LADY AT THE BAT: Masahiro Tanaka: Can He Adapt, Survive & Thrive With The New York Yankees?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Masahiro Tanaka: Can He Adapt, Survive & Thrive With The New York Yankees?

And, it's happened.

Masahiro Tanaka is a Yankee.  As we all know, the deal is for seven years, $155 million.  He can opt out of the contract in year four. Total money-wise, it is the biggest deal a pitcher has ever seen. Tanaka is 25 years old and will be 32 if he plays out the entire contract.

Regular readers of this blog know that I didn't want Tanaka to sign with the Yankees. I've mentioned that he is unproven; he hasn't thrown a single pitch in MLB.  I've also said that the idea of him in pinstripes reminds me of the failures of Hideki Irabu and Kei Igawa.  However, now there is more to worry about. We heard yesterday that he has thrown 1400 innings in his career, more than any other pitcher his age. He also threw 160 pitches in a game last season. Later, he pulled a Randy Johnson: after pitching in the championship series he pitched on no days rest, getting the final two outs of the clinching game.  Lots of red flags.  We'll have to wait to see how he will adjust with all of this history under his belt.

If you ask Dave from the blog Yakyu Night Owl, however, problems like these won't be what make or don't make a Japanese pitcher successful.  He is of the opinion that Major League teams don't do a good job of helping Japanese players (and players from other countries)  acclimate both to MLB and to life in the United States. He and I went back and forth about this on Twitter recently and, just before the discussion ended, Dave tweeted me a link to the site of a company that works with both teams and international players. (Follow Dave on Twiter at @yakyunightowl.)

The goal of Global Sporting Integration (GSI) is to get these players to, as the site says, "adapt, survive and thrive while playing their sports in the United States."  While I'm not sure if a company like GSI can really make a difference, it is interesting that many people feel that such a service is needed.

Whether Masahiro Tanaka needs the service or not, I hope that he, too, can adapt, survive and thrive with the New York Yankees.

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