Igawa family OK as pitcher heads home

The deterioration of Burnett's hook
Saturday Open Thread

Kei Igawa has had a rough go of it in the United States. Signed in December of 2006 as the Yanks’ response to Daisuke Matsuzaka, the lefty never emerged as a viable Major Leaguer. He made just 14 appearances in 2007 and two in 2008 before landing in Scranton as a perennial AAA starter. His 6.66 ERA, 1.758 WHIP and 1.43 K/BB ratio are testament to his struggles.

But while Igawa, frustratingly for him and the Yanks, toils away as a $4 million minor league arm, none of that matters when it comes to family. Igawa hails from Oarai which is in the the Ibaraki Prefecture, and his hometown was hit hard by the earthquake and tsunami earlier this week. On Friday, as Major League Baseball began working on its own aid efforts, Igawa could not get a hold of his family.

Luckily, Igawa reached his family on Saturday, and everyone is OK. The left-hander is leaving camp to attend to his family and will be returning to Japan for the foreseeable future.

It’s easy to dismiss Igawa. He’s been a huge bust, representative of the way the Yanks went about building a starting rotation in the mid-2000s and hadn’t even made a Spring Training appearance this year. He’ll play out the last year of this contract exclusively at Scranton before returning to Japan to pick up the pieces of his baseball career. But when tragedy strikes, it doesn’t matter. No one should have to live through the uncertainty of the devastation of an earthquake, and it’s a relief to all involved that the Igawas are alive and as well as can be.

The Yankees as a club have given $100,000 to the Red Cross and Salvation Army as part of the relief efforts, and I’m sure the club will do more in the coming weeks. They have a deep presence in the Pacific and strong ties to Japanese baseball. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by the terrible earthquake in Japan,” Hal Steinbrenner said yesterday. “We hope that the international community does everything in its power to support and assist the Japanese people in their time of need.”

The deterioration of Burnett's hook
Saturday Open Thread
  • Plank

    I’m glad his family is okay. Do you think he will stay in Japan for a while and miss the start of the minor league season?

  • bakekrukow412

    This is going to sound ridiculous, but if by June Colon and Garcia have fizzled out and there is some room on the 40-man, I say give him one last chance. Maybe he’ll put it all together. Maybe he won’t get out of the first inning. I say try it one last time, I think we owe ourselves that much after putting up with him and his contract for all these years.

    • bakekrukow412

      I’m glad his family is safe BTW. I got scared when I heard he couldn’t contact them.

      • Rich

        I agree. In years past I’ve thought the same thing, but I seem to remember something about the Yanks not wanting to add him back to the 40 man because they’ll take a hit in the luxury tax. Something like that.

        Worst comes to worse we’re in the same spot we’re in now. With luck maybe he’ll pitch well enough that he has a little trade value and we can get something for him. Nothing very good, but the teams paying him 4 mil one way or another.

    • Name (required)

      You’re right, that sounds ridiculous.

    • Kiko Jones

      Glad to hear Igawa’s family is safe and sound under the circumstances. And yeah, why not give him one last chance? What’s to lose? (Unless the luxury tax situation is an issue.)

  • Dr. O

    Very happy Kei’s family is safe and I wish similar to anyone else with friends & family in Japan.

  • southeryankeefan

    Glad to hear his family is ok. Having been through the same uncertainty about wheher your family was alive after Katrina I can certainly empathize with how truly awful of a feeling it is.

  • Souter Fell

    Is there anyway we can sell Igawa back to his original team or any other Japanese team? I know he’s an inning eater down in AAA but after a while it just seemed bitter to keep him there. Nobody was really kicking the tires much on him but again, it’s not Kei’s fault we paid the posting fee.
    In light of the earthquake, if it could be done, it could be a win in all aspects. Yanks get rid of Kei and possibly get something (cash, player?), Kei gets to pitch, Japan gets what was a good player back, Yanks possibly get some more Japanese attention that has probably wained since Matsui’s departure. Even if a Japanese team only takes a portion of the contract, would it work? Is it allowed?

  • http://www.facebook.com/cecala Joseph Cecala

    He should just stay in Japan

    • The Constant Gardner

      You are a prick.

      • http://www.facebook.com/cecala Joseph Cecala

        To tend for his family?

  • Urban

    The Yankees really should set Igawa free at this point, since they clearly have no intentions of putting him back on the MLB roster. I understood in past years why they kept him around. If they straight-out cut him they’d still have pay him the full value of his contract, and there may have been some belief they could fix some of the issues they had with his delivery, and at worst they could have him eat innings in AAA to get some value from him in the organization. Yet we’re now entering year five (and the last year) of his contract, and he’s clearly not going to ever pitch for the Big Club again, and they have plenty of arms down on the farm.

    I’m not going to say he’s being punished (we should all be so punished to the tune of being paid $20 million to pitch in AAA), but even the Yankees probably couldn’t rationalize the total $46,000,000 cost of Igawa by cutting him after the first season. They also tried to work out some deal to send him back to Japan, but the finances just couldn’t be worked out. It’s time for the Yankees to get past that, and what better time to do that than right now when Igawa is heading back to Japan to be with his family. Free him.

  • The Big City of Dreams

    Glad to hear his family is ok

  • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

    Very late here, but so glad to hear this.