masahiro tanakaWe’ve officially reached “that” point in the obsessive Masahiro Tanaka storyline. You know, the part where everyone following goes batshit crazy trying to parse the minutiae of insiders – and self-proclaimed, Scott Swaim insiders – as well as every last morsel of information that crumbles out into the information ecosystem.

I’m definitely a part of that craziness, but, man, today was something else.

It started with a tweet from the man, himself, in Japanese:

Everyone ran to Google Translate to get an idea of what Tanaka was saying, knowing all the while that Google Translate is profoundly awful when it comes to non-western languages.

Well, maybe people don’t know that? Because what Google spat out – “It does is decided” – sent a number of folks running to proclaim that Tanaka had decided on his future team. Except it turned out that not only was Google exactly wrong – Tanaka had said he couldn’t decide – but Tanaka wasn’t even talking about baseball. He was talking about his freaking Twitter avatar. (Thank you to several BN’ers for checking with actual Japanese speakers.)

In case you need to hear it again: when it comes to news and rumors in Japanese, don’t try to become a language expert using the ‘net. Wait for someone who actually speaks Japanese to translate. Actually, better yet, wait for two or three people to translate.

Ok. Whew. Enough of that. Here’s a few random Tanaka bits to tide you over while we await the inevitable next freak out (his decision could come any time now):

  • David Schoenfield has a really nice write-up on Tanaka’s abilities and projections. One upshot that I found particularly interesting? With the same devastating stuff as Yu Darvish, Tanaka might not be able to nibble quite as much in the States, forcing him to come into the zone more regularly with his fastball. In a bandbox like Yankee Stadium, that could be a serious problem.
  • Patrick Mooney was on Sports Talk Live with Dave Kaplan yesterday, and he remained pessimistic about the Cubs’ chances at landing Tanaka. Mooney’s sense, based on what he’s heard and what’s out there, is that Tanaka will ultimately end up with the Yankees.
  • Speaking of Kaplan, he had Jon Morosi on the David Kaplan Show last night to discuss Morosi’s Cubs/Tanaka take, and Kaplan noted that he’s heard the Cubs’ offer is “nowhere near” the seven-year, $160 million rumor that’s floating out there. I’m not entirely sure where that rumor came from – it’s not something I’ve written about – and the only semi-hard numbers we’ve heard came from Jesse Rogers, who cited a source indicating the Cubs could be willing to go as high as seven years at $25 or $26 million per year. (An aside here: Kaplan did not explicitly say that the Cubs’ offer was nowhere near $160 million because it was far higher or far lower, but his tone certainly sounded like he was saying it was much lower.)
  • Voice of Reason

    That rotation is just ok. It doesn’t knock my socks off or scream of playoff contending rotation.

    You don’t know what Tanaka will do… though “they” say he is a #2.
    Shark is a #3 or #4 on a good team.
    Wood is a #3 or a #4
    Jackson was pathetic last year and is at best a #3, but probably more a #4.
    Arrieta is a #5, I guess.

    What’s the big deal?

    And the bullpen is just ok. Our closer signed on the cheap just so he can close everyday for us and get traded to a contender. If our closer was any good he would have signed for more money with a team that is supposed to contend instead of with a team that will lose another 95+ games in 2014.

    • SenorGato

      Wood does not have the same level of talent as Shark. Not sold on that guy as a guy you really want starting key playoff games.

      • Voice of Reason

        I’m not sold on either Wood or Shark so you’re comment of starting any playoff games is moot.

        • Eternal Pessimist

          With baez, rizzo, bryant, and possibly a couple more guys raking that pitching staff will be just fine.

    • CubChymyst

      I am actually excited about Arrieta going into this season. I think he could be a great get by the front office.

  • Diehardthefirst

    If guaranteed contracts in baseball were not shielded by the anti-trust exemption teams could offer more and players would have incentive to play better eg offer Tanaka a series of ten non guaranteed one year contracts at $30 mil per year to start and increase $5 mil each year

    • Jason P

      I’m sure he’d agree to that.

  • Ballgame17

    Would be a good rotation, but playoff contender might still be a stretch. Imagine if they sign Tanaka and Masterson (next offseason). Then you’re looking at a pretty stacked rotation and pen. Most position players will be cheap (yes, I consider Rizzo/Castro to be cheap), so heavily investing in the rotation may the best route..

  • Voice of Reason

    A solid 1-5?

    That rotation is full of a bunch of #3 through #5 starters. Not solid at all.

    • willis

      It’s two 2/3 types, two 3/4 types and a 4ish. It’s not great, but it’s better than we’ve seen the last few years. But, I have a much higher opinion of Arrieta than some. I think he can very much be a very good starter with the cubs.

      Either way, if it happens (which it won’t) with Tanaka, it’s much better than watching Rusin, Villanueva, Baker etc. It’s tolerable and every day you go into the game with a chance to compete.

  • scojo126

    Report: Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka (@t_masahiro18) now deciding between the @Yankees & @Cubs:

    • Stogie

      Uh oh. I smell the Anibal Sanchez fiasco all over again.

      • DarthHater

        Any time a player chooses to sign with a different team, it does not automatically constitute a “fiasco.”

        • Stogie

          It was a fiasco because reports everywhere were saying the Cubs agreed to a contract with Sanchez. Then he was going back the Tigers to see if they would match. By all accounts he used the Cubs to leverage a better contract. That was a fiasco. I

          • mjhurdle

            not to be too nit-picky, but the nature of Free Agency is setup primarily to allow players to use other teams to leverage a better offer.
            It sucks to be one of the teams the player doesn’t sign with, but I wouldn’t call it a fiasco.

          • DarthHater

            I’ll agree that everything on twitter is a fiasco, but only because twitter is nothing but an infinite-moron-circle-jerk. As for the negotiation, the Cubs negotiated with Sanchez up to their limit and he chose to stay in Detroit. That does not constitute a fiasco — unless, of course, one just likes to throw around exaggerated terminology for the hell of it.

  • ruby2626

    Yep, heard on the SCORE that out of N.Y. something called the YES network is saying that’s the final 2.

    • Voice of Reason

      … which means he’ll probably sign with the Dodgers.

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    I’d hope cubs would be willing to go 7yr. $160mil. If we aren’t willing to go that high then I think we got no chance. Yankees/dodgers can absorb that like nothing. I don’t think the Yankees are on a hard cap anymore of $189mil

  • DarthHater


    • Funn Dave

      Very nice.

      • Funn Dave

        *It does is very nice.

    • josh ruiter

      Darth…tweet that at Tanaka bro!

      • brainiac


  • waffle

    I do like Theo & Co.’s chances of selling a good story. They are all pretty savvy folks

    • The Ghost of Brett Jackson

      I agree but IF, as reported for weeks, he was pretty much set on LA/NY that savy pitch and money might not matter. It would be very hard to change his mind, IMO. The question has always been, how much truth there is/was to the LA/NY thing? Was it all speculation or actual factual knowledge?

    • FFP

      I am re posting this from a message board post a few weeks ago–mostly because I am starving for new news, so gnawing on this old news is all I can do for now:

      In the Red Sox negotiation with Daisuke Matsuzaka back in 2006 (I assume Theo’s participation in it both informs Theo’s actions this year and provides some template of how these things are handled in the room) it was not only about money. It was about communication and timing. It was about treating an athlete and his family and his nation and his culture with respect. For example, Mr. Matsuzaka’s wife was a public personality with her own career (as Mr. Tanaka’s is), and considering her career became both part of the negotiation and part of the synergistic surge from which both Boston’s and the Japanese markets benefited.

      Here is a old Gordon Edes story about how that negotiation progressed through the last hour:

      New York Yankees (they are the Tokyo Giants of MLB) has its built in draw–their 20th Century history. Pacific rim teams like the Dodgers have their draw–geography. The Cubs have ‘the Plan’ and some very interesting 21st Century baseball history being written. Our guys are selling those two things right now. It will be about the money. But, it will be about lots more. Our lead negotiator has some experience and ability in these matters. This experience, the positive and the negative; these skills, the subtle and the bold; are why he was hired. “Pretty savvy,” indeed.

      • Cyranojoe

        That’s a pretty exciting story. Thanks for sharing!

  • The Ghost of Brett Jackson

    It is currently 5 am Wednesday in Tokyo. We will either here the news tonight or tomorrow night I would guess.

  • Diehardthefirst

    I believe Dodgers open in less than 60 days in Australia– wonder if they get Tanaka that this was a consideration for entire family to be guests of club there? You never know what is tipping point

  • Ballgame17

    Tryin not to get my hopes up….if I’m Tanaka I’d wanna give myself a few day buffer zone in case anything falls through. Just the optimism the signing would bring to the Cubs would go beyond just having Tanaka. The willingness to spend, the window of competitiveness narrowing. Could be an exciting 24hrs as a Cubs fan, but I’m still telling myself we’re long shots to minimize letdown.

  • GoCubsGo


    Jayson Stark ‏@jaysonst 42m
    Now hearing Tanaka decision could go all the way till Friday. Clubs not in bidding hearing rumblings he took physical while in LA this month

    • brainiac


    • Cyranojoe

      I cannot imagine this *not* going until Friday.

    • Chris

      Unless the winning teams doctors took a look at Tanaka in LA, I suspect they’ll want their own guys to get a look at him before committing the kind of cash that it’ll end up taking to sign him.

  • Beast Mode

    Yes, no way you invest that much cash W/O a physical. I would be willing to bet he signs Wednesday night or Thursday morning. Anything past that would be playing with fire for that agent.
    Who was that football player who lost millions because of a late fax.

  • Beast Mode

    BTW if anyone cares it was Elvis Dumerville.

  • DarthHater

    Wait … Is it too late to offer Tanaka his own special decision announcement show on WGN?

  • Diehardthefirst

    If Tanaka goes elsewhere Cubs should have a contest asking for ideas as to how to best spend saved $20 million– winner gets $500000 and lifetime 4 homeplate boxseat tkts to all home games

    • TWC

      I’d suggest spending $20m on lock for all the computers within a 100 mile radius of you.

      • Diehardthefirst

        Do I share the $500000 and tkts?

        • TWC

          Hey, it was *my* idea!

  • Blackhawks1963

    Tanaka may not make a decision until Friday. Apparently he already took a physical. This clown and his agent Casey Close have made themselves the undo center of attention for weeks. Enough of this crap. It’s really really old.

    • Diehardthefirst

      Hey it’s been entertaining and a valuable insight into what price the Cubs put on Shark- Would you rather be watching TV reruns?

    • DarthHater

      Yea, just imagine how tedious and annoying it would be to have to read the same crap over and over and over…

  • Diehardthefirst

    Cubs projected to finish last in 2014- can only get better

    • DarthHater

      Until they go 0-162, there is room to get worse. 😛

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