In a rather dubious fashion, Kei Igawa tied a Scranton record yesterday, and in a few days, he’ll be the sole owner of the mark. PeteAbe with an assist from Chad Jennings, reports that Kei Igawa’s 26th win of his three-year stint at AAA Scranton ties the franchise record. He and Evan Thomas, a career minor leaguer with the Phillies organization, share this dubious distinction.
After the game, Igawa, stuck at AAA forever, kept his achievement in perspective. I can’t tell if he’s being somber or sarcastic. “As long as there is a record that I have chance of setting, it’s something the process to get through,” he said. “It’s a stepping stone, not a final goal of mine.”
Got that? Kei Igawa’s final goal is not to be the most winning Japanese pitcher in the history of the International League or Scranton’s most successful starter. I’m glad he cleared that up.
For his in-progress AAA career, Igawa is now 26-13 with a 3.56 ERA in 51 starts. He’s striking out over 7 per 9 innings and has a WHIP of 1.21. These decent minor league numbers though have not translated into Major League success. With the Yanks, he is 2-4 with a devilish 6.66 ERA in 16 games. Opponents have hit a stunning .302/.386/.549 off of the lefty. He was removed from the 40-man roster in 2008 and hasn’t seen Yankee pinstripes since a one-inning cameo last June. He is still under contract for the next two seasons.
At this point, there’s no real way to sugar coat the Yanks’ decision to sign Kei Igawa. They forked over $46 million for his services, and I doubt he’ll pitch another Big League inning before his contract ends following the 2011 season. While Peter Gammons once blamed Ron Guidry for tinkering with Igawa’s motion and alleged that the Red Sox would put in a waiver claim, that statement seemed more delusional than ever when Igawa passed through waivers last year.
Meanwhile, it is accepted knowledge that the Yanks decided to sign Igawa instead of taking a shot on Ted Lilly for four years and around $40 million. Lilly is third in the Majors in victories since then and 12th in strike outs. Ouch. This might just have been one of the worst Yankee decisions of the last five years.
But as we wait for the game to begin in a few hours, we will tip our caps to Kei Igawa. He now owns an American baseball record. It might be a dubious one, but it is a record indeed. The sad part is that he’ll probably have another two and a half seasons during which he can build on it.