Just Saying

Dave · May 7, 2012 at 8:56 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Hisashi Iwakuma: 32 batters faced, 9 strikeouts
Blake Beavan: 143 batters faced, 14 strikeouts

I hope Blake Beavan’s elbow is okay and he didn’t sustain any kind of serious injury. That said, if he ends up missing a start or two, not only would the team not miss a beat, they’d likely be better off. Iwakuma has been banished to mop-up work because Eric Wedge is a bad talent evaluator who thinks spring training statistics matter (see also Jaso, John), but the team is simply better off with Iwakuma starting and Beavan pitching in relief. It’s where they both belong.


37 Responses to “Just Saying”

  1. mariners88 on May 7th, 2012 9:36 pm

    Completely agree, Dave. I’ve been waiting to see more of Iwakuma all year long. Although, I’d personally prefer to see him taking over Millwood or Noesi’s slot.

  2. henryv on May 7th, 2012 9:38 pm

    Hultzen by June 1st, please?

  3. bookbook on May 7th, 2012 9:39 pm

    Fascinating. I had really hoped that the talent evaluating would rest more securely upon Z’s shoulders. Wedge’s job being to keep the team focused and performing the fundamentals through the tough slog of the season. (And, I don’t know, mustache twirling?)

  4. IdahoInvader on May 7th, 2012 10:20 pm

    Plus, the fact he can be effective AT ALL after being this poorly shows he has SOMETHING to offer. Letting a career-long starter only pitch twice in over a month IN RELIEF isn’t exactly the best way to set him up for success.

  5. MrZDevotee on May 7th, 2012 10:30 pm

    I’m not defending Wedge, per se, but he did say he was letting Iwakuma work his way back into proper condition. We’re not privvy to his workload in practices/bullpen sessions, naturally, which may have been telling the team info that was important in evaluating him earlier, but 3 innings with 5 K’s, against a pretty good offense, could be a sign he’s getting his “stuff” back where it needs to be.

    And (fingers crossed) he’ll be eased into more innings and an eventual starting role.

  6. Adam B. on May 7th, 2012 10:32 pm

    Somehow I believe that Blake Beaven will continue be in the rotation barring some catastrophic injury (see Olivo, Miguel).

    I just get the impression that Eric Wedge feels like he needs to be loyal to veteran players that on many other teams would be recognized as the fungible place-holders they are. Patience is a virtue with young players, and a pain in the ass with flawed veterans.

    My take on the rotation? Hultzen will be up when Vargas is traded, Erasmo Ramirez will eventually get Kevin Millwood’s spot, and unless Blake Beaven is seriously hurt, Iwakuma will only receive a spot start for the rest of the season.

  7. Adam B. on May 7th, 2012 10:34 pm

    A great sign for Iwakuma (other than the K’s) was that he was touching 92mph with his fastball, and not lobbing it up there at 86-88 as he was earlier in the year.

  8. Thirteen on May 7th, 2012 10:46 pm

    Sorry Dave, but I disagree on this one.

    Blake Beavan: 1.220 WHIP, 1.5 HR/9, 1.2 BB/9, 3.9 K/9
    Hisashi Iwakuma: 1.200 WHIP, 3.6 HR/9, 3.6 BB/9, 7.2 K/9
    Kevin Millwood: 1.570 WHIP, 0.6 HR/9, 3.1 BB/9, 6.0 K/9
    Hector Noesi: 1.400 WHIP, 1.8 HR/9, 3.9 BB/9, 5.4 K/9

    You can make a case that Iwakuma should be in the rotation and not in the pen, but I think it’s hard to argue that Beavan should be the one sent to the pen when Noesi has been considerably worse. He hasn’t shown the ability to consistently locate anything but the fastball and the change, and he needs more than just those two pitches working to be an effective regular starter. My vote would be Noesi to AAA to work on the secondary stuff, Iwakuma to the rotation and call up Pryor to the pen. You can’t just base this on Iwakuma v. Beavan–you need to look at the other SPs, too…

  9. shortbus on May 7th, 2012 11:11 pm

    I’m with Thirteen here, but for the fact that Dave didn’t say Beavan is the worst starter. He said that if Beavan has to sit because of his elbow it’s not a bad thing for Iwakuma to replace him. If you had your choice of starters to replace, on the other hand, Thirteen is right: it should be Noesi.

    I saw 93mph on the gun at Safeco tonight for Iwakuma. I’d like to see him given a shot, one way or another.

  10. Kazinski on May 7th, 2012 11:26 pm

    I’m with 13, I understand your argument that Millwood provides organizational depth but it shouldn’t be at the expense of other better, younger pitchers. My vote would be to make Milwood the odd man out. It definitely shouldn’t be Beavan, his outing tonight against the Tigers was nothing to be ashamed about.

    It was nice to see Fister pitching well off the DL too. Beaven reminds me a lot of Fister. Fister upped his K rate considerably in 2011, but in 2009 and 2010 he and Beaven in 2011 and 12 could be clones.

  11. marinerbullpen on May 7th, 2012 11:48 pm

    So Dave, Are you suggesting we cut Beavan, because he doesn’t miss enough bats? And we actually keep an older reliever, (Iwakuma)? or just move Blake to the pen?

    Are you still down on Carp because he doesn’t play LF as well as ‘stats’ says he should?

    How about Seager, were you not down on him and Liddi because they “had no position”????? and they missed a lot of pitches.

    Things change……I have always liked Seager, and Ackley, along with Carp and Liddi. Hate Olivo, like Jaso, Love Montero, don’t like Ryan.

    This hatred of Wedge has turned your cult into a constant bashing. It is early, give Wedge a chance, you have seen what he has done with the “VET” figgins, trust him.

    Sorry, I’m sure this opinion will be banned, but it is worth a shot.

  12. Milendriel on May 7th, 2012 11:59 pm

    Your opinion sucks.

  13. Typical Idiot Fan on May 8th, 2012 12:41 am

    You can’t just base this on Iwakuma v. Beavan–you need to look at the other SPs, too…

    He can because one directly influenced the other’s current situation. Millwood and Noesi were never considerably in doubt landing rotation spots during Spring Training. It was always between Beavan and Iwakuma and Iwakuma lost out because a few more hits fall in against him. The criticism has less to do with whether or not Beavan and Iwakuma deserve rotation spots and more to do with the talent evaluation of the manager. Wedge is the one who decided that one person’s performance was obviously better than the other. Wedge was wrong on that.

    Beavan is an interesting cat, so don’t think I’m picking on him, but when it comes to pitchers being able to sustain their success, guys like Beavan don’t. It’s not just about striking guys out or not striking guys out, but that skill set helps. Players like Beavan, who allow more balls in play, are going to have fluctuations that they cannot control. Sometimes they’ll induce weak contact and get easy outs, and sometimes they get smashed. Beavan doesn’t have the command necessary to keep the ball from being squared up by a hitter. Looking at his pitch location charts, he’s gotten away with quite a bit. The FIP and xFIP, both of which are in the 5s, tell the tale. Beavan is a pretty mediocre pitcher whose only useful skill is being able to avoid walks. A useful skill, absolutely, but by itself is not going to sustain success.

    I’d also like to point out that Iwakuma was throwing his sinker up there several times at 93mph. That’s huge for him, and much closer to his velocity pre-shoulder troubles.

  14. Westside guy on May 8th, 2012 12:43 am

    Given marinerbullpen’s first paragraph, it’s pretty obvious he didn’t bother to read what Dave wrote – since the answer to the question is explicitly stated in Dave’s post.

  15. Thirteen on May 8th, 2012 12:54 am

    I don’t think that this post was meant only to bash Wedge’s decision making. Certainly Dave does suggest that the Mariners should switch Beavan with Iwakuma. If he’s bashing Wedge for making the wrong decision between Iwakuma and Beavan way back when, OK, that’s likely valid, and then it’s fine for him to consider no one else. But if he’s talking about roster decisions to be made now, then he really needs to remove himself from the same binary mindset that you’re talking about–Iwakuma v. Beavan–and look at all of the starting pitchers.

    I think GMZ may actually have a hand in this one; it seems to me that he really wanted Noesi in the rotation in the bigs to prove that he got two regulars out of the trade of Pineda and not just Montero. Hopefully with both Pineda and Campos down that won’t be so big a factor in his future decisions. If Z is insisting on Noesi in the rotation, then that is taking away the ideal solution from Wedge, so we don’t really know if he’s free to make the optimal move at this point.

    It’s good to be able to go back and say “this was a bad roster decision”; it’s better to come with a solution.

  16. Mekias on May 8th, 2012 5:37 am

    How much of this was because Iwakuma can get $3.4 mill in bonuses based on games/IP? I think once they determined that he was struggling in Spring Training, they made a conscious decision to limit his innings and thus, his salary.

    I’m not going to say that was a bad decision but now that Iwakuma seems to have his stuff back, they really need to give him a legitimate shot at the rotation.

    I thought he looked damn good out there last night. He had some great hitters flailing and shaking their heads.

  17. nwade on May 8th, 2012 8:01 am

    I totally disagree with marinersbullpen’s approach; but I do want to say that the “Wedge is bad” shtick is getting a bit old here. Even a good song can be overplayed on the radio and become annoying – the same is true of a valid criticism. Give it a little rest, Dave – come back to it later in the year when there’s a larger sample-size to draw on. Or at least find a way to express better alternatives without making it accusatory (like: “Gee, the stats say that xxx should be getting more playing time because he’d do better in these situations. I hope the Mariners realize this and we see more of him, as over a season it could add up to a couple of extra wins”).

    And of course, I’m still not sure ANY of us can definitively pin this on Wedge or his judgement. We don’t know what orders he’s working under, we don’t know what behind-the-scenes issues he’s having to juggle, and we don’t know what his true feelings are (but we do know that what gets said to the media isn’t the simple truth).

    If you’ve ever had to be a leader of people or manage a team that you’re around day-in and day-out, you know that sometimes you have to grit your teeth and compromise, or say & do things you don’t necessarily want to, in order to keep the group as a whole working. From a mathematical perspective its annoying and inefficient – but its how people work (i.e. they’re illogical and inefficient).

  18. jomo on May 8th, 2012 9:56 am

    Respect your opinion but couldn’t disagree more. Beavan is a pitch-to-contact pitcher and has been very solid as a No. 4 or No. 5 starter. He’s not expected to be the staff ace, and won’t become that. But he’s good in his role. Iwakuma was horrible in spring training and Japan — a batting practice pitcher. Would you really have thrown him to the wolves by letting him start the season in the rotation? Give Wedge ad Jack Z some credit for recognizing that Iwakuma wasn’t ready, and allowing him another month or so to strengthen his shoulder after last season’s injury and build a little confidence. Last night was a small sample, but if he continues at that level, he may now be ready to contribute on a regular basis. But he still hasn’t earned the right to replace Beavan, who has been consistently good (just not great). Noesi and Millwood are much bigger question marks, though both have been decent — or better — at times (Noesi was very good in his last outing, in fact).

  19. Johnny Slick on May 8th, 2012 9:58 am

    Well, say what you will about Wedge being good or bad but WRT Iwakuma the Mariners have essentially been running a 10-man pitching staff all year long because the manager refuses to use him. There is clearly a disconnect here between the GM wanting him on the roster and the manager choosing to treat the spot as open rather than actually use the guy.

    Otherwise, I agree that although it’s nice that Beavan has been able to be more or less replacement level, a K rate of 3.9 is the kind of thing that would make even a Jamie Moyer call it a career. I like that Bob Tewksbury-level control but Beavan simply needs to miss more bats to survive in the major leagues. I do agree that Millwood is doing worse and it’s problematic that Hector Noesi’s K rates have also dropped this year, but for Millwood at least there’s the same situation that you have with Figgins: since you can’t put him anywhere else, once you let him go, he’s gone for good, whereas with Beavan or Noesi you can send them down and bring them up if they’ve managed to put things together.

  20. make_dave_proud on May 8th, 2012 10:09 am

    This is the thing about statistics that drives me crazy. 32 batters vs. 143 batters — doesn’t the sample size here mean something? Has Iwakuma been pitching in situational scenarios that are better matchups? Has Beaven faced better talent? What parks have they been in?

    I’ve become overly skeptical of such simple numbers to the point that I believe we need more information about the situation in order to draw better inferences about the data, to properly gauge it. I’m jilted and it’s frustrating.

    This is neither an argument for/against Dave’s suggestion, just that statistical presentation can be so sneaky. I tend to agree with Dave’s basis (those numbers are certainly significant in differential), but I can’t help but think such simple numbers always mask more of the story.

  21. JoshJones on May 8th, 2012 10:25 am

    Trade Milwood for a AA prospect or PTBNL. And promote Iwakuma.


    Continue to let Noesi figure it out. If Beaven is out for a while then we need to consider promoting Paxton, Hultzen, or Walker. Giving which ever one is more prepared a few starts then droping them back down when Beaven gets back.

  22. eddie on May 8th, 2012 10:26 am

    This is not a Wedge Against the World sort of thing, there are a whole team of talent evaluators behind the scenes who are giving continuous feedback to Wedge, as to players’ abilities to have success. Carl Willis for one I’m sure is a very important member of the team and probably had more to do with Iwakuma not pitching than anybody.

  23. djw on May 8th, 2012 10:28 am

    So Dave, Are you suggesting we cut Beavan, because he doesn’t miss enough bats? And we actually keep an older reliever, (Iwakuma)? or just move Blake to the pen?

    This is not a particularly long post, so reading through to the end shouldn’t be too much to ask. Dave answers this question directly with a simple declarative sentence.

  24. goat on May 8th, 2012 10:38 am

    So does the official line of Iwakuma needing some extra time to recover from last year’s injury mean nothing at all?

  25. Thirteen on May 8th, 2012 10:45 am

    Loath as I typically am to trust a Baker article, he does usually have the facts down OK, and based on his last Iwakuma article he’s under the impression that this was a Zduriencik decision and not a Wedge one.

  26. Johnny Slick on May 8th, 2012 11:20 am

    There is no option to trade Millwood. He was available to everyone else in the league all winter long, he signed with the M’s to a minor-league deal, and he has done nothing so far to indicate that he’s still a major league pitcher. While I think there is still some value to the M’s in finding the answer out to this question, there’s no value to anyone else at this point.

    As for the Big Three, I’m all for not rushing them just because there’s a hole in the major leagues. Hultzen in particular has had some control issues recently and since he was considered the closest guy to being ready for the bigs, I think it’s fine to wait, even if that means moving Charlie Furbush back into the rotation and calling up someone like minor-league vet Josh Kinney (boy howdy the Rainiers’ pitching sucks right now).

  27. miscreant on May 8th, 2012 11:47 am

    To judge a pitcher by how many strikeouts they get is asinine. It has been proven throughout history that pitchers can be highly successful without striking out pitchers. Example: Cy Young struck out 3.4 hitters per 9 innings over his career.

  28. B13a on May 8th, 2012 12:22 pm

    Cy Young is a bad example because he pitched in an era where batters were hitting for contact. This approach prevented the existence of high strikeout rates. The best pitchers today are able to generate at least decent strikeout rates. Remember Fister? One of the keys to him getting better last year was that he started getting more strikeouts.

    As for Dave’s point, I am not entirely sure. If Iwakuma is given a chance to start and shows that he can pitch effectively while missing bats at a better rate than Beavan, I’m all for it. Plus, subjectively, Beavan bores the hell out of me. Unless he pulls a Fister here, he will probably never be better than he is now.

  29. Benno on May 8th, 2012 12:40 pm

    While I would agree with the initial premise of the post, I do not agree that Beaven should be removed from the rotation. From what I can tell he is a fine back of the rotation pitcher, and I believe he would do better as a starter than as a reliever. He doesn’t do anything great, but he soaks up innings and keeps the team in the game. Iwakuma may be the better starter in the long run, but the starters who should be worried are Noesi and Millwood. I would Shift Noesi to the pen and start Iwakuma (unless the Beaven injury keeps him from some starts). Noesi can work on his pitches and has had success in the pen. Or if you want Noesi to continue to start, perhaps he should in Tacoma.

  30. Kazinski on May 8th, 2012 12:48 pm

    Players like Beavan, who allow more balls in play, are going to have fluctuations that they cannot control. Sometimes they’ll induce weak contact and get easy outs, and sometimes they get smashed.

    Pitcher A first full Season in Majors:
    152IP 5.84 K/9 4.28 BB/9

    Pitcher A career:
    5008.1 IP 6.06 K/9 1.80 K/9

    Pitcher B First full season:
    171 IP 4.89 K/9 1.68 K/9

    Pitcher C Career:
    130 IP 3.87 K/9 1.31 BB/9

    Pitcher C of course is Beaven, Pitcher B is Doug Fister, and Pitcher C is Greg Maddux.

    I’m not saying that Beavan is Fister, or that Fister is Maddux. But it does show that a low velocity repertoire with excellent control can be successful in the Majors. Maddux and Fister were/are more groundball pitchers than Beavan too, so Beavan is going to give up more home runs. But its ridiculous to say that high contact pitchers can’t be very successful in the majors.

    Take a look at it graphically here.

  31. Johnny Slick on May 8th, 2012 12:53 pm

    Cy Young? Really? You’re comparing a guy who played half of his career where the rule was that a foul ball was not considered a strike to Blake Beavan? On top of the simple fact of the rule change which *massively* increased K rates, strikeout rates have been continually increasing over the past 100 years. What was adequate even in 1920 is not anywhere near adequate now.

    This is, like, basic baseball 101. Pitchers can basically do three things to keep a job in baseball: strike guys out, get the ball over the plate, and keep the ball down. That’s it. Beavan is great at #2 and #3 doesn’t matter as much in the Safe, but he’s thoroughly awful, a couple levels worse than Jamie Moyer, a guy who has carved out a career on the fringe of low-K effectiveness, at #1. To some extent it’s interesting to see how long he can keep this up. To a much greater extent, I’d much rather see him not do it in a situation where it costs the team wins.

  32. collage on May 8th, 2012 1:12 pm

    B13a: The main reason Fister is effective is that he has mastered the 2 seamer. Yes, his velocity has increased a bit but it’s the 2 seamer that makes the case for his effectiveness. All we got in the deal was a fourth outfielder and a replacement level pitcher.

  33. Typical Idiot Fan on May 8th, 2012 3:36 pm

    Kazinski, those three pitchers are much more different than you think they are. Just finding guys with low walk rates isn’t going to help, especially when their K rates are also so vastly different. Not to mention their ball in play tendencies.

    But Maddux is a GREAT example of why you don’t compare them in another way: Maddux had COMMAND, not just control. Beavan has control, not command. Fister we may one day talk about in the same sentence as a HOF pitcher, but Beavan is not really that close to either of them.

  34. B13a on May 8th, 2012 4:44 pm

    collage: Well, yeah, which is correlated with an increase in missed bats and a higher strikeout rate. I don’t understand how what we got in the trade relates to my comment.

    And I agree with what TIF said. I don’t like how citing successful contact pitchers is proof that Beavan is good. Of course contact pitchers can be successful. But there is more to being a contact pitcher than just throwing strikes.

  35. miscreant on May 8th, 2012 8:13 pm

    Johnny Slick, your reading comprehension is poor. I did not compare Beavan to Young. I said

    “It has been proven throughout history that pitchers can be highly successful without striking out pitchers.”

    A contemporary pitcher that is very good but does not strikeout many hitters is Tampa’s Jeremy Hellickson.

  36. Paul S on May 8th, 2012 10:09 pm

    Remember the days of Roberto Petagine? Also big in Japan, also signed on for peanuts… and also got virtually zilch playing time with the M’s. But if I remember right, Petagine, unlike Iwakuma, had a great spring. Which is not to say that Iwakuma’s spring performance didn’t hurt him, but I think distrust of an “unknown quantity” combined with zero pressure to start a player signed for a relatively small sum are also factors here.

  37. Johnny Slick on May 9th, 2012 8:40 am

    Jeremy Hellickson has struck out almost 70% more hitters per 9 IP over the course of his short career than Beavan has this year.

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