A replacement for Barney cannot come fast enough. He belongs in a utility role.

        • 07GreyDigger

          Absolutely on Barney. I think that gold glove forced them to keep him starting. I expect Baez to play a lot of second and third base in the spring.

        • mutantbeast

          Id rather see a platoon of Murphy/ Valbuena or VB/Roberts than Barney Rubble. Let him platoon somewhere else.

      • raymondrobertkoenig

        I can see Castro reverting to form in 2014, but with Rizzo I believe what we saw in 2013 is about what we’ll see again.

        • 07GreyDigger

          I disagree there. I don’t see him hitting .280 or anything, but he can be a guy who hits .250 and drives in 85-90. Give the man credit, he drove in 80 with the horrible offense they had last season.

          • cubtex

            Give the man credit? Not to constantly bash the kid but he drove in 46 RBI in 180 PA with RISP. Again….think about that.

          • Bredstik

            Who’s to say that will happen again? It wasn’t nearly that bad his previous two seasons. An opportunity to play his game and presumably lead off this season could yield much different results.

          • cubtex

            I agree. Hopefully that won’t happen again. But to say that he drove in 80 runs with a horrible offense as if it was a good year is not true. 46 RBI in 180 PA with RISP.

          • Bredstik

            Sorry, I was referring to Castro in my post, but even with Rizzo I don’t think you can just assume that he’ll hit that poorly with RISP again this year. I tend to think RISP stats in general have a luck component involved,as they can vary greatly from year to year. If that improves for him next year, his numbers across the board will look considerably better.

          • cubtex

            I disagree 100%. It is situational hitting. The RBI total is sickening.

          • cubtex

            I am curious who doesn’t think hitting with men on base is not situational hitting? Or are you down arrowing the fact that 46 RBI in 180 PA is not sickening. Speak up.

          • 07GreyDigger

            I think you’re under the impression that all RBIs are collected with RISP. I looked up some elite hitters last season and I came up with an interesting statistic.

            Paul Goldschmitt:
            125 RBI
            84 RBI in RISP
            67% of RBIs collected in RISP

            Chris Davis
            138 RBI
            86 RBI in RISP
            62% of RBIs collected in RISP

            Anthony Rizzo
            80 RBI
            46 RBI in RISP
            57.5% of RBIs collected in RISP.

            Now Rizzo is not quite at the level of the leaders in RBI this season. But he’s not far off. So yes, I can say that his 80 RBIs collected on a team that lost 96 games is impressive.

          • cubtex

            ye of low standards. Why don’t you compare PA with RBI. That is what is important. The RBI bat delivering with men on base.

            Goldy
            194 PA with 84 RBI or 43%

            Davis
            171 PA with 86 RBI or 50%

            Rizzo

            180 PA with 46 RBI or 25%

            See the incredible difference? Rizzo doesn’t deliver for the team. He is supposed to be a middle of the order bat. You should be over 40%.

          • cc002600

            you keep forgetting one thing in your hatred for Rizzo. THIS WAS HIS FIRST FULL YEAR !!! HE WAS 23. Look at Goldy’s numbers his first couple years. not so great.

            Jeez, can we at least wait until Rizzo is 26 before we call him a bust ? holy cow.

          • cubtex

            You came to the party late. Never called him a bust. Read my comments.

          • Tony_Hall

            I don’t plan to read through all of this, but you basically have been calling him just barely a step above a bust for awhile now.

          • cubtex

            Good glove Good pop. Low average Below average run producer. Think Ike Davis

          • cc002600

            i actually did read your comments. While I agree that he was disappointing in some areas, I think it is totally unfair to judge the guy at 23, after his first full year. That is ridiculous. Also, you made the comment that getting 80 RBI’s is nothing. If this was 1998-2002 during height of roids era, I would totally agree, but not now. Pitching is dominating right now, runs are way down, so 80 RBI is pretty darn good in my book, especially on a terrible team. Yes, He’s probably better suited for hitting 5th or 6th, but so what ? its not his fault, there is no one around him right now.

          • cubtex

            And I am not going to look it up Digger but I would bet that Rizzo has the worst percentage for a #3 hitter in all of baseball. It isn’t even about his average. It is about driving in runs with men on base. 25% is sickening. It is about situational hitting. Hitting a ground ball to the right side with a man on 3rd. A sac fly here and there. Going the other way to poke a single to drive in a run from second. Call a spade a spade. He was terrible last year as a middle of the order bat.

          • Bredstik

            Of course situational hitting is important, and I do believe it exists (some don’t!), but you can’t just throw the 180 PA with 46 RBI stat out there to somehow prove that Rizzo can’t be a good situational hitter. That was one season. Rizzo will likely improve. The lineup around him will at some point improve. His RISP opportunities will change. The luck involved with balls he puts in play with RISP will change. Baseball is a game of inches and a lot of variables. Rizzo may very well be what he appears to be right now, or he may just be starting on an upward trajectory.

          • cubtex

            A middle of the order bat is supposed to get the run in. Sac Fly. Ground ball to the right side. I am not even talking about his average here. I am talking about doing your job to get the run in. I really don’t understand the debate here. This has nothing to do with luck.

          • daverj

            With a small sample size of at-bats, luck is a huge factor.

          • cubtex

            so he had bad luck with the same amount of AB’s as other #3 hitters with RISP? wow. those guys like Allen Craig, Freddie Freeman,Carlos Beltran,Goldy,Chris Davis were sure lucky. They all must have rabbit’s feet in their back pocket when they bat.

          • Gramps

            And none of those guys were in their first full season in the majors.

          • cubtex

            OK Gramps. I just looked up the player who I think compares very favorably to Rizzo. Ike Davis. His very first year in the majors. 2010.

            176 PA with 54 RBI 30%.

            This will go on and on with pretty much every player you can think of.

          • Bredstik

            Thanks – that’s exactly what I was trying to get across.

          • cubtex

            The stat is the stat. I didn’t make it up. As I said before. Look at all the #3 hitters in baseball and see if they are at 25%. I never said his career is written in stone and he can’t improve….but I don’t think he will ever improve that stat to where he can be a middle of the order bat on a championship team.
            Let’s look what Aramis Ramirez did as our #3 hitter before Rizzo.

            2011
            181 PA with 67 RBI or 37%
            2010
            152 PA with 63 RBI or 41%
            2009
            103 PA with 46 RBI or 44%

            Do you understand what I am saying? It is a huge difference.

          • daverj

            While I disagree with you on the value of the stats you have used, I do agree that if Rizzo does not improve his contact rates, especially against lefties, then he is not middle of the order line-up hitter on a championship team.

            At his current skill level, I see Rizzo currently as more of a #6 in the line-up hitter (though close to a #5) on a championship team.

          • Bredstik

            Agreed, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that if that’s what Rizzo becomes.

          • TheWrongGuy

            Fact!
            The ONLY reason cubtex argues and HATES Anthony Rizzo is because of 1 reason…
            Andrew Cashner loss in the trade to San Diego.
            ‘nough said.
            sorry to call you out cubtex I don’t believe you mind.

          • cubtex

            I don’t hate Rizzo. I am saying that he is what he is. Face the Fact. He is a #6 or #7 hitter. He is not a great hitter. To have 80 RBI as a middle of the order bat is like getting 1000 yards rushing in the NFL these days. Not a big deal and should be expected. To think that this guy will magically become something he isn’t capable of becoming is absurd. I will say it again. He is a serviceable 1st baseman who is a good glove, good pop, low average and not a middle of the order bat.
            ‘nough said

          • 07GreyDigger

            I don’t think I ever said he was a great hitter. I agree on your points mostly. He’ll be a little above average first baseman. But because of current circumstances and abilities, he is a middle of the order bat for us. And considering how awful the offense was across the board, 80 RBIs is impressive to me. The end.

          • triple

            Yeah, perhaps the Cubs just should have 5 hitters in their lineup and forfeit outs during the 3, 4, 5 spots in the order since they don’t have the “right” guys there.

          • 07GreyDigger

            Who would you bat third or fourth the way the roster is constructed then?

          • triple

            Sorry Digger, my sarcasm did not come across the right way… I agree with you 100%. The Cubs don’t have a batter that’s worthy of the 3 or 4 spot, like Cubtex says, so since that is the truth, they should just forfeit those positions in the order. It seems more constructive for me to say such nonsense than to just keep saying the same thing to prove my point, all while using the disclaimer, “Not to constantly bash the kid but…” I just think if one doesn’t want to “constantly bash the kid,” maybe they should cease the bashing. I guess to prove the point is more important though.

          • Ripsnorter1

            Schierholtz: RISP 108 AB, 43 RBI

          • triple

            Yes, he probably should be one of the middle of the order guys for now. And actually we were using plate appearances, so 129 PA make it a 33% for him.

          • cubtex

            You need to count PA when talking about RBI because of the sacrifice

          • cubtex

            And walk with bases loaded

          • cubtex

            Lol. Then stop making silly excuses for an indefensible stat. I didn’t bring it up today. I just proved how his 80 RBI this year is not impressive.

          • 07GreyDigger

            Sarcasm is hard to read on text. Glad to hear you’re on our side!

          • cc002600

            so at 24, you are certain he will never improve on those numbers ?

          • cubtex

            Of course he can and should improve.

          • BigJonLilJon

            Wasn’t this his first full year starting? And did he not have any one hitting behind him for half the year(only including the short time Soriano was hitting the ball)?Give him time before we decide maybe?

          • cc002600

            exactly. and in 4 years, cashner has done nothing but spend half his career on the DL, but somehow Cubtex has him in the HOF. I don’t get it.

          • Bredstik

            I totally get what you’re saying, and I’m not saying that Rizzo WILL improve to be a middle of the order bat on a championship team. I’m just saying it’s too early to say he CAN’T be based on his 2013 RISP stat.

          • triple

            Rizzo did fine in 2012 with protection behind him in the order. .338 BA, 32 RBI with 77 PA’s, or 42%. I feel like you are making a blanket statement about Rizzo while isolating a bad year of his. When you look at a year where he had protection in the lineup, he did much better. Last year, he didn’t get alot of good pitches to hit in that situation and he was obviously pressing. I think with more experience, and as they get better batters around him, he will probably do just fine. And you gotta admit, anybody capable of hitting 25-30 HRs and driving in 80-100 runs should be welcome in any part of the lineup, no matter the batting avg. And please disregard the outrageous numbers that players produced during the steroid era as that is just not realistic to expect too many players to bat .300/30/100 anymore.

            Check out these stats:
            .261 BA, 8 HR, 48 RBI
            RISP- 42 RBI in 161 PA – 26%

            That’s Mr. Ryne Sandberg’s second full season with the Cubs. Just think, he was even worse in his first season. You would have ran him out of town thinking he won’t ever amount to anything. If you ever make it to Cooperstown, you can read more about him there. And no, I’m not saying Rizzo will be as good as Ryno, just using that as a reference to non steroid era/2nd year player. Yet that was really just Rizzo’s first full season, while it was Ryno’s second.

          • daverj

            Rizzo’s BABIP was much lower in 2013 than 2012 and was far below league average. That would indicate that he had some bad luck in 2013.

            RBIs over a single season are a pretty meaningless stat when it comes to evaluating a player’s skill level. So is batting average. When you look at the stats that matter for skill evaluation like contact rate, BABIP, line drive percentage, hard hit ball percentage, and power indicators, Rizzo was more of a .260-.270 in 2013 than a .233 hitter. That difference in batting average would have translated into more RBIs.

            Now I’m not going to suggest like others that Rizzo is capable of a .300 season with 35+ HR, but .270 and 25-30 HR is well within reach when his luck on balls in play turns around.

          • cubtex

            Maybe because he continued to pull ground balls to the shift on the right side?
            Some of these stats drive me nuts. How can RBI’s be meaningless when you come to the plate 180 times with runners in scoring position and deliver far far below league average? Why do the “good” RBI hitters deliver at a much higher rate? Luck? C’mon.

          • daverj

            RBIs vary significantly from year to year for non-elite players from non-elite teams. Rizzo is not an elite player and the Cubs are not an elite team. Good players on bad teams are subject to high variance in RBIs.

          • cubtex

            It’s about getting opportunities to drive in runs. If a guy gets 180 opportunities on a bad team and a guy gets 180 on a good team….should there be a 50% difference? I am sure you don’t even agree with that.

          • daverj

            In 180 opportunities, the sample size is so small that the variance explained by luck could be huge. Even 500 opportunities would be a small sample size.

            But who are we comparing Rizzo too? He’s not anywhere near the level of hitter of a Goldshmidt or Freeman. I’ve agreed with you on that from the start. All you need to do is watch those guys hit and you can see the difference (and of course the saber stats agree with that story).

            My points are (1) that Rizzo is likely not a bad as he was last year and (2) the results of 180 at-bats with men on base don’t tell the full story on a player.

          • cubtex

            we are not close to agreeing on this. when a player has 180 PA with RISP over 162 and only delivers 46 RBI or 25% that is not luck. That is a poor job of hitting with runners in scoring position. Again…the word hitting. Not getting base hits or double or HR’s. Situational hitting. There really isn’t anything more to say because we don’t agree.

          • daverj

            Yup … I’m trying to see the merit of your argument on the 180 PA and I just don’t see it. And clearly you feel the same way about mine.

          • cubtex

            Just for kicks. Look at the 3 years I posted for ARAM on bad Cubs teams with the small sample size. 3 years in a row and it wasn’t even as close to as poor as Rizzo’s. I really don’t get how you can defend it but you are trying to :)

          • 07GreyDigger

            I’m confused on your stats for ARAM from 2009-11 on “poor” Cubs teams. Those teams were more talented than what Rizzo had to work with.

            I’d love to see a stat of the great Alfonso Soriano and how he did in a Cubs uniform last season.

          • cubtex

            OK. 2011 they finished 5th. 2010 they finished 5th. 2009 they had a decent year and won 83 games. Correction on 1 year.
            I’m confused Digger. Are you really saying that you think Rizzo’s numbers are acceptable? Please answer that question. Also…If you are trying to deflect Rizzo’s weaknesses by comparing him to the much maligned Soriano….be prepared to further put your foot in your mouth.

            The GREAT Alfonso Soriano

            2013
            178 PA with 69 RBI or 38%
            2012
            162 PA with 65 RBI or 40 %
            2011
            132 PA with 48 RBI or 36%

            Look at that huge variance with poor teams.

          • 07GreyDigger

            Sure they finished 5th in 10 and 11, but I think you would agree that the offensive talent was better than it was last season in those seasons.

            For Soriano, I was asking about his PA on the Cubs. Not also with the Yankees. That skews the numbers in your favor.

            My whole point is the offense was awful across the board. His 80 RBIs on that awful team is impressive. Is it acceptable? I don’t think I ever said that.

          • daverj

            My point is that Rizzo is not as bad as it appears on the face of the stats you are throwing out there (and that the stats you are using are of very limited value), not that he is as good as the 2009-2011 version of ARam (or most of the #3 hitters in the major leagues in 2013).

          • cubtex

            If I get some time a little later. I will compare every #3 hitter to Rizzo’s lack of production with RISP. I am sure there are a lot more luckier #3 hitters in baseball, In fact…as I said…Rizzo might be the unluckiest. :)

          • triple

            Giancarlo Stanton was the Marlins primary 3 hitter in 2013:
            .226 BA, 1HR, 29 RBI, 103 PA, 28%

          • cubtex

            Yea. He was awful last year after coming back from his injury. 100 games played……right? That is probably the closest you will find.

          • Sahm

            you have to think about who was hitting behind Rizzo as well. he wasnt seeing good pitches to hit and you compared Rizzo to Freeman which isnt fair. its Freemans third year and had an awesome year. He was what 3rd in ba w risp playing on a top 4 runs scored team, not a fair comparison

          • Bredstik

            Another thing to consider if you’re going to focus on the 180 PA with 46 RBI stat: How many of those PAs were with more than 1 man in scoring position? How many with a man on 3rd vs a man on 2nd? How many with less than 2 outs? That makes a difference. All ABs and situations are not created equal.

          • raymondrobertkoenig

            I’m just going on his career so far. .238 career batting average and 23 HRs per 690 (last year’s total) PAs. I won’t expect much more.

          • Ripsnorter1

            Perhaps the offense was horrible because he didn’t drive in runs.

          • 07GreyDigger

            Or because Barney batted .206, or because Castro batted .245 or because Valbuena batted .218, etc etc etc.

          • cubtex

            You continue to grasp at straws:) I will give an A for effort. Darwin Barney 7 games batting lead off and 17 batting 2nd. Good try though Digger.

    • CubbyDenCritic

      If Tanaka did sign with the Cubs, still below 500 club. ………no hitting……..don’t know what Jackson will be like…….Samardzija will still throw 115 pitches for 5 innings of work……was 2013 a fluke for Wood?…….Rizzo & Castro rebound?……….
      too many question marks, and the Reds, Cardinals and Pirates are still better than the Cubs.

  • CubbyDenCritic

    Yankees jumped on first to contact Tanka’s agent…………sometimes not how much money is offered to you, but how soon is your team ready to win……….Yankees, Angels, Dodgers, Mariners, Red Sox, Rangers, Giants, Diamondbacks all are above the Cubs in ready to WIN.

  • CubbyDenCritic

    If Tanaka did sign with the Cubs, does this make Samardzija agent to ask for even more money from Theo?
    Will Theo offer Tanaka a NTC ?
    Is it wiser to spend the money with Bailey, Masterson, Anderson in 2015 then putting all onto one pitcher like Tanaka?

  • mutantbeast

    Ivs seen scouts that have comped Darvish and Tanaka give a slight edge to Darvish. Considering his first 2 MLB seasons have been good, but not great, is Tanaka likely going to be a 4/5 WAR pitcher?

  • BigJonLilJon

    Am a new reader here at CCO and I love it. First time of many postings coming…. We have to sign this guy. Have to. Will speed up the rebuild process considerably. 7 years and 125 mil… fine!! Expect a first year of adjustment, but that is fine as we aren’t ready this year. But 2015 will be the big jump we all been waiting for!!! Biggest issue will be convincing him to come to Chicago though

    • Eugene Debs

      Let’s hope the sales pitch is better than the one to Girardi.

      • CubbyDenCritic

        there was never a discussion……LOL

      • Dorasaga

        That’s a good one.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Welcome to the CCO and thank you.

  • John_CC

    What is the posting period, i.e. when does the 30 day negotiation window start? Since every team that was interested was just waiting to hear that they would only need a day or two to commit to the “fee” and let the games begin.

    ____

    Never mind! I just re-read the first paragraph, the 30 day window started the day he was posted. So the negotiations are under way.

  • Denver Mike

    I agree with daverj below, Rizzo should be around the #6 hole.

    Over the holiday I was thinking about what this team may look like by the end of 2014, and I really think if we added just one potential impact OF via FA the offense could look completely different.

    I think we have 3 potential impact prospects starting the year at AAA that are reasonable to expect call-ups if they continue their current progression: Baez, Bryant, Alcantara.

    Now we won’t, but if we were to add a Nelson Cruz to the mix, we could have a mid-season lineup that looks something like this:

    Alcantara – 2B
    Castro – SS
    Baez – 3B
    Bryant – RF
    Cruz – LF
    Rizzo – 1B
    Lake – CF
    Castillo – C

    A lot of question marks in there, but it doesn’t actually look that bad on paper. Add in if the Cubs were able to pull off the ultimate coup and land Tanaka, maybe re-sign Baker and hope for the best, and the starting staff could look like:

    Tanaka
    Shark
    Wood
    EJax
    Baker

    I’m not saying it would make us a championship contender, but with the improvements already made to the bullpen, I think that team gets above
    .500 easy.

    Three signings and a few months of patience for super-2 dates to pass is all it would take. I have a feeling even Cubtex could jump on board that plan! :)

    • 07GreyDigger

      My only issue with Cruz is his power real or imaginary? I mean he was busted for using steroids.

    • CubbyDenCritic

      Bryant will spend the year in the minors……But Baez will be here!
      Expect to see Ha, Szczur in the OF…..Alcantara around August……..if you want a surprise, bet on Pierce Johnson pitching at Wrigley by August / September.

    • daverj

      It appears based on mlbtraderumors.com that Cruz signed with the Angels for 1 year at $2.75 mil with incentives that could take the deal to $5 mil.

      Cubs should signed Cruz at those numbers (or slightly higher to beat the Angels offer).

      Talk about a low risk, high upside deal …

      • 07GreyDigger

        Don’t forget that with Cruz they lose a draft pick. It wouldn’t be a first rounder thanks to how bad they were, but maybe that was enough to scare off the FO.

        • BigJonLilJon

          Theo not gonna sign any FA that would cause a loss of a draft pick.. even if its a second rounder

      • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

        Nelson Cruz signed?

        • 07GreyDigger

          It was Raul Ibanez that signed.

        • daverj

          My mistake. Sorry Neil. I must have read something completely wrong. Long day at the office!

          • CubbyDenCritic

            Mis-information Cubs news only comes from Cubs Den blog……lets not bring false rumors here.

          • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

            No worries at all.

      • Ripsnorter1

        If he signed that cheap it was an ABSOLUTE STEAL!

        And I would say, “COME ON, THEO! WAKE UP! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”
        And I’d be justified in saying it, too.

  • Ripsnorter1

    There were only 8 MLB players who got 500+ AB in the 3 hole in 2013.
    Who do you think had the lowest BA? Rizzo by over 50 points.
    Who do you think had the fewest RBIs in the 3 hole? Rizzo, with 67.
    Who do you think had the lowest OBP? Rizzo, with .313.
    Who had the lowest OPS? Rizzo, at .726
    Only Pedroia slugged less: .409 to .412.

    • RynoTiger1

      yup he had a bad year. oh well, thank goodness it was last year. Now time to improve and have a better year in 2014.

    • cubtex

      Rip. I brought that stat up yesterday not to bash the kid but to have people realize what he is. The RISP star is indefensible. It is unfair to bat him there. He hurts the team and exposes his weaknesses.

      • SuzyS

        Cubtex, not to bash you but this entire thread was from the department of the redundancy department…not to bash you …but you just keep saying the same thing over and over…I hope I’m not to redundantr in not trying to bash you but….

        • cubtex

          Suzy. Not to bash you but I responded to responses from each post. It is impolite not to respond and therefore I responded so feel free to respond to my response and bash as much as you wish. Have a great evening :)))

        • John_CC

          Thank you Suzy!

          I’ve been skimming and scrolling, scrolling, scrolling…skim…same garbage over and over.

          • cubtex

            Lol!!!!!

    • Ripsnorter1

      Here’s the 8 players with 500 AB in the #3 hole in 2013.

      Miguel Cabrera: RISP=156 AB, 99 RBI.

      Andrew McCutchen: RISP=156 AB, 54 RBI….Pirates offense stinks badly.

      Joey Votto: RISP=134 AB, 50 RBI

      Paul Goldschmidt: RISP=145 AB, 84 RBI

      Dustin Pedroia: RISP-189 AB, 72 RBI

      Matt Holliday: RISP=123 AB, 61 RBI

      Alex Rios: RISP=152 AB, 55 RBI

      Rizzo: RISP-152 AB, 46 RBI

    • Tony_Hall

      Rizzo is not a 3 hole hitter, he just plays one on the Cubs.

      • John_CC

        Come on Tony, you’re just making excuses! don’t you know that Rizzo is a terrible awful incompitnent awful pathetic worst 3 hitter in the MLB and probably ever to play in the MLB!

        • cubtex

          C’mon John. Don’t get too carried away. He was in 2013. Let’s not be too hard on him. He has feelings you know.

      • BigJonLilJon

        Shouldn’t we wait till we have enough facts in to make this bold of a statement??? Youth, no protection, poor team… etc

        • Tony_Hall

          Not sure how it is such a bold statement and the facts are in to date. Rizzo is not a 3 hole hitter. Not sure if you have been reading or are new to this site, but I am a big supporter of Rizzo, and feel he will be our 1B for many years, and will slot in nicely in the 5 or 6 slot when better hitters arrive. I would love for him to take the next step in his development and actually be a 3/4 hitter, but no way anyone can say he is currently a 3/4 hitter.

  • Dorasaga

    “comparison frequently used for Masahiro Tanaka is Hiroki Kuroda… Kuroda was projected as a middle of the rotation starter, at best, when he first signed with the Dodgers. Kuroda has been slightly better than was projected six winters ago”

    Kapler is not garnering respect by misinterpreting stats for an uninteresting topic. It’s like saying Dan Haren during his prime was far from being an ace because, and you cherry-pick what you believe, he gave up homeruns, because, because.

    I’m sick of this lofty comp. of apple to orange (yea, they are both fruits). Neil, I understand that this kind of topic boosts hit counts on our beloved site, but when will “sportscasters” analyze something Cubs-related? I shouldn’t expect they would.

    But no, I’ll jump and throw in my proofs. Kuroda has always been an ace, methinks. It’s not just his overall stats, but how he learned new pitches later in his career and mastered it. I said this before, I’ll say this again: GM Hendry should have signed Kuroda before Fukudome. Period.

    As of the orange-apple thing… Kuroda created more groundballs and has been logging quality 200-IPs year after year, since his age-36 campaign, feat. a 3.30 ERA. What’s that? Isn’t it better than an ace?

    What else did Kapler say? “No Japanese pitcher with a substantial sample size in NPB history has matched the dominance of Tanaka through age 24.”

    Both Koji Uehara and Nomo pitched in independent leagues before entering pro. Different career choice. It wasn’t that they weren’t good enough. The system was different in Japan. Koji was age-24 in his rookie year. Sample size, sample size, sample size.

    Anyway, with that note, I bid CCO Happy New Year, and may everyone have a wonderful wishlist!

    • SuzyS

      Happy New Year back at you…Dorasaga!!!

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