Tigers pass on Junichi Tazawa

In an effort to maintain the relationships in the Pacific Rim that the organization has been cultivating recently, the Tigers are going to pass on Junichi Tazawa. Tazawa is the amateur Japanese player who is going to skip the Japanese professional leagues and try and jump right to the US.

Tazawa is being courted by a number of teams, and the Tigers sent scout Dick Egan to see him earlier and another scout (presumably Pacific Rim coordinator Kevin Hooker) to visit again in recent weeks. But Jon Paul Morosi caught up with Al Avila and Avila had this to say:

“We have invested much time and resources the last two years building our staff and rebuilding our good relationships in Japan and in other Asian countries in order to be players in those markets for years to come,” Avila said in an e-mail to the Free Press.

You see, there’s this gentleman’s agreement that the respective countries wouldn’t harvest each others amateur talent and Avila is going to honor that.

Chao Ting Tang - cr Roger DeWitt
Chao Ting Tang - cr Roger DeWitt

I fully admit that I don’t have a grasp on the relationships at play here, but I’d think that part of the point of increasing the presence would be to scout – largely amateur – players. Maybe it is, but not just in Japan. The Tigers did sign Chao Ting Tang from Taiwan last season. And they have a new scouting coordinator for the region. But I still don’t understand the apprehension about ruffling the feathers of the Japanese professional leagues.

That said I’m not upset that they are passing on Tazawa. I was intrigued early on, but his price is higher than I expected it would be. He’s likely to be paid similar to a top draft pick, and there is at least one scouting report that isn’t necessarily glowing. It calls into question his velocity and stamina.

17 thoughts on “Tigers pass on Junichi Tazawa”

  1. But I still don’t understand the apprehension about ruffling the feathers of the Japanese professional leagues.

    It’s collusion. They’ve been develloping relationships with the colluders (instead of going directly to the amateur talent), so they have an interest in maintaining the status quo. If the status quo breaks, they’d have to change directions and build relationships directly with the talent.

  2. Yeah, it seems like a collusive atmosphere. Both leagues have something to lose in a truly free market. Japanese teams would have to compete with the Yankees for all their top draft picks, who would inevitably never play in Japan. MLB would then have to deal with Japanese teams offering million dollar contracts to 3rd-6th round draft picks to (I like making up words) retalentize their league. A couple occasional exceptions either way isn’t the biggest of problems, but it seems to me like both leagues would want to keep it to a minimum with gentleman’s agreements.

    Billfer, I think you are right that the point of being in Asia is getting to talk to guys like Tazawa, but the long-term interests of the franchise are probably better served if the Tigers give whoever they deal with in Japan the chance to pick the guys they really want to keep over there. The Japanese league is big enough that they can make it really easy or really hard to scout and sign players at their whim. A little cooperation now probably pays off later.

  3. Yea it might be better to not rape the Japanese young talent like we do in some other countries…considering like you said Ryan it’ll probably come back to bite us

    However on the other hand, if they could pick out a diamond then by all means take him…

    Players over there should have their choice and money talks… IF they want to come here to have a career they should

    It probably is the best in the LONG LONG LONG RUN for MLB to become a global league – keep driving up the talent pool

    Heck they go to leagues in South America, Latin America

    Granderson just went to China and Africa

    We’ve got guys in Canada, Australia, Europe, Israel

    Pay to see the best of the best

    PLUS as we’ve seen in CUBA a lot guys who want to play here get here anyways


    Heck I almost wonder if certain teams should move to other countries that have cities with high populations where their would be a big demand for tickets

    Travel wouldn’t be fun, but I bet in the future it’ll happen, a few years back they were talking about having some teams in Mexico, maybe eventually they’d have 2 in Japan, a few in Central/South America etc.

  4. Well neither would I…at least not right now Kathy

    However I highly doubt I’m going to stay around here (Michigan) for the rest of my life

    Plus as we both know baseball is a business trying to make money and it has been that way forever

    My “foresight” into the future tells me that sooner or later we’ll have more than just one foreign team… How long that takes I duno

    Quite a few teams have moved around, most before I’ve been around but still

    Philly A’s were in Philly from 1901 (a charter member of the AL) and then moved over 50 years later (1955 – not long after Connie Mack retired) to Kansas City then in 1968 to Oakland

    The first Washington Senators played there for 60 years before moving to become the Twins

    And the Senator team that replaced the ones that went to Minny became the Rangers

    Plus you’ve got the Browns that became the Orioles (who ended up moving and being sold for totally financial reasons – their owner couldn’t compete with the Cards and the new Anheuser Bush owners)

    And that is just the AL

    In the NL you have quite a few but probably the two biggest ones in either league were

    The Dodgers, and the Giants – when they moved across the country(to take advantage of the western market) from what I’ve read it was a pretty big (and seemed crazy at the time) deal.

    The only thing I could compare is if the Yanks/BoSox were to move today

    Heck I’ve read that the Tigers might not have been in Detroit if it wasn’t for Ty Cobb (they had terrible attendance and were thinking about relocating).

    Plus you’ve got the Expos who gave the broadcasting rights in certain areas to the Blue Jays and ended up killing themselves.

    It’s bound to happen again, just who knows when the next sudden wave will be…

    Since we’ve got over 3 million fans and have a high payroll plus the new park I don’t think it’ll happen here anytime soon, but you never know…

  5. I think billfer should’ve titled this post “Pacific Rimjob”. Thanks, I’ll be here all week.

    Seriously, though, I’m not all that upset that the Tigers haven’t pursued players from that area more fervently. Aside from Ichiro and (sort of) Dice-K, Asian players haven’t really made a huge impact in the States. Chan Ho Park, anyone? Fukudome tanked pretty badly for the Cubs. Nomo was so-so. et cetera. The problem, of course, is that most of the time you’re getting these guys on the tail end of their primes so you’re only likely to get a couple good years out of them (cf. Matsui, Hideki). Latin America is the place to invest your international scouting dollar IMHO.

  6. Chris at your first post we had Nomo(who you mentioned)

    Plus Ichiro has been pretty darn good, Dice K might win a few Cys just based on what we saw from last year’s adjustment

    What about Saito or Okajima


    you wouldn’t want someone to post up #s like that?

    Plus with China(Korea, Taiwan etc.) getting into the act it seems, that is a lot of people and I would be surprised if that country could not produce a few HOF

    Heck the first Indian players signed last week…

    It seems like baseball is wanting and becoming “global” just like everything else

  7. Well Chris, if you want to be real general I’m related to everything on this planet if you go back far enough.

    However no, I cannot trace my immediate ancestry back to Ty, considering from what my parents know my first ancestors came over here from Eastern and Central Europe probably right before/after he was becoming a big “hit” 😉

    I’ve been to Georgia/South Carolina quite a few times and Virginia many times, and I liked everything about it except the weather (wayyyy tooo muggy + wayyyy too many bugs mosquitoes horse flys and the like)

    I find him and all other dead baseball ERA guys extremely interesting

    I’m reading another book on him in some of my spare time as we speak.

    Maybe when I have more time I’ll look back to some other guys before and after him much more in depth. Maybe Honus Wagner, Ed Delahanty, Joe Dimaggio, Ted Williams, Jimmie Foxx, Cap Anson, Sam Crawford Moses Fleetwood Walker, Hank Greenberg, Bob Feller, Charlie Gehringer, Joe Jackson, Eddie Collins, Tris Speaker, Grover Cleveland Alexander, Walter Johnson are some names that come to my mind

    I’ve looked these guys up a small bit on these here internets and know something about them with their dealings/or lack thereof with Ty, although I have yet to read a book devoted to them

    A great book I read a few years ago
    has some stuff about them (Sam Crawford is in it)

  8. David: As I mentioned, Ichiro and to a lesser extent Dice have been excellent. Matsuzaka needs to learn how to throw less than 130 pitches per 5 innings before I’m going to hand out any Cys in his direction, though. General point being that Japanese players enter MLB in their later 20’s or even 30’s due to the way the posting process works, so you’re not going to get a whole lot of great years out of them. The prime example being H. Matsui. His first 3 seasons (age 29-31) were pretty good. His most recent 3 have been plagued by injury and ineffectiveness. Same kind of thing with Nomo. Came in the league at 26, posted a couple of excellent seasons out of the gate and then fell off a cliff (though he did have a late career renaissance for a couple of seasons). Saito’s been good, but he’s also 38 so I don’t think he’ll give the Dodgers much more than what he already has. I won’t even mention Hideki Irabu.

    As an organization, you have to look at all possibilites whether they be in Europe, Latin America, Asia or wherever. I tend to think that the wisest investments come out of the Latin countries, though. A greater chance at finding lasting talent there.

  9. Sam Crawford has one of your better nicknames in Wahoo. That’s what I like the most about deadball era players – the nicknames. Why don’t we have guys like Rabbitt Maranville these days? Or 3 Finger Brown? All we have is this Chris Berman crap…

  10. Well that is certainly the trend now… (most foreign born players are Hispanic)

    As far as Dice K, his ERA was pretty darn good, and had a pretty darn good record, yes he should probably go longer in games, however not if it means he gets lit up… (BTW Matsui was healthy it seems in ’07, but that is neither here nor there)

    Who knows how it’ll be though in 30 or 40 years.. MLB is certainly looking to become global is MY point…

  11. You forgot Dummy Hoy or Hughie “EEEE YAHH” Jennings

    Nope what do we have today?

    Maggs, Bondo, Zoom Zoom, Grandy, Poly, Sheff, Inge Cringe, JV, the Gambler, Pudge

    we’ve lost our personality =P most of those nicknames have to do with the player’s name except for Pudge and partly Zumaya

    most of the dead ball/live ball names don’t – they deal with the persons characteristics – where they were born, their physical attributes etc.

    The guys you named

    Wahoo, Nebraska is where Crawford is from
    Rabbit = fast
    3 fingered Brown – had 3 fingers on a hand

    Some others (including who I mentioned)
    EEE YAH – what he’d yell when coaching
    Dummy Hoy – he was deaf (I did a report on him in school a long time ago)

    Cobb’s was

    The Georgia Peach – from Georgia

    Hans Wagner was the Flying Duchman – due to his speed and being German

    Eddie Collins was called Cocky (because I assume he was)

    Who can forget Shoeless Joe Jackson – played one game shoeless due to pain

    Denton Young – nicknamed Cy(short for Cyclone) due to his fastball speed

    Bob Feller being Rapid Robert and Walter Johnson being the Big Train for the same reason as Cy etc.

    Still we have Zoom Zoom – so maybe we haven’t totally lost it

    Oh yea and Nate – Gum Time – Robertson 😉

  12. I still don’t see the benefit. If the player is worth having, go get him. If it’s a team selling a player like Daisuke, it’s not like the team is going to give the Tigers a break because they respected the agreement. If it’s a free agent type, it’s the player’s choice and I don’t see them giving the Tigers any more consideration because of the gentleman’s agreement.

    Unless there are other politics at play that I’m not aware of (highly likely), I don’t see how this helps anything.

  13. Doncha ferget that Wahoo Crawford and Dummy Hoy had teamed together in the turn of the century. Both were roomates. Dummy Hoy as I have nearing 20 years of research, his life is really interesting and flamboyant at times. There has been the worse and the best of his career and it wouldn’t be enough for me to put in words. Just keep an eye out when and once we start the feature film production and then you would know.

  14. it’s not like the team is going to give the Tigers a break because they respected the agreement.

    Other way around. They’ll blackball the ones that don’t respect the agreement. The Tigers are betting that they will have better access to talent if they work with the current power structure instead of trying to undermine it. I disagree, but that’s no surprise, because I’m very libertarian.

  15. Jeff “I disagree, but that’s no surprise, because I’m very libertarian.”

    I agree with what you said(and Billfer as well), and I am also…

    Still I think Libertarian or not MLB is much stronger than NPB and MLB can do what it wants

    In my view I see them, leagues in Mexico/Central America/South America/Europe/elsewhere in Asia/Africa/Canada as stepping stones to MLB

    They are like the replacement of semi-pro and amateur leagues that we had here before we instituted farm clubs for every organization

    They had posting fees where teams sold players (like Japanese leagues do)

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