Masahiro Tanaka

Why Tanaka chose the Yankees

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I’d guess it was the money and the years, but here’s what he said in his press conference yesterday:

“They gave me the highest evaluation and are a world-famous team.” Tanaka said at a press conference in Japan on Jan. 23 after agreeing to a $155 million, seven-year deal with the Yankees.

I would assume (as does the Associated Press which ran that quote) that it means that the Yankees appreciated him the most and gave him that impression during meetings. But I’d be curious how the communications outside the contract figures go in such conversations. Do teams tell the player how they actually evaluate him, what they project him to do in the majors? Is that the runup to justify the contract offer? I feel like any specificity on that score would be weird — “we think you’ll win 16 games and strike out 178 batters. No [erases some numbers, punches calculator buttons] 179.”

Normally here I’d say “no, it was so totally the money,” but you do have to wonder how much cache the Yankees logo and history have for foreign players. When I think of Japanese baseball I almost always think of the Yomiuri Giants first and foremost. I’d almost certainly take the best offer if I was shopping myself around, but the Giants do stand out in my mind and based on my limited knowledge of NPB baseball. I dunno.

 

Video: Undercover David Ortiz drives a Lyft in Boston

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David Ortiz did one of those “Undercover Lyft” spots for, well, Lyft, in which famous people disguise themselves while driving passengers around. Yes, they’re ads, but they’re still pretty funny. At least this one was.

Best parts: (1) the woman who says she has two David Ortiz shirts to which Undercover Ortiz responds, “actually, all my shirts are his shirts”; and (2) when Ortiz agrees with someone that baseball games are “so loooong.” Oh, and at one point he tells a woman who said she was going to the Red Sox game that night that he was too. After he unmasked himself, she explains his own joke to him. Which, ooohhkay.

In other news, people who take Lyfts in Boston either don’t watch much baseball, because Ortiz’s costume is NOT very concealing, or else they simply don’t look at their Lyft driver while in the car, at all.

Scouting in Venezuela: “Someone is going to get killed. It’s just a matter of time”

MIAMI - MARCH 14:  Venezuela fans cheer with a country flag while taking on the Netherlands during round 2 of the World Baseball Classic at Dolphin Stadium on March 14, 2009 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
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Ben Badler of Baseball America has a story about how major league scouts who cover Venezuela are unhappy with the rules imposed upon them by the league. Rules, they say, which unreasonably prohibit them from scouting Venezuelan players in centralized, team-controlled locations or, alternatively, flying them to team facilities in the Dominican Republic or elsewhere.

The result: international scouts are forced to travel all over Venezuela to evaluate prospect. And, given how destabilized and dangerous Venezuela has become, they believe their safety is at risk:

“MLB’s rules that limit our ability to travel a Venezuelan guy to the Dominican Republic, that limit our ability to get them in a complex at different ages, all these rules are solely contributing to the risks that all of us are taking traveling from complex to complex, facility to facility in the streets,” said one international director. “Someone is going to get killed. It’s just a matter of time, and it’s on MLB when it happens, because they’re the ones who created these rules.”

As Badler notes, Major League Baseball itself has moved its annual national showcase out of the country due to safety concerns. It will not, however, relax scouting rules — which seem arbitrary on their surface in the first place — in order to make the job of international scouts safer.

It seems that Rob Manfred and the league owe their employees better than this. Or at the very least owe them an explanation why they don’t think they do.