Archive: November 28th, 2006

Igawa Watch

There isn’t a whole lot for Mets fans to do today, as there is a bundle of inaction out of Shea. No word from Tom Glavine yet, the annual Manny rumors reportedly don’t include Omar this year, and Chad Bradford is slipping away. About all we can do is sit on our hands and hope that the Mets were the team that bid $25M for Kei Igawa.

Wait? Did we WANT to win that bid?

Of course we did. Consider the following:

1. Kei Igawa is a 27-year-old lefthanded starting pitcher.
2. Igawa’s skills and stats are comparable to, and in some years were better than, Daisuke Matsuzaka’s.
3. Igawa has no negotiating leverage, as his only recourse to accepting a lowball deal is to return to Japan for three more years before becoming a free agent.
4. Scott Boras is not his agent.

If you believe a bevy of Major League scouts, the synopsis is that Kei Igawa projects to be somewhere between Jarrod Washburn and Mark Buehrle against US Big Leaguers. That’s not so bad, especially considering that there’s an outside chance he could be good enough to be a solid #3, and he’s only 27.

The $25M bid might sound outlandish, but in reality it could be right on target, provided the winning team can use the aforementioned negotiation leverage toward a lowball deal — somewhere in the $5M per year vicinity. Offer Igawa a 3-year, $15M contract, and the total cost is three years, forty million. Compare that to what Ted Lilly or Gil Meche will eventually sign for by the end of the winter, and it’s a sound investment.

And don’t give me the argument that Meche and Lilly are “MLB proven commodities” — far from it. Meche was a wunderkind as a 20- and 21-year-old, but has not made any progress since. He’s destined to become, at best, another Steve Trachsel, or, at worse, another Kyle Lohse. Lilly has been anything but consistent in his eight-year career — unless you consider a .500 record every year as being consistent. He’s another Trachsel — 59-58 career record — and will be 31 next year. Between Meche, Lilly, and Igawa, it’s a crapshoot, with Igawa likely costing the least yet owning the most upside — as Lilly and Meche have already proven to be mediocre #5s and Igawa might just be a #3.

We should find out this evening who won the rights to Igawa, and I for one will not be critical if the Mets are the winners — provided they are smart in contract negotiations.

Meantime, all the inaction regarding the pitching staff is making me nuts. As a staunch adversary of the Make Aaron Heilman a Starter movement, I’m wondering how we dish out $850K for Damion Easley but don’t even make a bid on Scott Williamson, who is reportedly about to sign with the Orioles for $900K. To lose out on both Williamson and Chad Bradford to the lowly O’s, not to mention Danys Baez, makes my blood boil. Any of these three guys were perfect, fairly affordable options to fill Heilman’s sacred role in the ‘pen, and allow him to move back to the rotation. But then, I’ve questioned a lot of the Mets’ moves in the past, and soon found egg on my face — so maybe they know more about these three pitchers than I do.