First things first, the title of this post is a Biz Markie reference. I apologize for nothing.
Last night, while I was patting myself on the back for reaching a personal milestone, some powerful things were happening across the sea. It was at about 10:30 that the news finally came down (via Jeff Passan of Yahoo! sports) and Yu Watch 2011 was over.
The Texas Rangers, with a reported $51.7MM bid, will be the only team negotiating with Yu Darvish this winter.
(Just for fun, here’s a link to a 9-minute montage of Darvish striking out everyone in Japan. I seriously mean everyone.)
(If you want to know who Darvish is or could become, read an article that Paul Lebowitz wrote in October. It’s something of a scouting report, which breaks down Darvish’s mechanics and compares him favorably to other big leaguers past and present.)
The last 24 hours have seen a lot of buzz. A lot of excitement. A lot of talk not unlike what we experienced when the Cliff Lee trade was official 2 summers ago.
The difference now is that we don’t have Yu. Not yet.
There are some things that can be taken away from this process, however:
This team is not afraid to spend money.
Nolan & JD are smart. They do their homework. They don’t go nuts on players they don’t need. They play everything close to the vest.
There were rumors circulating during the Winter Meetings that the Rangers have a lot less financial flexibility than everyone thinks they do, but we can probably put those rumors to bed. When the front office believes in someone, the billionaire owners will do their best to make it a reality.
They make their deals count.
Even if Yu doesn’t sign, he can’t hurt the Rangers until 2013.
There’s a 30-day window to negotiate a contract. If that comes and goes, Darvish goes back to Japan and the Rangers get all of their money back. He won’t be reposted until this time next year.
By the time he’s available again, the Mayans will probably have destroyed the world. So, regardless of what happens, it’s a win-win.
The Rangers aren’t going away.
The Angels have Pujols, but the Rangers don’t seem to care. Nobody seems to be panicking. Nobody seems to be giving up. Nobody seems to be getting complacent.
The fans, the players, and the coaching staff should all be ready to get better. That’s where we’re headed.
Yu puns are awesome.
Seriously. I hope they never end.
Beyond that, can you imagine 50,000+ fans all shouting ‘Yuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu’ when he steps on the mound in a home start in October? Without getting too far ahead of yourself, dream a little. You’ve earned it.
There is, perhaps, a lot more that could be said about this. But what it all really boils down to is that there has never been a better time to be a fan of this franchise. Despite all of the ups and downs of the last 12 months, I hope that you’ve enjoyed the ride.
Just as the Rangers have gone dark as far as discussing Darvish, I too won’t say a whole lot about him until we know whether or not he will be a Ranger in 2012.
There is one thing, though, that I would like to address. A lot is being made of the transition from Japan to the MLB. One thing I hear over and over is that the difference in the ball size* may flatten out a Japanese pitcher’s breaking stuff and cause a dip in velocity once they make it stateside.
*For those of you that don’t know, baseballs in Japan are smaller than the American standard, which changes the way the ball can be gripped and therefore changes the way a pitcher’s pitches behave.
To that I say, what about Colby Lewis? Lewis was an American pitcher that never really found himself until he went to Japan. How then can you explain his continued success once he made it back to Texas? Granted, his numbers probably took a hit, but Darvish’s raw talent seems to far exceed that of Lewis.
All I’m saying is that that fun fact about Japanese baseballs seems to be overblown.
While writing this, I put on MLB Network in the background. They were playing the Top 10 Games of 2011* and a Rangers game was number 7 or 8 on the list.
*Thankfully, it was regular season games. I didn’t have to relive Game 6 of the World Series.
It was Ubaldo Jimenez’s first start as an Indian, sometime in July. The Rangers fell behind 7-2 early, but climbed back into it. The game was tied in the bottom of the 9th on a Michael Young homerun. An inning or two later, Josh Hamilton hit an infield single with Elvis on second. Elvis scored and the Rangers walked off in Arlington.
Oh, how I miss this game.