Kei Igawa headed back to Japan


Via NPB Tracker (translated article), Kei Igawa has signed a two-year contract worth ¥200M with the Orix Blue Wave Buffaloes. That’s roughly $2.5M in American dollars. He spent the first part of his career with the Hanshin Tigers, so he’s joining a new team.

Igawa, 32, will go down as one of the most spectacular busts in Yankees history. They invested $46M in him — $26M posting fee plus $20M contract — only to receive a 6.66 ERA in 71.2 IP. Igawa spent the final three years of his five-year deal pitching exclusively in the minors. The Yankees admitted they didn’t do their homework before signing him. Igawa declined two opportunities to return to Japan in recent years, saying he wanted to see his time in the U.S. through.

Categories : Asides
  • pistol pete

    I think Nova will be the odd man out since it happened to him last year after he was I think 8 and 2 and replaced by Hughes who previously last year was awful and continued to be awful all year. This spring Hughes has actually pitched better than Nova and Nova has options so why wouldn’t the Yankees farm Nova out again. I think it’s Hughes that should be sent to the bullpen. He’s proved successful there and hasn’t ever proved he could go through an entire season doing well. He doesn’t seem to have a 2 strike out pitch past the first few innings and I think he’s best suited in the pen but what do I know.

    • V

      d00d. Go to Lohud if you want to post random crap.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      You sure want to gnaw on that bone, don’t you? Has nothing to do with the topic either.

    • pat

      Nothing. The answer to your question is nothing.

  • AndyisDandy

    Appropriate that the era was 6.66.

  • Plank

    Igawa getting signed was the height of mid 00s Yankees inconsistency. They were converting back from the dynasty years to the 80s version of the team who were trying to win the back pages every day.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      More to do with the strange desire to out-Japan the Red Sox that season than rebuilding the dynasty. I never quite understood why the team HAD to have a Japanese guy that off-season.

      • Plank

        That’s what I mean. They signed him because they wanted to make headlines, not because it was best for the team in terms of winning.

  • Sly Robbie

    I have always felt that Igawa-san was a very honorable man. Indeed he had his shortcomings, and his pitching style never translated to a Major League level. But I give him props for his work ethic, he stayed fit and followed the training regimen. He made it to the clubhouse per schedule, making an arduous commute from Manhattan to Scranton and beyond several times a week. While disappointed at the lack of opportunity with the parent club, Kei Igawa never publicly bad mouthed the Yankees or the team management. Instead, he took the mound on a regular rotation (even took a demotion to the AAA bullpen without whining and whimpering in the last phase of his Yankee career.

    For some, Kei Igawa might be a punching bag, the butt of your jokes. For me, subjectively speaking, Kei Igawa represented what is right about professional athletes. When I saw him pitch in Scranton, he always gave his best effort. Being half a world away from home, he made sincere efforts to connect with his teammates, coaches, and baseball fans. He honored his contract and commitment to the New York Yankees above and beyond the call of duty. Hey, it would have been nice to maybe have seen him develop into a LOOGY, but this is baseball. The dice roll how they roll.

    I’m expecting there is going to be some hate on Kei Igawa here, but take a moment to consider the actions of some ballplayers who just took Yankee dollars and ran (Pavano *cough*) Igawa showed devotion, commitment and fortitude.

    I wish Mr. Igawa the best in his return to Nippon Baseball, and may it be known that his good character and strong work ethic were appreciated by a few from New York.


    • Mike Axisa

      Well said.

    • Plank

      Pavano was injured. Why does he draw your ire if you are so forgiving of Igawa?

      I don’t begrudge either of them.

    • Plank

      Well, there was this. So he wasn’t the consumate professional 100% of the time like you are portraying.

      I can’t really hold it against him, though. It had to be a frustrating position to be in.

      • Sly Robbie

        I’ve had some run-ins with walls like that in my playing days too. You are right. Nobody’s perfect.

        • RetroRob

          I like your style.

    • RetroRob

      I have no problem with Kei Igawa. I don’t blame players, or have anger towards them, if their skill level isn’t quite up to what was hoped.

      From the start there were many talent evaluators who thought his stuff would not play in the AL East at all, and that he was a #4 or #5 in the NL West. I would have been nice if he got that chance, but the contract was a problem and I can certainly understand why he wouldn’t give any of it back. I wouldn’t.

      Hopefully he can refind some level of his former pitching skill in Japan. The Yankees messed around with his delivery quite a bit.

      • Sly Robbie

        I’d like to think that Kei Igawa (the all-time Wins leader in Scranton-Wilkes Barre history) might have picked up a few tricks along the way. Today I just bought a ticket for the $500 Million Mega Millions Lottery, I’d wage the same dollar on betting that Kei Igawa has a few tricks up his sleeve to dominate the Japanese leagues in the upcoming seasons.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Well said.

    • Jared

      Work Ethic? Cool for him. What good did it do us? I’d rather hand the ball to David Wells any day of the week, even if they have to go and GET him out of the strip club an hour before game time.

  • Faiaz

    More than $21,000 per out!!!!!

  • Kvothe

    At least he’s not the worst contract ever. Lackey or Zito might edge him out there.

    • Plank

      Zito cost a lot more, but he was signed in a higher salary era and at least eats innings.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Far worse contracts out there than Kei Igawa.

  • pat

    I wanna say I feel bad for the guy, but 20 million dollars goes pretty far.

  • YankeesGiantsIslesNets

    i think they r called the Orix Buffalos now not the Blue Wave

    • Sly Robbie

      I hope that the Nippon Ham Fighters survive. That has gotta be one of the coolest team names ever. RIP Lotte Orions.

  • jsbrendog

    wow, i thought someone in the us would give him a shot

    • Plank

      Really? He couldn’t even cut it in AAA.

      • jsbrendog

        except, you know, when he did. nice bias.

        there is definitely someone out there, a san diego, an oakland, soemone in a huge ballpark with garbage for starters that would’ve wagered a minor league contract. bu obv he got a lot more money to og obv i was wrong. but it isnt far fetched

        • Plank

          In 2007 and 2008 he pitched okay when he was sent down to the minors. He was also considered salvageable and Cashman even decided to hold on to him instead of trading him to the Padres. After that, he sucked. He’s not good enough to pitch in the majors. He wasn’t even good enough to pitch particularly well in the minors. I’m not biased against him, I’m being realistic.

          If the bar is a minor league contract, then yeah, he probably could have found that from someone who needed a veteran to eat innings, but I thought you meant someone should sign him to play in MLB.

  • AC

    Could have quit. I give him that. Wanted to see it thru and try to fulfill his contract till the end. Maybe Yanks deserve some bashing for not doing there homework on him. He just had the demeanor that he didn’t care what was happ to him on mound. The fact that he could pitch at this level and basically last 2 yrs of deal really never had a shot to make club he was obviously that bad.

  • Mike M

    Ed Whitson was before my time, but I believe Kei Igawa was THE WORST free agent signing in franchise history. Carl Pavano is a close second.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      There are probably some that would argue that Alex was the worst signing, but I won’t go there, nor do I really agree with that.

      Pavano’s a far worse signing than either Whitson or Igawa. The team was able to rid itself of Whitson rather quickly. Igawa, as mentioned by everyone here, was the consumate pro the entire time. Neither of those even come close to the complete waste of money that was Glass Carl.

      • Plank

        Carl Pavano cost the Yankees less money and produced more than Igawa.

        Again, I don’t hold it against either player, but why the double standard? One was injured, one was just not good enough at baseball.

  • Nathan

    The thing that stands out most was during his press conference when he said something along the lines of “Please don’t compare me to Matsuzaka”.

    I knew that was a bad sign.

  • mustang

    The one thing you can say about this guy is that he is a moneymaker. Seriously 4 years 20 million to play AAA ball then someone gives him another 2.5 million now that’s a good agent.

    • jsbrendog

      i bet he is still a brand name over there