Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Am I Just Dreaming, Or Could This Happen?

If you haven't read Jim Caple's feature on Japanese pitching sensation Yu Darvish, you should. And, if you're like me, it might cause you to dream of something that probably will never happen -- Darvish finding his way to Kansas City -- but since his former manager, Trey Hillman, currently manages the Royals, it's fun to think about.

Darvish is a 21-year old megastar in his fourth season as a member of the Hoikkado Nippon Ham Fighters, the team Hillman led to the 2006 and 2007 Japan Series, winning the title in 2006. This season, the 6-foot-5 Darvish is 5-1 with a 1.46 ERA, and he is far and away the top pitcher in Japanese baseball.

Normally, a player such as Darvish would have to play nine seasons in Japan before he would be eligible to sign as a free agent with a team in Major League Baseball. But corporations that own teams in Japan -- in this case, Nippon Ham -- can ask for a posting fee, which would allow an MLB team to have discussions with a player like Darvish before his nine years is up.

It's how Daisuke Matsuzaka wound up a member of the Boston Red Sox. Boston paid a posting fee of $50 million, and then signed Dice-K to a $52 million contract prior to the start of the 2007 season. It's still speculation, but Caple guesses that the fee to speak with Darvish could reach $75 million.

So, here's where my dreaming gets crazy. I actually sat back and wondered whether David Glass, who has deep, deep pockets, would actually ever try to make a huge splash by paying what it takes to get a pitcher like Darvish. I wondered whether the owners of Nippon Ham, who had a wonderful relationship with Trey Hillman, would allow the Royals to be the team with the shot to get Darvish. And I also daydreamed about the possibility of the free-spirited Darvish refusing to talk with any team but one managed by Hillman.

Yes, I know, I'm a crazy Royals fan, and those thoughts are absurd. But it's fun to think about. Read the article, and you'll be dreaming about Darvish wearing Powder Blue, too.


limaboy said...

It will never happen. Japanese pitchers are are big risk just as free agents (ie Yabalta). Dice-K has been a good pitcher, but not $100 million good. Lets put that money into the draft and get the best players instead of the affordable ones.

Michael A. Molde said...

I'm assuming you meant Yabuta, not Yabalta, limaboy. I agree that Dice-K doesn't seem to be $100 million good, but I have a feeling that Yu Darvish could be even better, and I was just dreaming about his connection to Trey Hillman aiding the Royals if they wanted to pursue him. And, other than passing on Porcello last year, I think Kansas City has been drafting the best players, as evidenced by the fact that they have drafted clients of Scott Boras in the past two drafts.

Thanks for sharing your opinions, and come back again...


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