Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
It's just been announced that the Yankees have won the right to negotiate with Japanese pitcher Kei Igawa, who was posted by the Hanshin Tigers of the Japanese Central League. The winning bid, alternately reported as $25 and $26 million, was actually $26,000,194 (the 194 being Igawa's 2006 strikeout total). The losing bids are not announced, though word has leaked out that the Mets had bid $15 or $16 million and the Padres had also placed an eight-figure bid. The Mariners, Orioles, Giants, and World Champion Cardinals were among the other teams believed to have been interested in Igawa. The Yankees will have until midnight on December 28 to sign Igawa. Should they fail to do so, they will not have to pay the bid amount.
So who the hell is Kei Igawa? He's a 27-year-old left-handed starting pitcher. His best pitch is said to be his curve ball, though some reports say that the pitch is actually a change-up that drops like a curve. He also has a slider in the low 80s and a 90-mile-per-hour fastball. With that repertoire he has lead the Central League in strikeouts in three of the last five years, won the Central League MVP award in 2003 (20-5, 2.80 ERA), and lead the Tigers to two Central League pennants (though Hanshin lost in the Japan Series both times). As is often the case with curveballers, however, he's quite susceptible to the longball, surrendering a whopping 52 over the 2004 and 2005 seasons combined--this in the Central League's short 146-game season.
According to this scouting report, however, Igawa made a major adjustment in 2006 that helped to reduce his susceptibility to the home run. Here's the relevant passage:
He's finally figured out that the [straight, 88-90 MPH] fastball is a gopher pitch when centered and overexposed so he'll go to it less often (will throw it down the middle when he's confident the hitter is unbalanced) and try to spot on the corners or miss out of the zone with it when he isn't sure if the hitter is sitting on it. This adjustment is HUGE, as he has finally learned to pitch backwards and mix his pitches better (which he MUST do in America) in 2006 and its making him a far better bet to succeed in the transition to MLB. If Igawa were to pitch the way he pitched pre-2006 in the big leagues (aggressively with his straight 89 mph fastball), he wouldn't have been very successful despite the great K/BB ratios. Preseason Igawa wasn't as attractive of an option, but 2006 answered a lot of questions.
Indeed, his 2006 statistics support that analysis. In 2004 and 2005 combined, Igawa surrendered 1.26 homers per nine innings. In 2006, he allowed just 0.73 homers per nine innings. He also walked a career low 2.11 men per nine innings in 2006, which is an important sign as another knock on Igawa is that he has the sort of controlled wildness that could lead to a spike in his walk rate stateside. As for that "great K/BB ratio," his career mark is 2.97 K/BB, which is excellent, but not quite "great" (Mike Mussina's 3.58 career K/BB is a better example of "great").
With those caveats, Igawa compares quite favorably to his infinitely more celebrated countryman, Daisuke Matsuzaka, as this quick tale of the tape shows:
|Name||Kei Igawa||Daisuke Matsusaka|
|Winning Bidder||Yankees||Red Sox|
|Sawamura Award||2003 (tie)||2001|
According to those numbers, Matsuzaka is the better pitcher, but not by much. His advantage in home run rate suggests that he induces weaker contact, but absent Japanese batting averages on balls in play, one wonders if the reduced hit rate which gives Matsuzaka his biggest advantage over Igawa isn't in part attributable to the Seibu Lions' defense. If so, it would make the gap between the two even smaller. Of course, just because Igawa compares favorably to Matsuzaka doesn't mean either will succeed in the AL East, but it seems that the Yankees have done a solid job of keeping up with the Joneses here, and for a fraction of the price.
Speaking of which, Igawa--who is represented by Arm Tellum, who recently negotiated new contracts with the Yankees for his clients Mike Mussina and Hideki Matsui, and also represents Jason Giambi--is said to be looking for a three-year deal worth $6 to $7 million per year. That's tremendously reasonable given his age and track record and the current marketplace. Of course, when you throw in the bid amount the Yankees could wind up spending nearly $48 million for three years of Igawa. Still, if you consider Igawa a potential number two or three in the rotation (a big if, but stay with me here) it's a discount over the other top pitchers in the market. You can throw out Matsuzaka right away as the Red Sox's bid alone is greater than that $48 million estimate for Igawa's bid and contract. Instead let's consider Jason Schmidt and Barry Zito. The Cubs have reportedly offered Jason Schmidt a three-year contract worth $44 million, a contract which, after the luxury tax, would cost a multiple offender such as the Yankees $61.6 million. In contrast, the Yankees don't have to pay tax on the bid for the right to negotiate with Igawa, only on his resultant contract. The luxury tax penalty on a $21 million contract for Igawa is $8.4 million. Adding the contract and tax to the untaxed bid results in a total of $55.4 million, a $6.2 million savings for a younger, healthier pitcher, and that doesn't even take into account the fact that some reports have the Cubs offer to Schmidt including a vesting option for a fourth year, and that Schmidt may yet turn it down in search of more. Barry Zito, a younger, healthier pitcher than Schmidt, will likely demand an even longer deal for even more money.
Of course, that math is based on a lot of speculation, both about the three pitchers' contract demands and about Igawa's ability to succeed in the major leagues, but it's certainly possible that the Yankees are not overspending wildly here, especially as they have the ability to step away without losing a dime should Igawa's contract demands become unreasonable. That said, I expect the Yankees will reach an agreement with Igawa, and that this move will allow them to avoid dipping into the domestic free agent market for another starting pitcher.
Considering the options out there, as long as the finalized deal comes in below the bid price for Matsuzaka, another round of loud applause to Ca$hman.
Besides, I know I like to spell and type Igawa's name a lot more than the future Red Sox SP. (Seriously, does Red Sox really think ONE excellent SP is going to win it all for them?)
I think (though I may be wrong) that that's roughly 26 trillion dollars, or about 510,00 times as much as the Red Sox bid for Matzusaka. I don't think much of this offer as-is, but at that rate, the Yankees could have signed everybody who has been a free agent ever, and the entire population of several medium-sized first-world countried besides.
In other words, there's a typo in your post.
Here's an inning of Kei Igawa from YouTube.
If that is the case, than the deal would be even cheaper than one Lilly would receive for possibly the same production when factoring in luxury tax.
Can anyone compare 'our' Kei Igawa to 'their' Hideki Okajima?
Because the Yanks and Sox are #1 and #2 in financial clout, both teams might look substancially Japanese in the upcoming years.
Paying $16mil/year for Hideki Okajima MAY look decent in THIS years heavily inflated hot-stove, but it seems like a lot for a #3-#4 guy... especially one who does not have a great fastball. However, it is hard to play 'BillyBeanBall' (best bang for the buck) when you have an imperative to win every year.
Man-of-Cash is doing a great job. We are getting younger, cheaper, and continue to improve the next years team.
What is Lilly getting, or expected to get?
Next year's prize might be Koji Uehara (check out Mike Plugh's Uehara Watch). He'll be a free agent, because his team (the Giants) declined to post him.
he's a reliever, not starter... and he won't get 16 mil a year. did you mean to say Igawa?
The one comment I have on Cliff's Igawa/Matsuzaka comparison, is please run the numbers on the last 3-4 seasons for both pitchers and you will see that they inhabit different planets. Matsuzaka has become Pedro Martinez in Japan, while Igawa is a nice frontline pitcher. Matsuzaka had a 6.06 K/BB in 2006 and his ERA continues to plummet into deeper layers of the abyss.
Make no mistake, the Red Sox have a FAR superior player in Matsuzaka, but I think the Yankees may have a little something going if they can manage Igawa's pitch counts and work with him on some physical training.
3. the trade
7. (hughes/clippard/sanchez/rasner krstens: this list will be
shorter after the trade) I'm thinking could be one of these guys is gone or none if the trade has melky in it
I hope its just because of concerns about the back.
Because 200 innings and 17 wins a yr isnt something to laugh about.
Ill still be shocked if Proctor isnt pitching in the pen come the season. Just look like last yr Id have been shocked if Crosby was the starting CF on opening day.
I really like Proctor in a potential 7-8-9 mix with Farnsworth, Bruney and Mo. I think we should be patient; we haven't even hit the winter meetings yet. Someone may make a mistake that Ca$hmoney can take advantage of in this market. Teams may over-sign and overpay and need to move bodies. Teams may fail to sign what they need in the FA market and realize they need a piece we have an excess of. I think we have the time to be a little patient with this thing.
I'm not sure if this has been posted here before, but here's another video of Igawa pitching (from 2001). You may recognize an old friend about 14 seconds into it.
Wouldnt you rather have Karstens go in the 5 hole and give u 5-6 innings and have Proctor in the pen and giving you a shutdown bullpen?
"The Yankees could put together a package headed by Melky Cabrera and Humberto Sanchez to lure the Marlins into moving Dontrelle Willis out of Miami."
This is simply a middle paragraph from an article about Igawa. They don't have any support for it, they just lay it out there.
Re: Igawa. The posting fee seems a little ridiculous, but money is flying out of owners' pockets this offseason. If you're in the camp that wants to include the posting fee in the final "cost" it takes to sign a player, we still have to factor in that the fee does not count against the luxury tax. So that if Igawa signs for the reported $7 million for three years, that means that the Yankees would average $16 million over three years. That's Barry Zito/Jason Schmidt money, and no one expects Igawa to be that good. But in reality, signing a player to the Jeff Suppan/Ted Lilly/Adam Eaton type contract ($9 to $11 million/year)... would actually end up costing the Yankees around $15-$18 million/year.
So I think that if Igawa signs for $7 million/3 years, the total cost will be pretty fair for the 2006 pitching market.
18 Proctor has a plus curve ball that he featured in his spot start and long relief stints in 2005 and played a part in his success last year. Not that I think that alone will make him a successful starter, but look at it this way. If you prep a guy to start, you can still stick him in the pen when the team breaks camp (that's exactly what the Yanks did with Proctor last year), but it doesn't work as well the other way. If nothing else, being forced to have starters mentality through spring training should continue to make Proctor more of a pitcher and less of a thrower, which can only help his performance out of the pen should he wind up back there (which I imagine he will).
I saw that in the middle of that article as well and thought the same thing. Must be slow at Fox now that they decided not to let OJ on the air.
Yes, the Marlins want to deal Willis...yes, the Marlins need a CF...yes the Marlins want additional prospects but I am guessing they will get a better offer for Willis than Melky, Sanchez and a player to be named later.
I also should have read the comments that preceded mine, because I think if the $4.5 million range is what ends up happening, it's a potential steal for the Yanks. Plus there's the argument from last year: why go with a known mediocre quanity (Bernie in RF, signing Ted Lilly/Gil Meche) when you can go with a promising, younger, unknown quantity (The Kevins, Igawa). I think the Yanks have, enough pieces to put together a rotation that can easily win 90 games. And that's with three months left on the Hot Stove.
I think he's got the right make-up for CF. His range is among the best out of all LFs.
Also, don't forget that Willis may have lost a little luster this past year, with his 1.42 WHIP, .274 BAA, 3.87 ERA.
Iggy looks cool. Here's hoping he brings his penchant for strikeouts, and his bright blue mitt to the Bronx.
He wore #29 on the Tigers, which was Dotel's number. Hopefully, he wears it better than Octavio.
I have tepid expectations, but he looks like a pitcher who, with the support of a generous umpire, will not tend to annoy me.
"One person who follows Japanese baseball closely called him "a thin David Wells" because of his repertoire. Igawa throws a fastball, changeup and curveball, and the scout said his curve could be his best pitch if he learned to control it."
Bring on the thin David Wells.
The first time this notion was discussed, we tried to think of an example of a player around 30 who has pitched out of the bullpen for several years in a row suddenly becoming an effective MLB pitcher. We could not think of one.
Holy oxymorons, Batman!
A thrifty George Steinbrenner. A short but lovely Randy Johnson. A forlorn Derek Jeter. A clutchy A-Rod.
"a goutless David Wells" perhaps?
40 An arrogant Mariano Rivera. A laid back Jorge Posada. An iron man Carl Pavano. This is kind of fun.
I think it's safe to assume, at the very least, Igawa will have a better work ethic than Wells.
The Seibu Dome is a hybrid indoor-outdoor park.
I think Koshien has more foul territory.
The most home runs by a Hanshin player last year was 25. The most by Seibu was 31.
Hanshin pitchers gave up 88 home runs last year and Seibu pitchers gave up 131. Seibu plays in a DH league.
36 So what's it gonna be then:
a.) "Hsaw Igawa" (because it almost sounds like "Wonka Wash" spelled backwards)
b.) "K-Iggy" (you do and you get intersmacked)
c.) "Just get us to the seventh and keep the ball down so we can stay close."
d.) "Iggy Boom" (more boisterous than Iggy Pop)
Write me down for the penultimate choice.
as in: "that is a kick-awesome pair of lederhosen that you're wearing" and such.
"If I'm in a particularly jaunty mood, I'll say 'I'm not unwell.'" - George Carlin
Not that I think Proctor is the equivilent of John Smoltz, but just saying there is a guy who was in the bullpen for several years and then returned to the rotation.
So what if he was in the rotation for several years before he went back to the bullpen. lol
Are you serious?
Smoltz started as a starting pitcher and won a cy young and was one of the best in the league.
He only went to the pen because he had problems with his elbow.
OK, I looked it up. Proctor's first 3 years in the minors saw him pitch in 45 games and start 12 (144 IP). Let's call him a reliever for those years.
Then, over the next 2 years, Proctor was a starter - 51 games, 49 starts (273.2 IP). That was 2001-02.
In the 4 years since then, Proctor has started 2 games - one for Columbus in '05, and that one spot start vs Texas in '05 - out of 295 games pitched (majors and minors) (344 IP).
Can we think of anyone with this kind of profile - who then went out to start in the majors?
FWIW, on Proctor's '06 PECOTA card, his similarity score is 60 (which is high), meaning there are lots of players in history like him - and here are his top 10 comparable seasons going into '06:
1 Dave Tobik 1982
2 Bob Stoddard 1986
3 Julio Navarro 1965
4 Mel Queen 1971
5 Tom Gorman 1954
6 Cris Carpenter 1994*
7 Steve Reed 1994
8 Terry Mathews 1994
9 Joe Boever 1990
10 Rich DeLucia 1994
*NOT the ace of the Serious champs
The one name I recognize on there is Steve Reed, who was a very good reliever with the Rockies and other teams. I don't think he ever started though.
BTW, Alex and Cliff, nice touch with the sidebar bloglist re-organization. I just noticed it and was impressed, so I thought I'd say so. Ditto with sponsoring Joba's page at the Baseball Cube.
No surprise on AA pitcher of the year.
I had no idea T-Clip was injured. That explains a lot and is pretty encouraging assuming he's healthy now.
Pettitte pitched to a fairly modest ERA+ and his ratios were nothing special during the championship years. Look at them more closely and tell me you can't see Igawa doing a Pettitte 1998-2000 for the Bombers...
He has pitched 1244 innings in his career, and he still can't control his curve ball. That quote sounds like a nice way to point out a weakness.
EDSP, I think you mean:
"If it's a starter, that means 200 innings. If it's a reliever, that means 4,500 innings."
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