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Art of the Deal


David Waldstein details the Yankees’ pitch to Masahiro Tanaka:

When it was the Yankees’ turn, they dispatched Cashman; Manager Joe Girardi; the team president Randy Levine; the assistant general managers Billy Eppler and Jean Afterman; the pitching coach Larry Rothschild; Trey Hillman, a former manager of the Nippon Ham Fighters and now a member of the Yankees’ player-development department; and George Rose, the Yankees’ Japanese liaison and the former interpreter for Hideki Irabu, who pitched for the Yankees in the late 1990s.

During the Beverly Hills meeting, Tanaka told the Yankees that some of the other clubs he had met with said they planned to ease him into their rotations without putting too much pressure on him. That did not sit well with him.

“He didn’t want to be eased into anything,” said one of the Yankee executives in the room at the time. “He said he wanted to be the man.”

The Yankees came away impressed by his confidence. They felt he resembled Matsui, whose quiet but strong personality became an enduring part of Yankee teams in the previous decade.


Categories:  1: Featured  Hot Stove  Yankees

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1 Jon DeRosa   ~  Jan 23, 2014 10:43 am

There's something extra fun about Tanaka (and El Duque, Matsui, Irabu, Contreras, etc) in that they are bringing starpower with them, but they are essentially a mystery. Their debut and their evolution as MLB players is going to happen on our favorite team and the upside, for the moment, is tantalizing.

Hopefully the scouting has become more sophisticated so that actual performance variation is less extreme than in the Irabu days, but there is a wider range of possible outcomes than with guys like McCann or Garza. And that's fun to watch. Remember, even the first 4 or 5 Irabu starts were insane and we hung on every pitch.

Facing another year where the Yankees are probably not World Series contenders, there are plenty of good reasons to be excited about the season. Watching Jeter wring the last drops out of his epic career and watching Tanaka develop are the two biggest draws for me as it stands now.

2 GaryfromChevyChase   ~  Jan 23, 2014 11:28 am

[1] Glad you said that the Yanks are PROBABLY NOT WS contenders. What makes this upcoming year especially exciting (in addition to the narratives you've laid out) is the fact that if lots and lots of things turn out well (CC returns to form, Jete has a Jete year, Tex's wrist holds up, Kuroda stays strong, Nova keeps getting better, Robinson becomes even a pale imitation of Mo) "PROBABLY NOT" becomes "PROBABLY."

3 Jon DeRosa   ~  Jan 23, 2014 11:33 am

[2] Totally agree. If tons of improbable, postive things happen, the Yankees can indeed contend for the World Series.

4 Alex Belth   ~  Jan 23, 2014 11:40 am

I don't expect much from Tex. I have high hopes for C.C.

5 bp1   ~  Jan 23, 2014 12:55 pm

[4] Yeah - what you said.

If Tanaka is as good as Andy I will be happy. That's asking a LOT of a young kid, 'cause Andy has HoF discussions, but big time contracts bring big time expectations. Gotta deliver. Don't need Cy Young (although - yeah - cool), but a solid Andy-like 200+ innings of consistent mid-3 would be welcome. It will be fun to watch that whole thing play out.

The big story for me is Jeter. There are lots of haters out there wanting him to fail - and it will be interesting to see how quickly people bury him if he starts off slow. That is going to be fascinating to watch - how Jeter handles this year with doubting media and maybe even a doubting management chain? Personally, I hope he comes back and crushes it, but that is probably wishful thinking on my part (but ...).

6 Greg G   ~  Jan 23, 2014 1:11 pm

I think the Yanks have assembled enough talent to make the postseason. Are they clear cut favorites for the postseason? No.

They have improved the team in a few areas (outfield, rotation, infield depth) and a few are worse, 2nd base, 3rd base and bullpen especially. (Although they should have equal or better production at 3rd if they brought back Craig Nettles at this point).

If the Yanks make it to the postseason, I think anything can happen. If this is Jeter's swan song, I hope he gets to sing a little in the playoffs. Mo and Andy were not so lucky.

7 GaryfromChevyChase   ~  Jan 23, 2014 3:07 pm

Good summary of Tanaka stats, plusses and minuses over here:

Really liked the link to the WBC.

8 The Mick536   ~  Jan 23, 2014 3:10 pm

How can anyone hate Jeter. Hate A-Rod if hate be a word in the vocabulary for others than Assad and Hitler. He got a year off to heal. His talents hadn't slipped; his body had. If he has a body, he can play, maybe not short, but he can play.

[4] Based on what. CC had trouble with the good teams, which have gotten better. The West Coast trips will be disasters. Can he win in Boston or Baltimore? He's older and tired. As for Tex, he hasn't been good in years. He doesn't strike out; maybe he will try to hit more to where they ain't or to the gaps. I am unsure.

[3] Doesn't make much sense to talk about improbables. Brian Roberts doesn't get hurt? That's why they play the games and keep score. But to me, one more pitcher might have done it and a third baseman. I don't see the starting pitching all that improved, even with the new guy.

9 Alex Belth   ~  Jan 23, 2014 3:27 pm

4) Based on the fact that he's been a really good damn pitcher for a long time, that's what. Jeez, it's not like he's fuggin Phil Hughes, man.

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