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masahiro tanaka[There was actually a fair bit of interesting things coming out of the later panels today at the Convention, and I'll have more on that tomorrow. For now, I'll get to what you really want.]

Today, while I was deep in the throes of CubsConning, Bruce Levine was busy doing impressive work on the Masahiro Tanaka front. Among his tidbits today:

 

Taken altogether and the clear implication is that, as we’ve heard before, the Cubs are very seriously interested in Tanaka, have made a legitimate offer, and the ball is in his court on whether he is willing to come to a rebuilding team in Chicago. Whether anyone can rightly say the Cubs are the “leader” for Tanaka right now is a tougher call, given that other interested teams could simply be waiting until the Cubs made their best offer so that they can match or beat it. That said … it’s still nice to hear.

The front office was, understandably, asked repeatedly about Tanaka today, and although they didn’t give anything up, Jed Hoyer re-affirmed that there are negotiations taking place that involve the Cubs. But Theo Epstein was quick to add that there are a lot of teams interested in Tanaka, and we’ll just see what happens.

Incidentally, at the player development and scouting panel, Pro Scouting Director Joe Bohringer was very forthcoming about the fact of the Cubs’ deep knowledge of, and history scouting, Tanaka. They’ve been on him for years (though they’re likely on many international players for many years). That is not to say he was giving anything up about specific involvement in his availability, and he didn’t give up anything on what the Cubs’ scouts think of him.

  • Patrick G

    Only a week until he signs. This upcoming week will be fun to watch since a lot of rumors have been on the back burner

  • Kyle

    It’s maddening how much of a difference this makes on the next few years of Cubs baseball.

    • mrcub1958

      Well said. It’s a big deal to future.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      True: but the ability to add a plus pitcher at no cost of prospects will/would make a big difference for many teams.

      • jp3

        What a nice add if he’s at least a number 2, also someone mentioned Stanton earlier, how nice would he look next year as FA? That could be a couple nice building blocks for the future, also both are huge risks I guess.

  • Kev

    What are the odds that Bruce Levine’s MLB source is just trolling him and Cubs fans really, really hard?

  • TTH

    If the “he loves a challenge” thing is true, we just might be the front runners after all.

  • potvin48

    “He loves a challenge” – I’ve always said I think any player would be nuts to pass up an opportunity to play for the Cubs and be part of the team that finally brings it home. Instant legendary status for the entire team that gets it done. Boston experienced this a few years ago, but I don’t think it will be as magical as when it happens in Chicago. Imagine being at Wrigley if they could win it at home in a game 7. Holy cow, I just don’t have words for that. Wouldn’t you love to be able to tell your grandkids how you were part of the team that finally broke the curse??? I hope he understands how awesome that would be, and I hope he accepts that challenge. He could be the first of a few dominoes to fall that make the future very bright in Chicago!

  • Jon

    If Tanaka does sign with the Cubs, there is one poster here in particular that is going to look like a real asshole

    • Xruben31

      VOR??

    • Bill

      haha. Only one? I’m not sure we are going to have to check on unnamed poster because he may need to check into a hospital if Cubs sign Tanaka. It could lead to a serious breakdown for him. :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/cubman87 cubman87

    I want to get excited!!! (Now watch him sign with some team like the Marlins or a surprise team like that). I hope we get him. It’s pretty sad that i wake up every morning just to see where the Tanaka rumors are today, and if he doesn’t sign with the Cubs, i won’t care about him anymore lol…

  • cubzfan23

    I always find it interesting when a source says a team is in the lead. Really, how do they know. Has the source spoke to Tanaka. Maybe the source can read his mind. Come on guys be real.

    • Kyle

      The most obvious and plausible scenario is that the source talked to Tanaka’s agent.

  • daddies4angels

    Saw rumor today where Cubs offered from 150-200 mil for 8 yrs.

  • AlbDaKID

    Thinking way far ahead. If in fact we sign Tanaka and the youngins come up will there be money to get in the Stanton FA game? Just thinking ahead…….?

    • jp3

      When is Stanton a FA and how old will he be? I can’t see the marlins letting him walk though, someone will pay dearly in prospects to get him at the trade deadline before it’s all said and done. The question is which 2 big prospects at least would we give for him?

      • AlbDaKID

        True. However, If and more then likely when he gets traded does Stanton sign an extension? Probably not. Stanton IMO is likely to test this ever growing FA market therefore, do we have the money to be involved in that game?!!??

        • jp3

          Depends, what age will he be when available and will he shake some of his durability issues. So he’s 24years old? Sure looks like he’s right up our ally, needless to say he would make himself a TON of money if he plays 150 games this year…

      • Tommy

        I’d rather see the Cubs hold out and save up big for Trout.

        • cubbiehawkeye

          I’d rather the cubs hold out for Bryce Harper but I’m guessing he’s a lifer in DC

  • NorthSideIrish

    MLB Trade Rumors just posted a report from Japan that Arizona offered Tanaka 6 years/$120M…I have to think the Cubs would need to go well above that to be the leaders.

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2014/01/tanaka.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

    • Kyle

      The Cubs rumors blow that out of the water.

      • NorthSideIrish

        Kyle, do you believe the 8/$200M rumor? That seemed like Twitter nonsense to me…but I’d love to think the Cubs could play at that level.

        • Kyle

          I haven’t seen 8/$200m anywhere but Twitter.

          But Jesse Rogers yesterday reported 7/$189m.

          • NorthSideIrish

            Tom Loxas just Tweeted the Cubs offer was 7 years, $160M plus the posting fee according to his sources

            • Kyle

              That’s pretty much the same as what Rogers was saying.

              If that isn’t enough, then I don’t even know what to say.

              • DocPeterWimsey

                Is this a good or bad speechlessness?

        • jp3

          I’m with you NSI, I hope we can open up the wallet to that extent. Not to mention I would like to know that Theo and co are true to their word in that when the right FA comes along we’ll go after them.

      • jp3

        I was thinking that too and immediately wondered at what point does he tell the wife “hey look one team is offering 120mill and another is offering close to $200mill, I’ll buy you a night club to perform at or something”.

        • Kyle

          All that stuff about preferences probably doesn’t mean anything. Players almost always say it, and they almost always go where the money is.

          It *might* be true, but I wouldn’t be on it.

  • Soda Popinski

    Please Please Please let this be true so Blackhawks can never opine again…

    • NorthSideIrish

      That by itself might be worth a $20M AAV investment.

    • ClevelandCubsFan

      If we get Tanaka, the single word Tanaka will become the only acceptable reply to all future naysayers armed with dubious probabilities.

      For example:

      BNPoster
      “Rizzo is at best an average first baseman. The odds of him making a All Star Team are exactly 0%. All your peripherals can’t change that fact.”

      BNPoster2:
      “Tanaka”

  • CubsfaninAZ

    Where’d all the haters go that said the Cubs wouldn’t be in on Tanaka? People like me and others said since November Cubs would be in on it. Only way I see the Cubs not getting Tanaka is if he takes a slightly lesser deal to stay on the West Coast. Cubs were always going to be the big spender for him, thats why they never went after any of the other free agents, who will be way beyond their prime years when most of those contracts are being paid. Free Agents like Ellsbury were out the window when they asked for more than 4-5 years. And Shoo, will go down as a terrible long term commitment after 2 seasons. You all need to sit back and let Theo and Jed do their thing. Shark is already quoted as saying his frustrations, is the “rebuild” word and if they land Tanaka that changes everything.

    • Kyle

      OK, Leon Lett. I wouldn’t spike the football just yet.

      • ClevelandCubsFan

        Good point. But the naysayers are lying to themselves if they believe they were right about that 0% chance thing. Nobody calls you a favorite when those are the odds.

  • Mike F

    Kaplan was very forthcoming last night. He acknowledged his source was an American League well placed personnel man and that he has been consistent the Cubs are prepared to pay insane numbers. Levine has gotten very specific too. At 160 plus 20M for a guy who has never pitched in MLB 30M a year, it is a serious serious investment or gamble.

    I think it is intriguing, I think it excites people, but have to really wonder if they are willing to absorb this if he were to fail, and how it fits with one of the worst everyday line-ups in baseball. I get the like the Minors talent, but just seems ludicrous how much 1 for 1 success people think the development will produce. There is such thing as overselling and while I always like aggressive additions, I keep hearing that small voice some of the best moves you make are the ones you don’t make. 30 M dedicated to Tanaka is one hell of an insane amount of money in any reality…..

    • Kyle

      If not Tanaka, then what do you spend the money on?

      Is it a risk if he busts? Absolutely. Where is the non-risky free agent signing we can make, because I’d love to go for it.

      • jp3

        I hope we sign him but to your question, what would the next 2 FA pitchers cost? Less than $200 million? Why is that not an option if you have the money to spend?

        • Kyle

          Because the next three guys are:

          Ervin Santana – 32 years old, averaging 1.5 fWAR per season the last five years, tied to draft pick compensation

          Ubaldo Jimenez – 30 years old, averaging 2.2 fWAR per season the last three years, tied to draft pick compensation, lost major velocity in recent years

          Matt Garza – 30 years old, averaging 2.2 fWAR per season the last four years, has repeated arm problems and rumors of bad medical reports this offseason.

          Pick any two of these guys? Heck, I’d rather have Tanaka than all three of them at the same time.

        • Xruben31

          TomLoxas ‏@TomLoxas 1h
          Heard #Cubs offer for Tanaka in 160 mil neighborhood plus posting fee.

          Probably on here somewhere…

        • DocPeterWimsey

          To follow on what Kyle wrote, quantity does not equal quality here. Sure, having Santana and Jimenez as your #4 and #5 starters is not bad: but you can make more dramatic improvements elsewhere with that money (with some luck, anyway).

      • Mike F

        Yeah I get that. I get they need to take risks. I think they must like his mechanics, most of the Japanese pitchers are pretty consistent with mechanics so maybe see the risk of arm damage as less. But if he doesn’t work, what then?

        And they lack so much in terms of everyday. Sounds nice to expect all the prospect to come up and be stars, but honestly if 2 or 3 pan out as long term players, it would be very good. I just don’t see any as sure things. I’m not critical of them for trying, just wondering if this isn’t a lot of eggs to put in one basket? Especially when a team is counting on Rizzo and Castro so heavily.

        • ClevelandCubsFan

          It is a lot of eggs in one basket. That’s why it portends MORE spending

          • Rebuilding

            But it’s really not. It’s the advantage of having really high draft picks so that over the course of the next two seasons you can add potential All-Star caliber 2b, 3b and CF who will make a combined $1.5 million. The FO has put is through pain but played this to perfection. You see this in the NFL – part of the reason the 49ers and Seahawks are so good is that they have Pro Bowl quality QBs making the minimum so they can spend elsewhere

        • Scotti

          First, the 30 per you are using is off if the offer is really the “reported” 160+20/7 years (under 26). And the fact that he would be 25-31 rather than 30/31-36/37 is a huge factor. Those are more productive years and should cost more.

          Further, large market teams are able to eat contacts gone bad. The Cubs will simply eat it and move on if he gets injured or under-performs for some reason. Just because the Trib/Zell never did (and early Ricketts has not been able to) doesn’t mean the Cubs (with new revenue streams) won’t. It’s the very essence of the large market advantage.

          Finally, as I understand it, at least the initial outlay of this would come directly from additional cash pumped in by the Ricketts family–it cannot be a loan (even from the family), it’s simply a cash call. It’s a very wise expenditure as it would help to stop the bleeding (the Cubs have lost hundreds of millions by losing). It excites the fan base with a quality signing, helps to stop the bleeding, helps the team win more and fits with the overall plan. If they over-pay by $10-15 million per then it is way worth it (it simply pays for itself).

      • YourResidentJag

        We wait to see if Scherzer’s available next year??

  • arta

    if…this will be big!

  • arta

    u take the chance and pray it works out. i’m one who believes we’ll be better with or witout Tanaka. this 25 as it stands now is not the 25 we’ll see opening day, JMO.

  • Carl9730

    You’d have to think at this point, it may be down to us & Yanks. Although it seems like there is no limit to their spending, I can’t imagine the Dodgers will sign three $150mil + deals for SPs in the span of 12 months. As far as ARI and CHW, I just don’t think they have the bullets to hang in this thing at the level it’s apparently gotten to.

  • NorthSideIrish

    Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) tweeted at 8:39 PM on Sat, Jan 18, 2014:
    Source: #Mariners, #Indians emerging as favorites among 5-7 teams who have expressed interest in Scott Baker. Likely to land minor lg deal.

    There goes Plan G….

    • jp3

      That’s hilarious because when I started reading that I was like “BUT BUT BUT BUT THE INDIANS!!!! Oh Scott Baker..” I will say if we come up second again in this it’s going to be tough to swallow. I know he was a long shot but at some point you have to spend the money you say you were willing to spend…

      • college_of_coaches

        Ha! Same here

  • http://BN Sacko

    Holy..this is very encouraging.
    Thanks Brett

  • jkoehneke

    I talked to Bruce Levine for about 15 minutes today. Great guy! He thinks he will be as a good as Darvish (that’s what the scouts are telling him). I also got to chat with Kris Bryant for a bit. He needs to put on some weight. He was looking very Richie Sextonish

    Brett you going tomorrow?

    • itzscott

      Just curious what it is that makes you feel that Levine’s a great guy?

      • jkoehneke

        I introduced myself and we had a good conversation. I enjoyed talking baseball with him. Should I say good guy?

  • Blackhawks1963

    1. I still say the Yankees

    2. I will guess the Dodgers lowballed their offer knowing full well that playing in LA is the preference of Mr and Mrs Tanaka. Would he take less money to play with the Dodgers?!?

    3. All the teams that have submitted a contract offer have gone at least 6 years and $110 million per Bob Nightengale. To include the White Sox of all teams.

    • Rebuilding

      …and you’ve also said the Cubs have a 0% shot for the last 30 days straight. Or was that your credibility percentage

      • Tommy

        LOL! Thanks Rebuilding. That was the quote of the day so far. Seriously laughed out loud on that!

    • ClevelandCubsFan

      Blackhawk, care to provide an updated line on this bet?

  • Diehardthefirst

    If signed then he better also visit Iowa because he could be spending a lot of time there

    • ClevelandCubsFan

      Diehard, If you have an inside scoop on his medicals please share.

    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

      Ah thanks for the smile buddy I need some more satire

  • roz

    Per Gordon Wittenmeyer: “Beware reports suggesting Cubs have high offer on table for Tanaka or that he’s favoring Cubs. Multiple sources say Cubs remain long shots.”

    https://twitter.com/GDubCub/status/424744849888141312

    • BlameHendry

      That’s more like it.

    • Xruben31

      Jor-El ‏@JorEl1114 3m
      If Tanaka signs elsewhere Wittenmeyer continues his baseless “Cubs are poor” dance. If he signs with Cubs he won’t admit he was wrong.

      I don’t know who this guy is but I agree that Wittenmeyer hates the Cubs.

      • Rebuilding

        I don’t think Wittenmeyer hates the Cubs, I just think he is clueless, poorly sourced and not very bright. If you ever listen to an interview with him 2 of those 3 things become evident quickly

        • Xruben31

          Maybe he just hates his job then.

          • itzscott

            Wittenmeyer’s had a hard on for the Cubs ever since they fired Hendry. He was always Hendry’s lapdog. Hendry would usually toss Wittenmeyer a bone by giving him a scoop.

        • YourResidentJag

          I don’t think so….he seemed very intelligent in his debate with Matt Spiegel on the Score just last week. I really disagree with you just because you think he’s out to get Theo…which he has stated repeatedly he is not. BTW, people on here were saying that once upon a time about Phil Rogers…that is until he got away from reporting Chicago baseball and now works for MLB.com.

          • Rebuilding

            I wouldn’t use Phil Rogers as a counterpoint to anything. You literally picked the one guy who has covered Chicago baseball that is more clueless than Wittenmeyer. In sure they are nice guys but they know very little about baseball other than they went to journalism school and got stuck on the sports desk

            • YourResidentJag

              I’m not. I’m saying ppl didn’t think too highly of him until he stopped covering Chicago baseball. Coincidence…nope. So all journalists know nothing about baseball? You’re gonna break the Tanaka signing, then, right? :)

            • YourResidentJag

              Also, you ever cover a baseball beat? Sounds like you have. Hmmm….so tell us how that went. Did you change careers because you thought journalism to be an inferior profession?

  • itzscott

    Levine knows as much Japanese as I do. I don’t think he knows anymore than any of us know about what the Cubs offered or what Tanaka’s intentions are.

    I don’t think this is anything other than attention seeking behavior by Levine.

  • Diehardthefirst

    A factoid overlooked by you Tanaka backers- Japanese starting pitchers are required to rest 6 days between starts- what’s going to happen when he’s required to pitch on 3 or 4 days rest over 25-30 starts? Especially given all the innings he’s pitched already?

    • ClevelandCubsFan

      Diehard, what evidence do you have suggests the C7bs plan on pitching him on 3 or 4 days rest? I was kinsa thinking that won’t happen one single time in 2014.

      • Jason P

        Shhh, don’t use the “e” word around die hard :)

      • Scotti

        Four days rest is what the average starter gets between starts. He pitches every fifth day.

    • Scotti

      I’ve advocated a 6-man rotation for years. If Tanaka pitches 25 games he can pitch every sixth day. A six-man rotation would keep Tanaka, and other Cub pitching investments, safer and thus be cheaper than a five-man rotation where starters get hurt and need costly replacements.

      • Rebuilding

        I like where your head’s at, but that’s really not the way it works. Just like any physical activity pitchers get hurt when the overdo it at one time. Pitching every five days isn’t the problem. It’s exerting yourself too much on that 5th day. At about 100-110 pitches a pitcher’s legs get tired and his mechanics break down. That leads to forcing the ball with his shoulder and elbow. That’s when injuries happen. I like it to shoveling snow – the old guy who does it 5 minutes a day can do it everyday, but the day he does it 30 minutes he has a heart attack

        • Bill

          Why are you assuming the Cubs will pitch him well over 100-110 pitches per start? I think Scotti’s recommendation is a good one for a guy who’s coming over the MLB, and he’s used to throwing just once a week. Let him get acclimated. They could also limit his pitches/innings.

          As to your shoveling snow example, a person could do it every day for 30 minutes if they were in shape. Ditto for throwing over 100-110 pitches if the pitcher isn’t tired. Pitchers get hurt because of bad mechanics. That can happen if they never throw over 100 pitches. The poor mechanics leads to stress on the shoulder or elbow. This is the job of the pitching coach/pitcher to make sure this isn’t happening from the very first pitch.

          • Scotti

            “They could also limit his pitches/innings.”

            The evidence shows that they wouldn’t need to. at least not to 100-110 pitches per game.

            “Pitchers get hurt because of bad mechanics.”

            Bad mechanics is a result of fatigue. Fatigue is directly correlated to recovery time between workouts.

        • Scotti

          Actually it does work that way and we have proof from three sources:

          Any type of workout in the gym: If you work the same muscle group daily, and don’t allow sufficient time for recovery, you will not experience any gain and actually produce fatigue more quickly than if you did MORE during your workout but also allowed for MORE recovery. This is why you do your chest one day, your legs the next, your arms another, etc. Pitching, like any other physical labor, works the same way.

          This is why pitchers, like Clemens, used steroids. They weren’t trying to get beefy, they were using steroids for the other (less known) benefit–steroids allow for quicker recovery times. So a typical older guy would need longer recovery time (ask anyone in the gym) but steroids shortens those recovery times to youthful ages.

          Finally, we have actual experiential proof: How is it that Japanese, college and even high school pitchers throw 140 pitches in a game and don’t–as a rule–experience the same problems American professional would at those “excessive” pitch counts? It’s because they all have more recovery time than American professionals. Most of those cats pitch once per week. As such they can go MUCH deeper into games (more pitches throw) with LESS risk of fatigue.

          Just last night I was looking at Games Pitched in the Japanese leagues mindlessly expecting to see, like in the US, massive amounts of relief pitchers heading the pack and then, pages later, running into the starters. The starters were actually near the league lead in games pitched! Starters there go deeper. You don’t need crappy middle relievers pitching day after day. They, effectively, have starters, closers and mop-up guys.

          Imaging a Cub staff with six strong starters, no need for middle relief, a reduced need for 8th inning guys and a couple late inning guys (relief guys need more rest for the same reasons). It would be both effective and cost effective.

          • Rebuilding

            Uggghhhh…no. You bring up a lot of things that prove my point though. No one said anything about pitching every day, obviously that is not enough time to recover from moderate activity. Relief pitchers are far less effective pitching consecutive days. However, relief pitchers are fine pitching every other day and even complain of being “too strong” if not used in 3-4 days. It’s the same with weight-lifting. You can hit the same muscle groups usually in 2-4 days. That’s how the arm works. The 5th and 6th day of rest do nothing for you. Pitching injuries occur because of overuse on the days people actually pitch. Just Google Pitcher Abuse Points

            • Rebuilding

              I’ll also add that the two most successful pitching coaches of all time, Leo Mazzone and Dave Duncan, both completely disagree with you. They had their starters throw a hard 30-50 pitches in between starts to build the arm muscles. It only makes sense. When in a proper workout regimen followed by top bodybuilders you hit the same muscle groups in short spurts every 2-3 days

              • Scotti

                “They had their starters throw a hard 30-50 pitches in between starts to build the arm muscles.”

                Which is no more than a light workout compared to the adrenalin propelled act of pitching in a real game. Japanese pitchers often (it differs from team to team) have their pitchers do WAY, WAY, WAY more between their starts (200 pitches, throwing heavy balls, etc.). None of that is like throwing max effort in front of thousands of fans for a game that counts.

                I will also add that all MLB pitching coaches–including those two–have had their fair share of INJURED pitchers.

                • Rebuilding

                  So everyone except you is wrong? You should be an MLB executive or pitching coach. What you are saying flies in the face of traditionalists, saber, strength and training coaches, forward and backwards looking GMs – literally everyone. You should write a book

                  • Scotti

                    Ah, so now you devolve into this. Sad.

                    No, everyone but me isn’t wrong. The Japanese do it just right (as to once a week colleges). Seems to me that the Japanese did MANY things right before Americans caught the train (quality, autos, electronics, etc.). I’m simply not too hooked on the notion that we have nothing to learn from others.

                    • Rebuilding

                      Yes, but we do baseball better. That’s why their best player is coming here. Sorry, but I think the more saber advanced FOs in the US know more about baseball than anyone in the world and you Scotti

                    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

                      I’m interested in the idea of a 6 man rotation but until a team can convince pitchers to sign with them to pitch every 6 day and thereby lower thier stats it’s not happening. I’m also think the quality of MLB hitters is light years ahead of Japanese and college teams. Pitchers don’t have to be perfect with thier pitches as often and don’t have to stress like MLB pitchers do do I’m not sure the comparisons are equal or transferable. I’d love to see a team try it but unless a team develops 6 quality arms at the same time it won’t happen. Pitchers have egos and they want those stats.

                    • Bill

                      But isn’t that a different question, whether a 6 man rotation could work because of egos vs whether it’s the best way to optimize pitcher performance?

                      Didn’t the White Sox use a 6 man rotation for a time a few years ago? It seemed to work pretty well for them.

                      If a 6 man rotation did prove to increase the health of a pitcher, and allowed him to perform at a higher level, wouldn’t he benefit under such a system? Would you still not reap the financial benefits of better health (possibly longer career) and better stats?

                    • Rebuilding

                      I like your inquisitiveness Goat, but it has been tried. Injury rates in Japan, college and high school are higher than in the US professional system. Teams like the Red Sox have literally 10-20 doctors, physical therapists, weight and strength coaches and physiologists on staff and consulting. They know exactly what the optimum pitching schedule is. It’s every 5 days with a max of 110 pitches (less if several high leverage situations).

                    • hawkcub

                      That 5th guy is already an inconsistant pitcher on most teams. There is a reason he’s the 5th guy after all. Going to the 6 man rotation you are having an even worse pitcher and having him go every 6th day. Taking away starts from your better pitchers. Don’t think the advantages outway the disadvantages. Do you want 1/3 of your starts going to these type pitchers compared to 20%?

                    • Jason P

                      Their best player is coming here because our economy is biggest and we have the most money to offer, not because we do baseball better. For the same reason (money), the level of competition in the US is better, but that doesn’t necessarily mean our training programs or just in general, the way we do baseball is.

                    • Jason P

                      “Injury rates in Japan…are higher”

                      Where are you getting this from?

                    • Scotti

                      “Yes, but we do baseball better.”

                      Not when it comes to pitching health. Matsuzaka came over with an absolute clean MRI after years of heavy innings and very high pitch counts. Two years later, after lower pitch counts but less recovery, he needed surgery. Presumably Tanaka was able to show a clean MRI (or there wouldn’t be this bidding frenzy). He had very high pitch counts and more rest. I like to trust facts.

                      And, as I said before, it ain’t just a couple of guys. While the talent level is generally better here because we have a much larger pool, they need far fewer relievers than are used in the States because their guys are successfully going deeper. Facts is facts.

                      “That’s why their best player is coming here.”

                      That simply has nothing to do with a pitcher’s health and it’s wrong anyway. They come here for MONEY not health or even fame or challenge. Our economy is larger–much larger. We can afford to pay more for the best players from every country in the world. Period.

                      “Sorry, but I think the more saber advanced FOs in the US know more about baseball than anyone in the world and you Scotti.”

                      Interesting to note that those same SABR front offices can admit that they have been wrong on things whereas the Internet SABR variety tend to get stuck in their thinking. Look, I’ve been SABR for almost as long as I’ve been a Cub fan (I used to read Bill Jmaes’ first Abstracts in my local Library in the early 80′s as a teenager–Oak Park had a great library).

                      Back when SABR was basically James putting out his Abstracts, the thinking was clear, cutting edge and–most importantly–open to correction. Some of what he figured out one year would be drastically changed another because his prior thinking was lacking and he was open about it. Bill James is STILL less chained to his thinking than the majority of Internet SABR cats. There are no sacred cows for James–there never have been. You just can’t say that about most folk either old school or new.

                      The Holy of Holies form many, it appears, is 100-110 pitch pitch counts. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see the Cubs go to the six-man. Theo, when he was with the Red Sox, said the next frontier is health (i.e. keeping players, especially pitchers, healthy and performing). He gets at least that (it would be stupid to make a move there until they are ready to compete, though). The science is sound and, despite your deep protestations here, you haven’t disputed facts but rather insulted. You also failed to answer the one question that I put to you:

                      “Answer this one question: if steroids assisted many pitchers by accelerating the healing process between their normal five-day starts (fact), then how is the five day start optimal? It simply isn’t.”

                      After I wrote that you devolved into the “You’re not so smart” stuff that doesn’t broaden the mind or further debate.

                      Again, steroids works for pitchers because they are assisted with quicker recovery. Recovery is factually an issue. Plain and simple.

                    • Scotti

                      “If a 6 man rotation did prove to increase the health of a pitcher, and allowed him to perform at a higher level, wouldn’t he benefit under such a system? Would you still not reap the financial benefits of better health (possibly longer career) and better stats?”

                      Correct. In Japan, they go DEEPER (more meaning starters get the decision increasing stats). The pitcher would also, obviously, be pitching instead of rehabbing if it proves healthier (better stats) and, as you alluded to, he stuff would be sharper (again, better stats).

                    • Rebuilding

                      I actually went back and bought all of The Bill James Abstracts just to have them. I also started reading them in the early 80′s when they were still typed by his own hand. You aren’t talking to a meatball fan here.

                      The fact of the matter is that teams like the Red Sox, Braves and Cardinals have been putting millions of dollars a year into researching these issues. The Red Sox spend more on health, conditioning and physiology than some teams in Japan do on payroll.

                      In addition, yes steroids help with healing and repairing small tears. That increases performance and endurance on 1, 2, 3 or 4 days rest. It helps recuperate, it does not prove that 5 days of rest are better than 4. Many think that there is no way to fully heal the pitching strain no matter the days of rest.

                      It’s simple: many organizations have spent a lot of money and time to determine the optimal pitching schedule. Other then Japan and high school and colleges (all renowned to be the most backward looking when it comes to baseball) you can’t come up with anyone who agrees with you

                    • Scotti

                      “Taking away starts from your better pitchers. Don’t think the advantages outway the disadvantages. Do you want 1/3 of your starts going to these type pitchers compared to 20%?”

                      In Japan Darvish, Tanaka, Dice-K, etc. (Japan’s MLB comparable pitchers) NEVER had problems putting up innings. All of these guys pitched big innings from young ages at their highest level.

                      In Japan, your best pitchers (starters) take innings from inferior pitchers (middle relief). PLUS, there would be MORE better starters available because they are healthier.

                      Again, it’s the “I can’t afford the maintenance on my car” line. You will simply be paying for a new car (that is likely inferior to the first because you cannot afford the same quality) while STILL paying for the first, better, car. Buy the first car and take care of it.

                      On a side note, our similarly aged prospects are all limited–very limited–in levels that are inferior to the Japanese top level. Many top US prospects have gotten injured in the minors with the five-man with extreme pitch counts while Darvish, Tanaka and Matsuzka all came up clean while pitching MUCH heavier loads against much tougher competition…

                    • Rebuilding

                      As Kyle says Scotti – you are dealing with survivor’s bias. Yes, Dice-K (whose arm problems ended him), Darvish (who has started to have arm problems) and Tanaka. But you didn’t see the 100 other kids that blew out their arms because they threw 200 pitches in a high school tournament. Please read the Olsen study from 2006 and learn something

                    • Scotti

                      No one is calling you a meatball–or even insulting you.

                      “In addition, yes steroids help with healing and repairing small tears. That increases performance and endurance on 1, 2, 3 or 4 days rest. It helps recuperate, it does not prove that 5 days of rest are better than 4.

                      It absolutely DOES prove that four is insufficient and that A) steroids make four days rest seem like more recovery time and B) the results of that additional recovery (that does not happen with four normal days of rest) are exceptionally beneficial.

                      “Many think that there is no way to fully heal the pitching strain no matter the days of rest.”

                      There are clean MRI’s and there are dirty MRI’s. Pitching is not a natural event but neither is P90X. Recovery is key regardless of what you are doing.

                      “It’s simple: many organizations have spent a lot of money and time to determine the optimal pitching schedule.”

                      Not really. In the vast majority of organisations, very little effort is given to new thought–just “This is how we’ve always done it” and “The press/fans get on our case when we go over 100/110 pitches.”

                      The new insights on recovery are exactly that–new. The mechanisms behind why steroids do what they do were not known until recently. There is still a ton that is unknown re. most of these matters.

                      A) MLB is simply not on the cutting edge of this science (they are busy trying to stop steroid use not study it) and B) any org that even has a clue isn’t going to run around spouting their mouths off (thus losing competitive advantage when it comes to implementation).

                      “Other then Japan and high school and colleges… you can’t come up with anyone who agrees with you.”

                      Yeah, other than all of those thousands of organisations…

                      “…(all renowned to be the most backward looking when it comes to baseball)…”

                      I don’t find the Japanese mindset (nor, really, the collegiate) to be backwards when it comes to baseball. I find them to be rather educated and open to try new things. Pretty much the exact opposite of backward looking.

                    • Bill

                      Scotti, I just wanted to thank you for your posts, I’ve learned a lot from your posts. You make sound, reasoned, arguments in a respectful manner. Keep up the good work.

                    • Scotti

                      “As Kyle says Scotti”

                      I don’t see where Kyle has posted anything here… Did I miss him?

                      “…you are dealing with survivor’s bias. Yes, Dice-K (whose arm problems ended him), Darvish (who has started to have arm problems) and Tanaka.

                      Two issues. First, Darvish and Matsuzaka had clean MRI’s before they arrived here–their teams spent BIG money on them. You aren’t suggesting that they have issues show up magically, are you? Second, each was LONG established as the guy to watch when his posting year came around. No other Japanese pitchers were so highly touted but flamed out because of the “overuse” that YOU claim should have been imminent. THESE pitchers had been followed for years.

                      “But you didn’t see the 100 other kids that blew out their arms because they threw 200 pitches in a high school tournament.”

                      I follow (very closely) high school pitchers. While pitching is riskier for kids (their growth plates have are still growing until their early/mid 20′s–I don’t advocate anything but a FB and a change until a kid is a Jr. or Sr.), you just DO NOT see the volatility that you suggest here. Using websites like Perfect Game, Baseball America, etc. you can see that the overwhelming majority of prospecty type arms remain so. Certainly not the volatility YOU claim we’d see since the majority of those kids pitch over 110 pitches on a regular basis. They just get extra, regular rest which you assure is meaningless.

                      So, either the MAJORITY of those kids arms should require surgery before draft day or regular rest is actually beneficial.

                      “Please read the Olsen study from 2006 and learn something.”

                      Are you incapable of having a dialogue without insult?

                    • Scotti

                      “You make sound, reasoned, arguments in a respectful manner.”

                      It’s a fluke. It all really depends on which voice in my head is loudest. Today it’s Bill James. It’s usually Joan Rivers.

                    • Bill

                      Ha, you’re too modest. Honestly, I think this idea about extra rest is an interesting one. Theo has stated that they want to find areas to give them a competitive advantage from other teams. This may be one of those areas. If the Cubs can reduce the injury level of their pitchers, reduce the workload of the bullpen, and increase the performance of the starters, why wouldn’t this give the Cubs an advantage over other teams. Why not be on the cutting edge, in regards to MLB teams? What do they have to lose experimenting with this over the next year or two since the team will be bad.

                      If you could get good enough starters, who pitched deep into games, this might allow you to carry one less reliever. With an extra position player on the roster you could have another platoon specialist or maybe a SB specialist. Someone, who’s great at one skill but not very good at others. Say Vogelbach can’t field a lick but becomes a plus hitter with plus power. They could use him as a pinch hitter every game and not have to worry about him playing in the field.

                    • Scotti

                      “What do they have to lose experimenting with this over the next year or two since the team will be bad.”

                      The team may surprise in terms of win expectations over the next couple of years (few teams that shoot up are ever expected to do so when they actually do). However, the team is much better positioned to make this work than a team with high expectations going in.

                      I think the team that pulls this off could carry two fewer pitchers and that, as you suggest, is a serious advantage. The issue is, however, that it would take a HUGE shift–system wide–and a long-term commitment. Doing it for part of a season would show negligible benefits.

                      The key would be doing it in the minors so you keep your young, cheaper, TOR guys healthy and, well, cheap (replacements cost much more money). You could then comfortably re-up those guys because they should tend to be cleaner than abused guys (the opposite of the way OAK abuses then dumps their guys off).

                    • Bill

                      This would be such a radical departure from what every team in baseball is doing. It’s not just that teams all use 5 man rotations, it that it’s become common to settle for starters who can “give you 5-6 solid innings and then turn it over to the bullpen. The current thinking is get me through 6 and then I used 3 relievers to get me through the 7-9 innings, each pitching 1 inning.

                      Like you said, you would need start this in the minors. I’m wondering if this route will allow minor league pitchers to build up innings quicker? Now, teams limit their pitches/innings before the season even starts. Would a guy pitching on 5-6 days rest be able to throw more innings and end up throwing more innings during a minor league season with less stress on the arm/elbow? If so, it would allow this pitcher to reach the majors sooner, or at least once he reaches he shouldn’t have to operate on an innings limit or not as severe as current one faced by prospects called up. He could also throw more pitches per start than your avg starter.

                    • Scotti

                      “Would a guy pitching on 5-6 days rest be able to throw more innings and end up throwing more innings during a minor league season with less stress on the arm/elbow?”

                      A younger guy is still going to have his IP limited (the body is more frail) but he’d be able to work higher pitch counts (more IP per start) in each outing. The piggy back stuff would be gone and kids would work their starts. My guess would be a touch more IP but greater learning in more IP per game facing the same hitters multiple times.

            • Scotti

              “That’s how the arm works. The 5th and 6th day of rest do nothing for you.”

              Japan, college and high schools prove this wrong.

              “Pitching injuries occur because of overuse on the days people actually pitch. Just Google Pitcher Abuse Points”

              Please. 120 pitches causes fatigue when the pitcher doesn’t have enough rest. When the pitcher does have enough rest (either through more actual rest or the use of steroids causing accelerated healing) pitchers can, and do, successfully go deeper into games. If a pitcher had even less rest then 80 pitches would cause fatigue. Even less and it would be 60.

              The ONE constant in the league isn’t pitch counts for starters (teams vary on what they allow) it is five days rest. Japan, colleges and high schools pitch on more rest and Pitcher Abuse Points FAIL when compared to those extra rest situations (I’ve seen attempts to quantify extra rest but those are skipped starts and one-time extra days NOT regular work–those FAIL as well).

              • Rebuilding

                Would love to see any proof of this. Most of the best pitchers ever have never been heard of because they got hurt in high school and college. Is your position really that pitch counts don’t matter if pitchers are given 6 days rest? That’s absurd and goes against anything we know about healing the body

                • Scotti

                  “Would love to see any proof of this. Most of the best pitchers ever have never been heard of because they got hurt in high school and college.”

                  You actually wrote those two sentences together.

                  “Is your position really that pitch counts don’t matter if pitchers are given 6 days rest?”

                  No. RIF.

                  “That’s absurd and goes against anything we know about healing the body”

                  No, what I’ve actually written stems from the best of what is known about how the body heals (rest between) and not stuck in what was thought to be “known.” How steroids, natural and non, function in/on the bodies healing process is an area that I’ve had to learn and the last 5-10 years have exploded with new understandings that contradict the old.

                  The only reason synth steroids help players is that they accelerate the healing process (thus either magnifying gains like bulk for a hitter or the ability to heal quicker for a pitcher).

                  Answer this one question: if steroids assisted many pitchers by accelerating the healing process between their normal five-day starts (fact), then how is the five day start optimal? It simply isn’t.

      • Voice of Reason

        Scotti:

        You have no idea what you’re saying…. going to a six man rotation won’t be cheaper for teams. Thats exactly why it will never happen. Teams couldn’t afford it….

        • Tommy

          There may be a reason, but the way money is getting thrown around in the MLB these days, I don’t think the reason for not having a 6 man rotation is financial.

          • Scotti

            How much of that money is spent on injured and/or dilapidated pitchers? Your argument is the the equivalent of buying a 200k Bentley and saying you can’t afford to take care of it. If you take care of it you have ONE expense. You you don’t you will still pay for it AND another car to replace it.

            You can’t do anything about Soriano sliding into a brick wall but you can make sure that you allow sufficient recovery for your starting pitchers.

        • Scotti

          “You have no idea what you’re saying….”

          You REALLY picked the wrong name…

          Anywho, If a team was able to keep their good, YOUNG pitchers (like, say, Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, Angel Guzman, etc.) HEALTHY by starting them every six, instead of five days, that would be CHEAPER because the replacements for those players are EXPENSIVE free agents.

          If a team who signed an expensive free agent were to pitch him less frequently, then the fact that his injury potential would go down would mean that they wouldn’t have to replace said expensive free agent with ANOTHER expensive free agent. That makes it cheaper.

          It is also BETTER. You aren’t replacing those young guns and hired guns with crappy AAA guys or mop-up guys. That equals more wins. Those starters would also be going into the 8th and 9th innings and you wouldn’t need A) crappy middle inning guys (more wins) or B) to abuse your top closers (the way the Cubs abused Marmol who led the league in pitches three straight years and then–TA DA!!!–lost his stuff) and that equals cheaper and more wins.

          Japan is doing all of the above right now. But I don’t know what I’m talking about.

  • brainiac

    levine needs to study high school grammar. he’s mixing up his “their/there/they’re”.

    i have to say that my interest is piqued. theo is clearly giving this a go, which is appreciating. but if he doesn’t get tanaka we’re basically looking at 3 lost offseasons with his crew. and odds that he’ll have the worst 3-5 year average win loss ratio as a GM in the history of baseball. pretty harsh stuff.

  • nkniacc13

    Be very interested to see what his contract ends up being and the perks he gets out of it. I could see the Cubs include an opt out to make in more enticing. I know its not going to happen but id hope that we as fans don’t get to all up in arms if they don’t go out and spend some of this suppose cash. Id like them to go after the Korean as well

    • Scotti

      A NTC would be fascinating…

  • Voice of Reason

    This whole story and thread is based around tweats from Bruce Levine? The guy has never broken a major story his entire career so out of the blue this is the first? Come on guys…. put down the kool aid!

    Why aren’t other reporters doing the same? Bruce Levine is far from something special. Think of all the national sportswriters and you guys are sporting wood over Bruce Levine?

    It will be the yanks or dodgers just as I’ve said all along.

    • Threat Level Midnight

      It’s not just Levine. Even five minutes of poking around would yield that information. Quit being lazy and do some homework. Right now it’s Wittenmyer against just about everybody else.

    • Bill

      We should trust you because you have impressive sources. Prepare yourself now before you need an ambulance, there’s a great chance that Tanaka is a Cub, starting next Mon.

      • Voice of Reason

        Dude, you’ll need the ambulance.

        Yankees and dodgers need his services more as they want to win in 2014. At the final hour they will pony up the money and tanaka will follow to go play with a team ready to win right now.

        • Ron Swansons Mustache

          The Yanks need his services – the Dodgers do not. Like the rest of us you have no clue where he’ll end up.

          • Voice of Reason

            I know he won’t be a cub.

            The yanks or dodgers are tops. Honestly where would you go in 2014 if you were tanaka? Pitch for a team that could win a world series or go to the cubs who might be good in 3 years and are known as the lovable losers?

            What did girardi do? And he played for the cubs and is from Illinois.

            • Rebuilding

              The Cubs and Yankees have about the same chance of making the WS in 2014. In LA he would start the season as their #4 starter. His people aren’t dumb, they know the Cubs are a competitive and financial monster in the future. I know you’re heavily invested in the no Tanaka to the Cubs thing now, but just give it up

              • Voice of Reason

                Give it up?

                Why don’t you put down the kool aid?

                To say his people are not dumb and they know that the cubs will be competitive and a financial monster in the future?

                Really?

                Who can say that with a straight face? You understand the cubs have a 100 year track record of losing and in fact are known as the loveable losers?

                And you tell ME to give it up? Oh brother….

                • Rebuilding

                  Hmmmm…do you think anyone in the NL Central has the Cubs financial position in 2015 and beyond? You do realize we likely have the #1 or 2 minor league system in all of baseball right? I realize that many of you feel stupid now that Tanaka has a real shot to be a Cub, but you are becoming unhinged. I would suggest a change of screen name

                  • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

                    Rebuilding you’ve been seeing this the same as I the Cubs are clear of any expensive aging contracts (see Yankees as the opposite), they will be getting a big TV contract soon, and increasd ad revenue very soon, and emerging stats coming through the minors. Perfect time to but a young starter that can solidify the bullpen. They are in a good position moving forward.

              • Rebuilding

                I’ll also add that the two most successful pitching coaches of all time, Leo Mazzone and Dave Duncan, both completely disagree with you. They had their starters throw a hard 30-50 pitches in between starts to build the arm muscles. It only makes sense. When in a proper workout regimen followed by top bodybuilders you hit the same muscle groups in short spurts every 2-3 days

            • chefclaytor13

              We have heard this same thing for weeks. We are in the picture and have as good a shot as the Yankees give it a rest already.

            • Ron Swansons Mustache

              A Girardi comparison is not relevant whatsoever.

              I have no idea where he’ll go and what is important to him. All you’re doing is making a lazy prediction based on market size and expected payroll. He very well may end up in NY or LA but anyone spout off those two teams.

            • Tommy

              Girardi is a terrible comparison:
              1) He’s a manager, not a player.
              2) He was already managing the Yankees and just resigned, he wasn’t deciding on his first gig in MLB.
              3) Girardi wasn’t even able to talk to other teams yet, as the Yanks wouldn’t let him until his contract ran out. The longer he would have waited could have affected his ability to sign elsewhere.

              Absolutely no similarities between the two men and situations in question.

              Terrible, terrible, terrible comparison.

              On a side note – if the Dodgers throw $30M a year at him like they did Kershaw, then I tend to agree with you that he’ll be a Dodger. I can’t imagine they’d do that, but the way they’re throwing money around these days, nothing would surprise me.

              I just have a feeling that organization is going to go bankrupt within the next 5 years. I really haven’t a clue as to what their incoming profits look like, but there has got to be a limit.

              • Voice of Reason

                Tommy:

                1) managers and players want to win. So if the money is comparable then they will go to or stay with the winner instead of leaving. Just what girardi did. That makes girardi a great comparison in this situation.

                2) what does that have to do with anything at all?? Lol

                3) the cubs fired their manager to hire girardi so he wouldn’t have effected his ability to sign elsewhere. Since the cubs fired sveum to hire girardi they would have waited for him, yet he resigned with the yanks.

                Now, tommy, my question is knowing all that nice said…. why didn’t girardi leave the Yankees for the cubs?

                • Rebuilding

                  Lets see – he has 3 kids I’m middle to high school who he has uprooted 3 times since they were school age. He flat out said he didn’t want to move them again. Especially when he has the most coveted managerial job in sports already

                  • Rebuilding

                    The bigger question is how long are you going to hide VOR after the Cubs sign Tanaka. Or how are you going to then attack it as too much money

                  • Voice of Reason

                    Rebuilding:

                    If 3 kids in middle school was the factor then he should get out of baseball till the last one graduates as the Yankees have spring training in another state and play half their games on the road.

                    Your second point about him having the most coveted managerial job just reaffirms what I’m saying.

                    You’re easy to debate against.

                    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

                      So him likely where he’s lived, where he’s kids go to school, and he was offered enough money to just say up that enough to stay and make my family happy is a silly reason and that means Tanaka will make his decision for those same reasons? Or will Tanaka go where he gets paid the most? One these is is not like the other.

                    • Rebuilding

                      Easy. Except you’ve ended up losing every debate against me since this site started. I hope you just love the taste of crow. It’ll be served shortly

    • Rebuilding

      And Rosenthal…and Stark…and Cotillo? Come on man…this isn’t random

    • Tommy

      Voice of Reason – you are incredibly unlikable. Do you ever have anything positive to say. Seriously, about anything?

      • Voice of Reason

        Tommy,

        I tell it like it is. Some people don’t like that.

        I have said all along that this cubs management team is going about building a world series team the right way.

        I love what they’re doing. We just have to be patient and not stray from the plan.

        • Tommy

          ok, that’s a little more understandable – my apologies – I thought you were just being a negative nancy.

          • Voice of Reason

            Im a cub fan like most everyone else here.

            My father passed dec 18. He never saw a world series for the cubs. I don’t want that to happen to me.

            I like what the cubs are doing.

            I don’t want Tanaka at the price he is at. Too much uncertainty for that much money.

        • roz

          You’re not telling it like it is. You’re telling us your own opinion. Huge difference.

  • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

    Well this week should be a good show, sit back stock up the fridge and watch everyone go crazy.

  • Xruben31

    AWESOME:
    Martellus Bennett ‏@MartysaurusRex 1m
    Masahiro Tanaka come to Chicago my friend. Cubs have the best uniforms. Think about that when you make your decision. It’s important.

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