|(Koji Watanabe/Getty Image)|
Fast forward to today and the news about Masahiro Tanaka. It's been a hectic few months, but the Tanaka sweepstakes are finally over and the Yankees got their guy. I feel like Tanaka has the mental mindset and ability to do great things in New York, but Yankee fans need to be patient with him. He's not a "savior" or some magical pitcher who's going to go undefeated next season (it would be amazing if he did, but you let's be real here!). When you think of the transition from NPB to MLB, it's not always as simple as it sounds. Most people make the NPB out to be the "minor leagues", but it's far from it. It's one of the most passionate and competitive leagues in all of sports. To me, the transition from NPB to MLB is more about work loads and sticking to throwing programs. I feel like the Yankees need to let Tanaka be Tanaka and not try to change his mechanics or alter how he goes about his bullpen sessions. Instead of forcing him to embrace things here, they should embrace how he wants to do things. After this huge deal, the fans in New York are going to have massive expectations for Tanaka, but he's not going to always be perfect. He's going to have his ups and downs, but I feel like he's going to be worth much more than his $155M contract.
Are the Yankees truly the best fit for Tanaka?
That's the $155M question... I do feel like Tanaka has the ability to do great things in New York, but I do have some concerns. Not with Tanaka's ability, but the team around him. The Yankees infield does have it's flaws and unknowns. Robinson Cano is gone, Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira are coming off numerous injuries, and there's questions surrounding who's going to play 3B and 2B. Masahiro Tanaka isn't going to strikeout 13+ batters a game and relies on his defense to make plays behind him. The Yankee outfield should be alright, but the infield is a huge concern for me. Derek Jeter's range has been on the decline for the past few seasons before his injury and you'd have to think he's going to be even more limited now. Kelly Johnson may be asked to play 3B and he has little to no experience over there. Brendan Ryan is an excellent fielder, but his bat is a huge liability. This isn't just a concern for Tanaka, but also the other pitchers on the Yankee staff as well. If they can't have Tanaka's back, he may not put up the stats that Yankee fans are wanting out of him and it's unfair to talk badly of him when the defense around him may let him down.
Masahiro Tanaka is a great pitcher and will probably be slotted behind Sabathia and Kuroda in the Yankee rotation. I think he's going to be able to handle the pressure of pitching in New York and my only concerns aren't with his ability, but the team around him. Personally, I would have liked to of seen him sign with a team that has better infield defense, but all reports indicate that he's excited to join the Yankees and they desperately need him.
Are you excited to see Masahiro Tanaka pitch with the Yankees? I know I am.