First, some book-keeping: the Yankee bid for Kei Igawa was, as Cliff Corcoran reports on Bronx Banter, a very cute $26 million plus 192 dollars (Igawa’s 2006 strikeout total!), just in case some other insanely delusion team—that means you, Red Sox—decided to go with the same basic figure. Smart move? Huge error? Is this a more expensive Jaret Wright/Carl Pavano deal in the making? Have the Yankees, who appeared to be moving in a more conservative, build from within strategy, abandoned their plan? Given the market, is Igawa reasonably priced for a lefty? Is he any good? How does he compare to Matsuzaki? There are many questions. Answers are few, though here’s a bit of information that should help us at least make some informed judgments:
-Scouting reports are mixed. His out pitch is either a change or a curve (which can be flat) depending on your source. The fastball runs in the 88-92 range, and needs to be spotted to be effective. He has had trouble with the long ball—though an adjustment made in the 2006 season dramatically reduced that problem. He’s a dependable innings eater. General consensus is he’s a back of the rotation starter, though there are a few who see him as a 2. He became disenchanted with the fans of his Japan team, and asked to be moved to MLB. How this very intriguing personality will respond to the NY media maelstrom has to be a concern.
-On Bronx Banter, the estimable Corcoran suggests Igawa stacks up pretty well to Matsuzaki. He also notes Igawa is said to be looking for a 3 year deal in the $6 to $7 million range, a total package that is less that the Matsuzaka posting fee alone and probably cheaper that what a guy like Ted Lilly will command, let alone Zito or Schmidt. For the Yanks, with their luxury tax issues, it might not be a terrible financial outlay, given the market. And it just doesn’t compare to the Matsuzaka bid. SF can compare percentage of “overbid,” but the difference in bids is about $25 million. That’s a huge disparity, though it doesn’t mean the Yanks haven’t taken a crazy plunge.
So what do we think? We just don’t know. Can the guy get AL batters out with any consistency? Will a bad couple of outings as he adjusts doom this relationship? The good news: At least we’ll have something besides A-Rod to talk about next spring!