Iwakuma's A Game and B Game
There are a few pitchers who have worse "B Games"


Q.  Okay, what is the nature of Iwakuma's A game and B game?  How good is he on either day?

A.  The Times puts its finger on the fact that a "lively" Iwakuma gets hop on his fastball.  On this chart, from yesterday, notice the fastball movement in the 5-10" rise bandwidth.   Compare this one from Minnesota, in which the fastball stays down.

Personally would advise caution against overselling the difference.  His fastball averaged 90.19 MPH against the Angels and against the Twins it was... wait for it... 90.19 MPH.  Four inches of rise ain't the difference between a #2 starter and a roster cut.  ;- )  All starters, including Felix, experience 4" variations in their fastball movement, start to start.



Q.  But how good is he on a good day?

A.  Let's don' oversell his stuff they-ah Cubbie...

 At best his fastball is average.  His slider -- as such -- is average-solid.  True, the shuuto is a signature pitch.  But there are tons of guys with "stuff" better than that.  Erasmo Ramirez' stuff is better than Iwakuma's.  Lots of guys' are.

We just saw his best, against LAA.  He is a command, deception, and pitchability guy, like Doug Fister, Dan Haren, Cliff Lee, Jered Weaver, Hiroki Kuroda.  Jamie Moyer.

A lot of cagey veteran starters can dominate, in a particular game, based on outsmarting the hitters.

His command, on a good day, is SupaBad, Brah.  Like Orel said, "command one pitch, compete.  Command two, win.  Command three, dominate."  Iwakuma does that on a good day.  


Q.  How bad is he on a bad day?

A.  Better than most guys on their bad days!  This right here is the beauty of the guy.

On a bad day, he has to cobble outs via (1) deception and (2) sense of danger.  He'll nibble and pick and drive the announcers batty, but he won't do anything stupid and chances are, his defense will have a chance to make outs.

But are you telling me that Jason Vargas doesn't have to scuffle on B days?  Erik Bedard didn't?  Everybody but Felix scuffles on B days.


Q.  Adding up to what?

A.  Iwakuma ain't a star.  But I'll take him over Vargas, I'll tell ya that.  Given a strong shoulder.  I'd shut him down pretty quick here.

The M's made a neat run after the All-Star break, all 5 starters lighting it up, and we opined "It's Felix, Iwakuma, and three guys who are hot at the moment."  Keep two of those guys for next year and get the kiddies rollin', what say.






He's worth something, cash-wise. And he ain't ours yet.
Z should remedy that right blinking now.
Millwood isn't coming back. The Big 3 aren't here yet. Iwakuma is proven.
How much is he worth, how much would you pay?
Big questions.
Three years at how many million?


i have to think that he's pitching himself into Kuroda money - $10 million per or so. Given the finger he gave Beane when negotiating with the A's, in wouldn't bet on any advantage in negotiation. He'll go into FA and go to the highest bidder.


Wouldn't underestimate how difficult life is in America for NPB players.  When he says he's acclimated to Seattle, to the org, etc, there could be a pretty big fear of the unknown.
But yeah.


He does have that inverted W that Taro hates, and markedly so...
I'd go ahead with 2-3 years at $8M (if that did it) if I planned on using him verrrry gingerly... skip a start once in a while, pull him at 90 pitches in games where he's up 4 runs, that kind of stuff...
And then, Put Him On Our Staff Please


I believe he, like a lot of Japanese athletes, stated a preference for this coast based on the difference in flight time to Japan, and the Safeco factor that hinders the team's ability to trade pitching could keep the market for him relatively low anyway.


How do Y'all feel about 2013? Developmental year, or go for broke try to reach the playoffs year?
The way the Mariners have played beisbol in the second half has made me believe that playoffs are possible for this ball team. Hopeless optimism? Maybe. But Seager and Montero and Jaso and Felix and Iwakuma and Vargas and the bullpen have got me excited.
So, do we still run out Paxton and Hultzen and hope for big things, or do we sign some veteran pitchers this off season and shore up our pitching for a run? I'm in favor of signing good Vargas, good Iwakuma, and good someone else, and let the kids fight it out with Blake Beaven for that fifth spot. I'd love to see a minors guy pan out, but the Hector Noesi experiment sours with age. That guy negatived Felix!
The flip side of rebuilding, is that eventually if it works, your team should become too good for tryouts.
Are we there yet?


I would go with that. Sometimes you just say, "What the heck!" and go with youth. Hultzen has clearly experienced some control problems in Tacoma, but all the same. he's struck out 136 and given up only 4 homes in 124 AA/AAA innings this year. I would give him a 5-inning start in Seattle, to finish his year. Walker and Paxton have had control issues, too, BTW.
If one of those guys isn't spraying pitches all over spring training.....I think they would be a good bet for 5 starts in Tacoma then a call-up.
Noesi? Doesn't it seem like he just gives up rockets? I suppose Furbush could be considered for a rotation spot. He had 12 starts last year with Detroit. But he's so dominant out of the pen (5 hits/9 and 10.5 K's/9) that you have to wonder if he's found a permanent home. On the other hand, you might think he's just found his game and can carry over this performance (somewhat reduced) to the rotation. I'll bet he gets a ST start, or two. BTW, let's not assume he's building these stats just getting lefties out. He does have an astronomical .146-.205-.232 line vLHB. But against RHB hes still .177-.253-.342. That ain't bad.
Much may depend on Iwakuma and if we can resign him. But I would be tempted to give Hultzen a shot pretty early.
That's why you draft 'em, after all.


We've now, officially, confirmed that the Mariners are a team with two big holes: #2 SP and Corner OF. (I haven't yet given up on Carp at 1B, though I'm ready to throw in the towel on Smoak.)
For the pitching: they have an ace in Felix (whom they should extend, immediately, this offseason), a #3 in Iwakuma (whom they should re-sign for a couple of years), and a #4 in Vargas (whom they should also extend this offseason for three years). Cerberus plus assorted arms (Erasmo, Beavan, Noesi, Carraway) will obviously produce someone worthy of the #5 slot. The bullpen is not a concern, given that it's young and awesome and there are even more prospects coming. The only piece missing is a #2, and I'm not counting on any of Cerberus next year.
As for the offense: they have two good starting outfielders in Saunders and Gutierrez (when they're on the field, ugh, but you can't count on either to be UNhealthy) and a bevy of fourth OF/bench bat types (Robinson, Wells, Thames). Ackley, Seager, and Ryan aren't going anywhere; Montero and Jaso are likewise here to stay. Carp's 2012 sample was limited but his plate discipline numbers improved and I'd be inclined to give him a starting job and see if he can produce 2 WAR at first base. The hole, then, is big enough for exactly one fulltime corner OF/1B.
Conveniently enough, pending addition by subtraction (removal of Figgins, Olivo, Noesi, League), the disappearance of the Safeco Effect, and plate improvement from Ackley and Montero, the Mariners are pretty much one good player in each of these holes away from a wild card spot. The problem is, if current payroll is maintained, there's only enough cash to fill one of them via expensive free agency.
The good SP free agent options are Greinke, Jackson, Kuroda, Dempster, McCarthy, Blanton, Lewis, Sanchez and Bedard (in order of likely cost).
The good OF options are Hamilton, Swisher, Bourn, Victorino, Upton, Pagan, Ross, Melky and Gomes (again in order of cost).
Ideally you could sign one big name at one hole and then trade or look bargain-basement to fill the other hole. Willingham and Doumit should be available OF bats from the Twins. Lee is available in Philly, though expensive. The point is, the market that can fill the Mariners' holes exists... time to capitalize.


Nice Post.
However, instead of bargain basement shopping for the 2nd hole, I hope that Z tries the trade market at least one more time.
There are lots of relievers and low end starting pitchers in the system - some of them MUST have some trade value.
Then, there is no way we can keep all of Trayvon, Wells, Thames, Guti, Saunders... Plus, as much as I do not like it, I'll bet that Wedge gets to keep Olivo as a low cost VETERAN place holder for Zunino - so there is also an extra player in the Jaso, Montero, Carp and Olivo.
Then, with all the potential hitters in the minors - there are a lot of trade pieces to get somebody really good.
Come on Z, work that magic one more time.


It's a weird pivot point. Jack now has to find a GM that's in his former position - needing quantity more than quality. Someone with an aged roster and the Mojave for a minor league system. I'm not sure who is in that position - the Phillies, maybe?


Morrow was a lost cause. I'm pretty convinced that he would never have amounted to anything in Seattle. He needed to go somewhere else.
For this, I'm thinking Fister trade in reverse - the M's get the one premium guy and give up the four quantity guys.


Absolutely nothing in the way of starting pitching. Willingham, Doumit, and Span all locked up to very team-friendly deals in the outfield--one OF too many, as it happens, since Revere's out there too. And besides, Blake Beavan with his strikes and his no stuff was destined to be a Twin. It's the perfect match.


My point isn't necessarily that we should have kept Morrow. He was a mess. My point is that we should have been able to get something way more valuable than a reliever for him (former first rounder, SP, extensive flashes of brilliance, classic change of scenery/maturation candidate, unhittable fastball, probably would have been a top three selection in another draft). Maybe the market wasn't there, but in that case, wait a little or package him with something else or whatever.
I was also not opposed to trading Fister... but you just gotta do better than that (club controlled, healthy, brainy, cheap, proven SP in MLB, plus plus plus makeup, unique physical gifts- 10 ft tall, etc).  Fister was one of the most valuable commodities in MLB.  Sure, Furbush is awesome and fun.  Wells is OK.  But, C'MON!  Those guys should have been throw ins not the headliners.


Zduriencik had an interesting saber quote a while back:  'our analysis indicated that his split was the best swing-and-miss pitch in baseball' or something very similar to that.  They thought they had a budding superstar in League, I think.  Ironic that their emphasis on makeup and tools scouting let them down on that one.  As Craig Wright said, if you bat 60% you lead the field.
I also think they were a bit TOO enthused about flushing Morrow - he wasn't exactly dealing drugs in the clubhouse - and their enthusiasm for powerflushing Doug Fister is one of the great sports mysteries that I've seen.  
They obviously thought they were selling WAY high on Fister, thought he would shortly be exposed as a mediocrity.  The comment 'he wasn't one of our best five going forward,' referring to a SP on Fister's measly wages and considering that Erikkk was already gone and Vargas had been shopped... they had Felix, Pineda, and an empty rotation and "Fister wasn't one of our best five."  Read that as "We just don't see that much of a future for him as a starting pitcher in the big leagues."  They just flat thought that Fister wasn't nearly as good as he'd looked.  Am sure they were horrified when he went to Detroit and pitched like Christy Mathewson.
You take the good with the bad.  But the Fister saga sticks in my craw the way the Randy Johnson one did.

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