Getting a return on a wasted investment


With the appropriate caveats — it’s early; Spring Training stats don’t count for anything; small sample size — let’s pretend there is a pitcher who has thrown 8 innings for the Yanks this spring with very promising results. Let’s pretend that in those 8 innings, this left-hander has allowed three hits and no runs. Let’s pretend he has struck out six while walking none, and let’s pretend, for good measure, that the people watching the games are noticing his performance. And now let’s pretend that the guy’s name isn’t Kei Igawa. Would you consider him for the bullpen? Because that’s exactly what Kei Igawa has done this spring.

Categories : Asides, Spring Training


  1. Mike says:

    I have been thinking the same thing, but my guess is we trade him and eat some contract before (Utility infielder) before he sees NY again. But his value would rise if he was able to produce decent numbers in April. Given our bullpen depth, I don’t see us paying someone 5 mill a year to be a long reliever.

  2. Mike Pop says:

    Royals like to have pen guys with large salaries. Igawa for Teahen.

  3. JobaWockeeZ says:

    Yeah I’d try him out in a couple couples working the bullpen. He still has like 4 years left right? Why not?

  4. JobaWockeeZ says:

    couple games*

  5. Simon B. says:

    He’s a longshot. The Yankees are so loaded with relief, and a lot of them don’t require a change on the 40-man roster.

    I feel bad for him. Yeah he’s making more money than I will ever see in my life, but I hope he gets a chance to redeem himself in some small way soon.

  6. Mike A. says:

    Heh, this reminds me of the Pettitte situation. If the Yanks were trying to sign a soon to be 37 year old pitcher that admitted to using PED’s in the past and had a bum shoulder that led to a bad second half last year for $10M, we’d all be flipping out. But because it’s Andy Pettitte, it’s okay.

  7. A.D. says:

    Better off for a trade, the Yanks have already lost that money they might as well not clog up the AAA rotation at the same time.

    Putting Igawa in the big league pen means that someone gets axed from the 40-man, which I don’t think the Yanks want to do to give Igawa a long man role, when there are other, already on the 40 man options.

  8. Chris says:

    Please don’t forget that Kei Igawa led the Yankees in strike outs in Spring Training 2007. Having success in March is nothing new.

  9. Would you consider him for the bullpen?

    Yup. Right after Dan Giese bombs out, like we all know he probably will at some point this season, we DFA Giese and add O-Kei to the 40 man and give him a taste. It would be nice to have three lefties out of the pen, wouldn’t it?

  10. handtius says:

    I think we should, if just to try and raise his trade ability. He did do well in 3A and I do feel bad for the fellow. Came to the US expecting to be a major league pitcher and couldn’t hack it. If Giese fails out, then bring Igawa up. Give him a shot. If he does good, some national league team might need a starter at trade deadline…or maybe he does well enough to stick around…as above, 3 lefties in the pen? been a while.

  11. Reggie C. says:

    The Aussies may have introduced the newest LHP prospect – Aroldis Chapman. Anybody know anything about this kid?

  12. Jeff says:

    This year the Yankees have more depth than the last couple of years, but it is difficult to think of Igawa doing worse than Sidney Ponson (with whom management seemed to have far more patience for some reason) or Brett Tomko.

    He has been a total failure at the major league level but the sample size is very small (71.7 innings, 68 of which in 2007 and only 4 innings in 2008, although they were a total disaster) and you might give him a break for adjustment problems his first year.

    Instead at AAA he was 14-6, 3.45 ERA, 1.16 WHIP at AAA and the go-to guy for Scranton in the playoffs last year.

    With a lot of the flotsam that I see on major league pitching rosters I would think that some GM would do worse than to give up a utility guy to the Yankees (who eat some salary) in return for Kei. It is hardly far-fetched to think that he could be a good longman/5th starter in the majors. The Mets come to mind.

    • Mike Pop says:

      Cashman just needs to say:

      Igawa gives you innings and that’s what you need from your 5th starter. :)

    • Chris says:

      I think he could be a 5th starter for a team that is not trying to win the World Series. If you put him on a team like the Pirates, I’m sure he’d do a fine job filling in the back of the rotation.

      • Jeremy says:

        But why would that team give anything away for Igawa when they can use a league-minimum prospect instead?

        • Chris says:

          I’m not saying that anyone would give up something for him, just that if given the chance he could probably pitch well enough to hold down a rotation spot on a bad team.

    • A.D. says:

      Igawa seems like a solid candidate for an unwanted contract swap.

    • toad says:

      The sample size argument doesn’t work at all. The reason the sample is small is that he was lousy. Are you going to leave him in for the sake of statistical purity, so you can be sure, at a 1% significance level, that he’s lousy?

  13. Cor Shep says:

    Why do they invite players on the 40-man that stand no chance of making the team? If it costs the player options, why waste them for 2 weeks of big league exposure – and by the time they pitch/hit in the game, they’re facing AA and AAA hitters/pitchers anyway. Explanation?

    • Big league spring training invites don’t use up an option. Players on the 40-man only use up an option when they get assigned to the minor leagues, i.e. minor league camp.

      • Cor Shep says:

        I know, I was only talking about Miranda and mostly Brackman – people on the 40. So why waste options that could be used later for the minimal experience of 1-2 weeks of spring training? Is it so they get to work with big league staff and learn new stuff?

        • Maybe I didn’t explain that clearly enough. I’ll try again.

          Being invited to, and participating in, big league spring training camp DOES NOT USE UP AN OPTION. Brackman and Miranda have one of their options used up ONLY when they’re assigned to minor league camp and moved across the street. So, had we not invited them to big league camp and just sent them right to minor league camp, they still would have used up their option, this just allows us to give them an extra few weeks of camp with the big boys.

          The only way to avoid using up an option for Brackman and Miranda is to invite them to big league camp and then keep them on the 25-man active roster all season long.

          It’s not the big league camp part that is using up the option, it’s the fact that they’re not going to unseat Andy Pettitte or Xavier Nady yet for a spot on the 25-man active roster.

    • pat says:

      Because you’re not gonna run derek jeter, jorge posada, arod and others out there every inning of every game. You need to have alot of guys in camp so you’re not burning out the regulars by the end of ST. Pitchers usually start out by throwing 1 inning a game then increase to 2 then three so theres a need for alot of pitchers . Thats why you’re seeing guys get sent to the minors starting now because pitchers are gonna start going 4 or 5 innings each start. It’s just a matter of having depth so guys don’t get too tired before the season even starts.

  14. Grant says:

    Kei Igawa?

    Is the day that boring that we need posts on this AAA player???

    I guess it beats hearing steroid crap.

  15. Jeremy says:

    So what went wrong with Igawa?

    He had an excellent K rate in Japan and regularly led the league in strikeouts. He comes to MLB and can’t miss bats anymore.

    Are MLB hitters just that much better?

    • pat says:

      Yes mlb hitters are much much better and apparently you can get away with throwing a changup high in the zone in Japan. Here that sh*t gets knockedafugout.

    • A.D. says:

      Well if you look he actually kinda sucked his last year in Japan and was demoted at one point:

      In 2005, Igawa went 13-9 with a 3.86 ERA, fifth among his team’s starters in ERA, and was briefly exiled to the minors. He was only tied for fifth in strikeouts (down significantly to 145) and 10th in ERA, but was still third in the circuit in victories. While still a productive hurler, Igawa became a target of enthusiastic fan criticism due to his inability to perform at his prior level.

      So he apparently was already in some type of decline when coming over. On top of that MLB is much better than Japan, sure Ichiro & Matsui have come over an produced quite well, but they were the best players in the game over there. Other guys like Kaz Matsui & Iwamura have been solid players, but haven’t produced like their Japanese numbers

    • MattG says:

      Truthfully, this deserves more research. Igawa’s raw numbers are not that different from Matsuzaka’s, but they do pitch entirely differently. Of the Japanese hitters in the major leagues, they all seem to have a lot more lean and movement with their feet during their swing. I hypothesis that they do not handle balls up in the zone well in Japan, swinging while running to first base the way they do.

      This is the sort of thing the old-time scout should pounce on, as it is a phenomenon that is not explained by the numbers.

  16. Bill says:

    Nope. There is no room for him on the 40-man roster. If room opens up we still need to add another infielder (probably Berroa) and will need a permanent spot on the 40-man for Melancon shortly thereafter.

    Plus there are plenty of bullpen options that are performing well this spring. Right now you have to figure the following guys are probably or definitely in:


    Edwar is also in when healthy, but it looks like he might hit the DL to start the year.

    That leaves 2 spots open if we keep 12 pitchers which is not a certainty. The following guys are competing for those spots:


    The first 6 guys are all on the 40-man roster and with the exception of Giese and Aceves have all pitched well in ST. My guess is that if Giese doesn’t turn things around he could be off the 40-man roster and replaced by Berroa. Which would mean barring any other roster moves the final 2 spots would be between the other 5 guys on the 40-man roster or Melancon who is making a strong case for the team to find room for him. So far of those guys on the 40 Robertson looks pretty likely. Albaladejo could be the long man or we could go without a long man since our rotation is better and since we’ll have 7 guys in the bullpen.

    But who knows? I just think its going to take a lot more than 8 innings of ST to move Igawa up the depth chart enough that he would even be considered for the Major league roster anytime soon. My guess is that if he continues on this trend we’ll try to trade him and cut our losses.

  17. Evan in NYC says:

    I don’t think Igawa get’s to see the MLB unless he is traded (hopefully) or there is a complete collapse of the bullpen/rotation(hopefully not). His numbers are probably decent in ST because he comes in around the middle-late innings when most AAA players and below are in anyway. I don’t think there is much to his stuff with his below average fast ball and lack of ability to keep anything down in the zone. I hope he doesn’t come back to the MLB level anytime soon.

  18. Grant says:

    Whoever hasn’t seen enough of this guy to know he flat out stinks hasn”t been watching Yankee games.

  19. Ace says:

    Using the same reasoning that Joba’s frist 2 starts didnt meaning anything and that Wang’s horrible spring last year meant nothing, I am going to give an emphatic NO, Igawa should be pitching in the minors. These innings mean nothing.

  20. dane bramage says:

    Igawa, Melky, Miranda,Rameriz,Robertson.Likely trade candidates,some of these guys actually have trade value.

  21. pontac says:

    Igawa stinks even if he threw more than 200 innings and allowed 0 run with a 0.00 ERA, because he is a stinking Japanese.
    We will give him no chance to play in the MLB even if he threw no-hitter every time he pitched in the AAA.
    We all hate Japanese players because we are not Boston gentlemen but Harlem kids.

  22. Igawa sucks. Spring stats don’t mean anything. Are we going to pay attention to ever sample size that is 8 innings long now?

  23. RobC says:

    Igawa clogs space where ever he is AAA or majors.
    The sooner he is in the NL west the better.
    Can we get a waivers price for him?

  24. MattG says:

    I might be interested to learn that Igawa has had his eight innings of success by pitching down in the zone. Then I would be interested to know that he continued that success through the rest of spring, April, and May while pitching at AAA (all while pitching down in the zone). I might be interested in seeing a good ground-ball rate over all that time, and improved K/9 and K/FB rates.

    And after all that, he might move up to 8th or 9th on my bullpen depth chart, a couple of injuries away from the major leagues.

    He’s a long ways away.

    In other news, why does any team, especially this one, thinks it needs a long man? Note to skipper: you do not have to remove your good relievers after one inning.

  25. Bob Meusel Batting 5th says:

    You guys are too harsh re: Igawa (obviously the worst example of the numerous pitching gambles/failures of the Cashman – and/or Billy Eppler in tow – administration).
    If Brett Gardner needs a few pairs of hitting gloves Igawa might be useful in a trade!

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