Report: Yanks interested in Ryota Igarashi

Coke a starter in Detroit? Not likely
Bidding farewell to Ian Patrick Kennedy

With Brian Bruney and Phil Coke exiled to Washington and Detroit and Phil Hughes slotted for the starting rotation, the Yanks’ bullpen is in flux right now. Mariano Rivera, Damaso Marte, David Robertson, Al Aceves and probably Chad Gaudin are guaranteed to hold down five of the spots with a variety of young arms ticketed for some Spring Training auditions. In an effort to secure one of the open slots, the Yankees may be looking to Japan. According to Yakyu Baka, the Yanks are one of at least seven teams interested in Ryota Igarashi.

Igarashi is a 30-year-old reliever, and NPB Tracker called him “the top free agent coming out of Japan” earlier this season. He sports a mid-90s fastball but has had some command problems over the course of his career. He missed 2007 to Tommy John surgery but has rebounded nicely over the last two seasons, striking out 86 in 97.1 innings. Prior to 2009, he had struck out 586 in 516.1 innings while walking 221. Video of a mid-decade appearance is available here on YouTube.

While Yankee fans are wary of Japanese pitchers after the Kei Igawa debacle, Japanese relievers have fared better than starters, and Igarashi’s stuff translates nicely to a Major League bullpen. Igarashi could be a good pick up for the team. He would offer them a live arm for their bullpen and probably at the right price as well. Yakyu Baka reports that Igarashi wants a two-year deal at $2-$3 million per, and for that money, the Yanks should kick the tires on this one.

Coke a starter in Detroit? Not likely
Bidding farewell to Ian Patrick Kennedy

    I don’t know about this. I would think either Hughes or Joba will be in the pen. That really only leaves a loss of Coke since Bruney barely pitched in the playoffs. Then again if they are going to sign someone why not sign this guy.

    • Benjamin Kabak

      You might expect that but it’s not what the Yanks are planning to do. They’re ticketing Hughes and Joba for the rotation for now. Of course, that can change, but the team has to go forward with its off-season planning that way.

      The other thing is that while Bruny barely pitched in the playoffs, he threw 40 innings out of the pen during the regular season for the Yanks. They have to fill those inning somehow.

      • Crazy Eyes Killa

        If thats so, wouldnt Mitre/Gaudin and internal options be all we could expect in terms of another starter? Not another multimillion dollar commitment as many seem to expect (a run at sheets or something of that size).

        • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          Well, like Ben said, Hughes/Joba in the rotation is the plan “for now.” If the Yanks sign a guy like Ben Sheets (which is unlikely but possible), that plan will have changed. Nobody’s saying that, since the plan right now is to have them in the rotation, they must or will be in the rotation on opening day.

  • Accent Shallow

    According to this site (, he has 86 Ks in those 97 some odd innings, which is a more in line with his previous K-rate.

    Could be worth kicking the tires if he’ll come cheaply.

    • Benjamin Kabak

      Yeah. That’s correct. I mistyped in the post.

  • YankeeGaGa

    but has rebounded nicely over the last two seasons, striking out 66 in 97.1 innings. Prior to 2009, he had struck out 586 in 516.1 innings while walking 221

    So since his surgery, this guy has struck out only 66 Japanese batters in 97.1 innings.

    • Benjamin Kabak

      Sorry. That was a typo. It’s 86 in 97.1 innings. I’ll take a K rate hovering around 8 K/9 IP.

      • YankeeGaGa

        Oh yeah, that changes everything :)
        They should kick the tires then.

      • OldYanksFan

        Didn’t Iggy has a better K rate?
        Most Japanese pitchers throw junk and with deception.
        Most Japanese hitters favor Ichiro… slap hitters.
        I don’t think Japanese hitters can hit a good fastball, hence Dice-K’s and Iggy’s success.
        Hadn’t Matsui never seen a 4 seam FB before coming here?

        IMHO, Japanese pitchers don’t translate very well to MLB.
        Dice-K was THE VERY BEST they’ve had.
        The BEST are good here for a year or 2, so maybe 2/$2.5m is OK, but I can’t get excited.

        • Joseph Pawlikowski

          Just one quibble: Nomo was the best they had.

        • whozat

          Okajima and Saito have done well as relievers, no? And Matsuzaka has NOT been worth the money or hype, but this guy isn’t being considered as a starter. And no one ever said Igawa had a good fastball. Especially since this guy is only looking for a couple years…a period of time which you admit Japanese pitchers often seem to do ok for.

          So, what’s the problem? It’s not like this is a junkballer; the post explicitly calls out his mid-90s fastball.

          • TheLastClown

            I think his point about Igawa was that in NPB, his fastball was good. As in, he could pitch with that riding middle-up nonsense & get K’s with it, in NPB.

            Totally agree that the landscape changes when discussing relievers though.

            • whozat

              A fastball isn’t “good” relative to the hitters you’re throwing to, at least not in common scouting parlance. It is where it is on the 20-80 scale. If it’s high, it’s good. If it’s not, it’s not.

              • TheLastClown

                Sure. I was referring to K totals & K/9 rates.


    Looks like he hides the ball well. He hits his spots. But no thanks. Does not look like anything special. I do not trust the Yanks assessments of Japanese pitchers. I have yet to hear whos bright idea it was to sign Igawa who looked crappy before we got him, when we got him and after we got hin. I have not problem with Japanese pitchers.

    Plus this guy swallows, it even says it on his shirt.


    • Benjamin Kabak

      Aaaand my point is proven. Thank you.

      • DBHOF

        Explain why this guy is really worth a two year commitment. Hopefully your answer will be better than the article on the value you put on our spare outfielders.

        You are the same guy who thought Ian Kennedy was going to be a big time pitcher right? Wonder if that “Big 3” shirt makes it out of the drawer that also probably contains a Kevin Maas jersey.

        • Joseph Pawlikowski

          If you don’t value our opinions, stop reading us. It’s that simple.

          • DBHOF

            Cry me a river. You guys specifically Ben and you Joe think you are above anybody questioning what you say. You guys present some good info and even some good talking points at times but other times there is stuff that is pretty silly.

            I did not think this one was silly but I do not see the value in this one. I stated that, threw in some kidding around and Ben took some shots. No problem with that but don’t dish it out if you can not take it.

            I will read what I like when I like. I am a free man that lives in America and I do not need you to remind me of that. I just choose not to drink the Kool Aid.

            • V

              Ooh, everybody, he’s a free man in America! He’s entitled to his opinion! Even if it’s the dumbest opinion in the history of the planet, it’s HIS opinion, and he’s entitled to it! Weeee!

              • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                V – I’m with you, old friend.

                DBHOF – Of course you’re entitled to read whatever you want to read. And everyone else is entitled to tell you when you’re being a dick. Read what Joe said again… He’s not saying you shouldn’t read RAB if you don’t agree with the RABbis, he’s saying that you shouldn’t read RAB if you don’t value their work. There’s a pretty important distinction between the two concepts.

                • Joseph Pawlikowski

                  But hey, when you’re stuck on misrepresenting our opinion of Ian Kennedy from two years ago, how can you be expected to differentiate the word agree with the word value?

                • J

                  It’s funny, because I feel polar opposite. I think MIKE IS THE ONE ON A HIGH HORSE!!!

                  No seriously, I think just the opposite. I think all three guys are more then willing to discuss ideas. The thing is, no one on this site is right or wrong (except Tommy… he thinks anyone in agreement with him is right, everyone else is wrong, ;)). I have yet to see Joe or Ben “think they are above anybody questioning what you say.” Matter of fact, they take kindly to when they are wrong. Just above Ben wrote something wrong, someone else said something, and he fixed it.

                  It is a free country. Others have the right to have opinions about you, just as you have opinions on them. You make yourself less credible by not giving examples about how they are above others though.

                • Joseph Pawlikowski

                  Really appreciate the thoughts, J. You’re right to an extent, that no one is right or wrong. There are varying degrees in almost any case. There are certain cases, though, where someone is completely in the wrong. It’s happened, and for the most part the people admit it and move on. On some occasions, that has been Mike, Ben, or me.

                • J

                  Well yeah, that’s what I kind of meant. The fact is (well, maybe not fact… but my belief) no one here is working in the front office with Cashman. It’s all speculation. But yeah, there are some cases of right and wrong. I was leading the “Sign Ben Sheets” charge last winter. I didn’t want Pettitte back. I was wrong. Hell, Ben spells things wrong daily in his posts ;)

                  The fact is, no one should belittle someone else. I actually feel the three owners of this site are extremely accessible, and have maintained that accessibility even as the site has grown. 5 years from now, there is a legit chance that the site is even more tied to YES, and I believe (hope) that they will still be just as accessible. Where else can you find that? If you don’t want your thoughts challenged, don’t post. Everyone who makes a post should be ready to have that thought challenged; it’s what makes everyone gain more knowledge.

                • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi


                • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

                  There’s only two important things in all of this conversation:

                  1) Japanese players suck
                  2) Everyone who agrees with me is right, and everyone who disagrees with me is wrong.

                  Glad that’s settled.

            • Angelo

              Best Speech EVER

        • Charlie

          Oh no! A two year committment for $2 million! Too bad the yanks have such a limited payroll. You’re right, there’s no way we could/should sign this guy

        • Benjamin Kabak

          Here are the points I made in the post. I’ll repeat them once: Great stuff, high strike out numbers, cheap contract. Why wouldn’t sign him: too many walks. But for the money, it’s not going to kill anyone to look.

          • JMK THE OVERSHARE’s Milton Bradley Fat Park Factor


            -Clay Davis

          • pollo

            on the plus side he fits right in with our relievers sitting in AA and AAA: throws gas, no control.

    • Accent Shallow

      I blame Mike Pagliarulo.

    • Charlie

      “I have not problem with Japanese pitchers”

      What exactly are you trying to convey here? It seems like you just added a “t” to the no. But then if you had no problem with Japanese pitchers, that doesn’t go along with the rest of your post at all

      • yoda

        problems with japanese pitchers i have not

        • Langdon Alger

          my suit is black not

      • DBHOF

        Typo. I have a problem with the Yanks evaluation of Japanese pitchers. Who’s decision was Igawa? Nobody in the front office has ever put their name on that one. I think Igawa was a knee jerk response to losing out on Dice K. They did not do their due diligence on him. If somebody actually scouted him in person and said “You need to sign him” that man should be shot (not really but you get my point).

        As far as this guy. I see the stats and the youtube. Neither tell me we should grab him for two years. Rosters spots are precious and I do not see why this guy deserves one for two years.

        • Jamal G.

          I have a problem with the Yanks evaluation of Japanese pitchers. Who’s decision was Igawa? Nobody in the front office has ever put their name on that one.

          The Yankees fired the scout that was in charge of the Kei Igawa recommendation, and even recently deployed Gene “Stick” Michael to scout Yu Darvish in Japan.

        • Sleepy Carl

          So the Yankees make a bad choice on 1 Japanese pitcher, therefore they can never find an effective one? By that reasoning they should sign nothing but mixed raced SS as the current one worked out well.

        • dudes

          Angel Berroa sucked, therefore we should stop signing Dominican players.

  • Charlie

    i guess he’s worth a shot if he’ll really be that cheap. but they better save money for aroldis chapman.

    • Benjamin Kabak

      I’m pretty certain that no team is going to need to “save money” for Chapman, that he’s not going to make an impact in 2010, that the Yanks won’t sign him and that he may be the most overhyped Cuban player of all time.

      Which isn’t to say he won’t be good, but the $2-$4 million Igarashi gets won’t impact any team’s chances at landing Chapman.

      • Charlie

        he is overhyped, but he’s got some ridiculous upside. if i were cashman i’d probably try to sign him.

        • JMK THE OVERSHARE’s Milton Bradley Fat Park Factor

          Teams are justifiably worried about spending $20 million on a guy that may NEVER even make any positive impact in the big leagues. You’re right, the upside is tremendous, but the ceiling is pretty low, too.

          Ben—if we were to sign Chapman, where should he start in the minors? Or rather, what’s closest to his level in terms of stuff, poise and readiness? Hi-A, AA, AAA?

          • Benjamin Kabak

            Based on what I saw of him at the WBC last year, what I know of his stuff, and his reported age, he’d probably start at AA with an eye toward moving him to at least AAA by the end of the season. An aggressive team in need of pitching may want him up at the end of the year, but that’s doubtful. He’ll be just 22 come Opening Day. No need to rush him wherever he lands.

            • JMK THE OVERSHARE’s Milton Bradley Fat Park Factor

              Gotcha. Thanks for the insight.

            • vin

              Sounds like he’s about where Tazawa was coming into ’09 (maybe a bit behind).

          • Sleepy Carl

            I don’t mean to be a dick, but if he has tremendous upside, how does he have a low ceiling? I would think those two things parallel each other.

            • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

              I think he meant the probable ceiling, if that makes any more sense.

              • Chris

                I think he meant a low floor. There’s a reasonable chance that he never gets past AAA.

  • Derby

    Agreed, I’m wary of Japanese starters. Kei Igawa has been nothing short of horrible and Matsuzaka with his BB always plays with fire. But it seems like relievers fair much better, so at only 2-3 mil per year, the yankees should definitely try to pick him up.

  • balistes

    he’s japanese. doesnt that mean the sox automatically get him. lol.

    • JMK THE OVERSHARE’s Milton Bradley Fat Park Factor

      I almost ROFLCOPTER’D.

  • Andy in Sunny Daytona

    The Yankees should sign him just so that they can test John Sterling’s signature calls.

    • JMK THE OVERSHARE’s Milton Bradley Fat Park Factor

      I’d like to hear Suzyn give it a go. “Yeahh Jawwwn, Ree-ota Igerachi looks like a reeeeleeever the Yanks can use in the playawfs. He might be their best export since Hello Kitty.”

    • Charlie

      he’s a pitcher though

      • Andy in Sunny Daytona

        You can still have a big strike-out moment.

    • JMK THE OVERSHARE’s Milton Bradley Fat Park Factor

      They can’t hit one iota off Mr. Ryota!

      Thank you very much, Mr. Ryota
      For pitching the innings that nobody wants to
      And thank you very much, Mr. Ryota
      For helping thee escape

      Maybe a bit long-winded.

      • Mike Pop

        Domo ariagoto Mr. Ryota.

      • Evil Empire

        Haha those are both great

  • JMK THE OVERSHARE’s Milton Bradley Fat Park Factor

    He looks pretty good on the video. I wonder though, how different he is from Bruney. Mid-90s, solid K total, control problems, $2 million. We do have some slots to fill and if he does have a live arm, what the hell, for $2-3 million and hopefully better production than Bruney (and the Rule V pick), this could be a good pickup. Holy run-on sentence.

    Can we just trade Igawa for him?

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      I’m sure that you got a little turned on with the opposing teams uniform sponsors.

      • JMK THE OVERSHARE’s Milton Bradley Fat Park Factor

        Didn’t really notice…

        • Andy in Sunny Daytona

          Yokohama Tires.

          • JMK THE OVERSHARE’s Milton Bradley Fat Park Factor

            Haha. Awesome. Do you know what Japanese people have in vending machines?

            WANT TO MOVE THERE.

            • Andy in Sunny Daytona


  • Zack

    If Cashman has money left over after his other moves he wants to make then ok. But dont want a reliever to prevent him from getting Cameron or Sheets or [Enter Name Here]

    • whozat

      I’m pretty sure that Cashman knows that the outfield and a potential starter are more important than a potential middle reliever.

    • thurdonpaul

      if Cashman has money left over, he can send it my way :)

  • ADam

    STAY AWAY… Would Rather have Melancon and Dunn over that guy any day of the week

    • JMK THE OVERSHARE’s Milton Bradley Fat Park Factor

      We already have those guys. He wouldn’t come at the expense of those guys, necessarily.

      • scooter

        Not sure what’s not to like

        One of the batters he struck out in the video was ex-Oriole Larry Bigbie – I seem to remember he killed fastballs. Bigbie struck out on high cheese

        The splitter dives down – and looked like he was fooling hitters with the arm action.

        He could be another power arm out of the pen

  • hakeem

    No thank you.

    I would rather look for 10/1 odds on any bet and place $2m all to win than pay this dude. I though we needed to cut salaries to get Roy!!!

    • whozat

      “I though we needed to cut salaries to get Roy!!!”

      Nope. Roy isn’t a target the Yanks should look to get, not when they still could use a left fielder and/or a DH.

  • sequitur

    Um, two things.
    1) The original Japanese article is pure crap. It only says Yankees could look at Igarashi if Joba is traded. (apparently they assume Joba is a reliever)
    2) Igarashi is nothing special. I will be shocked if he even manages to survive a full year in majors.

    • Benjamin Kabak

      Hmmm. Thanks. Both Yakyu Baka and NPB Tracker make it sound as though the Yanks’ interest is definite, but I believe you. I wonder why those sites aren’t reporting it as such.

    • Mike bk

      actually that is not what it says.

      “Sponichi throws the Yankees in the mix, saying that he could backfill for Brian Bruney or, in the event he is traded, Joba Chamberlain. This feels the most speculative of the rumors we have so far, but Sponichi does quote the projected line on Igarashi’s contract is two years, $2-3m. It wasn’t clear if that $2-3m is annual or cumulative, but either way, two years at $1-3m seems like a reasonable range.”

      Bruney obviously was dealt, so he could still backfill for him. the spec as pointed out in the quote was the joba move.

      • sequitur

        Well NPB Tracker is simply wrong here. Note how they can’t even tell whether $2-3m is annual or total value when it clearly is meant as total cost.

  • MattG

    Too rich, I think. They have plenty of comparable parts on hand.

    Ben, any reason, other than oversight, that Al Aceves was not included in your list of sure things?

    • Benjamin Kabak

      Oversight. I’ll add him.

  • IRememberCelerinoSanchez

    Anybody else have this thought when watching the video: Like April in YS this season, the outfield seats were packed, but there were a million empty seats behind the plate. Weird.

  • Bob Michaels

    I would pass on this import and scout Chapman this week in Houston

    • whozat

      How would thinking about this guy in any way keep the Yankees from scouting Chapman?

      It’s not like Cashman is the only guy in the front office, or that he can only think about one thing at a time. He has people who work for him.

  • dkidd

    what is chad cordero’s health status? i’d rather roll the dice on him

    • Benjamin Kabak

      Ugh. No way. Not in the AL East. Not on the Yankees.

      • dkidd

        but he has a bulldog mentality!

    • Tank the Frank

      I was going to mention Escobar. I remember reading here that he’d be willing to pitch out of the pen and would most likely only take a minor league deal to sign. Talk about low-risk, high-reward.

      I’d like to see the Yankees bring in Escobar or Duchscherer who can both start and/or relieve. Why would the Yankees bring in a reliever from overseas for $4-6 million when they just let Bruney go when he was set to make $1.5 (IIRC)? Mid 90’s fastball with control problems. Sounds familiar…

  • Mike bk
  • E-ROC

    Ben, any chance at having a “Non-Tendered Open Thread?”