Return to sender

The Road to Omaha
Leaving it at the old ballpark: the Y.M.C.A.

Via Jayson Stark:

Kei Igawa isn’t quite as buried on that Yankees’ depth chart as Carl Pavano, but it’s close. And he’s already homesick. We’ve heard from two different baseball men recently that Igawa asked the Yankees over the winter if there was any way he could return to Japan. The Yankees quietly explored their options, got nowhere and gave up. They’re still on the hook for nearly $11 million to Igawa through the 2010 season.

Now, this isn’t an original idea. RAB commenters have mentioned it; my mom has mentioned it. But how hard could the Yankees have tried to ship Igawa back to Japan?

Kyle Kendrick’s experience aside, a trade back to Japan for Igawa would be fairly unprecedented. Japanese League players — Alfonso Soriano and Hideo Nomo, I’m looking at you — have “retired” in Japan so that they could sign MLB free agent contracts, but never in the history of the game has an American team traded a player back to his home country.

At this point, it’s clear that the Yanks have just about slammed the book on the Kei Igawa Era. He has never been an effective Major Leaguer, and he’s not a part of any of the Yanks’ long- or short-term plans. He’s owed just $11 million over the next two and a half seasons, a paltry sum by Yankee standards. So why not just release him?

Well, the Yanks don’t want to let him go because they’re afraid that some other team will pick him up for the league minimum and catch lightening in a bottle. By now, though, considering that the Yanks have even explored sending him back to Japan, it’s clear that Igawa is nothing more than a warm body to fill space at AAA. He’s probably going to end his brief American career as the highest-paid AAA starter ever, but that’s better than watching him get shelled in the Bronx.

The Road to Omaha
Leaving it at the old ballpark: the Y.M.C.A.
  • Nefarious jackson

    McAllister promoted to Tampa– thanks to Pinstripe plus 4 info

  • Brian

    As Kennedy and Hughes get railed on for the time being, let’s just take a moment and go back to 2007 when Pavano started and Igawa was an exciting curiosity. Yeah, I’ll take Kennedy and Hughes over those guys.

  • Old Ranger

    Pavano is pitching off a half mound (as of yesterday). He hopes to be ready for the 2nd half of the season!?!? I know, he has been a big disappointment (understatement) for the Yanks, but one must remember; he was a good pitcher…at one time. Maybe they can use him and get a little of their money back, or trade him if he does well. Who knows? 27/08?

  • Joey

    can’t we just trade him to japan for like 10 bats like the minor leaguer? hell, we’ll give them the 10 bats to take him

  • Mark

    I will trade Igawa, Pavano, 3 Chien-Ming Wang Lifestyle Series Bobble Heads, and 100 pounds of rice to the Ham Fighter’s in exchange for Yu Darvish.

    • Mike A.

      And what makes you think Yu Darvish will be better than Igawa? A bunch of internet hype?

      • Joey

        as long as he doesn’t do that swirly thing Matsuzaka does with his hips, he can’t be much worse ;-)

      • mustang

        Yu Darvish is 21 years old and his fastball is 93-95mph. He has command of 3 other pitches and your own Baseball America said they would of rank him ahead of Joba in 2007.
        But with his posting fee (which will be bigger than Dice-K) and the Yankees’ history with Japanese pitchers I doubt they will have the balls to go after him.

        • mustang

          Yu Darvish at 21 has won the Japanese Cy Young and his record is outstanding. Igawa was always projected as a 5th or 4th starter at best Yu Darvish is projected as a number 1 or 2, but that’s just projections.

          • mustang

            For the record I don’t want them to go after Yu Darvish. I have had enough of Japanese pitchers as Yankees.

            • r.w.g.

              Fuck that. You can’t operate scared. They Yankees went hard after Matsuzaka and they just badly underestimated what it would take to get him.

              Boston absolutely made the right call going all in on Matsuzaka. While it sucks because they really drove up the price the posting process, in the end they got their man and he’s been a terrific addition for that team.

              Igawa was purely reactionary and it’s probably the worst move Cashman ever made, but you can’t let that take you away from giving Darvish and honest look at how he could impact the NYY.

            • tommiesmithjohncarlos

              I wouldn’t mind if the Yankees paid Igawa to make sushi all day, just as long as he never throws another ML pitch. (I’ve given up on my hopes that he could move to the pen and become a LOOGY…)

              But, I don’t want Igawagate (or Irabugate) to prevent the Yanks from ponying up to the Darvish table. The reason we find gems like Cano and Wang is because we keep trying. Some succeed, some fail. Keep at it. Show some balls.

    • Old Ranger

      Any PC police around? This is not meant anyway other than as I write it.
      Yu stated in an article once that he dislikes the USA. He also is know as a big primadona…I don’t think that is a good fit with the Yanks, do you?
      Take it for what ever you wish, but isn’t it strange that his agent will not even let anyone talk to this guy without putting up the big bucks first? If the news was right about not liking the USA…why put up the money and get kicked in the face if he says ; Get lost?

      • dan

        What do you mean by “not even let anyone talk to this guy without putting up the big bucks first?” Is that referencing the posting fee? If it is, then that’s not Darvish’s agent, it’s the rules of Japanese baseball. Darvish would see none of the posting fee– his team gets it all. If that’s not what you mean, let me know…

        • Old Ranger

          Sorry I’m so late with this reply. What I mean is; no one can talk to him, the team, the agent or anyone else, about him. With most FA out of Japan, one can talk to them in person…not about the game or things like that, but about themselves. Just conversation, nothing more. 27/08?

      • A.D.

        Another Igawa note, if you read his Wikipedia page, he was benched/sent down (basically what happened to Zito this year) at one point in the season 1 year or 2 years before the Yankees posted him

  • mustang

    Maybe the fact that they paid 46 million dollars for Igawa might be a reason they don’t want to release him just a thought.

  • A.D.

    Igawa could just retire if he wants to go back to Japan…but I guess he wants his money.

  • Currambayankees

    If he’s so home sick, why doesn’t he just retire here in America? You know like players have done in Japan and that way the Yankees aren’t on the hook for his ridiculous contract.

  • Geno

    Leave him in AAA for a while. Let him accumulate decent stats in Scranton. Eventually, some National league team will want him. We trade him for a minor leaguer or two, and we’re out.

    • Ben K.

      I think we need to put this AL/NL dichotomy to rest a bit. Right now, the NL without the DH is hitting an average of .260/.333/.410 while the AL is hitting .258/.328/.396. The difference is fairly negligible, and considering the DH, the NL is doing much better. It’s hard to believe any team in any league would want Igawa.

  • waswhining

    I’m glad Matsuzaka is with the Sawks. I can’t stand his little sarariman workman like approach. He’s got a 101 mannerisms that I loathe and I know his arm is going to fall off at some point. I’m with Mustang, irrational though it may seem.

    Still like Phil and Ian though. And Darryl has learned how to pitch. Imagine what Phil and Ian will be when they make that jump and they will. Learning how to get that first strike is what does it. The difference between that and walking the lead off batter is one of the great mysteries of the game.

    I was really in awe of the Razman’s Baltimore start. I always think he’s not going to be able to keep it up, but damn he surprises me. Maybe he will be a flash in the pan but enjoy the gleam while its there.

    • Old Ranger

      Age and maturity does that for people. I don’t expect he will pitch like this all year, but I do think he will good enough to stay in the rotation. 27/08?

  • RustyJohn

    They should send Igawa to A or AA to try to secure some league championships for their teams there- at least he would have some merit- send him down to Tampa so he can be like 13-0 with an ERA of 1.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos

      … No, send him down to Tampa so he can go 13-0 with an ERA of 1, but change his name to something like Sidfinch Yakuza and give him a big fake mustache. Then, call up Miguel Tejada’s advisors and learn how to doctor his papers so it looks like he’s only 20 years old, and trade him to the Rangers for Taylor Teagarden.

      In drastic times like these, criminal fraud is the clear answer.