Monday, January 6, 2014


I love reading Ben Badler of Baseball America. There has never been a thing I didn't like about his work, until today, when I read a piece discussing team interest and the "lurkers" and "sleepers" and sure things in pursuit of Masahiro Tanaka.  Now, truth be told, there is never a crystal ball when it comes to signing big names to big contracts. You're all smart, you know this.  I mean, if there was, we would have know that the Yankees were going to swoop in and sign Mark Teixeira even though the Red Sox were the "favorites" a while back. And who would have guessed Detroit was going to sign Prince Fielder just in time for the 2012 season?  Not me. I didn't see it coming.

In Badler's piece, there were 10 teams ranked as who are the closest to get Tanaka 10 is furthest away and 1 is the best chance. 10 through 3 are the Los Angeles Angels (10), the Boston Red Sox (9), the Arizona Diamondbacks (8), the Toronto Blue Jays (7), the Texas Rangers (6), the Detroit Tigers (5), the Chicago Cubs (4), and the Los Angeles Dodgers (3).

Then came number 2 and 1.  2 is the Yankees and number 1 is the Seattle Mariners.

Here's what Badler says of the Yankees:

"The Yankees desperately need pitching. Even as he enters his age-39 season, Hiroki Kuroda is still a frontline starter, but beyond him the red flags are whipping across the rest of the rotation.

CC Sabathia has lost nearly 3 mph off his fastball over the last two years and is coming off a year with a 4.78 ERA, the worst of his 13-year career. There’s Ivan Nova behind him, and perhaps Michael Pineda can return and be a mid-rotation starter, but he’s extremely risky. Maybe Manny Banuelos can help at some point, but the Yankees can’t count on much from him or anyone else in a farm system that’s thin on starting pitching.

The Yankees are reportedly trying to stay under the $189 million luxury tax, which they’re already pushing up against. Having Alex Rodriguez’s $25 million wiped away would give them more flexibility, which is why Tanaka probably won’t sign until after a decision on Rodriguez’s suspension is announced...

The only penalty for going over the luxury tax is money. The Yankees have plenty of that. What they don’t have is pitching, either in the majors or the minors. The Yankees have sent several of their top personnel to Japan to scout Tanaka, and if they think he’s a frontline starter, that could be an upgrade of four or five wins in a competitive American League East.

If that helps get them to the playoffs, it will be worth the tax money."

Then Balder gives his number 1 pick, the Mariners. Check this out:

"...the Mariners are the favorites to land him. That doesn’t mean they will sign him, but based on conversations with industry officials, Seattle’s resources and the makeup of the team, they are a strong fit.

The Mariners have money to spend. They have a new regional television contract that will pay them $2 billion over 17 years. The Mariners showed off their deep pockets earlier this offseason by signing Robinson Cano to a 10-year, $240 million contract, outbidding everyone by a wide margin... The money is there and so is the need. Seattle’s desire to trade for David Price is no secret. They need to upgrade the team to contend in 2014 and take advantage of Hernandez and Cano while they’re still stars. And the current makeup of the team isn’t enough for them to be strong contenders in the AL West.

(In Photo: Hisashi Iwakuma)

Tanaka would help change that. A starting rotation with Hernandez, Tanaka and Iwakuma (Tanaka’s former Rakuten teammate) would give them three frontline starters, with another potential premium starter in 21-year-old Taijuan Walker, though it may be too soon to count on him performing at that level next season. It would be one of baseball’s scariest rotations, with James Paxton and Erasmo Ramirez candidates to round out the final spot."

But what does it all mean? Sure, I guess anyone can choose the Mariners as the top team to land Tanaka, but aren't they the same team that just came out to claim they were broke?  And what about GM Jack Zduriencik claiming they "aren't going to be making a huge splash" since Robinson Cano and Corey Hart:

So what do you make from that? Are they bluffing? Plus, what's to say the Yankees don't throw everything at Tanaka, especially if Alex Rodriguez gets suspended. I'd say the chances are very, very good for the Yankees over the Mariners here, but of course, I'm biased.

Look, the New York Yankees have made it clear they need to do something to bolster their rotation.  There has been talk from Badler that a Tanaka / Iwakuma rotation in Seattle would be great.  I'll up you one; How about Tanaka / Kuroda?  Even Vernon Wells believes that saying "He's a great person to be a mentor to him." You know what? Wells might feel like the guy with one foot out the door, but he sure knows how to schmooze Yankeeland.  Wells makes sense, and I hope the Yankees take that into account.

Look, I'm not really giving Badler a hard time here. I am confused about ranking "interest".  I really don't think it makes much sense.  What's to say the Red Sox don't have a secret stash somewhere to sign Tanaka at the 11th hour?  How about the Dodgers? You know what I mean?

In the end, something will happen and here at Bleeding Yankee Blue, we "rank" the Yankees first to land Masahiro Tanaka... not that it really means anything... we'll just have to let it play out. But I will tell you this... the Yankees have lost out on big time pitchers before and looking at their rotation right this second, even Yankee brass knows there are too many question marks. What I'm trying to say is, there's going to pull the trigger to get Tanaka "big time"... because they don't want to be stuck in the middle of an empty parking lot with their dick in their hand without him...

To be honest, I don't even know what that means... but you get my point. 

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