Tag:Kei Igawa
Posted on: January 20, 2012 10:05 am
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Failed imports may replace Darvish in Japan

Kei Igawa Kenshin Kawakami

By C. Trent Rosecrans


If you're a Japanese team and you lose your best player to the big leagues, what do you do to replace him? Well, besides cashing a check for more than $51.7 million, you turn to former big-league pitchers.

The Nippon Ham Fighters (and once again, let me stress that it's the Nippon Ham… Fighters, not the Ham Fighters) are looking at former Japanese big leaguers Kei Igawa and Kenshin Kawakami, according to Daily Sports in Japan (via YakyuBaka.com). The Rangers hope it's not an even trade, as neither Igawa nor Kawakami lived up to expectations in the United States.

Igawa, 32, was posted after the 2006 season and the Yankees paid a posting fee of more than $26 million before signing to a five-year, $20 million contract with New York. For all that money, the Yankees got 13 starts and three relief appearances out of the left-hander, and he hasn't appeared in a big-league game since 2008. In MLB, he went 2-4 with a 6.66 ERA. Last year he was 3-2 with a 3.86 ERA at Double-A and Triple-A. With the Hanshin Tigers of Japan's Central League, he led the league in strikeouts three times and won the 2003 Eiji Sawamura Award, Japan's Cy Young equivalent.

Kawakami, 36, signed with the Braves as an international free agent in 2009, meaning the Braves didn't have to pay a posting fee. He won the Sawamura Award and Central League MVP in 2004. With the Braves, Kawakami was 8-22 with a 4.32 ERA in 41 starts and nine relief appearances in 2009 and 2010 before being outrighted to Double-A after the 2010 season. He struggled in Double-A in 2011, going 2-4 with an 8.41 ERA in 16 appearances (six starts) for Double-A Mississippi.

As Matt Snyder already pointed out, the fact that other Japanese pitchers have failed, doesn't mean Darvish will. Of course, that didn't stop our Taiwanese friends to make the comparison in one of their infamous videos, where Walker "Tex-xas" Ranger is handing over the checks to Darvish to face off Albert Pujols.



The Rangers will have a press conference with Darvish to make the signing official Friday night at 7 p.m. Texas time at Rangers Ballpark.

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Posted on: December 19, 2011 4:42 pm
Edited on: December 19, 2011 6:32 pm
 

Darvish much better than past imported pitchers



By Matt Snyder


With Yu Darvish soon headed to America, the standard generalization from many seems to be that we have to lump him in with the other starting pitchers who have come over from Japan. Hideo Nomo and Daisuke Matsuzaka had good starts but didn't sustain it long-term (though Dice-K still has a chance to change that and Nomo had a very good year for the Dodgers late in his career) while Hideki Irabu and Kei Igawa were unmitigated busts.

As unfair as it is to assume all pitchers coming over from Japan will be a bust based upon four cases -- and it's incredibly unfair -- it's even more unfair to assume everyone coming over is created equally. Look at the position players: Hideki Matsui and Ichiro Suzuki panned out while a decent amount of position players have failed to meet expectations. We need to judge every player on an individual basis.

With that in mind, here's a chart comparing Darvish's Nippon Professional Baseball stats with the four previous big-name starting pitchers to come to Major League Baseball. I used only the pitchers' last five seasons in Japan, as Darvish has only been in the league for five years. Also, I was unable to find hits allowed in every season for all pitchers so unfortunately we had to leave WHIP off the chart. I can tell you with much confidence, however, that Darvish's career 0.89 WHIP would have dwarfed the respective marks posted by the other four here.

Pitcher Years W-L IP ERA K/9
Hideo Nomo
1990-94 78-46 1051.1 3.13 10.3
Hideki Irabu
1992-96 46-39 787 2.87 9.8
Daisuke Matsuzaka
2002-06 63-33 814.2 2.62 9.3
Kei Igawa
2002-06 75-43 997.1 3.14 8.6
Yu Darvish
2007-11 76-28 1024.1 1.72 9.5

Seriously, just look at the ERA, winning percentage -- and again keep in mind his WHIP is greater by a large margin -- and ask yourself if you really want to use how those first four fared in America as a fair baseline for how the 6-foot-5 Darvish will translate. He's obviously been the much greater pitcher in Japan, so it's not fair to believe he's Fat Toad 2.0 ... or even Dice-K 2.0. Darvish is better than each of these four ever was. Period.

Sources: The Baseball Cube, JapaneseBallplayers.com, Sports Nippon and Baseball-Reference.com.

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Posted on: December 14, 2011 11:48 pm
 

Checking in on past products of posting system



By Matt Snyder


With Yu Darvish having been posted and the deadline to submit bids having passed, we now wait in anxious anticipation to see which team wins the honor to negotiate with the 6-foot-5 right-hander. Due to some of the past failures within the system, there seems to be a certain amount of stigma attached to paying so much money just to negotiate with a player. Let's check out the players who signed major-league contracts after going through the posting system and see how they fared.

Before we get to the players, though, let's clarify a few things. First of all, the posting system didn't begin until December of 1998. So Hideo Nomo, for example, was never posted. Also, not every single Japanese import since 1998 went through the system, either. Players who get to free agency in Japan become international free agents -- this is the route Hideki Matsui and Kosuke Fukudome, to name two, have taken. International free agents can sign with whatever MLB team they wish and have no posting fee paid to their former teams. And some players went through the posting system and either ended up signing minor-league contracts or not signing at all.

The following eight players did go through the posting process prior to last season and end up with a major-league contract. Let's look at each, chronologically.

(player, year posted, winning team, posting fee paid -- which does not include player salary)

Ichiro Suzuki, 2000, Mariners, $13.125 million
The 10-time All-Star won the MVP his first season in America. He's led the league in hits seven times and sports a career average of .326. He's become a franchise icon and could be headed to the Hall of Fame despite not playing in America until he was 27. So, yeah, this one worked out just fine.

Kaz Ishii, 2002, Dodgers, $11.26 million
The left-handed pitcher lasted just four seasons, with control being a major problem. Ishii led the majors with 106 walks his rookie year and then offered up 101 and 98, respectively the next two seasons. He ended with a 39-34 record, 4.44 ERA and 1.53 WHIP in his MLB career.

Akinori Otsuka, 2003, Padres, $300,000
This couldn't have turned out much better for the Padres. Not only did Otsuka post a sparkling 1.75 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 87 strikeouts in 77 1/3 innings in 2004, but he was also a valuable member of the 2005 playoff NL West champs. Then, the Padres traded him to the Rangers with Adam Eaton in a move that landed both Adrian Gonzalez and Chris Young (the pitcher). That's a pretty nice return for originally posting less than the current league minimum salary.

Shinji Mori, 2005, Rays, $750,000
The relief pitcher tore the labrum in his throwing shoulder and missed all of the 2006 season. He was then released by the Rays and returned to Japan, having never appeared in a major-league game.

Daisuke Matsuzaka, 2006, Red Sox, $51,111,111.11
Yes, "Dice-K" has been awful for the past three seasons and is now trying to recover from an injury. He might never be a valuable member of a rotation again, but he's still only 31 and did produce for two seasons. He finished fourth in Rookie of the Year voting in 2007, also pitching well in winning Game 3 of the World Series (which the Red Sox would sweep). Then in 2008, Dice-K went 18-3 with a 2.90 ERA and finished fourth in AL Cy Young voting. So, yeah, he's been really bad the past three years, but to call him a complete and utter bust would be a stretch. Over the duration of his deal, he's definitely been way overpaid, but was still valuable for two seasons.

Darvish Posting
Akinori Iwamura, 2006, Rays, $4.5 million
He was helpful for two seasons for the Rays, including when he was the starting second baseman on the 2008 American League champions. He hit .281 with a .354 on-base percentage during his Rays' career, but he lost his job in 2009 to Ben Zobrist and then fizzled in 2010 for both the Pirates and A's. Iwamura was released by the A's at the end of the season.

Kei Igawa, 2006, Yankees, $26,000,194
If you want to find a colossal waste of money in the posting system attached to a gigantic bust, this is the guy you're looking for. He's far more a "bust" than Dice-K. In 16 major-league appearances, Igawa went 2-4 with a 6.66 ERA (which just looks eerie, no?) and 1.76 WHIP. And get this, Igawa hadn't pitched in the majors since 2008, yet still made $4 million from the Yankees this past season as he played out the duration of his five-year contract. The left-handed pitcher appeared in four Triple-A games and 16 Double-A games. And the Yankees paid more than $45 million total for him. Wow.

Tsuyoshi Nishioka, 2010, Twins, $5.329 million
It was a season to forget for the skinny middle infielder. Nishioka broke his leg during the first series as Nick Swisher took him out on a potential double-play turn. When Nishioka healed up and came back, he was one of the worst offensive players in the majors, hitting .226/.278/.249. He was so bad, in fact, that the Twins went out and signed Jamey Carroll to be the everyday shortstop while Alexi Casilla will play second. So the posting fee and $9.25 million contract (which is a three-year deal) is for a backup that they definitely never want stepping in the box for any important at-bats. That's money not-very-well spent.

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Posted on: July 25, 2011 9:01 am
Edited on: July 25, 2011 10:53 am
 

Pepper: The odd story of Kei Igawa



By Matt Snyder


The New York Yankees paid $46 million to bring Kei Igawa to America in 2007. He's been nothing short of a colossal bust since, as he compiled a 6.66 ERA and 1.76 WHIP in 16 major-league appearances. He has been in the minors since July 2008 and is not coming back. In fact, the Yankees tried to send Igawa back to Japan, but he refused. No other teams have interest in Igawa, and the Yankees have declined to release him.

Instead, Igawa and the Yankees seem to be simply riding out the contract, which does expire at the end of this season. He lives in Manhattan, yet doesn't go to Yankees games or even watch them on TV.

“I don’t watch their games anymore,” Igawa said (New York Times). “I never follow them.”

He commutes from Manhattan to Scranton for his Triple-A games every single day. He's reportedly quiet and a bit of a recluse. His minor-league numbers aren't bad, but they aren't really good either. He's married with at least one child, but won't reveal how many kids he has or his wife's name. They don't come with him to America, so he spends baseball seasons alone.

The story of Igawa is interesting and a bit odd, too. It's pretty long, but a highly recommended feature in the Sunday edition of the New York Times.

Hat-tip: Big League Stew

TRIVIA QUESTION: For a guy who has struck out just six batters per nine innings throughout his career, getting to 2,000 total would take quite a while. And it did. After 17 years and almost 3,000 innings, Tim Wakefield recorded his 2,000th strikeout Sunday in a Red Sox uniform (BostonHerald.com). He had 110 strikeouts for the Pirates way back in the early 1990s, so he was already over 2,000 for his career. Here's the trivia question: Only one active pitcher has more career strikeouts. Who is he? See the very last entry in this post for the answer.

JOHAN GETTING CLOSER: Mets ace Johan Santana might be ready to make a minor-league rehab start Wednesday. It would be significant because rehab stints are limited to 30 days, so Santana wouldn't be pushed into the outing unless he was less than a month away from returning to the majors. He still needs to make sure his surgically repaired left shoulder feels good when he wakes up Monday. “As of right now, it’s a wait-and-see mode. We’ll see how it is [Monday] and go from there," Santana said (New York Times). Then again, general manager Sandy Alderson reportedly believes another simulated game is the next step (ESPN New York).

NO MO' WILY MO: The Diamondbacks released Wily Mo Pena on Sunday. The 29-year-old outfielder -- if we can call him that -- embodies the term "two true outcomes," as he hit five home runs and struck out 19 times in his 46 at-bats. He only had nine hits total and didn't take a walk. He certainly doesn't deserve a spot on the major-league roster with that kind of production, but when he gets into a pitch, it goes a long way. I think someone should pick him up just to put on a show in batting practice. Can't go wrong there. (Diamondbacks official Twitter)

QUALITY CONTROL: As Yankees relief pitcher Rafael Soriano works his way back from injury on a rehab assignment, the Yankees are going to base their decision on performance, not health. "We want to see him throwing the ball well and that his stuff is back," manager Joe Girardi said. "I think that's important. So to say that if he goes back-to-back, is that all you have to see? No. We have to see the quality of the stuff more important than the back-to-back." (MLB.com) It might sound obvious to judge on performance, but teams don't always do that. Once a guy is healthy, he's generally returned to the majors. For example ...

WANG TO START FRIDAY: Chien-Ming Wang will start Friday for the Nationals, despite being roughed up in his last Triple-A rehab start. He allowed five runs in five innings (Washington Post). It will be Wang's first major-league start since July 4, 2009.

SIGNATURE SANDWICHES: Concession company Aramark held social media voting on the best signature sandwiches at 11 MLB ballparks. Sports and Food has the list of winners, and it includes some pretty mouth-watering selections, which includes yet another reason to visit PNC Park.

RETREAD CITY: Remember Angel Berroa? He was the 2003 AL Rookie of the Year as a member of the Royals. He fizzled a few years later and hasn't played in the majors since 2009. He actually wasn't even playing in the minors this season, instead playing with the independent Bridgeport Bluefish. That didn't prevent the Diamondbacks from noticing him, as they've now signed him. He will report to Triple-A Reno (Bridgeport Bluefish official site). This is the same ballclub that went with Wily Mo Pena, Russell Branyan, Xavier Nady, Melvin Mora, Geoff Blum and Sean Burroughs this season.

TEMPORARY RETURN: Philip Humber of the White Sox has performed so well as a starting pitcher that the White Sox felt compelled to go with a six-man rotation. Because of a rainout, however, Humber will be shifted back to the bullpen for a few games this coming week. "I'm good with it," he said (Chicago Tribune). "Whatever they want me to do. I've said all along, when they give me the ball, I'll do the best I can with it."

CHEESY CELEBRATION: Terry Francona won his 1,000th game as a manager Saturday night when his Red Sox took down the Mariners. He celebrated by having a grilled cheese sandwich. (Full Count)

ON THIS DAY IN BASEBALL HISTORY: Roger Maris homered four times in a double-header in 1961, en route to hitting a then-record 61 home runs.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Javier Vazquez with 2,456. (Baseball-Reference)

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Posted on: March 26, 2011 11:37 am
Edited on: April 18, 2011 12:33 pm
 

Pepper: Japanese players coping

Daisuke Matsuzaka

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Sometimes the nature of our 24/7 news cycle makes us forget -- or at least move on from -- even the biggest of news stories get lost in the next big story.

Even though Japan is still dealing with the destruction of the earthquake and tsunami -- and will be for years -- we're not hearing as much about Japan right now. It's only natural. But that doesn't mean that everything's OK there.

Yankees pitcher Kei Igawa went to Japan last weekend and was deeply moved by what he saw.

"It was pretty disastrous," Igawa told the New York Daily News through an interpreter. "The roads were a mess, and when I was home, the water wasn't running. It was pretty hard for me."

Igawa's parents and family are OK, but keep in mind his hometown of Oarai well south of the epicenter and 100 miles from the damaged nuclear plant in Fukushima. He said his house didn't suffer flooding, but did suffer damage from the earthquake.

The Yankees allowed him to return home, where he spent five days and returned earlier this week.

"Compared to the rest of the country -- especially up north, where it was much worse, I feel really fortunate," Igawa said. "I wanted to stay home a little longer, because my family and friends are going through  hard time. But I also had to resume baseball, because that's my job."

Igawa will start the season in Triple-A. He's in the final year of his five-year, $20 million contract.

Many other Japanese players are trying to come to terms with what's going on at home, as well.

"Fortunately, I am a survivor, but it hurts, of course," the Angels Hisanori Takahashi told the Los Angeles Times through an interpreter. "It has definitely been difficult to focus on baseball.

"Seeing all the [TV] footage, you get a little numb, but it's a real thing. I have to keep my eye on the tragedy, but I also have to play baseball here."

Red Sox starter Daisuke Matsuzaka said he's still too emotional about the situation to discuss it publicly, but he showed how he felt by giving $1 million to the Red Sox Foundation, which is giving all that money to the Japanese Red Cross Society to help fund relief efforts. The Red Sox said Hideki Okajima, Junichi Tazawa and Itsuki Shoda have also made personal donations through the Red Sox Foundation.

Matsuzaka joins fellow stars Ichiro Suzuki (100 million yen, roughly $1.2 million) and Hideki Matsui (50 million yen, roughly $620,000) in making large donations to the Red Cross for relief efforts in Japan.

BATISTA FINED -- Reliever Miguel Batista was the only Cardinal fined for last week's scuffle between the Cardinals and the Nationals. Batista hit Washington's Ian Desmond to start the fracas. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

BUCK FALLOUT -- We've already had Buck Showalter backpedaling about his comments to Men's Health about his comments on Derek Jeter and the Red Sox. Derek Jeter, not surprisingly, wouldn't comment on Showalter's comment. However, a look at the stats say Showalter's wrong -- Jeter actually doesn't get the calls on the inside corder. [ESPN]

TULO'S FINAL FOUR -- Finally, a Final Four that matters. You can now vote for one of four songs Troy Tulowitzki will use for his at-bat music. Well, to me they're all crap, but I'm not the target audience. Tulowitzki had "Party in the USA" last year, so the selections this year are just as bad -- "Firework" by Katy Perry, "Baby" by Justin Bieber, "We R Who We R" by Ke$ha and "Yeah 3X" by Chris Brown. Vote here. [Denver Post]

THE LEGEND BEGINS -- I'm reading Jane Leavy's The Last Boy  about Mickey Mantle right now, so I knew about the legend of Mickey Mantle's home run at USC in 1961. Well, the Los Angeles Times remembers it too. A really cool story on the birth of the legend of the Mick.

MILLWOOD GOOD? -- Is Kevin Millwood really that bad? Looking at some of the recent pitchers to have 16 losses and an 82 ERA+ like Millwood did last season shows some pretty decent pitchers have done that before. [Baseball-Reference.com blog]

HE'S NOT FAT, HE'S BLOATED -- Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal explains he was bloated from medication, not fat when spring training started. Furcal ate contaminated meat in his native Dominican Republic in January and the drugs he took made him bloated. He looked big when he checked in, but he was just 193 pounds, about the same he usually checked in at. He's now at 188, just about where he likes to play. [Los Angeles Times]

D-BACKS BULLPEN ISN'T BORING -- Diamondbacks bullpen catcher Jeff Motuzas has discovered bored, rich relievers will pay people to amuse them. So, Motuzas takes on dares to pick up extra bucks. Among the things he's done -- snorted wasabi, eater regurgitated yogurt, left hot balm on his shaved armpits for an entire game and gotten shot in the earlobe with a BB gun. Livan Hernandez once paid him $3,000 to drink a gallon of milk in 12 minutes. The two also had a deal that Hernandez could punch him in the junk for $50 a pop -- with a $300 bonus after every 10th punch. [Wall Street Journal]

BUT IS HE WRONG? -- An anonymous "MLB star" had several things to say to  ESPN the Magazine about the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera, including "why isn't Cabrera paying a guy $100 a night to drive him around? Plenty of guys do that. That he didn't is a slap in his teammates' faces." [MLive.com]

ROCK THE KAZMIR -- Mike Scioscia didn't sound too optimistic about Scott Kazmir when he announced the lefty had made the team's rotation. If Kazmir struggles continue into the regular season, Matt Palmer may be an option. [Los Angeles Times]

TOGETHER WE'RE GIANT -- Our buddy Will Brinson loves the Giants commercials. I found them amusing, but still not as good as the Mariners commercials. I like the Cardinals ones better, too.

RIGGLEMAN DOESN'T CARE ABOUT YOUR STATS -- You've seen some good commercials, now listen to a bad one. The Washington Nationals, MASN and Jim Riggleman are attacking stats in their newest campaign. Apparently a bunt or a "well-placed single" are "smart" -- and the walk is recognized as a good thing. But yeah, a pretty silly campaign.

THE NATURAL ON THE HILL -- Robert Redford will throw out the first pitch at the Cubs' opener on April 1 against the Pirates. [Chicago Tribune]

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Posted on: March 13, 2011 7:25 pm
Edited on: March 13, 2011 7:50 pm
 

Baseball dealing with tragedy in Japan

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Brewers pitcher Takashi Saito gave up two runs on four hits in his one inning of work on Sunday, but it was still the best day he's had since an earthquake and tsunami devastated his hometown of Sendai, Japan, last week.

Saito was supposed to pitch Saturday against Arizona, but was given permission to leave after playing catch. He was given the option of whether he wanted to pitch the first inning today or not. 

Takashi SaitoHe pitched and before the game asked for a moment of silence for unaccounted friends and family in the disaster.

"I've gotten more news on what's going on in Japan," Saito told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel through his translator. "Mentally, I was in a better place pitching. Compared to the past two days, I was able to sleep. I have been getting more information and I'm more relieved."

Saito's wife and three children live in Yokohama, far south of where the significant damage was, but there were still aftershocks. His wife and kids are scheduled to come to Phoenix this week.

"The Brewers staff has been very supportive of me," Saito said. "From now on, I want to get into my regular routine."

Saito's parents and two brothers have been accounted for, but there are still other members of his family missing.

"I recognize areas of neighborhoods where relatives live, and I feel terrible," Saito told the Journal-Sentinel's Michael Hunt for his column this morning.  

For a look at the damage in Sendai, see these before and after shots from Google Earth.

One of those missing is a high school teammate, as well as relatives on his father's side.

"I still haven't given up hope," he told MLB.com.

Yankees reliever Kei Igawa's family lives in Orai, Japan, another hard-hit area. According to the New York PostIgawa was able to track down his family in Japan. His family is living in a car, but alive. He was scheduled to fly to Japan yesterday.

Japanese Professional Baseball will hold a special meeting on the 15th to discuss the start of the season and what to do with the Rakuten Eagles, who play in Sendai. Kleenex Stadium isn't in shape to play due to cracks in the structure, water leaks and depressions in the field.

"Ideally, I think it's our job to play games in order to lift spirits and bring courage to everyone in the Tohuku region," Jun Yoneda, an Eagles representative said (via YakyuBaka.com). "But we need to make this decision after taking a look at the big picture; this isn't just about problems with the stadium, but also the growing list of casualties."

Kleenex Stadium is being opened to the public to use the bathrooms, as well as for use to charge mobile phones.

In the United States, the Dodgers will hold a "drive-through" relief effort at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday. Dodgers alumni will take donations for the American Red Cross Japan earthquake and tsunami relief efforts.

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Posted on: August 10, 2010 12:04 am
Edited on: August 10, 2010 12:17 pm
 

Delgado hitless in Triple-A debut

Carlos Delgado Carlos Delgado went hitless in his first minor-league appearance for the Pawtucket Red Sox on Monday night.

Delgado, signed to a minor-league deal with the Red Sox on Saturday, batted fourth as the designated hitter for the Triple-A team against the Yankees' Triple-A squad.

Delgado hit the ball to the right-field fence in his first at-bat, grounded out in his second and struck out in his third. Kei Igawa started and threw 5 2/3 innings for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, retiring Delgado in all three plate appearances. Delgado was replaced by a pinch hitter in the eighth inning.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Category: MLB
 
 
 
 
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