Last week, after they saw how much Seibu stands to make from posting Daisuke Matsuzaka, the Hanshin Tigers decided they would post their ace, Kei Igawa, as well, three years before he would have been eligible to to become a free agent.

In many ways, Igawa has been the second best pitcher in Japan the last several seasons, perhaps only after Matsuzaka. I saw him pitch back in 2003 when he was unquestionably the best pitcher in Japan. That season, he won an incredible 20 games (in a league that only plays 135 games a season) and led the Tigers to their first Japan Series in nearly 20 years.

Although Igawa’s stuff is not nearly as good as Matsuzaka’s, he has a lot to recommend him. First of all, he is a crafty lefty with a veteran’s poise and experience on the mound and a three-quarters delivery which is devastating against left-handed batters. He is only 27, which is only a year older than Matsuzaka. He is also known for having excellent control and has led the Central League in strikeouts in 2002, 2004, and 2006.

Besides, his stuff is not that bad at all. He has at least three major-league-quality pitches – a fastball that tops out at 93, a plus curveball with very good downward break, and an outstanding circle change which he uses to keep right-handed batters in check. His fourth pitch is a slider that scouts rate as only so-so by major league standards.

While Igawa certainly does not project to be the kind of ace that Matsuzaka is expected to become, I would imagine that he could be a solid and durable third starter, which is still worth quite a lot. I could also see him becoming a relief ace along the lines of a Takashi Saito.

Plus, while pretty much everyone had heard about Matsuzaka after his dazzling performance in the WBC and the myths about his supposed mystical “gyroball” pitch, Igawa has flown almost completely under the radar and can probably be gotten for a very reasonable price.

18 Responses to “Igawa has been almost as good as Matsuzaka”

  1. Sarah Green says:

    Indeed, the only thing that completely sucks about the A’s is their stupid name. That apostrophe! It’s killing me!

  2. Here’s how one AL GM sized up Kei Igawa, the Japanese lefthanded pitcher who has been posted: “Decent stuff, but not enough to pitch in the AL East or AL Central. He has NL West written all over him.”

  3. The new Fremont stadium will most likely price out the die hard fans…not to mention that the nearest BART stop is 5 miles from the stadium.

    I used to ride to the Coliseum on BART during the summer, buy a $4 ticket, and blow one of those horns you hear when you turn on Univision and watch Mexican soccer. My way of life has been destroyed.

  4. I grew up a Giants fan and hated Canseco and Mcgwire before everyone else knew it was all true. Then the A’s started to get cool. This stadium deal just broke the last resistance. I no longer like the A’s just because I hate the Yankees, I’m an actual A’s fan. Convert for the good of sports!!

  5. SteaksandChops says:

    Sarah, it is called a contraction. That tiny apostrophe is doing yeoman’s work, one little tick mark standing in for “thletic.” You should admire it, not curse it.

  6. Again..the A’s think out of the box and save money…and I for one welcome our new Moneyball overlords

  7. Coley Ward says:

    Yes, Sarah, you should get over the whole apostrophe thing. This should make you feel better about it. The Fynal Cut had a great explanation of why there is an apostrophe in “A’s” just a few days ago.

  8. the new yankee stadium is pretty much completely privately financed
    except for the city building a new train station
    but the city also gets to own the parking lots

  9. Nick Kapur says:

    The new Yankees stadium complex is going to cost $1.1 billion dollars (yes, billion), of which “only” 19 percent is going to be paid by the city of New York. That “tiny” 19 percent comes out to “only” 210 million dollars!

    What you need to explain to me, Mister “Yankees,” is why hardworking taxpayers should subsidize the richest franchise in American sports even a single dollar.

    The city could get a lot more out of the $210 million by spending it on something actually beneficial to the general populace. George Steinbrenner has no business dipping his grubby hands into the public purse.

  10. a ridiculous refusal by the San Francisco Giants to allow the A’s to move out of the East Bay area

    That ‘ridiculous refusal’ as you put it does not prevent the Zzzzzz’s from moving to Sacramento or Santa Rosa – it just defines the territorial rights of the Giants to San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties. A similar, though more informal, arrangement exists for the two football teams.

    In the end, San Jose gets hosed on this, because the stadium (IF it gets built) will be four miles north of the county line, and will draw most of its fan base from north and east San Jose.

  11. Sarah Green says:

    I will not go quietly into that good night! I don’t buy the “it’s a contraction” excuse ponied up by Mr. SteaksandChops (what, no loins?) because I cannot think of another contraction that is shortened to a single letter. “Ath’s” would be a contraction. “A’s” is just a one-letter acronym, or something. (But doesn’t an acronym, by definition, have to be more than one letter? Hmm.)

    Nor do I buy the rationale tendered by my friend and colleague Coley Ward, via the link he posted. For one, the media department at the A’s claims that it is not a contraction but an *abbreviation*, in other words, it’s not “don’t” but “dep’t.” They claim, as Mr. SteaksandChopsbutnotLoins does, that the apostrophe takes the place of the missing letters. They FURTHER claim that if the A’s had gone by the grammatically sensical “As”, then the posessive form would have been “As’s” which looks too much like ass.

    This just proves what asses they themselves are. Posessive plurals are formed by placing an apostrophe AFTER the final s. In other words, the plural of a hypothetical team called the As would be as follows: As’. (Example: “The As’ shortstop sucks ass.” NOT “The As’s shortstop sucks ass.”)

    In fact, I have my own theory on why the Oakland Athletics have chosen to throw in this random punctuator, like a bay leaf flung casually into pasta sauce. I think they did it because “As” just looks weird. It looks like the word “as” only capitalized. Hence the apostrophe is there to add style and character, much like one of Jennifer Aniston’s 17 pieces of flair in Office Space. This is much the same reason that the New York Times, for instance, writes about “CD’s” and not “CDs.” In that case, it is clear that the house style the paper has chosen does not reflect the contraction of “compact discs” but reflects the fact that a pluralized abbreviation (or acronym?) just looks sorta funny. I accept this, but I do not like it. We are throwing grammatical caution to the winds for the sake of mere fashion and I, for one, am disturbed!

  12. The Giants built Pac Bell Park (now AT&T) with private funds…

    According to this article, they were the first team to do so in 4 decades.

    The A’s & Giants both privately financing their parks probably stems from the political culture in the Bay Area. They can’t get public money here, so they have to come up with alternatives.

    As a long-time A’s fan, I’m glad that they are staying in the East Bay and not moving to a place where public financing would be easier to come by (Vegas? Portland?). But I think it’s worth recognizing that private financing of the park is more out of necessity than a desire to do things differently. If they could get public money, they definitely would.

  13. Not sure if that link worked. Here’s the URL:

    If you google “privately financed pac bell”, you get lots of good references.

  14. Actually, Igawa does have a good downward breaking slider. He has an okay curve ball that he uses as a “show me” pitch and if he could refine it further it could be very effective for him. However, he hasn’t been able to master the two seam fastball yet. He tried to add it to his arsenal in 2005 with bad results and abandoned it. I would like to see him add a cutter. But the main things he will have to do to be successful is command his fastball and keep it up between 89-92. If it starts coming in at 86-87 he will usually get hammered. I have no idea how me might do. He was terrible at the beginning of last season due to not being able to command the heater and then found his fastball again and was one of the best pitchers in the Central League from there on in. However, he is probably going to be a seven inning and go to the bullpen guy. It starts getting shaky when he is up around the 100 pitch mark.

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