Mr. Michael goes to Japan

2008 Minor League Awards
Why George didn't make the Yankees

Via our buddy Mark Feinsand, we learn that the Yankees are taking this Japan thing seriously. Clearly wanting to avoid another Kei Igawa debacle, they’ve sent Gene Michael overseas to scout things out. Among the rumored targets are Koji Uehara, a 33-year-old righty, Kenshin Kawakami, another righty, and Hitoki Iwase, a lefty reliever. Cork Gaines at MLBTR brings up Yu Darvish as well, though it’s not likely he gets posted this winter.

Hey, when you need something done right, you send the guy or guys you trust most. You definitely don’t send Mike Pagliarulo to do the job. Or else you get a scouting report like this:

“(Igawa) is considered one of the best starters in Japan and is having a good season. He is doing a good job of moving the ball around the zone and seems to be conserving himself throughout the game … He showed a good split and was adding on to his fastball in tough situations. He has enough to be a fourth or fifth starter in the U.S.”

I wish we had more of Pags’s scouting report. I wonder if he mentioned anything about Igawa leaving his changeup high in the zone, a pitch that might fool some in Japan, but one that major league hitters will deposit over the wall. Or take and draw a walk.

Personally, I’m skeptical about talent, particularly pitching talent, coming from Japan. Have we seen any of them sustain success? You can point to Daisuke Matsuzaka, who with a 2.88 ERA is powering the Red Sox. He’s walked 84 in 146 innings, though, which is never a good sign. Can he have consistent success with control like that? History would say no.

2008 Minor League Awards
Why George didn't make the Yankees
  • Ivan

    Dice-K has been morelucky than good this season and it wouldn’t surprise me if next season he has a rough year.

    His BABIP is at .260 and his GB-FB ratio is pretty bad and his FIP is at 4.04.

    Overrated so far in my book.

  • jsbrendog

    wow, pags is just as good a scout as he was a ball player…burn.

  • pat

    Is it possible that Pagliarulo was also the scout who told the yankees abt Wang? I dont really know the extent of their asian scouting department but if the guy who got you cmw gave you a favorable report on igawa I would have believed him too.

  • Ivan

    Off Topic but Billy Wagner will be out for rest of the season and next season with a tear in the MCL in his Elbow.

    • pat

      welp guess k-rod is gonna don the clownsuit next yr

      • Ivan

        I betcha his agent is doing backflips as well.

        • pat

          where did u hear abt wagner i havnt seen anything so far?

          • pat

            just came up on espn nevamind

    • radnom

      And next season? Wow.

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos

        Well, if it’s TJS, it does take a while… maybe we can trade the Mets Pavano to fill their closer role?

        • pat

          anybody else eagerly awaiting that pats 3pm news conference?

  • r.w.g.

    i think matsuzaka’s large number of pitches are a big part of why he has success. he walks a lot of guys, but he strikes people out at a decent clip and doesn’t really give up a ton of hits, either. he is a very good pitcher and his stuff is simply better than many others in the league.

  • cult of basebaal

    c’mon joseph, didn’t you get the memo? the problem is that cashman doesn’t know pitching. what’s all this silliness about scouts? if cashman was a real GM he just know how to evaluate pitchers himself, you know, just like JP does up in Toronto!

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos

      Too bad J.P. doesn’t really like being a GM that much or have much passion for being a GM.

      • cult of basebaal

        true dat, i certainly wouldn’t trade for him …

        • Will

          There’s a reason why you’re attracted to some GM’s, and there’s a reason why you’re not attracted to some GM’s. I don’t think you’d be very happy if we brought J.P. Ricciardi here.

          • tommiesmithjohncarlos

            When reached for comment, J.P. Riccardi said the following:

            “I know nothing about this clown Will. I have no idea who he is. I don’t really care what one guy thinks, to be honest with you. If I’m a blog poster, I don’t know if I would go out of my way to kind of discredit a GM.”

  • tommiesmithjohncarlos

    I’m going to say that, while it’s a good sign that Michael is going over there to do some scouting, we’re not going to be signing any of those guys.

  • Reggie C.

    Did we miss the boat on Fukudome? His stat line isn’t great, but darn it, its a major improvement over what we’ve gotten in the CF role.

    .262 BA / .362 OBP / .382 Slg

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos

      Fukudome’s tripleslash, month by month (I believe I read this from Jayson Stark):

      A – .327/.436/.480
      M – .293/.388/.404
      J – .264/.387/.402
      J – .236/.306/.382
      A – .193/.293/.253
      S – .100/.182/.100

      Do you think the league is figuring him out a bit? I’m not killing myself for passing on that lead balloon.

      • Jamal G.

        A – .193/.293/.253

        For the love of Mariano…

    • pat

      eh its not that much of an improvement and melky is 7 yrs younger and 1/10 the price

      • pat

        upon further review hes closer to 1/ 14th the price

  • JohnnyC

    I’ll mention his name since no one has…yet. Yu Darvish. If he gets posted this off-season, you’d need someone’s opinion you could trust and that’s Gene. At least the Mets and Red Sox will most likely sit this one out. Well, the Mets anyway.

  • E-ROC

    I think the Yanks are looking at the relievers, not starters though Uehara and Darvish are good. I like Kenshin Kawakami more.

  • A-Point

    The real downside of Dice K is he has been used very heavy over his years. Darvish might be a better success if he is gotten sooner rather than later, as the MLB is more careful in the early development of the pitchers.

    Dice K has some decent stuff, but I think he will wear out before his time. It is already affecting him, this year and last year.

  • PhilK

    Your analysis of Dice-K is problematic in 2 ways. First it illustrates a problem with the sabremetic viewpoint – “his performance is decent but the stats don’t fit my theory so he clearly can’t keep it up.” If only the Yanks could get someone so lucky to stumble across a 2.9 ERA! After 147 innings, luck is long gone and you must admit he does the job of a pitcher pretty well, not to have a high K/BB ratio but to not give up runs and keep his team in the game. Second, you’re skeptical about talent from Japan – WTF!!! I’m skeptical that you aren’t high. That sounds like lots of long-ago “I don’t think so-and-sos can play major league baseball” thinking. The common thread of these pronouncements – all incorrect. I guess Ichiro and Matsui are overrated or are displaying unsustainable success.

    • Joseph P.

      I’ll admit that Dice-K is doing the job this year. There’s no doubt about that. Can he do it in years to come? That’s the question I’m asking. It’s mighty tough for a pitcher to realize sustained success with that kind of walk rate. He could always improve upon it, though, and thus improve his entire game.

      Second, if you’re going to criticize me, you might as well read the damn post.

      “particularly pitching talent,”

      That’s the quote. Yet you name position players. Can you name me one Japanese pitcher who has had more than three good years? — and we’ll use a common-sense definition for good.

      • PhilK

        The quote is, “Personally, I’m skeptical about talent, particularly pitching talent, coming from Japan.” Which to me sez you are skeptical about ALL talent, pitching even more so, from Japan. If you meant just pitching, fine. Obviously, there have been no Japanese hurlers performing at a sustained All-Star level but the sample size is pretty low. As with position players from Japan (and players from the Caribbean) as we see more , we’ll see some high quality ones – there is no reason this wouldn’t happen unless the best ones stay in Japan. Nomo had 3-5 good years (years a Yanks pitcher could have really used this year) out of 12 – not a HOFer but a respectable career. Irabu had 3 good months! I’m not really familiar with Otsuka but his numbers in his 4 years were pretty good. Are you just (understandably) pissed about Igawa?

  • Mik @ NYYU


    • 27 this year

      I agree with you on no more Japanese pitchers. However, Darvish is different in the fact that he is a star. He is better than Dice-K and younger. He has great stuff with control.

  • http://RiverAve.Blues Joseph M

    I wouldn’t touch any of the pitchers mentioned above. The Yanks are at a crossroad, either they go for big time pitching talent with a win it now approach or they start looking long term (2010, 2011…) and start getting younger. The three pitchers listed above are too iffy to roll the dice with for next year and by the same token as players in their mid 30’s to old for a team that is looking two or three years down the road.

    • JohnnyC

      The reason the Red Sox bid over $50 million on Dice-K was precisely because he was only 27…the right side of 30. Unless you’re one piece away from a championship, you don’t ever want to sign a 33 year old free agent who’s thrown over 1500 innings already. That’s just plain idiotic. That’s why Darvish is interesting, he’s 23.

  • JohnnyC

    I’m still willing to believe in Cashman but the ninja persona is losing a lot of luster. Unless he’s got one hell of a plan up his sleeve, the Yankees are in a big mess. Not an unfixable mess but a mess nevertheless.

  • A.D.

    Too bad that same scout didn’t notice Igawa got demoted at one point after he had already established himself due to lack of effectiveness…should have been a warning sign

  • nilnil

    Why dont you visit this site?

    Kawakami is 33 year old with decent stats, he is not Matsuzaka, he can serve as Kuroda of Dodgers for 2-3 years.

    Iwase is the top 3 Japanese closer for many years, but he was stinked in the Olympics under pressure. Thus, I am afraid he cannot play in NK like little Matsui.

    Uehara is also 33 a version of Madux with impressive control, past his prime as an ace. He has a good mental like Matsuzaka, played very good at the Olympics, and helped Japan to win the Worldcup 3 years ago. He has been injured for two years and played as a reliever. This year, his stats as a starter is very bad, but he can serve as a set up for few years. Here is his stats this year.
    G 21, 57 inns, 69 hits, 42 strike outs, 13 BB, ERA at 5.03, 1 save.

    Yu Darvish is very young, I wonder if he has a good mental like Matsuzaka, because he was knocked down at Olympics as the ace of Japanese team.

    I believe that Yankees shoud signed Uehara, Iwase as relieve pitchers. You know that Okajima is doing his impressive job in Boston, but he was so so in Japan.

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