Monday, November 24, 2008

The Tazawa Conundrum

Junichi Tazawa is a 22 year old from Japan who seemingly has a very bright future. He asked the Japanese teams NOT to draft him so he could be a free agent, likely to make the leap right to MLB. Except there seems to be some "gentlemen's agreement" that have kept the MLB teams away from the Japanese amateurs. We already know about the Posting method (Dice-K was the biggest posting ever) for players who have grown up thru the Japanese major leagues.

Yanks GM Brian Cashman fully honors that agreement, and that might cost the Yanks a chance to get a relatively cheap, high potential pitcher.

“I’m old school — there has been an understanding,” said Cashman, whose team has a formal cooperative relationship with the Yomiuri Giants, a team particularly upset with the Tazawa affair. “There’s been a reason that Japanese amateurs haven’t been signed in the past, so we consider him hands off.”
Except the Red Sox clearly don't see that as a barrier and appear to have the inside track on signing Tazawa.

Clearly, the Japanese have grown exceptionally comfortable with the Sox following Dice-K's success (and maybe the lack of "comparable" success that Matsui has --or hasn't-- had). While I don't have a problem with this, per se, what I don't like is that appearance of rule or agreement that only some clubs honor. Yes, it's not dissimilar to the MLB's draft slotting rules, which are equally ridiculous. But that's merely a suggestion. Is this agreement with Japan any different?

UPDATE: I finally found the scouting article I was looking for on Tazawa.
Tazawa, who stands 5 feet, 10 inches -- "5-11 if you really like him," Wilson said -- will get a major league deal this winter but is unlikely to make it to the majors during that first season.

He has good command of his fastball and slurve, but he lacks velocity, stamina and the ability to keep the ball down.

At 22, Tazawa is unlikely to throw much harder than he does now; his fastball barely tops 90 mph when he is rested, and he struggled to hit 88 mph at the end of last season.

In Class A or Double-A, Tazawa likely will get hit harder and harder as the season wears on.

No comments: