You wonder if the M's would think about Taro's idea about 'Kuma in the pen. Bear in mind that Taro knows NPB starters/relievers like you know interior line play in the NFL. Well, maybe that's a bad example... like Geoff Baker knows the blue lines in hockey? ... no ... suffice it to say that I'd listen to Taro's opinion on Hisashi Iwakuma before I'd listen to my own.
Nippon pitching isn't about genetics. It's about a way of approaching the game, a way of preparing. There is no racial element to comparing one Cuban to another, or one Nippon player to another. They are isolated environments with distinctive ideas about the game.
In medicine they have a general diagnosis along the lines of "chronic wear and tear." Dr. D has this in places himself. It doesn't mean that something's going to rip in half, necessarily; it can just mean you're going to be weaker. Jered Weaver's wear and tear just kept reducing his speed, and then it began to eat at his command. Come to think of it, this winds up happening to, um, everybody.
The M's themselves looked at the wear in tear on the imaging and said, "Okay, we'll pay for 200, 300 innings. Pay for 500 innings' worth of elite performance? Not even if it costs us our 116 banner."
It seems quite feasible to me that Iwakuma would be back to 89, 90 MPH if throwing two innings per week.
The usual question could be, can you throw feather-soft paintballs right into the mitt, Pitch One, as a reliever? The difficulty of that is why most RP's are max-effort flamethrowers. Not to say Dennis Eckersley -- and Koji Uehara -- couldn't do it. If a great control pitcher can throw that way from Pitch One ... Eck's comment was "if it's me against you one time, I like my chances."
My Q for Taro would be whether he thinks Iwakuma would have his best command in this context.
For what it's worth, not a ton -- are Iwakuma's stats good in inning one? For his career, his best innings are IP 1-2, this despite the fact that better hitters lurk there. His CTL is 235:47 lifetime in those innings.
It's just a cyber discussion since the M's haven't whispered it in any way, shape or form. But! I could easily see this occur suddenly: "We just think this is a way for Hisashi to get some velocity back right now" is a perfectly normal Baseball Story. Also, the very precedent of Uehara himself is valuable in tamping down the fiercest opposition.
Since the 3-4-5 slots are already dubious, it would take a lot to move Iwakuma out. Namely, their certain knowledge that his starts are not presentable on television. If that's true, this org will be the first to know. It's a great organization.