Just a few days ago, Brian Cashman created a minor controversy by saying on a radio interview that he expects Masahiro Tanaka to be a No. 3 starter. It seemed to an obvious attempt to keep expectations in check, and Cashman confirmed as much this afternoon when he explained his comments. Here’s Cashman:
“You’ve got 30 teams now with expansion, so there’s not many 25-year-olds running around that become free agents with his ability at this time, so I think the contract is reflective of the scarcity of that product. This is a high-end asset that’s available. He’s obviously got some risk because he’s transitioning from Japan, so we’ve spoken about those difficult adjustments that are necessary. He has a great deal of ability. We could be getting more than a three. Maybe it’s a two. Maybe it’s even a one at some point. But I think because of the adjustments that are necessary, and because of the contract, (expectations are different).”
“… Now it gets invoked, the sixth, seventh, eighth-highest, ninth-highest, whatever pitching contract ever. It kind of slants, I think, a little bit of the evaluation process, and I think it’s more reflective of the 25-year-old and the bidding side of it and his abilities. How he settles into the United States, I think in fairness, I’m going to say, especially here in the first year, it’s No. 3 starter. If we get more, all the better. That’s me trying to speak to it to some degree.”
“We think he’s got a great deal of ability, and we’re excited to have him join the franchise. We’ve got a lot of high-end talent that we brought in, including him. He’s going to play one part of many, and we look for them all to contribute.
“I’m also trying to honestly prepare the reality of, for our fan base, I know that because the contract is what it is, the expectations are going to be something, especially on the front end, that I want to alter to some degree, or try to. It’s better ot have an honest, realistic dialogue with your fans that you run through the media. Whether anybody wants to disagree, that’s fine. Or agree, that’s fine too. At least I own the words that I’m putting out there, and those words are what they were and what they are, which is that I think the adjustments are real and as excited as we are to have him, and as much as we need a player of his capabilities, I want to make sure that people know how difficult this game is over here, and that there should be expectations of growing pains. Just like when I signed players from other clubs and they come to New York from other markets here in the states, there’s growing pains. I just want to make sure to remind everybody, even though they might not want to hear it.”
Associated Press photo