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  1. Yu Darvish isn’t the one “buying” Zims, so the pun here is on the ESPN/SI level of awful. This title is bad and you should feel bad.

    Comment by bender — December 15, 2011 @ 1:34 pm

  2. I do!

    Comment by Eno Sarris — December 15, 2011 @ 1:35 pm

  3. Zimmerman had Tommy John a couple years back, while I think (not sure) that Darvish has been relatively injury free.

    I know TJ surgery is considered to be a long lasting and durable fix, but that’s certainly a knock on giving Zimmerman a long term deal.

    Comment by OT — December 15, 2011 @ 1:37 pm

  4. Yu know Yu liked it.

    Comment by Sean — December 15, 2011 @ 1:40 pm

  5. Yea, shame on you Eno!

    So, um. I think I’d give Jordan Zimmermann a 6 year, $90 mil contract. I would be pretty adamant about tying those last two years to some very basic performance goals.

    Comment by Brad Johnson — December 15, 2011 @ 1:41 pm

  6. I think the ridiculous thing is that Darvish could end up on a team with either King Felix or Zimmermann. It either goes Felix, Darvish, Penieda or Strasburg, Darvish, Zimmermann. Better have some good left-handed bats…

    [auto-correct went bonkers on this comment]

    Comment by TheYellowSlant — December 15, 2011 @ 1:44 pm

  7. Especially considering I butchered Pineda…I guess that’s what I get for not looking it up first.

    Comment by TheYellowSlant — December 15, 2011 @ 1:45 pm

  8. If Yu bid, he will come.

    Comment by Awful — December 15, 2011 @ 1:46 pm

  9. The difference between Zimmerman and Darvish is a successful track record in the league. The adjustment isn’t as simple as normalizing stats.

    Comment by Oliver — December 15, 2011 @ 1:51 pm

  10. I think we need to know more comparables between Japan and the Majors. For example, I’d like to know some of the park effects in Japan compared to those in the US.

    When you compared Darvish at 21 to Shelby Miller in Double-A, you failed to mention that the Texas league is a huge offensive league and Miller pitched in a home park that can perhaps best be described as Coors Field on steroids. If you look at Miller ground ball rates there, it seems as though he traded a higher K rate, 13.75 in High A and 12 in a full season of Low A, for an increased ground ball rate to keep the ball in the park.

    Given this, and the fact that many talented players spend more time in Double A than Triple A, I would argue Miller’s line at 21 is more impressive than Darvish. Which makes sense, as Miller is projected to be a true #1 and Darvish more of a #2.

    Comment by johnorpheus — December 15, 2011 @ 2:00 pm

  11. This discussion makes Matt Moore’s 5-yr, $14 million deal look like even more of a steal.

    Given the market for non-elite starters the past few years (Burnett, Lackey, CJ Wilson, Buehrle), I would have no problem if my favorite team forked over 5 yrs, $50 million plus a $50 mill-ish posting for Darvish.

    Another plus that wasn’t discussed is that the posting fee would not count as salary or towards the luxury tax. Also, Dice K’s first couple of decent years (3.9 & 3.3 WARs) compare favorably to Zimmermann (3.4 WAR last year), and by all accounts Darvish outperformed Dice K in the Japanese league. Moreover, the biggest problem with Dice K is his walk rates and refusal to “go after” hitters. Darvish doesn’t walk guys like Dice K so he should have an easier time adjusting to tighter American strike zones.

    I’m pretty bullish on Yu and am surprised that his posting did not garner more attention from the usual suspects unless teams were purposely trying to throw up smoke screens.

    Comment by JJ — December 15, 2011 @ 2:01 pm

  12. Yu ERA- = .539
    Dice-K ERA- = .736

    Comment by Eno Sarris — December 15, 2011 @ 2:04 pm

  13. Here here.

    Comment by Todd Boss — December 15, 2011 @ 2:18 pm

  14. Darvish adds extra value to a team like the Yankees who are paying luxury tax, since a good chunk of their total expenditure will not be taxed at 50%. So a 5 year, $100MM contract for one of your comps costs the Yankees $150MM total. The same $100MM for Darvish (assuming $40MM posting/$60MM contract) only costs the Yankees $130MM total.

    Comment by Adam — December 15, 2011 @ 2:22 pm

  15. This has been the reason I’ve liked the Yankees for this all along. The posting process definitely is more interesting for Lux Tax payers. Or teams close to it.

    Comment by Eno Sarris — December 15, 2011 @ 2:24 pm

  16. There, there.

    Comment by Dan — December 15, 2011 @ 2:25 pm

  17. You’re right, it’s not simple at all. Even if we normalized Shelby Miller’s stats, since he has no track record in the league, we’d have to recognize that the Japanese league is thought of as better than Double-A. It’s kind of a Quad-A league. But not super offense-friendly either.

    Comment by Eno Sarris — December 15, 2011 @ 2:25 pm

  18. We need to look at how guys have done that have played in both leagues.

    When I read japanese League stats I have no content. I only know how they look compared to MLB stats, but I have no idea of how japan compares to MLB.

    Are we expecting Yu to come in and have Lewis type season where he puts up 7 WAR over 2 years?

    I’m asking because Aroldis Chapman should have taken over the world by now, given all the buzz about how awesome his talent was an dhow quick he is to develop.

    I also have questions about the caliber of hitter in each league. Maybe, I’m operating on old information, but in the Japanese league, do I have any reason to fear challenging hitters in the strike zone on a continual basis?

    From what I have seen many of those hitters are still using linear mechanics where they pretty much just take their hands to the ball and slap it around the field, rather than use back then forward rotation type barrel turning for maximum bat speed and power type swings.

    The thing that Japanese pitchers rally seem to have going for them when they come to MLB is their slower delivery, especially with the hesitation at the midpoint, followed by a violent finish. MLB hitters are not used to the slow, pause, fast pace of deliveries and it really seems to bother them initially.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — December 15, 2011 @ 2:28 pm

  19. Yeah, while the point of paying for a 25 year old pitcher is an important one, trying to normalize stats to compare Darvish to Zimmermann doesn’t wash. Darvish plays in a league where hitters are taught to swing for the holes in the infield, Zimmermann plays in a league with Albert Pujols and others of his ilk. I’d pay a lot more for Zimmermann, but it’s only baseball’s anti-capitalistic stance on young players the lack of an international draft that push Darvish’s price tag sky high. A better question would be: If Zimmermann, Pineda, Hernandez, Cueto, Strasburg and Darvish were all free agents, where would you rank Darvish and how much would each get.

    Comment by Pig.Pen — December 15, 2011 @ 2:42 pm

  20. Those are all the “assuming no major injury” projections, which also has to be factored in. For Felix, you’re looking at, say a 70% of no major injury, a 10% chance of minor injuries (take 10-15% of value off), a 5% chance of missing a year entirely (take 20-30% value off+other minor injuries and possible reduced effectiveness), and a 5% chance of being useless due to injury (shoulder blows up, elbow keeps blowing out, etc). Note these % are pulled out of my butt, but they are all realistic possibilities.

    Essentially, the projections you give are what a player agent, trying to be reasonable and not assume massive upside, would argue. The most likely projection, perhaps, but not the “average” projection. How many pitchers in any given 5 year period manage to average 4 WAR? I’m guessing a lot less than this system wold project…

    Comment by test — December 15, 2011 @ 2:46 pm

  21. I don’t think you could use zimmermanns 2011 war total to base on his upcoming years, as he was limited to 160 innings this year, and in the coming future he won’t have such a short cap.

    Comment by Morse — December 15, 2011 @ 2:59 pm

  22. But isn’t the risk of injury taken into account by using actual transactions as comps? If we found by using actual transactions that teams are willing to pay $5M/Projected WAR, does that not incorporate some amount of risk that Projected WAR will be less than Actual WAR for whatever reason? It could also be more of course.

    Comment by IvanGrushenko — December 15, 2011 @ 3:03 pm

  23. I think so. And I do also think that using Zimm’s 2011 builds in some injury risk, too.

    Comment by Eno Sarris — December 15, 2011 @ 3:06 pm

  24. By the way, why the heck have the Nats not inked Zimmermann to a contract extension? the market for pitchers with his experience and quality is roughly set at 5 years, $30MM with a team option or two. Are the Nats waiting for him to get more expensive and become a more difficult signing?

    Comment by JCA — December 15, 2011 @ 3:08 pm

  25. no mention of the fact that the team doesnt have to include the posting fee as part of the team salary? therefore not counting against any luxury tax?

    Just adding the posting fee and the contract together doesnt capture the true value, there is something to be said about it saving teams money as they assemble a 25 man roster with a budget constraint.

    Comment by Pat G — December 15, 2011 @ 3:15 pm

  26. I just want to commend you for linking to Tommy John’s player page when referring to Tommy John surgery, as if someone could click that link to find out more about what you were saying. That’s the sort of thing that makes me laugh.

    Comment by Eminor3rd — December 15, 2011 @ 3:21 pm

  27. Yu think that’s bad?

    NY Post Headline:

    Yu Yokes Zimmermann’s ZIPS

    Comment by Chris in Hawaii — December 15, 2011 @ 3:40 pm

  28. I have a bigger problem with the premise. Which is that Yu should be paid the same as a comparable American pitcher. He shouldn’t be paid market value.

    Once a team wins the posting, the player’s only other option is to go back to Japan. He only got paid about $6.5M in Japan this season, and will only get $8M-$10M next season if he stays there next year. That’s pretty easy to beat.

    Comment by Yirmiyahu — December 15, 2011 @ 4:09 pm

  29. Wow, I don’t think that was the premise at all. I think the premise is, will he be WORTH what he will be paid. The article starts off with a guess as to what it will cost to get him, and then tracks to whether or not that is likely to be a good investment. The concept of what Yu “should” be paid isn’t in here at all. The fact is, he will be paid considerably less because the team that gets him will count the posting fee as part of the total cost of his contract.

    Comment by Section 220 — December 15, 2011 @ 4:58 pm

  30. We need a FAN Projection form for Darvish! Do it!

    Comment by Matty Brown — December 15, 2011 @ 5:11 pm

  31. There’s no Yu in Zimmerman.

    Comment by Klatz — December 15, 2011 @ 5:12 pm

  32. The article is trying to establish his value and then saying that from the perspective of a team, the cost, posting fee and salary combined, can justifiably go that high.

    From his perspective, why would he accept a joke of a contract when the expected value of staying in Japan and coming over as a free agent in his late 20s (getting paid 8+ million a year in the mean time) far exceeds that? Sure he could get injured before then, but so can any major league player in their first six years of service and you likewise don’t often see them accepting extensions that undervalue them to that extent.

    Comment by Greg — December 15, 2011 @ 5:19 pm

  33. I want to get my own Yu piece up at THT, but I will answer circlechange and others in that the THT Forecasts (Oliver) currently bases it’s conversion factors on 286 pitchers who worked both sides of the Pacific, including minor leagues.

    Scaled to the new ball, which came into use in the NPB in 2011, for pitchers BABIP remains the same, doubles and triples as a percent of base hits are up 45%, HRs up 63%, UBB up 11% and SO down 8%, coming to America.

    Yu already allows very few HRs and BB, and has a very high SO rate compared to other Japanese pitchers, so even after these factors he’s still very good, projecting a mid to upper 2 ERA in MLB.

    Comment by Brian Cartwright — December 15, 2011 @ 6:07 pm

  34. The Posting Fee is not a liability, like a contract. It is the purchasing of an asset (like a patent), and is amortized over the life of the deal. Bringing in the most popular player in Japan opens up revenue streams that no other pitcher can.
    If Yu Darvish and CJ Wilson put up the exact same numbers, their value on the field would be the exact same. But off the field, Darvish has way more value to the franchise. That is what you’re paying for with the posting fee.

    Please, please, stop combining his salary and posting fee together. They are different things.

    Comment by Question — December 15, 2011 @ 8:21 pm

  35. What I would like to know is if anyone has any info on his hand size? It is one of the first things scouts look at and with teh smaller ball size in Japan, this will most certainly come into play as it did with Dice-K. I know he’s a bigger guy and has the American styled Drop & Drive delivery, but if he has small hands as Dice-K does, his MPH will drop due to the ball being deeper in his palm. His control within the strike-zone is a huge factor due to this as well. More ball friction and not getting on top of the ball will keep fastballs up in the zone. And of course his breaking stuff will flatten out a bit and in order to correct this he will have to add more snap on the pitch. This is what causes major elbow and shoulder injuries as well as affects his control on his deuece which he seems to love throwing in the dirt.

    Comment by JB Knox — December 15, 2011 @ 8:36 pm

  36. So the NPB now has the same size ball as MLB or is it a bit smaller still?

    Comment by JB Knox — December 15, 2011 @ 8:40 pm

  37. All of those WAR/salary projections didn’t include a discount for injury. The reason Dice-K didn’t work is because he got hurt. Free agency doesn’t work this way (although Andrew Friedman does) but if I am guaranteeing years, I get a discounted rate to offset the injury risk.

    Comment by peachesnnuts — December 15, 2011 @ 8:58 pm

  38. Friedman is a wise Gm, that is why!!! I agree with throwing in a discount for injury risk. It should be part of every contract with incentive bonuses based on games played or IP’s for Starting Pitchers.

    Comment by JB Knox — December 15, 2011 @ 9:08 pm

  39. This is a common misconception. What sort of money would Yu open up? TV fees in Japan would go to the MLB international TV pile. All merchandise sales are shared. The only thing Toronto could do is sell a sign selling Asahi beer or something. That won’t defray the posting cost.

    And yes, the posting cost and the contract are not the same thing, and this is a fact that lux teams know by heart, but in the end, the team has to pay them both. So you have to consider it as one number in your final transaction analysis.

    Comment by Eno Sarris — December 15, 2011 @ 9:23 pm

  40. This is important, but not really part of the scope of this piece.

    Comment by Eno Sarris — December 15, 2011 @ 9:24 pm

  41. Auto linker fun.

    Comment by Eno Sarris — December 15, 2011 @ 9:24 pm

  42. At $0 added revenue, the cost of the posting fee over the course of the contract would be $33.22M once you factor in tax savings from the Amoritization.

    Comment by Question — December 15, 2011 @ 10:29 pm

  43. For the Dice K bid.

    Comment by Question — December 15, 2011 @ 10:30 pm

  44. That’s useful knowledge. This piece was not about specific numbers, though, since we don’t have them. But when I analyze the final numbers I’ll be sure to point that out.

    Comment by Eno Sarris — December 15, 2011 @ 10:33 pm

  45. i think i would give zimmermann something like 4 years $65 mil. thats probably what he could have gotten in free agency this year. if CJ got a similar deal, and is 6 years older (!!!!) even the injury risks and uncertainties with zimmermann cant prevent it from being at least the equivalen of the CJ wilson deal. plus, zim was pretty money last year.

    Comment by Harry — December 16, 2011 @ 2:16 am

  46. 1. Jordan Zimmerman is actually one of my favorite future #2 starters in baseball. Was pre-surgery too, because he showed some really good stuff against the Mets when he first came up.

    2. I actually like think a pitcher like Zimmerman is close to what I think Darvish will end up being. As a Cubs fan…f it just do what has to be done to get the talent in.

    Comment by Ho Han — December 16, 2011 @ 2:16 am

  47. thanks for responding, it wasn’t necessary considering a few people addressed this before me, i just didn’t bother reading all the comments before opening my big mouth.

    Huge fan of the site, and your work in particular Eno as a fellow debts fan, i mean mess fan, i mean, oh never mind you get the picture

    Comment by Pat G — December 16, 2011 @ 2:42 am

  48. They’re working the big contract list in alphabetical order. Zimmermann comes after Zimmerman.

    Comment by Feel Wood — December 16, 2011 @ 11:03 am

  49. standardized throughout NPB, much deader, HR down a third…not sure of other details

    Comment by Brian Cartwright — December 16, 2011 @ 10:40 pm

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