Bob Elliott at The Toronto Sun quotes an Japanese “insider” on Masahiro Tanaka as saying: “Plenty of great Japanese hitters say his four-seam fastball and splitter are indistinguishable. His regular season was outstanding: 95-96 mph, four-seam fastball, location was great, velocity was great and an unhittable splitter, along with a hard slider.” The source also noted that “Tanaka wants to go to a World Series, wants a city where his family will feel at home since they don’t speak English. He has a desire to be on a team with potential to win and loves the pressure.”
The Yankees, Dodgers and Angels are finalists to sign Masahiro Tanaka, according to Sports Hochi. From: Dylan Hernandez at the LA Times. Additionally, Sports Hochi notes that warm weather appeals to Japanese pitchers, saying that Nomo and Kuroda started in LA partially due to this reason, which makes sense to me. Hopefully the Dodgers sign him and keep him out of the AL and AL West. The bidding between the Dodgers and Yankees could get interesting.
“Seattle is not interested in moving their guys. So, there aren’t a lot of choices.” Brewer’s GM Doug Melvin talking to Tom Haudricourt at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel about their need for a first baseman.
Danny Farquhar recorded his first save on Aug 3 and proceeded to save 15 more games over the remaining two months of the season, while blowing just 2. While on the surface his 4.20 ERA doesn’t impress, what’s beneath certainly does. The Mariners have been surprisingly linked to free agent relief pitchers that, if signed, would most certainly take over the team’s closer role. That’s unfortunate, as it doesn’t convey much faith that Farquhar could be the man over a full season. I think he absolutely could and if he does enter the season with the job, makes for exactly the type of cheaper closer I like targeting. Source: Mike Podhorzer at FanGraphs
AL West Commentary
Angels affiliates have ranked last in collective ERA each of the last two years — though their mark improved in 2013, from 4.76 to 4.48 — and a lot of their turnaround could hinge on how many sleepers they hit on in 2013. Last June, the Angels loaded up on pitching, taking an arm with each of their first seven selections, and 10 of their first 11. But only one of those players (Hunter Green) was ranked among Baseball America‘s top 200 amateurs, a big reason why the publication soured on their latest haul. And the Angels spent only 87.6 percent of their already-thin bonus pool, third lowest in baseball. That extra money, assistant GM Scott Servais said, was intended for Blake Goins, the high-school right-hander who was taken in the 12th round and ultimately became their only unsigned pick.
Later this year, they’ll have the 15th overall selection and will also draft higher in the later rounds while hoping to benefit from a much larger spending poll, both in the Draft and the international market. For now, the stigma that comes with being deemed the worst farm system in baseball is just something they’ll have to accept. Source: Alden Gonzalez at MLB.com
So they said
“So now, [Hal] Steinbrenner has two choices, both of them tough to swallow. He can do nothing, and ensure having Rodriguez to kick around, and vice versa, for the next four years. Or he can do something that may bruise his wallet but will certainly help his team — that is, cut A-Rod loose. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but sometime between now and February 19th. Either way, Steinbrenner is parting with that $61 million. Now, he must decide if it’s time to part with Alex Rodriguez, as well.” Wallace Matthews at ESPN New York
Mariner’s potential off-season targets
The silence on [Kendrys] Morales is deafening, which is strange for a hitter of his magnitude. We understand the compensation issue in signing him, but teams such as the Brewers, Orioles, Mariners, and Astros could still use his bat. Agent Scott Boras was told recently that a team didn’t want to spend that much on a DH. Boras pointed to David Ortiz and the impact he’s had. “Ortiz has been at the core of three championships for the Red Sox,” said Boras. “He’s been the common denominator in the Red Sox’ success. So, don’t tell me that a DH isn’t important to a lineup. And Kendrys is also a very good first baseman.” Source: Nick Cafardo at the Boston Globe
Suk-min Yoon, RHP, free agent — The Twins and Red Sox remain engaged on the talented Korean righty. According to research done by Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors the 27-year-old was second to Dodgers lefthander Hyun-jin Ryu in Korea. Dierkes indicated that Yoon’s breakout season was 2011, when he had a 2.45 ERA and an excellent strikeout-to-walk ratio of 9.3-2.3 per nine innings. Yoon also has experience as a closer. Boras said that rumors of an arm injury in 2013 are untrue. “All of the teams have the medicals on him, so they know that he’s healthy,” Boras said. Source: Nick Cafardo at the Boston Globe
Baseball Best Practice
At last month’s winter meetings, MLB was poised to make two major changes to the sport: A broad expansion of instant replay and elimination of collisions at home plate. MLB executive vice president of baseball operations Joe Torre said at the time that nothing was set “in stone” because the approval of the players’ and umpires’ unions was required. But with spring training only one month away, it’s uncertain whether either will be implemented for the 2014 season. One major reason: The MLB Players Association has yet to give its approval, which is required under baseball’s collective bargaining agreement.
In a Saturday email to FOX Sports, MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said the union’s executive board discussed instant replay expansion and home plate collisions “at length” during its December meeting. “Without getting into the specifics of those discussions,” Clark told FOX Sports, “I can say that a consensus on both matters was not reached.”
Source: Jon Morosi at Fox Sports
By The Numbers
“In 1,466 games, Lyle Overbay has 342 doubles. In 1,374 games, David Wright has 345 doubles. In 2,401 games, Mickey Mantle had 344 doubles.” Source: The Bill Chuck Files
A-Rod can still earn $61 million during 2015 and 2017, on top of the $353 million he has been paid so far, without being paid for 2014. Derek Jeter will be the second highest paid ever with $253. Source: Joel Sherman at the New York Post
Chone Figgins wants to continue playing after sitting out all of 2013. He’s working out for MLB teams this week in Tampa. Figgins turns 36 in 2 weeks. He’s a .277 hitter in 11 seasons with Angels and Mariners. Released by the Marlins last March. From: Jerry Crasnick at ESPN