Adjust Font Size: A A       Guest settings   Register

Bye Bye Kei Igawa

Discussion in the Nichi-Bei forum
Bye Bye Kei Igawa
It looks like Igawa's time with the Yankees is almost over. Rumors have been circulating that he will be traded (the Mariners are the most likely candidates), but now he has been dropped from the 40 man roster. More significantly, his number 29 has been re-allocated to one of the Yankees' new signings from the Pirates. He never adjusted to the conditions of MLB, and if he doesn't perform with his new team, one can see him back in Japan for the 2010 season.
Comments
Re: Bye Bye Kei Igawa
[ Author: Guest | Posted: Jul 27, 2008 10:17 PM ]

Igawa's failure in the big leagues serves the Yanks right, although for them, it's like having one car that's faulty in a garage full of Mercedes and Rolls-Royces. If one car breaks down, they can always buy another luxury car to take its place.

I love it when the Yanks make these (fairly) costly mistakes. Igawa looked like a good pitcher in Japan, but I guess he was better off in a smaller market, kind of like Kazuo Matsui.
Re: Bye Bye Kei Igawa
[ Author: Sara B | Posted: Aug 3, 2008 12:43 AM | HT Fan ]

I'm no expert in roster-ology, though I do note that Igawa continues to be listed on the Yankees' minor league team in Scranton-Wilkes Barre.

Frankly, I'm surprised the Yankees have not tried harder to trade Igawa by now. If memory serves me right, there was a possibility of sending him to the Padres last season but the Yankees nixed the trade. Anyway, in Igawa's last start for the parent club a few months ago, he looked nothing like the Hanshin pitcher I once knew. He had no speed or placement, and I'm left to wonder if he sustained a major injury sometime around the time he left Japan. I doubt he would be effective in NPB at this point, and having earned a big paycheck in the USA, may prefer just to retire.
Re: Bye Bye Kei Igawa
[ Author: Guest | Posted: Aug 3, 2008 4:31 AM ]

It's not surprising to me that Igawa has failed. I mean what other Japanese pitcher besides Takashi Saito And Nomo( in his earlier years) has dominated in the Majors and pitch like they did in the NPB? Same with the position players.

Re: Bye Bye Kei Igawa
[ Author: Kiyoshi | Posted: Aug 3, 2008 10:20 AM | HAN Fan ]

Kazuhiro Sasaki, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Ichiro aren't too shabby!!!
Re: Bye Bye Kei Igawa
[ Author: Dan Miceli | Posted: Aug 3, 2008 9:39 PM ]

I can`t see Kei Igawa playing again in Japan. His current contract runs through the 2011 season.

I`m surprised that Igawa has performed so poorly in the majors, but it was pretty obvious in 2005 and 2006 that he wasn`t the same dominant pitcher that he had been the previous few seasons in NPB.
Re: Bye Bye Kei Igawa
[ Author: Sara B | Posted: Aug 6, 2008 11:22 AM | HT Fan ]

Here's the latest, from the blogsite www.screamingsports.com:
Kei Igawa - SP (New York Yankees): Don't look now, but Kei Igawa may be making another appearance in the Bronx. Yes, the Yanks thought so lowly of him that they removed him from the 40-man roster. It is also true that no team was interested enough to make a claim once he was removed. However, it is hard to ignore the fact that he has done pretty well in AAA this year, particularly since May. He is 11-5 at AAA this year, with a 3.55 ERA and 1.16 WHIP. He has struck out 97 and walked only 37 in 126.2 IP. Of late, it appears Igawa has tinkered with his mechanics, dropping to more of a three-quarters delivery against left-handers. So far, the results are very encouraging, and with Darrell Rasner struggling for the Yankees, and their failure to deal for Jarrod Washburn, Igawa suddenly becomes an option. The Yankees have already announced that Chien-Ming Wang is unlikely to return for the regular season, so they could give Igawa another chance by moving Wang to the 60-day DL.
Re: Bye Bye Kei Igawa
[ Author: Guest: puddin head | Posted: Aug 7, 2008 2:44 AM ]

Let us not forget that many players (too numerous to list in one post) have struggled when they have moved up a level - or even when switching from the National League to the American League (or vice versa). I am deeply disappointed in the New York media and fans whenever I hear them insinuate that Japanese baseball, in their own words, "stinks." Ask Gabe Kapler or Shane Spencer how easy it is.

Now we'll get dozens of posts from the Shane Spencer fans, I suppose.
Re: Bye Bye Kei Igawa
[ Author: Sara B | Posted: Sep 2, 2008 8:27 AM | HT Fan ]

Here's the latest on Kei Igawa, from a very thoughtful column by Wayne Graczyk in the August 31 Japan Times. Having witnessed some of Igawa's poor MLB outings (and the outright hostility of NY fans to him) I don't necessarily agree that he deserves another call-up to the Bronx, but it is strange that he is stuck in the minors.
[...] Where does Kei Igawa belong?

Igawa has established himself as one of the best pitchers on the Yankees — the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Yankees, that is. Throwing for the New York Yankees Triple-A affiliate in the International League, Igawa has compiled an impressive record for the eastern Pennsylvania club.

[...]
[It's the second article down the page here.]
Re: Bye Bye Kei Igawa
[ Author: Guest | Posted: Sep 2, 2008 10:05 AM ]

Kapler and Spencer weren't All Stars though, were they? When you see players like Fukudome struggling in MLB (it didn't take long for pitchers to figure him out), you can easily see the massive gulf between Major League pitching and Pro Yakyu.

The simple fact is Pro Yakyu doesn't get top tier Major Leaguers. The Japanese players that go to the States are/were All Stars. While Pro Yakyu isn't AAA ball, it certainly is nowhere near the level of the Majors. But don't listen to me, just compare the numbers.
Re: Bye Bye Kei Igawa
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: Sep 2, 2008 11:51 AM | YBS Fan ]

Iguchi and Okajima weren't All Stars though, were they? Yet they have done well in the Majors. While the pool of players going from Japan to the Majors is still small, there's a counter example for every example of making it and not making it out there. Apple to orange comparisons don't get anyone anywhere.

The simple fact is that some players adjust to the different playing conditions differently than others. Some do well in both, others do not, each for a myriad of reasons. What everyone seems to want is a particular variable that they can point to and say, "this is how we can tell if he'll make it or not." There is no such variable.

One of the important differences between NPB and MLB is the number of teams. In the MLB, one doesn't see the same team 25 or so times per season, so one must adjust to a wide variety of competition. In NPB, seeing the same pitcher/batter match ups over and over again has seen the strategy of over-analyzing the competition evolve to the point where an unknown rookie can shut out the Yomiuri Giants on 5 hits while striking out 8 just because the Giants' batters don't know anything about him. (Ken Kadokura's first game against the Giants was probably the highlight of his career in 1996.) This was evident in the 1950s when the Giants, capturing the Central League Pennant year after year, were continually losing to the Pacific League champions in the Nippon Series. It's equally evident today (see the teams that fall on their faces against the opposing league in inter-league play while playing well against their own league).

MLB players are exposed to a wider variety of opposition and are better able to adjust to unknown circumstances. They don't absolutely rely on detailed knowledge of who they face. While you give credit to the MLB players for "figuring out" Igawa and Fukudome, I think it's more along the lines of them not yet having figured out how to adjust to the large number of hitters/pitchers they have to face. Their normal preparatory routine of learning everything about all possible opposition no longer works.

Why does one have to be better or higher than the other? They're just different, like apples and oranges.
Re: Bye Bye Kei Igawa
[ Author: Guest | Posted: Sep 2, 2008 11:57 PM ]

Iguchi and Okajima. Poor examples. The former just got cut from one of the worst teams in the bigs and the latter, apart from one solid season, has struggled and is now a liability.

Apples and oranges, yes, but major league baseball is "The Show," it's the grandest theater and has the best of the best. Surely you realize that?
Re: Bye Bye Kei Igawa
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: Sep 3, 2008 12:20 AM | YBS Fan ]

- [ I]t's the grandest theater and has the best of the best. Surely you realize that?

You must be new here. I haven't payed active attention to MLB since 1995. It's just what you people write in the MLB forum (which I was opposed to starting since there are plenty of MLB forums in English available) and the headlines in the Japanese press that I glance over involunterily.

Why have I left that theater? The year Nomo went over to the Majors they stopped showing MLB games in general on "MLB Stadium" (a reason I got a satellite dish) and only would show Dodger games that Nomo pitched in. I got up at 2:00 am to watch the Giants play St. Louis only to find a rerun of Nomo's game from three days before. That was the final straw! I stopped watching MLB from that point on.

The local theater suits me just fine, thank you. But I don't take kindly to strangers belittling the actors.
Re: Bye Bye Kei Igawa
[ Author: Guest: puddin head | Posted: Sep 3, 2008 1:23 AM ]

Ballplayers are ballplayers and anyone who does not pay attention to the Japanese game will miss the next Ichiro or Dice K. There have been plenty of AAA guys here in the States who never made the step to the Majors successfully, and there have been plenty of guys with glitzy AAA stats who could not cut it in Japan, either. Japan is a major part of the global baseball picture and deserves attention. Go and ask Gabe Kapler how easy it is to play in Japan!
Re: Bye Bye Kei Igawa
[ Author: Guest | Posted: Sep 3, 2008 7:38 AM ]

The two "theaters" both have there own rewards and can and should be appreciated for what they both have to offer.

Iguchi and Okajima have both been successful players in both leagues and should be commended for that. How many players in the minors in the US never make it to The Show?

What I find truly remarkable is that any athlete can and does make the transition from either the NPB to MLB and/or vice versa. Let's just forget about the game for a second and consider that you're looking at a scenario where players are moving thousands of miles away from their homeland and dealing with a myriad of lifestyle and cultural changes that are way outside there "comfort zone." That alone is tough enough to deal with, and then toss in the game itself and you have a recipe for challenges to say the least. When faced with these obstacles, it is no surprise to me that many just don't succeed at the transition.
Re: Bye Bye Kei Igawa
[ Author: Jbroks86 | Posted: Sep 3, 2008 9:49 AM | SFT Fan ]

- The year Nomo went over to the Majors they stopped showing MLB games in general on "MLB Stadium" (a reason I got a satellite dish) and only would show Dodger games that Nomo pitched in. I got up at 2:00 am to watch the Giants play St. Louis only to find a rerun of Nomo's game from three days before. That was the final straw! I stopped watching MLB from that point on.

Michael, if I'm understanding this right you did watch MLB before 1995, or if I'm wrong in interpreting what you said, please point out so. Also, from what I've read, and also if I'm wrong please point out so, that you grew up as a San Fransisco Giants fan?

About the Dodgers only programming when Nomo went to the Dodgers, or as it is now with all other MLB teams with Japanese players (or big name players such as Hideki Matsui, Ichiro Suzuki, and Daisuke Matsuzaka) the powers-that-be see these as more profitable games since this is what the majority of the Japanese population is interested in watching and not necessarily other non-Japanese players.

Moving on to why I pointed this out, you suggested that most people know this? I'm not sure how MLB programming or what the programming was on "MLB Stadium" works, but I'm pointing out the reason why they stopped showing it. Now was it a tragedy? Of course so. And I feel for the people who live in Japan that did want to watch other teams that didn't necessarily have Japanese players on them.

- When you see players like Fukudome struggling in MLB (it didn't take long for pitchers to figure him out), you can easily see the massive gulf between Major League pitching and Pro Yakyu.

You can use this example on pretty much anyone. Using the opposite argument, we haven't seen a big name MLB player go to NPB, and it's not impossible that they would struggle.

The fact that Fukudome has struggled also doesn't prove a disparity gap between NPB and MLB either. It only proves that pitchers and scouts are able to adapt to work on getting a certain hitter out by knowing their strengths and weaknesses, which if done right can be exploited on either side of the Pacific.

- The simple fact is Pro Yakyu doesn't get top tier Major Leaguers.

So, that doesn't prove any fact either. The reason NPB teams don't get top tier MLB free agents is for a plurality of reasons. This can't be used to prove any league is more superior than the other either. If so, under your argument, MLB teams should stop signing NPB players, because according to you the league is inferior to MLB.

As Michael has pointed out, the sample size of departing NPB players is small (more so in big name hitters), but has its way of equaling out. For every Fukudome (and your example is poor, seeing as we should wait until next year and see if he rebounds or not before rushing to a final judgment) there's a Hideki Matsui and Ichiro Suzuki.

Also another thing you're failing to included in your equation, as have others, is that many players who leave for MLB from NPB are already in the downside of their career, around 28-29+ years old. Me, I would have loved to see how Nomo and Matsuzaka would have worked out if they signed with a MLB team from the beginning.

- Iguchi and Okajima. Poor examples. The former just got cut from one of the worst teams in the bigs and the latter, apart from one solid season, has struggled and is now a liability.

Iguchi was a poor example, since he's really had only one strong season, an okay second year, and then has fallen off offensive wise. Though he also started at age 30, because of slave-like free agent rules in NPB. How would he have he done, say, if he started out in MLB earlier?

As for your dissing of Okajima, I don't know where you're pulling this out of. How is someone with an ERA+ of 159 not useful? Also this list of pitchers goes on to even more than Kiyoshi mentioned that were stellar: Kuroda has been nice in the role he was intended for, Hasegawa was great in his role, Ohtsuka was great until injuries derailed his career, Ohka was a serviceable starter from 2002 to 2005, and Yoshii was another serviceable starter in his brief MLB career.

Finally to close it off, in the Nichi-Bei forums I seem to notice that many unnamed guests tend to often try and start arguments for the sole purpose of trying to bait foolish arguing that usually degrade into childish shouting matches like "MLB is superior and NPB is inferior because Igawa, K.Matsui, Irabu, or [insert other unsuccessful NPB player here] has failed in MLB." It is for that major reason why I no longer really post much in the Nichi-Bei forums as over time it tends to attract many unnamed guests who are intolerant of others' opinions and want to bait with trollish type opinions. Which is really a pity, since at one time (which wasn't many years back) this forum was a respectful place (and I say that as no knock on you Michael, as I strongly respect and appreciate the great discussion forum you have provided us with to discuss Japanese baseball). Without discovering this website, I today would have never even had an interest in Japanese and other baseball in Asia. It's just that I've been disturbed and put off by a lot of the childish trolling and baiting that goes on in the Nichi-Bei forums.
Re: Bye Bye Kei Igawa
[ Author: Jbroks86 | Posted: Sep 3, 2008 11:13 AM | SFT Fan ]

- [...] you suggested that most people know this?

Slight correction, I suggested that most people know this. Sorry for the misunderstanding.
Re: Bye Bye Kei Igawa
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: Sep 3, 2008 2:53 PM | YBS Fan ]

- Michael, if I'm understanding this right you did watch MLB before 1995 [...]. Also, from what I've read, [...] you grew up as a San Fransisco Giants fan?

Correct on both counts. I was insinuating that most people know that I don't follow MLB any more, thus the "Ah, you must be new here" comment. While I don't expect everyone to know I grew up a SF Giants fan, it does also help explain my revulsion to so much attention given to the Dodgers.

I fully understand why NHK emphasized Nomo. It probably brought in more ratings. What pleases the masses is always going to have a negative effect on some group of people. If I were in charge, I'd have been a fool not to do the same thing.

Back to the problem at hand:

- Iguchi and Okajima. Poor examples. The former just got cut from one of the worst teams in the bigs and the latter, apart from one solid season, has struggled and is now a liability.

This is a case of selective memory. I used Iguchi and Okajima to show that non-star level Japanese players could make a significant contribution to a MLB team. I didn't say they are currently contributing, just that they have contributed significantly, something our guest is insisting isn't possible.

Hold on. Looking at what I just wrote, I'm seeing signs that Broks-san may be right about Mr. Anonymous just being a troll. Any time people have to start pointing out what they did or did not say, that's a sure sign that a troll is twisting their words around and/or ignoring their meaning. Since it's becoming clear that the nameless one is not really open to what I'm saying, there really is no need to try to explain any farther.
Re: Bye Bye Kei Igawa
[ Author: TimMac | Posted: Sep 3, 2008 10:57 PM ]

Our "guest" is not just wasting our time, he's also very ignorant in his factual info, which irks me as much as the general gist of his post. The description of Okajima, "apart from one solid season, has struggled and is now a liability" is far from the truth. Currently Okajima is sporting a 2.83 ERA, 3-2 won-loss record, 49K in 54 IP with 20 holds and 1 save. Most teams in either league would be very happy having a lefty specialist/set-up guy with those numbers in their bullpen.
Re: Bye Bye Kei Igawa
[ Author: Guest | Posted: Sep 4, 2008 1:26 PM ]

I'm not trying to start an argument as I am a fan of NPB and it's players. But I think Joe Morgan's right when he said a couple years ago on TV numerous times about the Japanese league when he says it's Double A at best. I mean really, let's be honest. Sure, Japanese are fundamentally great players, but most who come from NPB to the majors experience a severe number decline in their stats.

Kobayashi - one of the best closers from Japan, has been a total disaster for Cleveland.

Yabuta - Top set up man from Japan, signed with the Royals and months later was sent down to the minors. Now he's in the Royals' AAA team with an ERA of 5.40.

Iwamura - Sure he has been good, but he was definitely not the player he was in Japan. He hasn't at all been showing the slugger he was in Japan now that he's in the Majors. Now here's the interesting part. Iwamura, in his last 3 seasons, hit 44HRs in '04, 30 HRs in '05, and 32 HRs in '06 in his last years in the NPB. With power numbers like that you'd think that he can do that in the Majors, too, right? Now in the majors for two seasons Iwamura has hit 12 home runs, 7 HRs in '07, and currently 5 HRs in '08. It just proves the Majors is on a much tougher skill level compared to the NPB.

Igawa - No need to explain.

Johjima - Hitting .200 for the Mariners currently, most likely will be released in the off season.

Fukudome - .260 avg., 9 homers, and has now been benched by Pinella.

Iguchi - released.
Re: Bye Bye Kei Igawa
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: Sep 4, 2008 9:22 PM | YBS Fan ]

Please, nobody respond to this. It's clear that he's not listening and is trying to bait people into his DH Level 4 (at best) nonsense.

Nothing to see here. Please move on.
Re: Bye Bye Kei Igawa
[ Author: Dan Miceli | Posted: Sep 4, 2008 10:01 PM ]

Michael,

May I respond to it? I was in the middle of looking up a few things when your post popped up on the screen.
  1. Masa Kobayashi: Any knowledgeable fan who watched Masa pitch in 2007 for the Marines could see some drop off in his stuff, and consequently his overall performance. I doubt that Nate Minchey-currently a scout for the Indians-recommended Masa as a closer for the Tribe. He is a major-league caliber pitcher, though.

  2. Most MLB people viewed Yasuhiko Yabuta as at best an extra relief arm. His poor performance-just like Fukumori's with Texas-is not so surprising. The 30 MLB teams are always looking for extra arms for the 162-game regular season.

  3. Iwamura's power outage in MLB is no surprise, either. This has been pretty much the norm for Japanese players giving the bigs a try, and I think we have a large enough sample of players who have done so now to conclusively say it is no coincidence.

    But what is the problem with this in Iwamura's case? He has made the transition to a top-of-the-order guy who plays a different infield position well. I congratulate the guy on doing a good job for the Rays the past two seasons.

  4. I thought Igawa was somewhat on the decline his last season or two with the Tigers before the Yankees signed him. I didn't see the same consistency with the velocity that I had seen in previous seasons, and he just didn't look like he was a power pitcher at times anymore. If the Yankees were not smart enough to see him for the pitcher he was at the end of 2006, and make reasonable projections for his chances to succeed or not at the MLB level, then that's their problem. It's not like they haven't made a lot of mistakes in evaluating pitchers in recent years-i.e. Carl Pavano and Jaret Wright.

  5. The Jojima remark is simply ignorant. The man has signed a three-year contract extension from next season. Yes, he has been bad this year, and I'm sure the Mariners already rue their hasty decision. But then again, the Mariners have proven to be a poorly-run organization for some time now.

  6. Fukudome has been a disappointment overall with the bat, but I haven't heard any complaints about his defense. I don't think Fukudome will ever hit for much power in the majors, as with other Japanese players so far. But he is a quality player for the Cubs already, and let's remember the difficult transitions that guys like Hideki Matsui and Kazuo Matsui had in their first seasons.

  7. Iguchi may be done. So what? The White Sox originally signed him during his prime years believing he would be a solid player-not the All-Star caliber one he was in Japan. To my mind, he has had a reasonable amount of success in the U.S. I guess his age and injuries are starting to catch up with him.

  8. I really take offense at Mr. Guest bringing Joe Morgan into the debate here. Joe Morgan has a long track record of unfairly criticizing MLB's efforts to expand its interests around the world by going to great lengths to sign and develop foreign talent.

    Joe seems to believe that there is a racist element of MLB's "Master Plan." He thinks that MLB should use its money to help black kids in the U.S. to play baseball. Joe doesn't understand that this is 2008-not 1968-and most young black kids are interested in other sports like basketball and football if they are athletes-and not baseball. This is not part of something MLB has done to "limit" the number of black Americans in the game, as Joe deludes himself into believing, this is just part of larger changes in American society over the past couple of decades or so, especially with regard to the access to college scholarships in football and basketball for young blacks now, as opposed to the dearth for them when Joe was a young man.
Re: Bye Bye Kei Igawa
[ Author: Sharks410 | Posted: Sep 4, 2008 11:16 PM ]

Very nice post Dan!
Re: Bye Bye Kei Igawa
[ Author: Sara B | Posted: Sep 5, 2008 12:07 AM | HT Fan ]

Echo that sentiment: Way to go, Dan. I guess any of the regulars here know that I remain a big Igawa fan (you don't forget seeing a great young arm in action) despite his problems with the Yankees. Those problems, I think, have nothing to do with some big view of NPB vs. MLB. That's just, as Westbay-sensei says wisely, ringo tai orenji. I only hope that Kei-kun re-finds his once-amazing form with a team where he is comfortable and productive.
OT: Iwamura's Performance
[ Author: TimMac | Posted: Sep 5, 2008 12:46 AM ]

Kudo's Dan! I couldn't agree with you more, especially on your comments re Iwamura. He has taken and transitioned from a mid-order power hitter to a guy that sets the table and a solid leader on an exciting, young, division leading team. He has done everything his team has asked of him and not only changed his fundamental approach to his hitting style, but also shored up the middle-infield with the move from third to second. He's a big factor in the success of the division leading Rays and should, imo, be receiving even more positive press for his accomplishments than he has to date.
Back to Igawa
[ Author: Christopher | Posted: Sep 6, 2008 4:00 PM | HAN Fan ]

Having started this post so long ago I was surprised to see it going on. My feeling about Igawa was that all his problems were mental. His magnificent 2003 season was because Hoshino was able to bring him out of himself and make him realize his full potential. Okada wasn't able to do this; and the Yankees certainly weren't.

I remember watching his last game in Japan - Tigers beat Swallows 2-0 I believe. He obviously wanted the strike out record and really tried hard - harder than I'd seen him try. Give him a goal or target and he would work really well, otherwise he just didn't care. The Yankees never realized this and were unable to get him to lift his performance to his best levels.

Mind you, it's difficult to realize what it is that does motivate Kei Igawa. He is certainly pitching within his capacity in AAA, but with a 26 million dollar contract can enjoy himself. If any team wants to take on Igawa they need to discover the key to his motivation, otherwise they're wasting their time - maybe a word with Hoshino will help?
Re: Back to Igawa
[ Author: Sara B | Posted: Sep 8, 2008 7:24 PM | HT Fan ]

This is a very good point, Christopher -- Hoshino was a good manager for Igawa, clearly. On my mind tonight, as I see on the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees website that Igawa pitched the first victory of the Governor's Cup Series (Minor League Playoffs), it seems that he is being viewed as a big success this year at the AAA level. Whatever gives with his Major League woes is probably complicated, indeed. Anyway, it will be interesting now to see what happens in the off-season for Igawa, and I just hope he can bounce back next year.
About

This is a site about Pro Yakyu (Japanese Baseball), not about who the next player to go over to MLB is. It's a community of Pro Yakyu fans who have come together to share their knowledge and opinions with the world. It's a place to follow teams and individuals playing baseball in Japan (and Asia), and to learn about Japanese (and Asian) culture through baseball.

It is my sincere hope that once you learn a bit about what we're about here that you will join the community of contributors.

Michael Westbay
(aka westbaystars)
Founder

Search for Pro Yakyu news and information
Copyright (c) 1995-2018 JapaneseBaseball.com.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Some rights reserved.