Akinori Iwamura Rumors

D-Rays Win Akinori Iwamura Bid

According to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Devil Rays have won the bid for infielder Akinori Iwamura.

Projecting Akinori Iwamura

Jeff Sackmann has a fine article up over at the Hardball Times that attempts to project Akinori Iwamura in the Majors for 2007.  Read it, please.

Jeff runs also  Brew Crew Ball among other sites; check it out.

In case you missed it, Jeff is going to be filling in for me on MLBTradeRumors when I leave for my honeymoon next week.  I just had my bachelor party last night at Sluggers.  Dueling pianos and batting cages!  I’m pretty surprised I wrote as much as I did today given the hangover and whatnot.  Bachelor parties are cool; you should each have several of your own.  Every time you finish your beer someone is handing you a new one…and you don’t have to pay for it! 

We’ve also got more first-rate bloggers who are going to pop in with guest posts while I’m gone (Larry from Viva El Birdos, Tom from CubDumb, Greg from SportsBlah, Jake from Bucco Blog, and so forth).  I think the site is going to be very cool while I’m away.

Many thanks to all those who wrote in volunteering to help me out.  About 90 people inquired!  As always I was overwhelmed by all the exceptional writers willing to assist.  In addition to my friends who will be guest-blogging, I’m going to ask a handful of these applicants to contribute one guest post each.  Should be good times.

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Projecting Akinori Iwamura

Hi everybody, I’m going to be filling in for Tim later this month, and we wanted me to have a chance to get my feet wet on the site before he left.

First off, thanks to Tim for inviting me to post.  Some of you may know me from my Brewers blog, Brew Crew Ball, and others may recognize my name from my columns at The Hardball Times.  I also designed and run the site MinorLeagueSplits.com which, as you can probably figure out, has split and situational stats for every 2006 minor leaguer.  (I’ve also got Hawaii and Arizona winter league stats, too.)

This morning I published an article at The Hardball Times about Akinori Iwamura. He’s been posted by the Yakult Swallows, and while the Phillies have said they’re not interested (can’t cut in to Abraham Nunez‘s playing time, oh no!) that still leaves a variety of possible destinations: Red Sox, Padres, Indians, and potentially anybody who wanted in on Aramis Ramirez but doesn’t think they’ll get him.

The big question about Iwamura is his power.  Will he be like Hideki Matsui and turn into a .300-hitting doubles machine?  Will he look like a Triple-A masher who can’t quite cut it in the bigs?  You’ll have to follow the link for all my projections (it’d be way too much to post here), but through a variety of methods I came up with a range of possible performances for Iwamura.

On the optimistic side, Iwamura could be 2006 Ryan Zimmerman: 825 OPS, 20 HRs, a bunch of doubles.  Median, say 2006 Chad Tracy: ~795 OPS, BA down around 275-280.  Worst case?  David Bell.  The Bell comparison came through seeing what would happen to Iwamura’s stats if he had the same first-year experience that Matsui did: decent average, but massive power outage.  It’s not pretty, and it may have been the sort of thought process that made Pat Gillick think twice about the Japanese slugger.

After running a whole bunch of projections, I have to admit that I don’t know much better than anybody else what Iwamura will do in MLB.  There have been so few power hitters who have played in both MLB and Japan, so Matsui is really about all we have to go on.  If I had to guess, I’d say Iwamura will post a BA-heavy 780 OPS in 2007, and have more success, say 810-820 with more power in ’08 and beyond.

Posted by Jeff Sackmann

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Update on Igawa, Kuroda, Iwamura

As you probably have read, Japanese ERA leader and free agent Hiroki Kuroda has re-signed with his current team the Hiroshima Carps.  It was expected that he would stay in Japan, but it was thought he might sign with the Hanshin Tigers to be their ace.

At one point, the posting of 27 year-old southpaw Kei Igawa by Hanshin was said to depend on the team signing Kuroda to replace him as the staff ace.  Despite that option disappearing, it is expected that Igawa will still be posted this week.

71% of Japanese baseball fans filling out this survey believe Igawa will not succeed in the Majors (the orange represents "will not succeed.")

38 year-old starting pitcher Masumi Kuwata is a free agent and will try his hand at MLB this season.  The righty hasn’t pitched well since 2002, however.  He might not make it out of Triple A, but the Indians have already shown interest.

The winning bid for third baseman Akinori Iwamura will not be made public by Yakult, but it is estimated to be just $1MM.  The winning team should be known around Monday or Tuesday.   

Phillies, Indians Interested In Akinori Iwamura

27 year-old Japanese third baseman Akinori Iwamura is being pursued by both the Phillies and the Indians.

Pat Gillick mentioned today that he has a lot of interest in Iwamura to play third for the Phils.  You may recall that Gillick imported Ichiro back when he was GM of the Mariners.  Another convenient factor is that manager Charlie Manuel has played in Japan before. 

The Tribe is showing interest as well, but are committed to Andy Marte at third base.  They would ask Iwamura to convert to second base.

Akinori Iwamura Prepared To Play 2B/SS/CF

Akinori Iwamura is a 27-year Japanese third baseman with a good chance of being posted.  Translations indicate that he could post a .850-.900 OPS in the Majors.

A recent interview with Iwamura (in Japanese) indicates that he’d be willing to convert to second base, shortstop, or even center field if needed.  He was a five-time Gold Glover at third in Japan.

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Akinori Iwamura To Be Posted?

In keeping with our recent Japanese theme, how about 27 year-old third baseman Akinori Iwamura?  It was revealed today that Iwamura will probably be posted.  He’s a fine hitter and could jump to the top of the list of available 3Bs quickly.  If it’s true that Japanese baseball is a cut above American Triple A, Iwamura’s .390 OBP and .550 SLG should hold up pretty well.

I don’t know about Iwamura’s glovework, but Iwamura could probably outhit every free agent 3B outside of Aramis Ramirez.  If I’m the Phillies, I jump on this and give him a three-year, $24MM deal.

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