UPDATE: Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that Iwakuma will get $14 million guaranteed. He’ll make $6.5 million in each of the next two seasons while there’s a $1 million buyout on a $7 million option for 2015.
11:29 PM: Hisashi Iwakuma was hours away from reaching free agency, but the Mariners swooped in at the last minute tonight and signed him to a two-year extension with a club option for 2015. Terms haven’t been disclosed.
As Larry Stone of the Seattle Times points out, there was a sense of urgency to get a deal done today. Per a stipulation in the one-year contract Iwakuma signed last offseason, if he re-signed with the Mariners after Saturday’s deadline, he would be ineligible to play for the club until May 15 of next year.
Iwakuma thrived after getting a chance in the Mariners’ rotation this July, going 9-4 with a 2.65 ERA and a 78/28 K/BB ratio over 95 innings. The 31-year-old right-hander will return to a rotation which is set to include Felix Hernandez and Jason Vargas. Erasmo Ramirez and Blake Beavan are the likely frontrunners for the other two spots.
The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.
Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.
Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.
Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.
Here’s an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal. It’s about some studies of hitters who use weighted bats or doughnuts on their bats in the on deck circle. Turns out that, contrary to conventional wisdom, using a weighted bat for practice hacks does not speed up one’s swing when one uses a naked bat in the batter’s box. In fact, it slows it down.
There are lots of caveats here. The sample size in the studies are small and they all involve college and high school players, not big leaguers. The results, however, are consistent with previous studies and they do make some intuitive sense. This is particularly the case with batting doughnuts, which add weight to a very concentrated portion of the bat, thereby changing the center of gravity and thus the swing mechanics of the hitter.
Whether this is applicable at large or to higher level hitters or not, I still find it kind of neat. I always like it when people scrutinize ingrained habits and ask whether or not that thing we’ve always done is, in fact, worth doing.