My guess, or hope, is that the truth behind all this talk is more media-driven than coming from the actual Yankees themselves.
It is New York so never say never, but in Darvish's case the cons outweigh the pros by a long shot.
And here are four reasons why...
Remember back in 2007, when the Boston Red Sox were interested in pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka?
Well, before the Red Sox could even think long-term about Dice-K, Boston had to pay a posting fee to his respective Japanese ball club. MLB Trade Rumors said that Dice-K's posting fee was $51.1 million dollars . This was in addition to the Red Sox paying Dice-K a salary of $52 million over six years.
This brings the Dice-K's grand total to $103 million; and I don't think the Red Sox have gotten even close to their money's worth.
The posting fee has become the standard procedure for any MLB team looking to acquire a player in Nippon Pro Baseball (Japan's top baseball league). It pays for an MLB team to have the exclusive right to talk with the player in hopes of making a deal.
The posting fees are not made public, so if there are multiple MLB teams involved, nobody knows.
And as expected, the player’s rights almost always go to the highest bidder. If that team fails to work out a contract with the NPB player, the posting fee is returned and so forth; the process starts again.
Since Darvish is better than Dice-K, he will cost a small fortune, which is not worth the risk even for a rich team like the Yankees.
Looking at the bigger picture, Japanese pitchers can’t handle the overall workload in MLB.
In Japan’s NPB (Nippon Professional Baseball) pitchers throw way less innings due to playing 18 fewer games in their regular season, and using a six-man pitching rotation.
Looking at Dice-K again, how much time has he spent on the DL? And where is he now?
After a transitional season, Dice-K looked legit in 2008, except for his 94 walks, but everyone said that could be polished in time. And the Red Sox's GM was deemed a genius again.
Guess everyone spoke too soon, as the last three seasons have been a far cry from 2008.
Dice-K has a 16-15 record in 44 starts. Last season Dice-K only made seven starts and required Tommy John surgery; after the two years prior were DL-ridden too.
Japanese pitchers just don't adjust like hitters do in MLB.
Need I say more?
Don't be scared that Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner told the NY Daily News that the past would not play a part in the Yankees pursuit of Yu Darvish:
“Every person is different; every player is different. We’re going to look at every single one. We’re going to look at every single option, and we’re going to analyze it. It will be a go or no-go, but we look at each person as an individual.”
Well, I would find it almost impossible to discount the past, especially when two of the Yankees worst signings were Japanese pitching imports Kei Igawa and Hideki Irabu.
Igawa is making $20 million and plays in Triple A Scranton-Wilkes Barre, but then add a $26 million posting fee, and that makes Igawa a $46 million-dollar bust.
Igawa went 2-3 with a 6.66 ERA in his 13 starts in the Bronx. The Igawa acquisition is highly regarded as one of GM Brian Cashman’s worst deals ever.
Compared to MLB, Japan’s NPB uses smaller balls; enjoy a wider strike zone and have much softer mounds.
These minor differences can throw a baseball player completely out of whack, which means a readjustment period that has no guarantee to work.
Many argue that Darvish has better numbers than past Japanese pitchers. This is true, but coming to play in New York is a whole different monster.
Fans are not forgiving at all, especially to the higher paid players who are expected to excel all the time; a main reason Hideki Matsui was so loved as a Yankee.
The Yankees don’t need to spend money on a pitcher with no MLB experience. The Yankees could very-well end up with a Dice-K or Igawa situation and be hog-tied by some outlandish contract.
There is no question that it makes more sense to pay CJ Wilson, Mark Buehrle or Edwin Jackson for the simple reason that they pose less risk.
The Yankees seem to be a little wiser these days, and for that reputation to stay that means...no Yu Darvish, no way, no how, not ever.