All Eyes on Yu

Is it simply jealousy that drives us to critique long-term, multi-million dollar contracts in sport?

I don’t think so.  I mean of course any ave rag e human being would love to make upwards of six or seven million dollars per year.  But I think many of us critique these contracts because of their length and the lack of proof surrounding the player receiving the contract.

It’s been happening for years in all major sports – contracts ending when players are in their mid-forties worth upwards of $10-million a year.  In many cases these contracts end up being looked back upon and ‘bust’ contracts – where either the player doesn’t perform comparable to the value of the contract or the player gets injured and doesn’t seem to play with the same ability upon returning.

The latest in this long line of over-evaluated signings is that of Japanese phenom, Yu Darvish.

The Texas Rangers signed the 25-year old to a whopping $56-million deal guaranteed.  The right-hander has the opportunity to make an additional $4-million through roster bonuses.  Add to that the $51,703,411 posting fee the Rangers paid to Darvish’s former club – the Hokkaido Nippon Ham-Fighters of the Japanese Pacific League – and we are looking at arguably the newest $100-million man.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sitting here saying that Darvish will be a bust.  It’s far to early to say that. But here is what I am saying.  Maybe Texas, and the Toronto Blue Jays didn’t watch closely to what happened the last time a highly coveted player came over from Japan.

Darvish was arguably the best baseball player outside of Major League Baseball.  His stats speak for themselves.  Over his five seasons (2007-2011) with the Fighters Darvish racked up a 76-28 record with an earned run average of 1.72 over 128 games.

His other stats include:

  • 50 complete games
  • 15 shutouts
  • 9.5 Ks/9 IP
  • 0.3 HRs/9 IP

So it’s without question that he can pitch.  But is he worth the nearly $112-million that was spent to acquire him?

Case and point, the Boston Red Sox acquired Daisuke Matsuzaka prior to the 2007 season.  After a tough rookie season, Matsuzaka returned with a spectacular sophomore season in which he posted a 18-3 record with a 2.90 ERA and finished fourth in American League Cy Young voting.  Since then he hasn’t put up great numbers and most recently Matsuzaka had Tommy John surgery to repair ligament damage in his throwing arm putting him out for a calendar year.

Through his first five seasons with the Red Sox, Matsuzaka has a record of 49-30 with an ERA of 4.25 while pitching one complete game in 106 appearances.  Add to that the pile of injuries he’s suffered and you don’t really have a $111-million pitcher.

Is it just a matter of time until teams figure out Darvish – the same way they did with Matsuzaka?  I guess we’ll see.  But one thing is for sure Darvish will be the man to watch. And all eyes will be on the $112-million man… To see just how much he is actually worth in the long run.


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