Jim Colborn is sold on Yu Darvish. He believes he has everything necessary to make a seamless transition into the major leagues.
Colborn has a strong history in that department, too, serving as the Seattle Mariners' director of Pacific Rim scouting when they acquired Ichiro Suzuki from the Orix Blue Wave prior to the 2001 season.
Colborn is now in a similar position with the Texas Rangers, and is surprised how much the process has changed over the past decade.
But he knows why the Rangers invested so much time -- and now money -- on Darvish.
"It wasn't just to try and stay status quo," Colborn said. "The Rangers are trying to get better."
And they believe the Japanese star right-hander will live up to the hype, and fill the void left by C.J. Wilson.
The Rangers didn't make a strong push to sign Wilson this off-season, instead seeing him land with the Angels on a five-year, $77.5 million deal.
The Rangers are expected to spend significantly more than that on Darvish, as their bid for the negotiating rights was a reported $51.7 million.
They have until 4 p.m. Jan. 18 to reach a contract with Darvish.
The total package is expected to be more than the $103 million total that the Boston Red Sox spent to acquire Daisuke Matsuzaka in 2006.
As a comparison, the Mariners spent approximately $27 million total ($13 million posting fee, and a three-year, $14 million contract) on Ichiro prior to the 2001 season.
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels didn't give specifics on why Darvish over Wilson late Monday night, saying that the process hasn't been completed yet.
"To compare Darvish to other players is premature," Daniels said. "It goes back to the fact that we are looking for any opportunity in the short term and the long term. We looked at this as an opportunity that would be a good fit for us."
Colborn, who pitched in the big leagues for 11 seasons, came away impressed with how much homework the team has done on Darvish. Colborn, for one, has seen Darvish pitch for the past four or five seasons, and made frequent trips to Japan to watch him this past season. Daniels made a trip to Japan last season, as well.
"This process is infinitely more complicated now compared to Ichiro," Colborn said. "More major league teams are aware of what is going on in Japan, so that adds complications to it. I'm just flabbergasted to see the extent and depth at which the Rangers have done scouting on Darvish. There've been innumerable members of the organization who have seen him and had conversations about him."
In his seven seasons with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, Darvish went 93-38 with a 1.99 ERA. Last season, the 6-foot-5, 215-pounder went 18-6 with a 1.44 ERA.
Darvish isn't the stereotypical Japanese-born pitcher, as Colborn referenced Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Chris Carpenter when explaining Darvish's pitching style.
"He has deception [like most Japanese pitchers], but is he finesse? That's not exactly the case," Colborn said. "Deception is involved in his strategies, and power as well. He throws a hard breaking ball.
"He looks like a guy who will be one of the best guys on the Rangers, and hopefully one of the best pitchers in the league. Obviously when you spend that type of money, that's what you expect to be getting. All signs point to him being that, and that's why the Rangers made the decision to do it."
Outside of his baseball abilities, the Rangers are confident that Darvish can handle all the attention he will receive off the field.
The team wasn't able to talk with Darvish personally when he was under contract with the Fighters, but heard nothing but positive things about the 25-year-old.
"Nothing that we heard scared us off," Colborn said. "Any of the best players in any sport are always going to get a lot of attention. The Tim Tebows or David Beckhams or Tiger Woods, all those guys are able to be a star because they can handle it.
"Ichiro was exactly the same thing. I'm sure Darvish has some of the skills necessary to handle the attention put on him. He'll be all right."
Drew Davison, 817-390-7760