Some of you may have seen my (ugh) tweet about the Yankees' visit to Japan to watch Yu Darvish pitch on August 20. Billy Eppler and Damon Oppenheimer got to see Darvish pitch a decent game, going nine innings with 10 K's and no walks, but allowing four runs on nine hits and ultimately getting a no-decision as Nippon Ham won in 10 innings. YouTube highlights are here, and Darvish's velocity data is here.
Here's a little more from the original Sponichi article. I'll start with the headline:
A Top-Secret Visit to Japan from the Yankees Front Office! Making an Extreme Exception to Watch Darvish
I guess the cat is out of the bag now, huh? Sitting behind the plate with a radar gun isn't exactly a great way for Yankees execs to conceal themselves in Japan. And this is an exception? The Yanks did send Gene Michael to Japan a year or two ago, and have a full-time scout there.
I guess the "exception" talk comes from this quote, from an unnamed source familiar with the situation.
"They are [GM Brian] Cashman's so-called righthand men, he places all his trust regarding player evaluation in them. Sending both of them to Japan is an extreme exception, so that means this is a most important matter for the Yankees."
Another unnamed MLB source added this comment:
"Matsuzaka money is unrealistic, but he should go for $30-40m."
Yes. Totally agree on this one. A lot of crazy numbers have been thrown around with regards to a potential posting fee, and I've always been skeptical about another $50m posting, as good a Darvish is.
Now, if you're still with me, it's worth pointing out that there is no indication that Darvish will be posted after this season. Sponichi helpfully pointed out that Darvish opened this season with four years, 93 days of NPB service time. Since international free agency requires nine years of service time, and a year is 145 days, Darvish started this season four years and 52 days away. That would have Darvish reaching the free agency requirements during the 2014 season.
In other Sponichi news, the Mets and Nationals also had scouts at Friday's game. The Mets' always-chatty Isao Ojimi said "my evaluation hasn't changed. He's excellent." This article also quotes an associate of Eppler's, saying that Darvish was "alright". I didn't see a quote from the Nationals.