Monday, September 15, 2008

The Bucs We Know and Love...

OK, back to reality. Ross Ohlendorf, Marino Salas, and Romulo Sanchez gave up a dozen hits and eight walks in eight innings, and the Bucs were mashed by the Dodgers 8-2 tonight.

It got so bad that Juan Pierre even went yard, his first round tripper since September 18, 2006, two years ago.

The Bucs avoided the schneid when Adam LaRoche smacked his 20th HR with two gone in the ninth. Oh well, so much for the joy in Mudville.

> Jimmy Barthmaier is penciled in to take the hill on Saturday, against the Astros.

> Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker are now in the 'Burgh, getting their team orientation and marching orders for the off season.

> Some unintended blowback from the Junichi Tazawa situation might be brewing.

He's the Japanese righty that asked the teams in his homeland league (NPB) to not draft him so he could go directly to MLB. A lot of teams are on him; even the Pirates are kicking his tires, although they're not thought to be major players in the chase.

A little background first. The NPB players that are under contract have to be "posted" by their team to move across the deep blue Pacific. Basically, this means that the team that holds the contract puts it up for bid. The highest MLB bidder gets 30 days to ink its man, if the bid is acceptable to his team.

If they get their guy, the fee goes to his team, and if not, the player has to play for the NPB for another year before being eligible for posting again. It serves as a transfer fee between the MLB and NPB, and prevents MLB teams from raiding players under contract.

The system works just fine for the NPB teams, but not so well for the players, who lose the ability to market themselves to the league, as a true MLB free-agent could, the tradeoff to get out of their contract early.

Posting does not apply to free agents, players who have ten or more years of service time with the NPB or amateur players who have never played in the NPB. The amateur loophole is the one that Tazawa is trying to exploit.

Of the 37 Japanese-born players playing in the MLB, only twelve have entered the league using the posting system. Their fees have ranged from $56M for Boston's Daisuke Matsuzaka to $300K for San Diego's Akinori Otsuka. The others have either been free agents or vested veterans because the MLB and NPB have an informal agreement to keep their hands off one another's prospects.

And this is why the Tazawa hunt is straining the relationship. They consider MLB's interest in the RHP as a power raid on their feeder system. But what are the NPB's options?

One, according to Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors (who got his dope from Patrick Newman of the NPB Tracker), is that a NPB team could sign an American amateur player as retaliation. A player like, oh, Pedro Alvarez or Aaron Crow.

It's a convoluted path to follow, but rest assured that it's a set of dots that Scott Boras will have no problem connecting if the opportunity presents itself.


WilliamJPellas said...

I have been following the situation / relationship between MLB and NPB for some time. Seems to me that the "posting" system was an excellent compromise between the two biggest professional baseball leagues in the universe, and that it has worked well. Japan gets to profit from developing and then exporting proven, major league-level talent, and MLB benefits from importing polished, finished products who also give MLB an additional fan base and merchandising market in the massive urban centers of the Far East.

So, why anyone in their right mind would want to screw with this system is beyond me. Of course, with a strong---read, "real"---Commissioner in place, stuff like this wouldn't be allowed to take place. But because the owners are really the ones running the show, and since they obviously won't agree to be subject to a strong Commissioner again anytime soon, this could mean the baseball equivalent of World War III.

Ron Ieraci said...

I tend to agree, Will. Only 1/3 of the Japanese palyers that try their hand in MLB were posted, and it does keep a contract valid.
But we know what some agents think of a valid contract...