Why Were the Yankees so Quick to Cut Igawa?

The Yankees have cut nine players this spring, effectively sending them to minor league camp: pitchers Andrew Brackman, D.J. Mitchell, Christian Garcia, Kevin Whelan, Wilkins Aria, Kei Igawa, Wilkin De La Rosa, Jeremy Bleich and catchers Daniel Gil and Kyle Higashioka.

The majority of those cuts make sense in my head; the minor league camp needed more players and most of the aforementioned Yankees needed more playing time and had zero chance of making the club anyway. However, the fact that the Yankees were so quick to cut left-hander Kei Igawa befuddles me. Especially after this quote in the New York Times:

Despite having two seasons left on a five-year, $20 million contract, and despite retiring all five hitters in his spring debut Friday, Igawa is mostly out of sight and pretty much out of mind…

“That’s as it should be,” General Manager Brian Cashman said of Igawa’s diminished status. “He’s got to try to reinvent himself. He hasn’t lived up to what our scouting assessments were. Maybe that’s not his fault.” (source)

Normally I don’t criticize Brian Cashman, but I can’t say I am a fan of the way this situation was handled. How can a player reinvent himself without being given a proper chance? I know he has not performed well so far this spring, but at least let the guy work on his stuff against experienced batters. It might increase his confidence and help improve his pitches. Obviously the Yankees were never serious about giving him a chance this year.

Two things need to be done here to properly rectify the situation. Cashman needs to admit his mistake, and the Yankees need to cut ties with Igawa. The lefty has said many times before that it his is dream to pitch in the majors. As a 30 year-old in Triple-A, that chance gets smaller and smaller each season. Obviously that chance won’t come with the Yankees and we know he won’t get more than a minor league deal with another team, so why force him to toil in the minors when more promising pitchers could benefit from his Triple-A rotation spot.

Cashman needs to truly admit that the scouts messed up and he made a poor decision. The right thing to do is release Igawa. Yes, they will be on the hook for the remainder of his salary, but that is the price you pay for not doing a good scouting job. That said, I’d still take Igawa over Carl Pavano any day.

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7 Responses to Why Were the Yankees so Quick to Cut Igawa?

  1. You're bringing up good points, Dan. I posted something about what this portends both on Dan's post yesterday and at The Sommer Frieze, where Mike Sommer wrote something about Igawa. The Yankees appear to have no faith whatsoever in Igawa, and are likely just biding their time until his contract expires–and hopefully apply the several million per toward signing Carl Crawford. (Full disclosure: I have a man crush on Crawford.)

    At the same time Dan, I don't think that Cashman and the Yankees will admit to the obvious mistake that Igawa has been until the next off-season, when he is gone, for a couple reasons. One is that, God forbid, the Yankees actually need to rely on him for a game or more. If that somehow transpires, they'll want Igawa to be as good and confident as possible and, while the 800 lb. gorilla in the room is that the Yanks have no confidence in him, better this remain unsaid until there is absolutely no way Igawa pitches again in pinstripes.

    Also, I don't expect Cashman to admit to this mistake too much because it's rare for the Yankees' brass to do so. It's pretty clear that the team hastily signed Igawa after being outbid by Boston for Matsuzaka, but they don't want to send the signal that they don't scout and recruit well. That is, they probably don't want to reinforce any sign of being dysfunctional, especially when the team is experiencing such success on several fronts.

    It's unfortunately one of those things that everyone knows and sees clearly, yet for a couple reasons, is something that George Orwell characterized as "something it does not do to say."

  2. Brian Burkhart says:

    It also sounds like Cashman blames his scouts a bit for Igawa, suggesting that perhaps they should have already known what Igawa was before signing him.

    I'm somewhat surprised that Cashman didn't move Igawa a season or two ago when some NL teams were inquiring about him. At the time, I thought they resisted pulling the trigger because they still felt Igawa had value. Doesn't seem like that's the case anymore.

  3. I too was surprised that Igawa didn't get shipped out after 2008, Brian. Apparently it was the Yankees' asking for a second box of balls that pushed the asking price over the edge.

  4. Al says:

    The title of this post ask "Why Were the Yankees so Quick to Cut Igawa?" The answer is simple he stunk and he continues to stink".

  5. Al, that's about as accurate and succinct as one can say it.

  6. Dan LaTorraca says:

    I agree that he has not been the greatest pitcher, but what would it have hurt to let him stay an extra week or two in spring training? He could have benefited from it.

  7. Jeffrey says:

    What would be gained by cutting him? He is no longer on the 40 man roster, so no pressing need to do that. And the Yankees like to have competitive teams at AAA, he helps a lot with that. When you look at some of the dreck that they have had there lately, Josh Towers and others, you can't say that they would be an improvement.

    Maybe they will try him in Scranton as a LOOGY and he isn't prepared at this moment to compete for even that small role on a major league team. I hope that they do this and create even a small market for the guy.

    A lot of teams were after Igawa at the time of the posting. He was a big mistake like Pavano and Wright, but that's the past. The Yankees won the World Series last year, so let's get over it.