I’ve been thinking. Thinking a lot. This may surprise some of you, as I’m sure based upon reading my blog on somewhat of a semi regular basis most of you probably think of me as a twit, while others just a talking head that recites what others believe and pass it off as my own beliefs. In either case I’m sure you’d be surprised to find me thinking original thoughts.
One individual that I’ve of course been tossing to and fro is the newest member of the Mariners, Hisashi Iwakuma, the problem is at this point is trying to come up with some to say about the 30-year old that no one else has said. Really what is there possibly to say that no one hasn’t already said in the last week. Iwakuma appears to be a pretty decent get. He maintains a Jason Vargas-like ceiling. Where he has a chance to be above-average while floating somewhere between being fun to watch and not quiet sucking and of course as Mr. Cameron compared him to the other available options, specifically the ones which the Mariners had been previously connected via rumors, he has the appereance of being a steal.
So there isn’t much not to like about Iwakuma. There is little risk involved due to the nature of the contract he signed, which is most tied up in incentives (ala Erik Bedard), and while there is a little part of me that is over joyed at this mild impact announcement, I’m more worried about the fan base. I’m worried about, the “what if he succeeds” scenario. How many people are going to be really disappointed if he’s not back next year.
It’s obvious that, as mentioned by Jeff Sullivan, he only took this smaller contract due to the limited interest because of league translation, but also important, his loss of velocity and shoulder related injuries last season. I hate to start talking next off-season already but a word of caution. While it’s going to be a lot of fun to shout “shuuuuuuuutoooooo” every time Iwakuma gets a fantastic ground ball or makes a batter look foolish, his days in Seattle may be numbered due to the nature of the state of changing climate within the organization.
We don’t just have Walker, Hultzen and Paxton in our organization. We also have Brandon Maurer, Andrew Carraway, Erasmo Ramirez, Charlie Furbush, Blake Beavan and even Jimmy Gillheeney. All of which are, at the very most, two years away from being viable options at the back of the rotation. While, Iwakuma is a solid filler for the time being, and on a great contract, his lack of ceiling, ala Vargas, makes him expendable and limits his future within this organization.
I’m not trying to be a damper on the party. But, as Keith and I have been talking a lot about free-agency the point being there are great free-agent signings and there are bad. This is a very good signing in my opinion, maybe even boarder line great depending on what happens during the season, but Mariner fans often become attached too quickly and become resentful when veteran players aren’t brought back after productive seasons (ala Russ Branyan, Jarrod Washburn and even Erik Bedard) and who also had close connection to the local team.
The Mariners have a lot of options down the road and its reasonable to assume that Iwakuma would expect a serious contract offer next year, so long as he performs well, and there isn’t much sense in that for this organization to do that considering our current depth. There are scenarios in which he could be brought back, but ultimately he looks like a one year guy at this time.
It’ll be fun to have him around this year and I certainly enjoy the depth he adds to our rotation. Ultimately this is going to be a very weird season and interesting to see where it all takes us next year.