Come on, did you really think the Cubs were going to get Tanaka?
BY RICK MORRISSEY Staff Columnist January 22, 2014 11:03AM
Masahiro Tanaka put up eye-popping numbers in 2013.
Ranked by average salary
1. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
7 years, $215 million
2. Justin Verlander, Tigers
7 years, $180 million
3. Felix Hernandez, Mariners
7 years, $175 million
4. CC Sabathia, Yankees
8 years, $181 million
5. Masahiro Tanaka, Yankees
7 years, $155 million
Sources: Business Week,
Updated: February 24, 2014 1:11PM
Come on, did you really think the Cubs were going to get Masahiro Tanaka?
They did not win the Tanaka sweepstakes Wednesday, and if you’re a longtime follower of this franchise, you knew deep down, where all your other Cubs disappointments are stored, that this was how it was going to play out. The Yankees lured him from Japan with a seven-year, $155 million contract.
There ought to be a warning that comes with being a Cubs fan:
“Following this team has been shown to cause side effects such as weakness, dizziness, nausea, stomach pain, seizures, cardiac arrest, profound depression, life-threatening allergic reactions and, if you’re lucky, death. Ask your doctor if the Cubs are right for you.’’
Your doctor will say they aren’t. Because he cares about you.
We’ll probably never know for sure how serious the Cubs were about landing Tanaka, the 25-year-old pitcher who went 24-0 in the Japanese League last season. You’d have to think that, at some point, they took a step back and looked at the reality of the situation from Tanaka’s (or anybody’s) standpoint: Yankees, Dodgers or Cubs – hmmm, what should I do?
Winners want to win as soon as possible. They don’t sit down with a prospective employer and look at a plan that includes at least a season or two of serious losing. They don’t look at an impressive list of minor-leaguers who might or might not become productive major-leaguers and jump for joy at the idea of helping to build something from the ground up.
You go 24-0, you don’t want to join a team that has a history of not – what’s the word? – winning. You don’t go to the Cubs, or the White Sox, who also were chasing Tanaka. You go to the Yankees, who win and spend a ton of money.
The proof of the Cubs’ intentions will be in whether they take the money they had carved out for Tanaka and give it to other players who will help the team win more games in 2014. Call me skeptical.
The Cubs are doing things the right way by growing their farm system, but it’s unrealistic to think they’ll be able to get a front-of-the rotation pitcher like Tanaka without a massive offer and an eraser to hide the 197 combined losses of the past two seasons. Including Tanaka’s deal, the Yankees have signed four free agents to contracts worth $438 million this offseason. Hard to compete with that.
And so Cubs fans are left with the only thing they’ve ever had – hope. They’ll hope that president of baseball operations Theo Epstein hits on his minor-league players, on upcoming drafts and on Anthony Rizzo. Then again, many fans hoped Tanaka would be in a Cubs uniform next season.
We’ve witnessed so many bad things with this organization that it’s hard to envision something good happening. It’s true that there’s a loser’s attitude in town when it comes to the Cubs, and I’m sure it drives Epstein crazy. But he hasn’t seen what this city has seen, not even in Boston, which was a committed loser before he helped get them two World Series title.
So Masahiro Tanaka? Come on, Cubs fans.
Did you really believe your team was going to beat out the Yankees or the Dodgers for Tanaka’s services? Please.