On Tuesday, the White Sox reportedly entered the Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes.
Granted, it's probably the same way I enter a high-end duty free store at an airport. I allow for the possibility that I might recognize a good deal, and when that inevitably falls through and I'm merely killing time, then I wait and see if a store employee thinks I'm worth inquiring about. Regardless of intent, we're both technically on the premises.
Although in this case, Tanaka may be on White Sox premises, as CSN Chicago's Luke Stuckemeyer says the star Japanese pitcher is set to meet with both the Sox and the Cubs, likely in Chicago.
Rick Hahn won't have to wear a monocle and ask how Tanaka compares to, say, a train (which he could also afford). The new posting system makes anybody's initial interest credible.
It's a lot like the draft, in which the White Sox didn't compete until Major League Baseball instituted a fairly firm spending cap. With the new posting system, the biggest runaway spending item -- the bid to negotiate with the player -- has been reigned in. Under the old rules, it cost Boston $51.1 million to talk to Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Texas paid $51.7 million before discussing a contract with Yu Darvish. Tanaka would probably be in line for the same, but his price tag has a "60 PERCENT OFF" sticker on it.
Better yet, that posting fee is split over two years -- $13 million in the first, $7 million in the second. And of course, a team doesn't have to pay it until the contract is signed. With the conditions this favorable, there's really no reason for the Sox to stay out of it. Throw your hat in the ring and let Tanaka sort it all out.
Given that the ball's in Tanaka's court, the Sox don't figure to be a front-runner. If he's looking to max his earnings, it's going to be from a team that has deep pockets and a belief that Tanaka is the missing piece. A team like the Yankees or Angels would seem to be more desperate for his services in those respects.
But I do wonder if a good-faith effort by the Sox makes it more difficult on the Cubs, who have been more public about their interest in Tanaka, and for longer. It's the same city, and the Sox have the better recent track record, both in terms of team success and spending. If the Cubs struggle to stand apart in their own city, it may be tougher against the wider pool, but since the posting system is new, that's merely a theory that'll have to wait to be explored.
Grant Brisbee is ranking ballparks in terms of the additional aesthetic boost they give to home runs. He regrets to inform White Sox fans that he ranked U.S. Cellular Field dead last. He's got a point, because on either side of the batter's eye, there isn't much of a difference in landing spots, whether a homer is 370 feet or 470 feet.
I will say he picked the wrong homer for a big blast to center, though.
Scott Merkin fills us in on Jose Abreu's acclimation to America, while getting input from Yoenis Cespedes and Henry Urrutia on what they think Abreu will face. A sample;
Abreu has spent the past two months adjusting to the United States while stridently preparing in Miami for his first big league season in Chicago. His Monday-through-Friday schedule begins around 9 a.m. ET, when he hits in the batting cage for one hour.
Strength training and conditioning work follows for three hours, and Abreu completes the day with another hour of hitting. There's so much time spent training and hitting at Florida International University, that it basically has become Abreu's existence.
Along the way, he's been able to connect with teammates Dayan Viciedo and Alexei Ramirez, and discuss the move from Cuba to the United States. Abreu learned a little bit about Christmas, taking in the customs, lights and legend of Santa Claus, which he didn't see in Cuba. And while he prefers to spend free time at home with people he knows, Abreu has found a favorite dish in Florida's fresh fish during nights out.
Scott Downs is in the best shape of his life. Who had Jan. 7 in the pool?