It's time to get to know Yu better
Japanese pitcher Darvish could eclipse Dice-K contract
All across baseball, they're talking about Yu.Not you. Don't be so self-absorbed. They're talking about Yu. They see big things and big money on the horizon for Yu. They think Yu can be a star. Heck, they already know that far away, in a foreign land, teenage girls and grown men alike swoon over Yu. It would appear, then, that this would be a good time for getting to know Yu, getting to know all about Yu. Allow us to help you. This Yu of which we speak is Yu Darvish, the lank-bodied, long-locked wunderkind who has spent the past seven seasons terrorizing Japanese Pacific League hitters. The 25-year-old right-hander has not pitched in the Major Leagues and yet just might wind up becoming the sport's most coveted free-agent arm this winter. The confident kid of half-Iranian, half-Japanese descent, his exotic features and marriage to and separation from a movie starlet have made him a tabloid sensation overseas. And above all else, the guy who just might compel your favorite team to spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $100 million for the promise of a single premise -- one articulated by Dodgers bench coach Trey Hillman, who was Yu's first professional manager in Japan. "The day that Darvish pitched," Hillman said, "was a day we expected to win. And the day that Darvish pitched was a day the other team did not count on winning." So, can we count on Yu pitching stateside? With Darvish having been posted by the Nippon Ham Fighters, there is a 5 p.m. ET deadline on Wednesday for Major League teams to submit a bid to speak with him about a contract. "Nippon Ham can't really afford him," Robert Whiting, an author and expert on Japanese baseball, said in an e-mail. "By posting Darvish, Nippon Ham could use a nice infusion of cash and the problem of his salary would disappear," Darvish, though, has financial issues of his own to consider. He is in the midst of a divorce from his wife, Saeko, an actress. The two were married in 2007 in what the Japanese press has called a "shotgun wedding," and Saeko's unbridled attitude and dress has reportedly clashed with the conservative viewpoints of Yu's Iranian father, Farsad. It has been speculated that Farsad wants the divorce to be completed before Yu pitches in the Majors, because he doesn't want Saeko to have a claim to any portion of Yu's MLB salary. Clearly, it's complex. Darvish hired Arn Tellem as his agent in the U.S. and Don Nomura as his agent in Japan to deal with Nippon Ham. And with the posting fee and the salary required to secure Darvish's services, get ready for an enormous investment.
|"The day that [Yu] Darvish pitched was a day we expected to win. And the day that Darvish pitched was a day the other team did not count on winning."|
|-- Dodgers bench coach Trey Hillman, Darvish's first professional manager|
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, CastroTurf, and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.