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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.)
  • BlameHendry

    I just want there to be a decision today. I don’t care what team he goes to, I’m just tired of hearing everyone’s baseless speculation all day long.

    • DarthHater

      As someone who has posted numerous lengthy comments on this subject, you presumably include your own baseless speculation here.

      • notcubbiewubbie

        amen brother thats the pot calling the kettle black.

    • mr. mac

      I’d gladly deal with another day of speculation if he ends up on the Cubs tomorrow. And besides, you’re not required to read the internet all day long.

      • scojo126

        I actually don’t mind the speculation b/c the Cubs are relevant in the signing. If he signs somewhere else, the Cubs will go back to being a non topic of discussion. The BN blog is at it’s best when the cubs are involved in major roster moves.

  • brainiac

    will anyone actually be surprised when tanaka signs with a team who has a track record for contending, and for that matter trying to contend?

    • willis

      I hope not. I feel sorry for those that will be surprised and/or disappointed. We have to expect he’ll go to the bigger stage with a chance at winning now vs two-three years from now.

      • brainiac

        i don’t even think there’s evidence that we’ll be able to win 2-3 years from now. there’s only a specter that we might be in a position to begin improving. tanaka would change that perception, natch. but why should we put that on this guy’s shoulders? the yanks are old and a little messed up, but we know they’re going to do what they can to win every year. no lip service, no whining about neighbors, no declarations that the plan is working while we spiral into obsolescence. this is a dysfunctional team. plus it’s new york city. it’s an easy choice for him.

  • JM

    Well that does is exciting news…

    • mxb

      Google Translated (probably makes no sense)

      まあそれはエキサイティングなニュースですん…

  • Mr Gonzo

    Is it still too late to send Eddie Vedder over to Japan to serenade Tanaka outside his window?!

    • mr. mac

      Can’t hurt! Ed probably will have written a song about Tanaka and the Cubs by the time the flight landed.

  • Diamondrock

    It’s times like this that I’m supremely glad I do speak Japanese. I think the reason the translation software failed is because Tanaka is speaking in dialect. He was born in the same town where I lived when I did my study abroad in college, so I could tell immediately what he meant. Small world.

    • AnonymousAuthority

      From my understanding of Japanese culture, people tend to speak vaguely and indirectly. One would assume that he would integrate his new team logo, uniform, number, etc into his avatar and profile. So, couldn’t his statement about changing his avatar relate to his indecisiveness to pick a team?

      • Diamondrock

        I’d say that’s certainly a possibility. You’re right in that once the announcement is made he probably won’t have an avatar or himself wearing Rakuten colors.

        At the same time, there could be a vagueness involved when he does decide, but before the official announcement. I’d expect that whoever signs him will want to let the baseball world know on their terms and not twitter’s…

  • ssckelley

    Google translation fun!

    私はカブスと契約します!

  • cking6178

    Brett,
    I’m surprised you haven’t established a poll yet? You could make it a multi-level poll…first response is team, next response is “when” – you can break up the when into morning, early afternoon, mid afternoon, late afternoon, evening, and night….of course you’d have to stipulate which time zone is your official time zone and set specific hrs for each category…could be fun & help pass the time for those of us “busy” at work….I am constantly switching between an open Excel spreadsheet, Google Finance, & BN…Cheers & Go CUBS!

  • cubfanincardinalland

    Twitter has turned journalism into basically, reporting rumors. “I heard” is now what passes for investigating information.

    • mr. mac

      “I heard” is often confused with “I said.”

  • http://Mshipart.com soultosoul

    Have a feeling today might be the day. Must admit it has been entertaining to follow/project/bet/think about this over the past few weeks. Not sure where he’ll end up but I know I’ll hear it from this site first. This is the first, and sometimes only, site I go to for Cub news. No matter who wins the savior derby, thanks, Brett. You do a great job.

    • mjhurdle

      well said

  • itzscott

    This is all BS….

    These “mavens” are Tweeting out of their asses and making updates up!

    It’s 2:30am in Tokyo right now. You likely won’t hear anything that could even be remotely legitimate until maybe 9pm tonite Chicago time, 10pm eastern.

  • Fastball

    Okay so what happens if the Whitesox won this whole abortion. They are awfully quiet. You don’t hear much other than the Whitesox made a bid. Well they made a bid and won their new 1b Abreu earlier this off season. I can only imagine the uproat in Chicago and Cubs Nation if the Sux were to win out. I would just sit back and have to digest that for a moment. I never like it when an organization isn’t getting a lot of discussion. It seems to be a trend these past few years that they are the ones who are winning these deals. A’s, Whitesox, Rangers, Angels, Nats just to name a few. I never believe anything anybody has to say from the media. I prefer just to wait for an official announcement from the winnng organizaiton or the player. Hell depending on who your favorite media guys is the Cubs changes run the gammit. And they are speculative at best. None of them are connected to anybody in the organization who is going to tell them shit. Especially after all the tread deadline gafs over the past few years. You could pull a sewing needle out Jeds ass he is clamped down so tight with the information for fear of another FUBAR.

    • Jon

      White Sox are not winning this over the Cubs. The Cubs won’t be outbit by them, and everything else either equal or in the Cubs favor

      Both teams will suck in 2014
      Cubs have the far superior farm system.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Most of the “under the radar” signings are only “under the radar” to people who pay too much attention to one local media and not enough to multiple local medias. Occasionally, it comes quite out of the blue (Cliff Lee re-signing with the Phils, or Cespedes signing with the A’s), but usually the winning team was known to be heavily interested in the signing party.

      As for the ChiSox, they not only will be as bad (or worse) than the Cubs and Yankees in 2014, but they don’t have the shiny new FAs & years of tradition that the Yanks have, or the positive future that the Cubs have.

      At any rate, given Casey Close’s reputation, he will be presenting the basic details to Tanaka quite plainly. The Dodgers are obviously the best combination of a team that will be competitive and be in “showcase land” (for both an athlete and an actress). The Yankees are going to be mediocre next year even with Tanaka, and they probably will get worse over the near future as there will not be FAs to patch the holes that are opening up (MI, 3B, starting pitching); they do have reputation (huzzah!) and they are the 2nd best showcase land for an actress (but best for an athlete, obviously). The Cubs are going to be bad next year, but have a decent shot of being good in the near future. As show-case lands go, this is 3rd city for both entertainment and sports. The ChiSox are going to be bad next year, and are in the same boat as the Yankees for getting better soon: except that they wouldn’t be chasing the FAs, anyway. 3rd City = 3rd City.

      It will be interesting to learn later how much Close steers Tanaka on this. Obviously, it’s in Close’s best short-term interest to grab the most money: but it will be in his better long-term interest to make it known that he got what his client wanted. By all accounts, the thinks on the latter lines, not the former.

  • DarthHater

    When you translate“It does is decided” into Japanese using Google Translate, then translate the resulting Japanese back into English using Google Translate, the final English translation is: “It is not determined.” :-P

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      And somewhere in windowless room, Google engineers are trying to figure out why a few million people in Northern Illinois are all trying to figure out how to say they’ve decided on something in Japanese.

      • DarthHater

        No doubt the mystery will inspire them to purchase another robotics company…

  • Threat Level Midnight

    To be fair, Brett, you’re referring to guys who haven’t been all the optimistic for a while now. To point to them as a sign of increasing pessimism out there is kind of silly.

    Mooney’s never been all that sanguine about the Cubs’ chances. And after Kaplan’s initial “Cubs will not be outbid” outburst, he’s been tempering expectations ever since. And speaking of Morosi, I’ve seen USA Today pie charts that have been more insightful than that Fox Sports piece of his. He doesn’t know squat. He’s simply regurgitating all the Captain Obvious points that everybody’s been familiar with for a long time now.

    This is not to knock any of those guys too hard, though. It seems to me much of the info out there has dried up and has been dry for a couple of days now. Nobody really knows anything at this point. It’s all in Tanaka’s court now.

  • Norm

    “aplan 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”

    I think it came from Tom Loxas when he wrote over at ChicagoNow:

    “I was told tonight the industry buzz places the Cubs offer in the neighborhood of $160 million for 7 years.”

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Ah. Makes sense – Tom’s stuff is being picked up widely this week. Thanks.

  • Required
    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      You are docked three BN points for acknowledging that column’s existence.

      • Required

        Sorry Brett !

    • Jon

      I don’t really care for Rosenbloom, but thought that article was pretty fair. Other than it wasn’t 100% sunshine and rainblows of course.

  • Jon

    [img]http://i42.tinypic.com/29qch8n.png[/img]

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

    Seven years and $160 million would be about $22.86 million a year. The Cubs could still put up a very high contract offer (say, $20 million a year for seven years) and still come far enough under $140 million that a particular talking head could refer to it as “nowhere close.”

    Of course, if the Cubs went as high as $25 million a year, that would be seven years and $175 million. That would also probably qualify as “nowhere close” in some camps.

  • Required

    That guy does not like the Cubs or, the roof top owners bought this article.

    • mjhurdle

      that article was pretty poor.
      I am all for differing opinions, but when you begin an article with ““I think you know what the holdup is,’’ said Crane Kenney, the team wonk in charge of annoying people.” then it reads more as an angry message board post than a legitimate attempt to educate and possibly change other people’s opinion about a matter.
      If someone was already inclined to believe that Rickett’s was bad at what he does, they read that and say “HA! see I knew i was right!!”. If you believe Rickett’s does no wrong, you dismiss off hand. And if you lie in the middle, it does nothing because it has no facts. It doesn’t provide details to debunk any of the Cubs assertions, just opinions like “They should have been able to do it by now”, “If the lawsuit was merit less, they would have started the rebuild already, so obviously the lawsuit is right!”, and lots of references to “daddy’s money”.
      Again, im not against Rosenbloom’s opinion in this (even though i don’t agree) but rather the method he chose to try to express it. It comes across more like a Jr High English assignment to write an opinion paper than anything else.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    So what is Loxas smoking these days? Here I was felling rather giddy hat we were going to blow the other offers way and now we hear this guy may have imaginary sources. I’m hoping that something breaks today so we can move on. More than likely we end up with Maholm or Hamel at the end of the day. I have mixed emotions about the whole Tanaka thing. The chance that it becomes an albatross and stunts the future of the rebuild is my concern. When you see the impact that Wacha and Miller had in St. Louis you have to ask why can’t we do that. Getting an agreement with he rooftops and inking a new TV contract are probably more important than Tanaka right now. If the Yankees feel that they really have to have this guy then I don’t see anyone standing in their way. Ricketts may be willing to loosen the purse strings, but I don’t think he can hang with the big boys at this point in time.

  • Ill see you at Sluggers.

    Yeah….I got a little caught up in that rumor. With that being said & as I’ve said all along, the Cubs FO is going to make a strong push for Tanaka but ultimately lose out. That has been the story and this will be the story so after he goes to LA or whomever we will then hear about how hard Theo & Jed fought to actually obtain him. Talk is cheap, actions speak louder than words. If you’re satisfied with us “trying” really hard well then you’re missing the point. I’m not saying Tanaka is a must have or that there isn’t a possibility of us getting him, but I’ve felt that the FO will be using the Tanaka story to not sound like cheap bastards.

  • DarthHater

    NPR News ‏@nprnews 2m
    Japanese Government Defends Dolphin Hunt As Killing Goes On http://n.pr/1bQOaiI

    Quick! Get Shedd Aquarium to sacrifice a dolphin to show Chicago’s solidarity with the Japanese! ;-)

    • itzscott

      In a goodwill gesture to coax Tanaka to Chicago, McDonald’s offered to change the name of their restaurants to “Tanaka’s” and replace the Big Mac with the “Big Sushi”

  • Blackhawks1963

    My opinion? The longer this thing plays out (i.e., the delay) tells me that Tanaka really, really, really, really wants to play in Los Angeles. He’s trying to make the dollars work, because I bet the Dodger’s submitted a lower offer versus the other 4 teams under the assumption that getting Tanaka was a luxury AND that Tanaka really wants to play in LA.

    So the drama remaining is this…does Tanaka accept less money to play for the Dodgers, or does he go to the Yankees.

    • josh ruiter

      btw…my opinion…he wanted LA or NYC, and LA came in way under. NY was ok, but the Cubs blew them both away…so he has to choose a decent offer from NYC or the lavish deal from Chicago. He will go money hopefully…something I never thought I would say with the Yankees included in a conversation.

    • ssckelley

      “My opinion?”

      No

    • Jon

      The best piece of advice I ever got in my life was from my HS football coach when he said, “Son, opinions are like a-holes, everyone has one, and they all stink”

      • http://bleachernation.com woody

        Aso true of excuses.

        • Edwin

          And stories about getting cliched sayings from HS football coaches.

  • josh ruiter

    Just read a bit, Tanaka’s tweet may in fact be consequentially inconsequential. In other words, it seems it may have been indecision about his new avatar…and he is taking suggestions…ANYBODY with good photo editing skills…you ought to come up with a badass Tanaka/Cubs avatar (probably as a new superhero), and tweet it to him. Not saying it will work…but to know a fan base already stops life to engage him can’t hurt!
    DO IT NOW!! His twitter handle is @t_masahiro18.

  • itzscott

    If things go as they usually go for the Cubs, Tanaka will sign with the Cardinals.

    • BlameHendry

      And he’d take a $5M salary with too, just to play with them.

  • Spoda17

    MLB TV commented the other day that a deal needs to be agreed upon no later than Wednesday in order for the paperwork and physical to be completed by the 5pm eastern deadline Friday. They also commented that the Commissioner’s Office has already commented they will not extend the deadline…

  • Fastball

    I was only being a little sideways with my sense of humor when I mentioned with Whitesux.
    It’s been a crazy as hell day at work. So nothing will surprise me at this point. Still don’t trust any media people.

  • Diehardthefirst

    Agent Casey Close has impressive stable including Jeter and Kershaw- so Tanaka is being well served- fact he doesn’t hit narrows field to Astros White Sox Mariners and Blue Jays- Yankees pitching coach will kill deal

  • Austin8466

    Brett,

    How man wins do you think a guy like Tanaka is worth? If he is a 5+ WAR guy, and we’re projected to be a around a .500 team this year, Tanaka could push us to 86 or even 87 wins. That’s potentially enough to get a wildcard slot. Cincinnati got in at 90.

    A lot of additional revenue could be riding on landing Tanaka, so the front office might be willing to go all out for him.

    • BlameHendry

      At least 5 WAR. Think of it this way: he’ll be replacing those starts made by Villanueva/Rusin/other fill-in 5th starters. You’d think he’d give 8-10 more wins over those guys if he’s really what he’s cracked up to be, no?

      But idk where you get the .500 projection. The Cubs as they currently stand are not projected to be a .500 club in 2014.

      • Jason P

        Rusin and Villanueva project to be about 1-WAR players. Tanaka projects at probably 3.5-4 WAR for his first season. Hence, Tanaka would be about a 3-win upgrade.

    • Funn Dave

      Oh wait, are there crackpots out there expecting us to be .500 next year?

    • Jason P

      With a *ton* of luck (but not so much that it’s out of the realm of possibility), Tanaka could make the Cubs a borderline wildcard team. They’d be projected for about 78 wins, but good luck can sometimes make up to 10 wins worth of difference.

      • Voice of Reason

        Jason P:

        We lost 90+ games last year and had Garza and Feldman and Soriano’s bat for most of the year. All you’re doing is adding Tanaka and you say we’re borderline wildcard?

        Keep sipping on that Cubbie Kool Aid!

        • Jason P

          We lost 96 games, but our team WAR suggests we should have been 74-88. Fangraphs projects us for 76 wins this year, and adding Tanaka would boost us to 78-79. What is so controversial about that?

          There have also been multiple instances in the last decade where luck has made about a 10-win difference in a team’s season.

          My blue and red Kool-aid tastes pretty good, by the way, thanks for asking.

        • hansman

          Except we didn’t have Garza and feldman for most of the year.

  • Funn Dave

    Still no story about the newly unveiled uniforms, huh? Are we too busy with rumors and empty notes from the convention for actual, concrete news?

    • Voice of Reason

      Who cares about uniforms?
      That doesn’t improve us in the win department.

      • Funn Dave

        Uniforms are no less intimately related to wins than renovations are, yet those receive plenty of coverage….

        • Voice of Reason

          You’re answering your own question.

          The uniforms are not getting any publicity because nobody cares. They want to know about free agents and the renovations.

          • Funn Dave

            I guess if I were running a Cubs blog, I’d prioritize actual, conrete, news over posting the same repetitive rumors over and over again with slightly adjusted yet no more reliable sources/figures. No offense to anyone that uses or produces this website. Or to you, Reason.

            And people definitely care about uniforms. There are entire websites devoted to uniforms. The interested parties may be less likely to comment on what they read, but they’re definitely there.

            • Voice of Reason

              Then you should go to the websites where people care about the uniforms.

              • Funn Dave

                I certainly could. But then where would I go for trade rumors, Wrigley news, etc.? I’d have to go to a bunch of more specialized sites intead, which would just be too time-consuming. Or, I can go to a broader-reaching site like this one, and bitch and moan when it doesn’t report on what I would report on.

                • Voice of Reason

                  You could come back to this website for trade rumors, Wrigley news, etc.

                  Many people do that.

                  In fact, you can save the uniform website as a favorite on your computer and certainly save this site as a favorite. That way you’ll be able to get from one to the other much quicker!

                  And, to respond to your last statement, start your own website!

            • On The Farm

              If you started a blog and only posted concrete news over posting both rumors/speculation and news. I imagine the latter site is going to get more traffic (i.e. revenue) than the former. After all Brett is trying to make a living here so posting to the reader’s “hypeworth stories” is in Brett’s interests…

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                There’s definitely a bit of “give the people what they want” to every successful media enterprise. I just try to do my best not to pander to the lowest common denominator stuff, and to always be fair/honest/transparent/add value in what I choose to write about.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Easy, champ. They didn’t fit into any of the four FAR more important categories yesterday (would you like to take a poop on those as well?), and if you think Tanaka isn’t important or interesting, then I would like to offer you a thousand books to read while you sit alone on your island.

      I know you’re not into social media, but I shared the uniforms immediately on Friday on Twitter and Facebook, and will post about them soon enough. Perhaps that’s among the reasons to consider Twitter.

      • Funn Dave

        Right on. As long as they weren’t entirely overshadowed by the more hypeworthy stories :P

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          I didn’t forget about them – one of the unis is freaking awesome, in my opinion.

  • Austin8466

    A rotation of Tanaka, Shark, Wood, Jackson, & Arrieta with the decent pen we’ve put together is a playoff contender if the offense can be even average.

    • willis

      Playoff contender may be a little much, but it’ll keep the cubs in damn near every game, which is a start. Adding Tanaka to this rotation definitely upgrades it to be able to compete with the teams’ rotations in the division. The bullpen is much improved but that still isn’t great. It has much better potential and power than last year’s.

      It would definitely give reason to tune in and catch as many games as you can with a solid 1-5.

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