There is a pretty good thread going on on the Mastersball.com forum, regarding Colby Lewis.
Lewis, who spent the last two years in Japan with some serious success, is now back with the Rangers, the team who drafted him #1 in 1999.
Before that, Lewis, now 30, was a complete washout. A mark of 12-15, 6.71 over 217 innings, allowing 270 hits, 124 walks (1.83 WHIP), with 155 strikeouts and 36 (ouch) homers allowed pretty much confirms this. In fact, I got to score some of Lewis' final stint in the majors when he pitched for Oakland in 2007 (0-2, 6.45 over 26 games) and he really was awful.
Sometimes there are players who look good--displaying skills or savvy or something--and they cannot put it together and struggle. In Lewis' case, he was simply lost. And, hittable.
So, he fled to Japan and apparently learned some discipline, and some control winning 26 games over two years, with an ERA around 2.80, a WHIP below 1.00, and 369 strikeouts over 249.3 innings. And, those are some very impressive numbers.
Now the question is how much of a gamble is he in a roto league?
Well, as usual it depends upon the depth of your league, but the answer is Lewis is a huge gamble. Not that I am not impressed with his Japanese numbers.
But, the names of those players who have had an immediate impact coming to MLB is really not that large. Ichiro. Hideo Nomo. Hideki Matsui. DiceK. And Cecil Fielder.
There are others, certainly, but the major league highway is also littered with the Tomo Ohkas, Hideki Irabus, and Kenji Johjimas.
Now I did include Cecil in this list because he is the most prominant player to go to Japan, succeed, and then return here and establish himself in the majors. Although, to be fair, Fielder had pretty good power totals before he fled, just poor on-base totals, and in Japan he learned to hit off-speed pitching.
And, maybe Lewis learned some control, but I would let some other eager eyed owner snap him up for $8 or a twelfth round pick. Of course, if you can get him on your reserve list, that is one thing. But, wasting (and I mean wasting) a roster spot on him at this point is just that: a waste (of course again, should you be in a 22-team league, it is different, but I am thinking standard league makeups here, of 12-team AL, and 15 team mixed).
Because aside from age, and going back to where he was not successful in the first place, he is going to a hitter's park, and I am willing to bet failure there will be even harder for Lewis to adjust to, than making the switch to life in Japan, no matter how successful.
I just don't see it. And, as Todd points out in the forum, those who take him and are successful with the selection are not prescient. Rather, they will be lucky.
It is true you have to be lucky to be good. But, one has to put himself in the position to take advantage of that luck. In this instance, I believe a Lewis owner would be trying to put luck in the position of being taken advantage of. Kind of like trying to draw on an inside straight.