As most of the baseball world has been made aware, the Texas Rangers won the exclusive rights to speak with Mr. Darvish in December 2011. Until this week, there really had not been much discussion about the discussions. Granted in the US, the sportsworld is fully engulfed by the NFL and college football. Now that all the favorites are out (Tebow, Green Bay and New Orleans) the US sportsworld is jiving for a new story. So all the “talking heads” looked at the following options: NBA, NHL, college basketball, and the MLB “hot stove”. They are thinking how can I be different. I know, let’s bring up all the busts from Japan and compare them to the next best thing from Japan. Yeah this will be a great idea nobody else will think of this. So, about 26 hours, 12 minutes, and 19 seconds before the 5 pm est deadline on Wednesday, a large amount of reporters decided to focus on just this. Most of sports sites were running with the following theme: How can we criticize the Rangers and Darvish before he has ever thrown one pitch in “the show”?
I will concede that there have been alot of busts exported from Japan. But how many big time prospects sign a riciulous contract and never live up to the hype in the US? Well, I have come up with a list of about 10 from the last 25 years. (This list could be made up entirely by 3 teams, Pirates, Royals and the Expos, but I felt I should include other teams as well).
Here you are (listed by years):
Kurt Brown, Chicago White Sox (1985, 5th pick; could have picked Barry Bonds. As a diehard Southsider, this still haunts us. )
Brien Taylor, New York Yankees (1991, 1st pick; could have picked Manny Ramirez or Cliff Floyd )
Darren Dreifort, Los Angeles Dodgers (1993, 2nd pick; could have picked Billy Wagner, Derick Lee, Chris Carpenter, Torii Hunter or Jason Varitek)
Reggie Taylor, Philadelpia Phillies (1995, 14th pick; could have had Jarred Washburn, Mark Bellhorn or Carlos Beltran)
John Patterson, Montreal Expos (1996, 5th pick; could have picked Erick Chavez, Jake Westbrook or Jimmy Rollins)
Matt Anderson, Detroit Tigers (1997, 1st pick; could have had Troy Glaus, Vernon Wells, Michael Cuddyer, or John Garland)
Coret Myers, Arizona Diamondbacks (1999, 4th pick; could have picked Alex Rios or Colby Lewis!)
Mike Stodolka, Kansas City Royals (2000, 4th pick; could have had Chase Utley )
Colt Griffin, Kansas City (2001, 9th pick; David Wright, Ryan Howard or C.J. Wilson)
Bryan Bullington, Pittsburgh Pirates (2002, 1st pick; could have picked Prince Fielder, Khalil Greene, Scott Kazmir, Nick Swisher, or Jeff Francoeur)
You might be thinking, these are all draft picks. Darvish is a free agent not a player being drafted. You would be right. So here are my top 5 free agent busts since 2000.
In 2003, Chan Ho Park signed with the Texas Rangers for 5 years, $65 million
In early 2001, Mike Hampton signed with the Colorado Rockies for 8 years, $120 million
In 2007, Barry Zito signed with Oakland Athletics for 7 years, $126 million
In late 1998, Kevin Brown signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers for 7 years, $105 million
In 1999, Mo Vaughn signed with Annaheim Angels for 6 years, $80 million
These are just 5 of a VERY long list of busts. I threw in 4 pitchers and 1 “power-hitter” because that is what nearly every team is always looking for. The Rangers have publicly stated that these are there two needs. So, going by the figures that are being thrown around on the sports outlets around the world, the Darvish to Texas deal will cost a total of $112 million ($51.7 for the rights to talk and $60 million contract). This is very similar to the Matsuzaka deal the BoSox made with Seibu. Most are saying that Seibu made out on that deal. Will the same happen here? In my opinion, yes and no. Nippon Ham will make out on their end, although the exchange rate hurts them. I think Darvish will be better than Matsuzaka. Why? He is younger. He is more confident and has had less pitching stress on his body compared to Matsuzaka.
I have mentioned all of this information, draft busts, free agent busts, and posting busts, to show that this is not an exact science. This is a guessing game that most teams fail at. Will Darvish be the savior that Texas is hoping for, who knows. Will he be better than C.J. Wilson (the man he replaces) who knows. What I do know is that Darvish will work hard and pitch over 200 innings per year for the majority of his contract. We will need to wait a few years and see how Darvish does, not just in the regular season, but in the post-season as well.
That said, I predict that the Rangers will win the World Series twice during Yu’s time in Arlington. Good luck!!