The Iwakuma Era is over before it ever began

Barry Zito money?  Barry Zito doesn’t even deserve Barry Zito money.

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that’s what Japanese starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma wants from the A’s and its why contract negotiations between the Oakland A’s and Iwakuma are dead in the water.

Shelling out Zito money for Iwakuma would mean Oakland would be paying $18 million a season for a well-worn veteran Japanese arm on top of an $8 million posting fee.  That’s just not going to happen.

Iwakuma’s agent Don Nomura takes some hard shots at the A’s while telling his side of the story on Twitter. and Craig Calcaterra takes a good look at both sides at Hardball Talk.

I’ll admit that I was excited about the possibility of the A’s adding Iwakuma to an already impressive rotation but that had more to do with the fact that it was nice to see Oakland apparently making a commitment to aggressively spend money to improve the team.

But now the speculation by ESPN’s Rob Neyer that Oakland was just trying to keep Iwakuma away from American League rivals without actually signing him seems to hold a lot of water.

If that’s what the A’s were really trying to do it worked like a charm and now, in theory, they have the $18 million posting fee back in their pocket to spend on some sluggers … unless you believe the conspiracy theories that the A’s aren’t even serious about signing someone like Adrian Beltre.

I guess a big question right now is whether losing Iwakuma hurts the A’s.

The team probably takes a public relations hit for making a splash in the bidding process and then following that up with a thoroughly unsatisfying attempt at contract negotiations.  But what’s one more PR flub at this point for the A’s?

The most important thing is how this effects the team’s starting rotation in 2011 and I actually think they’ll be just fine.

I linked to some mixed reviews on Iwakuma in an earlier post and Slusser quotes a scout who says he’s “nothing special.”  There’s no reason to think the A’s won’t be just fine with whoever emerges from the fight for the No. 5 spot in the rotation.  Josh Outman, Tyson Ross, Bobby Cramer and maybe Clayton Mortenson should be able to provide solid innings at the back of the rotation.

This development definitely sucks some wind out of the A’s sails and casts some doubt on whether they’ll really make any noise in the offseason if they’re just using contract offers as PR moves.

If all Oakland does is add David DeJesus and a bargain bin veteran designated hitter to the lineup for 2011 I don’t see how that’s anywhere near enough to get the team into the playoffs.

There never seems to be a dull moment in the offseason for the A’s.





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