November 8, 2010

Japan's Hisashi Iwakuma Heading to Oakland?

In 1995, when Hideo Nomo left Japan and signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers, he actually did something pretty monumental.

Consider this...he became the first Japanese-born Major Leaguer since Masanori Murakami 30 years prior.  He also became the first Japanese-born player to relocate permanently to the American Major Leagues considering Murakami played only two seasons with the San Francisco Giants before returning to Japan for the remainder of his career.

Oh...he also had those two no-hitters (he's the only Japanese-born pitcher to throw one, much less two) and he was the first Japanese-born player to win the Rookie of the Year award.

More than 15 years later...Hisashi Iwakuma is looking to follow in Nomo's footsteps.

Now, you've probably seen the "A's win the bidding for Japan's Iwakuma" headlines...but what does that mean exactly?

Okay, remember the whole Daisuke Matsuzaka ordeal from four years ago?  The Boston Red Sox "won" the rights to talk to "Dice-K" .  And by winning...I mean, spent $51 million to do so. 

They still had to SIGN the 2006 World Baseball Classic MVP and that will end up costing them close to another $60 million.  So all told, that's what...$110 million over six years.

Was it worth it?

That's what you've got going for you Oakland fans (all twelve of you?), your team has 30 days to sign the 29 year-old Iwakuma to a contract.  If you don't...he's back on the free agent market and anyone can snag him.  And to make matters worse, the A's bid (according to MLB.com) was "reported to have been for a higher sum than the (Tohoku Rakuten) Golden Eagles originally expected through the posting process".

I'm fearful as to what exactly a "higher sum than originally expected" means.

I could close this diatribe out with some sort of lame "looks like something something Moneyball, yuck, yuck, but instead...let's take a look at Iwakuma's career.

In ten seasons of pro ball in Japan, Iwakuma managed a 101-62 record, a 3.32 ERAand 1085 strikeouts.  Last season, he went 10-9 with a 2.82 ERA and was 13-6 with a 3.25 ERA in 2009.  In his best season, 2008, Iwakuma posted 21 wins and a 1.87 ERA in 28 starts.

So there you go, game on A's fans.  Is this the start of a new pitching resurgence in Oaktown...or is this cat going to bankrupt you?


1 comment:

Jason said...

I think it really depends on how much they give him in an actual contract. ESPN was speculating that they may not even necessarily sign him, but try to trade him for a bat. Not sure if they can even do that since it was my understanding that free agent contracts can't be traded until May 1st after they sign them.

I think it's interesting that they were even involved in the process. This never really seems like a market that they particularly care to explore.