March 6, 2007

Look For Kei To Be Key

There's still plenty of time left for predictions for the 2007 regular season. My latest one is a pretty safe bet: Kei Igawa will be a dependable starter for the Yankees, maybe even a post season hero. Wow, am I going out on a limb, or what? The official MLB website for the Yankees chronicles Igawa's "shaky" spring training debut. Not a big deal. No one really knows what kind of pitcher Igawa will be; but, then again, we don't know what kind of season anyone on the roster will have. There are always injuries to be concerned about, personal issues which creep up now and again (see Rodriguez, Alex and Jeter, Derek) to get in the way of baseball. Since Kei Igawa has a big question mark on his jersey, it's easy to jump to the conclusion that his signing could be a bust.

Blame it on nerves, a desire to do too much, inexperience against major leaguers, or anything you want. But, at the end of the day, young Kei Igawa can pitch. That's all the Yankees really expected. With a man like Ron Guidry coaching him, he stands to become a solid number four or five starter in no time. Remember, this kid was no slouch in Japan. We all know that Japanese baseball has produced stars in their own country who come here to play Major League Baseball and flourish. There will be less pressure on Kei Igawa to perform that Daisuke Matsuzaka for the Red Sox. My point? Igawa can slip in under the radar, make a few mistakes, and gain the experience and become a reliable arm in the Yankee's rotation. Poor "Dice-K" is liable to be dissected by the fans and media before he's given the chance to learn and grow.

Forget the rocky start, call it growing pains, and remember that spring training means nothing in the regular season. Kei will be a key member of the pitching staff for the Yankees in 2007. As for post season hero? I just threw that in for good luck.

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