If you love baseball then of course you’ve seen the Major League movies probably more than once in your life. In the second installment of the series there was a LF in the movie named Isuro Tanaka who was playing the position like a Kamikaze pilot. It’s been twenty years since that movie was released and lo and behold the real life Tanaka is presently the toast of the MLB offseason with about a third of MLB interested in the services of this 25-year old. Just so happens that two of the interested teams inhabit the north and south sides of Chicago, with a lot of attention being paid to the Cubs who would love to be able to build their rotation around the seemingly can’t-miss Far-Easter.
Last week Yahoo Sports rated the Chicago Cubs as the 29th franchise entering 2014. Apparently the Yahoos don’t think that 2014 will be the year that the Cubbies win it all. Masahiro Tanaka is an extremely talented import who represents a number one or two starter – more likely a number one in the NL where lineups are weakened by the pitcher hitting three times a game on average. For the Cubs to try and lure Tanaka away from some of the bigger fisherman (Yankees, Angels, Dodgers, Red Sox) they’re going to have to sell Tanaka on the notion that they’ll be able to compete for a championship within the length of his contract. History suggests that his contract would have to be longer than his life expectancy.
Now we all (and by we all I refer to all living matter in the universe) know the Cubs aren’t going to win it this year, but there’s no denying that the Cubs could soon be in a position on paper to compete with the best for an October championship. But if you’re Tanaka and you’ve seen the likes of Yu Darvish and Daisuke Matsuzaka compete for championships upon arrival then why wouldn’t you want to jump right into the winning fray? Even if the Cubs were to sign Tanaka – and the Cubs have have the means to do so – they’re still years away from the upper-end talent in the farm system being able to contribute on a daily basis. Even if Tanaka comes to Addison and is immediately penciled in behind Jackson or Samardzija, the Cubs are still nowhere near a five-man rotation that could compete with the likes of the Cardinals (Did you see Michael Wacha?).
The Cubs could promise Tanaka keys to the city and he wouldn’t come here. The deadline for Tanaka to decide is next Friday and if any Chicago team were to get him, it might be Kenny Williams and the White Sox because for all it’s worth they’re clearly a lot closer to a championship than the Cubs. Not just one the basis of personnel and organizational attributes, but the history that dogs the Cubs.