As Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports writes, one of the biggest spring training stories is the one about the "hottest" can't miss free agent to hit the market being a gigantic disappointment.
"Shohei Otani did not have a “great outing” in his final start of the preseason, unless the definition of great outing has changed since the calendar turned. One official who saw it summed it up as: “He looked pretty much like he’s looked all spring.” The struggles of Otani since he arrived stateside have been glaring. There are plenty of ways to describe his lack of fastball velocity and difficulty commanding the pitch Saturday against a coterie of minor leaguers. * * * * Lost amid the fact that (he) looks helpless at the plate (3 for 28 in games) and talented but raw on the mound (more runs allowed than outs registered) is that he remains an incredible talent who is under team control for the next six years at enormously depressed prices."
Gone are the Babe Ruth, two-way player, comparisons.
Otani may turn it around . He could be just having culture shock. Or he has to get up to speed to MLB players and coaching styles.
But it is hard to believe the observations in spring training were so far off from the glowing scouting reports that had all teams, especially Theo Epstein, wanting to sign this guy.
Lack of velocity on his fastball . . . . bad sign.
Lack of command on his pitches . . . really bad sign.
Looks hopeless at the plate . . . horrible.
Just think that if the Cubs had signed Otani, there would have been no money left to sign Darvish. And Otani would have been like Jason Heyward, a big money contract that has to play some outfield. That would have pushed Ian Happ to AAA Iowa at the start of the season. It would have been a cascade of failure.