This morning around the beginning of the Cubs Convention Saturday, Bruce Levine tweeted the following information about the Cubs and Masahiro Tanaka:
Wake up tweeters! Cubs made Tanaka a real offer to be there ace and grow with their other talented young players.
— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) January 18, 2014
According to numerous sources living near and being a part of the American Japanese community ,is a key element for Tanaka and his wife. — Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) January 18, 2014
We had a brief discussion on the Facebook page about this. Chicago does have a good amount of Japanese, but not as much as along the coasts. Being home to various research facilities like Argonne, FermiLab, Northwestern, the University of Chicago etc., there are lots of opportunities for Japanese scientists and professionals in the area and I’ve seen a strong presence around the University of Chicago campus while I was there. I’m not sure if there’s a similar presence in Wrigleyville, but Chicago certainly isn’t devoid of Japanese culture as you can see here and here. Considering the amount of research done for such a hot commodity, the Cubs probably sold Tanaka and family on Chicago’s Japanese community, even if the population isn’t as large as New York City, Los Angeles or Seattle. In fact, Tanaka has been scouted for years:
Boehringer said he saw Tanaka in 2008 as 19-year-old with Diamondbacks — Mark Gonzales (@MDGonzales) January 18, 2014
Boehringer: tanaka has less risk as international free agent because he’s faced advanced competition — Mark Gonzales (@MDGonzales) January 18, 2014
This suggests that they know Tanaka’s strengths and tendencies very well and how to work on combating his weaknesses. They may also have a decent idea of Tanaka’s injury and fatigue risk considering the massive workload on his arm since his professional debut in Japan. And if the rumors are true, the offer that the Cubs have put on the table is more than reasonable for a guy who knows he’s the best export from Japan.
So what else does a guy want besides a truck full of money? Even if you’re paid tons of money you probably want the best environment to raise a family, an environment where you know you will be safe and respected. While most people are good and decent, some folks have a really tactless and simplistic view of how stuff like this works. Below is a comment from our Facebook page, since deleted…
As I said on the page and will repeat here, there is at least one reason Tanaka may choose not to come here. You may recall the influx of “Horry Kow” merchandise along the streets of Wrigleyville when Kosuke Fukudome first came to Chicago. It’s not like Chicago fans are that different from other fan bases; every fan base has its share of passionate supporters and of course the subset of idiots that ruins it for everyone else and blankets the fan base with a bad name.
As Cubs fans, we are aware that it will be difficult to see a winning Cubs team for the short term, and that is obstacle #1 to landing Tanaka. Apparently the money is there per the Cubs Convention news today, and the baseball operations people are able to spend it. Bruce Levine, among others, are at least putting the idea out there that the Cubs will do their best to use the financial resources to lure Tanaka to Chicago. Maybe the fans can give the team a bit of help by not being total idiots about the importance of community in this sales pitch.