Yabu to A’s rumors

DMZ · January 8, 2005 at 2:14 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Toshi (official U.S.S. Mariner super-reader with the Japanese connections) reports that the hot rumor across the Pacific is that the A’s are supposedly close to signing Keiichi Yabu (of the Hanshin Tigers) to start for them. Stats here.

Immediate thoughts — at 36 headed into this season, he’s not what you might expect the A’s to be after. His rates are all good, but he’s doesn’t have the kind of crazy-good stats Matsuke, say, does where your eyes bug out and you call the Mariners up to ask them to sign him immediately.

It’d be interesting, though — as we’ve noted before, Oakland’s got a rotation they’re still sorting out.


30 Responses to “Yabu to A’s rumors”

  1. Trev on January 8th, 2005 2:42 pm

    1. The A’s? Well little doubt that the contract is probably minimal.
    2. He’s probably in the 6-8th starter mix with Seth Etherton and Justin Duchscherer, the latter who will probably be in the pen. The Masao Kida role basically.
    3. I think it’s a trifle amusing that the A’s signed a Japanese player. Japanese League stats are wonderful, but last I checked certainly no one had reliable MLEs calculated. Have the A’s found that answer? Or, has their scouting department actually been doing work?

  2. Melvin Bob on January 8th, 2005 2:59 pm


    According to this writer, the M’s are allegedly interested in Tadohito Iguchi. I think the writer is just believing that the Mariners are always interested in players from The Land Of The Rising Sun. He played some short in Japan, so bringing him (not at the price he’s asking for) in to compete with Reese and Lopez wouldn’t be a bad idea. Plus, if Boone leaves next year, you could always shift him to second if he pans out. The only knack with him is that he’s a big underachiever.

  3. David J Corcoran on January 8th, 2005 3:15 pm

    Would this be an NRI deal or a full shootin’ deal? I wouldn’t take the oppurtunity away from Blanton or Meyer, so i would hope its an NRI deal.

  4. grover on January 8th, 2005 3:18 pm

    Hey Trev

    The next time you want to take a shot at the A’s scouting staff, please consider the long list of Mariners pitching prospects that have disappointed or simply flamed out over the last few seasons. Also remember that the reigning ROY is in Oakland. I’m afraid I’m a little rusty on the Mariners’ current line-up, but who was the last Seattle-drafted player to become a starting position player? Isn’t it Bloomquist? Of course you snagged Reed and Olivio from the White Sox, but who hasn’t taken advantage of Kenny Williams? Beane has made that into an art form.

  5. toshi on January 8th, 2005 3:23 pm

    As a person who started the rumor, I’d like to emphasize that this is not confirm yet. I personally wonder if say Nomo would be a lower risk for the A’s, if they can sign him a minor league contract. He was awful last year, but that was partly due to incomplete recovery from a surgery. Nomo had similar situation before and recovered well, though he was much younger then. As for Iguchi rumor, an interesting spin is that J Cabrera is getting contract from the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks to replace Iguchi. So, I don’t know what happens if Iguch cannot find a job in MLB and decides to go back to the Hawks.

  6. David J Corcoran on January 8th, 2005 3:28 pm

    Re #4.

    Alex Rodriguez, as sad as that is. But you are absolutely right. Jose Lopez projects to start in 06 though

  7. grover on January 8th, 2005 4:17 pm


    Is Lopez going to be the SS or is Boone going to DH?

  8. David J Corcoran on January 8th, 2005 4:21 pm

    Lopez will be the 2B. Boone will likely not re-sign in ’06. If he does, Lopez is the Shortstop.

  9. grover on January 8th, 2005 4:29 pm


    So what about 2005? Is Lopez in the bigs or the minors?

  10. David J Corcoran on January 8th, 2005 4:31 pm

    He has a chance to win the job at Short in ’05. But I wouldn’t bet on it. He will probably see time in the bigs at Short if/when Reese is injured, and is likely a Sept callup (? DMZ, maybe you can clarify that)

  11. toshi on January 8th, 2005 4:44 pm

    Back to the topic, here is an update. It was reported that Yabu gets 1 year $750,000 contract with incentives that can reach $1.25 mil total. The second year is $1.5 mil or buyout (no $ reported). And he chose to wear #13. If the report is correct, it is a reasonable deal for the A’s, I guess.

  12. David J Corcoran on January 8th, 2005 4:59 pm

    That’s pretty good, I think. 750K for a pretty good looking Pitcher stats wise. Standard 2:1 K/BB ratio…looks OK. As long as Blanton and Meyer still get a c hance to win a starting job from him, this is a good move as insurance to the youngsters.

  13. DMZ on January 8th, 2005 5:56 pm

    3. I think it’s a trifle amusing that the A’s signed a Japanese player. Japanese League stats are wonderful, but last I checked certainly no one had reliable MLEs calculated.

    When was the last time you checked? Level of difficulty’s been pretty established for a while as a little bit higher than AAA. Translations are always an issue, and I’d still argue they’re coming across as too optimistic on power, but they’re almost as good (or bad) as others.

  14. Steve Fischer on January 8th, 2005 7:51 pm

    If this signing is true, expect Yabu to start for Oakland and Meyer or Blanton to pitch in Sacramento (AAA) for the first half of the season. Billy Beane has historically squeezed an extra arbitration season out of rookies by bring them up after half of the season has been played. Since the A’s are so high on Blanton / Meyer my guess is they will try to do the same as they have done in the past.

  15. Christopher Michael on January 8th, 2005 8:42 pm

    Just sounds like Beane being Beane to me. Signing someone other people would overlook who’s stats don’t look bad at all. He was forced to trade away two of his top starters. Makes sense that he’d go out looking for small gems elsewhere.

  16. Digger on January 8th, 2005 9:29 pm

    The word is DESPERATION. Don’t forget that Beane got himself into his current mess by overpaying 2 free agent pitchers last year who didn’t pan out. It’s ironic that he’s now trying to get out of his mess by bringing in yet more pitching projects. Given his recent track record the chance of success in ’05 looks bleak.

  17. Greg on January 8th, 2005 9:37 pm

    You mean Rhodes and Redman? He got himself out of that mess by trading them for an all star catcher that puts up a .400 OBP

  18. Digger on January 8th, 2005 9:45 pm

    And Kendall’s huge salary which required Beane to jettison not one but two legitimate big time pitchers.

  19. Jim Thomsen on January 8th, 2005 9:48 pm

    #18 — How do you define “big time”?

  20. Matt Staples on January 8th, 2005 11:05 pm

    Jim, I don’t necessarily agree with Digger’s overall sentiments, but it’s hard for me to dispute that Hudson is big-time. Mulder, assuming he’s not injured and Duncan can straighten out his mechanics — neither of which are guaranteed, nor extremely likely, IMO — is definitely one of the best #2’s in the game, if not a legit #1. That said, it’s easier to get rid of “big time” guys when (1) they’re soon going to have to be paid market value, if not something above it; and (2) you have Harden around.

  21. Chickenhawk on January 8th, 2005 11:30 pm

    Time to get the Winn rumors started again:
    “Astros could deal for Winn or Cruz
    January 8
    Chicago Tribune: “Look for Houston to try to trade for Seattle’s Randy Winn if it doesn’t re-sign Beltran.”

  22. chris w on January 8th, 2005 11:48 pm

    Look at what teams are paying for #3-5 starters these days (Lidle, Ortiz, Lowe, etc.). Look at what the Mariners will probably be paying Villone. This is Beane proving that he doesn’t need to participate in the current supposed overpriced “market” for pitchers. If I’m going to spend a $1M on a free I agent (instead of just relying on my farm system for a replacement level player), I’d rather spend it on someone that *might* be really good, instead someone I *know* will be really mediocre. Anyway, I like this.

  23. Trev on January 9th, 2005 4:41 am

    1. I believe that the A’s have one of the best front offices in baseball. To do as well for the last few years as teams with double your resources should say as much.
    2. I meant to be facetious about the work habits of the A’s scouts. I’m not sure how the A’s discovered Yabu – whether someone’s computer put up a red flag or something caught a scout’s eye, but I truly doubt that a team as frugal as the A’s would spend over $750k without having someone take a look at see something they liked.
    3. Clay Davenport’s study on Japanese Baseball can be found here and here. “The Triple-A/majors multiplier is .860; if the transitive property holds, then Japanese EqA is worth about .948 of a major-league EqA, which conveniently enough is almost identical to what we got from major leaguers.” Yeah, so all I had to do was search BP.
    4. As far as Yabu is actually concerned, he put up translated (using the Park Factors in the Davenport article [yes, there’s only two years] and MLE for the JPL) FIPs of 3.70, 3.89, and 3.68 over the last three years. His untranslated K/9 rate is has been declining over the last three years from 6.628 (career high) to 5.80. Ditto K/BB numbers. He also hasn’t pitched more than 132 innings since 2000. All of this spells back of the bullpen with a question mark. Is that worth 750k? I don’t know, maybe the A’s are after a Japanese fan base of their own.

    *I realize my methodology probably reveals my ignorance in a couple statistical areas, but this is the best data I have.

  24. grover on January 9th, 2005 12:17 pm


    You’re confusing the cause and effect of the A’s payroll situation. You may or not like Beane but you cannot deny that he has made some very shrewd moves over the course of his tenure in Oakland. He did not go out and trade for Kendall without knowing what it was going to do to his payroll. Beane was anticiapting the Mulder and Hudson trades BEFORE he acquired Kendall. Skip Bayless wrote an article on Dec. 23 that states Beane was talking to GMs last August about how he was going to trade off two of his Big 3.


    Now, I’m not a big Bayless fan but I hope he has the integrity to not make up his facts. Beane knew he’d be trading two of his ace pitchers and that it would free up the money necessary to acquire Kendall. The fact that Mulder and Hudson got traded after Kendall came to town is just a matter of timing, nothing more.

  25. Matt Staples on January 9th, 2005 1:07 pm

    Beane definitely knows what he’s doing, but he’s still the guy who signed Rhodes and Redman to bad contracts. Not only that, but he jettisoned a very solid, young catcher out of town (Hernandez) a couple of years ago to get Kotsay, who performed well in 2004 but also due a ton of money that will be impossible for him to really earn. Beane is also the guy who gave a pretty sizeable amount of cash to Hatteberg and to Dye. I’m not saying he’s less than a top-3 GM … which is essentially to say that I’m not criticizing him at all. I particularly think he is good at obtaining undervalued assets. I also believe, however, that he makes a fair amount of mistakes on some of his larger transactions/deals that, at least to an extent, mitigates the “genius” of some of his moves to get undervalued assets. Let me also say here that he was right to let Giambi walk, particularly in hindsight, and given Crosby, also right to let Tejada walk.

    Kendall had a 47.5 VORP last year, while Miller had only a 16.8. It’s hard to argue against the suggestion that Kendall is a tremendous upgrade at catcher. At the same time, Hudson and Mulder had 48.6 and 37.2 VORP, respectively. Knowing that Hudson would be gone anyway after 2005, and perhaps knowing something about Mulder that the rest of us don’t, it’s easy to see that the huge upgrade at catcher might make up for the loss of Hudson, if not the loss of Mulder. Given the nutso salaries being doled out to #3 starters, getting some high-potential guys under club control for the next 4-5 years makes sense as well.

    Although this is really simplistic, and much better analyses have been done on this site and elsewhere, I just hope to show that (1) I understand the Kendall/Hudson/Mulder deals, and (2) despite their seeming madness, they may actually turn out to represent an improvement to Beane’s record with larger (in terms of salaries and/or importance of the players involved) transactions/deals.

  26. Econ guy on January 9th, 2005 1:23 pm

    Looks like Beltran is going to the Mets at $119 million for 7 years.

  27. greenlaw9 on January 9th, 2005 3:21 pm

    This is directed pretty much toward the admins (also – would love to have a thread topic about this), but I’d love to hear everyones take on the following question:

    Being that it seems likely that Beltran will be signing with the Mets, where does that leave Cameron? I know they have Floyd in left, but who’s in right for them? I checked MLB.com and while Diaz might be a prospect, I don’t know much about him. I was wondering, based pretty much upon this Diaz guy, whether Cameron will merely slip into right (or Beltran perhaps?) or if Cammy is now on the trade block (maybe it would help them to clear payroll for the Beltran signing)?

    And the natural and completely predictable follow-up question is: what are the chances of Cammy making a return to the M’s? I know there’s lots of angles to take on this – given the rising of Reed, our surplus of outfielders and the Met’s possible surplus of outfielders, our general need for power balanced against whether Cammy’s average would hurt us. Then there’s also the whole Pokey signing angle and wondering how much Cammy might have made known his desire to play for the M’s again. Anyway, I’ll leave it to you guys to play that out.

  28. roger tang on January 9th, 2005 4:48 pm

    Let’s not get too hard on the A’s front office. While they aren’t the genius wizards that their reputations say they are, neither are they chumps. Beane is very good, but he’s had his share of mistakes…it’s just that they’re outwighed by his successes…

    As far as Cameron is concerened, I’m skeptical that he’d want to come back here, considering his long battles with SAFECO. And there’s that budget for salaries….

  29. Evan on January 9th, 2005 8:49 pm

    Cameron apparently speaks very highly of his time in Seattle – he loved it here, despite his problems hitting in Safeco.

    But, Ir recall reading that Cameron volunteered to move to RF is the Mets signed Beltran. That strikes me as a really poor decision on the part of the Mets (if you’re going to put both Cammy and Beltran out there, why waste Cammy is right?), but if that’s what hey want to do then Cameron seems amenable.

  30. Gabe on January 9th, 2005 9:33 pm

    Re. Beane and the offseason

    Another thing that you’re forgetting is that the A’s have built a serious pen that will end up being like the M’s circa 2001. IMHO they have as much chance as the Angels in 2005.