Hi, here are my answers to the prior email you have sent. For an intro you can just put the following.
David P. from YankeeSource - Scouting the Pacific Rim, primarily NPB and Taiwan but also spends time in Latin America prior to International Free Agent signings. Currently, in Taiwan scouting the Chinese Taipei National Team in the MLB Taiwan Series.
Brandon C: You have seen a lot of Yu Darvish. Could you give a scouting report?
David P.: Darvish can throw up to seven pitches, four seam fastball, two seam fastball (shuuto), cutter, slider, curve, changeup, forkball or splitter. His fastball, slider, curve, and fork are all excellent pitches (above average), his cutter is good but it's a developing pitch. Darvish is primarily a fastball-slider pitcher and his velocity has increased from previous years, pitching anywhere from 94-97 on his four seam fastball.
He doesn't use his changeup much and prefers to get ahead with the fastball and then finishing off hitters with the hard biting slider. He has two variants of the slider, one that moves away from righties and one that breaks straight down. Darvish also has good mound presence and confidence, along with excellent command. His real advantage is the ability to throw all his pitches for strikes and hitters have a tough time predicting a pattern to exploit. Furthermore, his build is much better than that of most Japanese pitchers. He's tall and muscular and has a powerful frame that could be capable of handling the innings load. That's something to always consider when evaluating Japanese pitchers.
With all that said, there are still questions about how he will adjust to the MLB. As we've seen before, it's not that easy.
BC: If you could compare Darvish to any current MLB pitcher who would it be?
DP: Excellent question and I've sat down for hours trying to figure this one out. The best I can do for this answer is Tim Lincecum. Of course Tim is an established ace in the MLB but I can't really compare Darvish to any other active major leaguer.
BC: Do you think the Yankees should try to get Darvish, wait for 2013 free agent class, or other?
DP: It's hard to predict the future on Darvish but it's also difficult to land a young prospect like Darvish for just money. Darvish will only cost money, and the Yankees won't even lose draft picks for him. He's a lot younger than C.J. Wilson as well. I expect them to make a competitive bid in the attempt to win the Darvish sweepstakes but if not I think they'll make a trade for a starter because they have prospects to make a trade.
Also it wouldn't surprise me if Phil Hughes was put in a package for a solid starter either. I love the 2013 class of free agents and if I were the GM I'd still probably go hard after Darvish. If I lose out, I'd sign Garcia and go to battle for a year with CC, Burnett, Hughes or Noesi, Nova, Garcia and feel comfortable that I have other pitchers such as Hughes or Noesi, Warren, and Phelps who can all come in and replace an injured starter.
BC: Are there any other pitchers/hitters that jump out that may be posted this off-season? Any names we should look out for?
DP: Tsuyoshi Wada, Hisashi Iwakuma, Kyuji Fujikawa. Hiroyuki Nakajima, Munenori Kawasaki, Norichika Aoki, Wei Yin Chen (Chen has no posting fee, free agent). Out of this list I like Chen the most although his injury concerns are greater, and Aoki is a pretty good hitter. Of course this list can change as some of the players may not be posted.
BC: Many people think of Japanese ball as AAA American baseball. Is that the case, or are Japanese players just as talented as players in the MLB?
DP: There is talent in Japan but I label it as an AAA+ league. The good players tear up the league, like Ichiro, Matsui, Dice-K, Darvish. Pitchers like Igawa were just good pitchers here when they made the move to the MLB, and those that fit that non-superstar profile has a much greater chance to fail and as we saw with Kei, it happens.
BC: Going back to the American front, what do you think of the Yankees cutting Andrew Brackman? Do you think he will get a MLB deal elsewhere, re-sign with the Yankees on a minor league deal, or other.
DP: Great move by the Yankees cutting Brackman, they already gave him a ton of money and stayed patient with some hope that he'll figure it out. He's 26 in December and there's really no reason to spend more on him, his mechanics may get better but the Yankees now view him as a reliever and there are plenty of good relievers on the Yankees. He's expendable. I'm sure he'll get a minor league deal somewhere, definitely not another major league deal. I don't think he'll be back with the Yankees and it's a longshot at best.
BC: Who is the best hitter from any country you have scouted? Pitcher?
DP: The best hitter from any country award will probably go to Hideki Matsui. Tremendous power, hits to all fields, excellent strike zone judgment. Ichiro has better bat control but Matsui is the greatest power hitter to come from Japan. The best pitcher will go to Darvish hands down. I've not scouted anyone near his potential although there are some young Japanese stars like Masahiro Tanaka who might steal away that honor in the future.
BC: Are there any former MLB players currently playing in Japan that have excelled? Any possible returns to the majors?
DP: Currently, there's only Matt Murton who is standing out. However I think he's staying put in Japan and if he returns he might be a decent player on a non-contender. Former Yankee Darrell Rasner is also having success as a closer in Japan.
BC: What is the max deal you would offer Yu Darvish if you are in charge of the Yankees?
DP: This is a tricky question. I'll just go slightly higher than the Dice-K deal and say 6 years from anywhere between 57-60 million. That's a reasonable deal and one which he probably would accept. Of course the luxury tax will make the total cost on that 60 million a bit higher.
BC: Any other thoughts/comments/notes Yankees fans may be interested in?
DP: Expect a pitcher or two to be signed this free agency. The Yankees do not want to enter 2012 with the same questions lingering around in the rotation and they know that they may have caught lightning in a bottle with Bartolo Colon pitching exceptionally well for most of the year. They will probably bring back Freddy Garcia and from the looks of it are leaning more towards Darvish than Wilson. Most people doubt Garcia's talent but the Yankees knew what they were getting from Garcia before they signed him, which is a pitcher who will give you a ton of quality starts if healthy.
Offensively the Yankees are set. It would be nice to see Eric Chavez and Andruw Jones back because both look to have some ability left with the bat and Jones is a potent offensive player against left handed pitching.
Thanks again to David for the in depth answers. Thoughts?