Today I was glad to be Kevin Glew and not Kevin Gray.
Gray is the New Hampshire-based sports reporter who boldly announced on Twitter just before 9 p.m. ET last night that the Toronto Blue Jays had won the bid for Yu Darvish and had scheduled a press conference for 9:30 p.m. ET.
His report spread like wildfire on the Internet and Jays fans were already contemplating the date that the Japanese phenom would make his Rogers Centre debut when the official announcement came that the Texas Rangers had won the negotiating rights.
To Gray's credit, he apologized on Twitter and on his blog, but not before being mocked and scorned by embittered Jays fans.
I sympathize with this scribe that shares my initials and my passion for baseball. With the dizzying number of reports - originating from everyone from the New York Post to unnamed baseball executives to little-known bloggers - I, too, was ready to proclaim Darvish a Blue Jay.
My initial reaction to the announcement that Darvish would be negotiating with the Rangers was disappointment for Jays fans. Outside of Ricky Romero and glimpses of greatness from Brandon Morrow, the Jays' rotation was, for the most part, dreadful in 2011. The 25-year-old Darvish, who has posted a 1.99 ERA in five seasons in Japan, is widely considered to be a top-of-the-rotation starter, so signing him would've addressed one of the Jays' most glaring needs. A man of many pitches
With six pitches in his arsenal, Darvish won 18 games and fanned 276 batters in 232 innings in the Nippon Professional Baseball League this past season. And while it's true that he competed in a circuit that was equivalent to Triple-A, Darvish has proven to be durable and dominant. And scouts say his 6-foot-5, 215-pound frame distinguishes him from previous Japanese hurlers that have pitched in the big leagues.
The biggest advantage to signing Darvish was that it wouldn't cost the Jays any of their prospects. On Saturday, the Cincinnati Reds anted-up former 17-game winner Edinson Volquez and three top prospects for 24-year-old Padres ace Mat Latos, making it clear that the price for young, top-of-the-rotation talent is steep this off-season.
Increasingly impatient Jays fans who believed that the club had won the bid for Darvish are understandably frustrated. Many have dismissed any hope that the team will ever spend enough to transform the club into a playoff contender.
Alex Anthopoulos further fuelled their disillusionment during a conference call today when he refused to concede that the Jays had even placed a bid for Darvish, let alone reveal the amount of their offer. The hardworking GM's policy of not discussing players or free agents might be wise from a baseball perspective, but he's quickly discovering that it doesn't endear him to fans.Creating a buzz
One positive out of this ordeal is that the idea of Darvish coming to Toronto generated a buzz around the Jays during the month of December for the first time since the team signed Roger Clemens in 1996.
But now that almost 24 hours has passed since the winner of the bid was unveiled, we all need to take a deep breath. Sure Darvish might have been an excellent addition to the rotation, but forking out more than $100 million US to speak to and sign a player who has yet to throw a big league pitch is risky.
It's also important to note that while Darvish has all the tools to be a top starter in the big leagues, there are questions about his make-up and how he will adjust to North America.
As frustrated as they might be, fans need to remember that the Jays are still the same young exciting team today that they were yesterday. And it's encouraging to know that Anthopoulos does, perhaps, have some money to spend (and no it should not be used on Prince Fielder) despite his mention of "payroll parameters" earlier this off-season. It's also encouraging to know that Anthopoulos was quietly pursuing a pitching the calibre of Latos.
With Darvish out of the picture, Anthopoulos will now likely focus his attention on acquiring a starting pitcher via trade. Matt Garza, Gio Gonzalez, Gavin Floyd, John Danks, Wade Davis and Wandy Rodriguez are all rumoured to be available - and unlike Darvish, all of them have tasted big league success.
So let's take a deep breath and move on. There's still plenty of time for Anthopoulos to improve this team before spring training. I think we've all learned to be more skeptical of Internet sources. I know I have. Getting caught up in the Twitter hype last night, I feel fortunate to be Kevin Glew today when I could've just as easily been Kevin Gray.
Back to accessibility links