Thursday, October 15, 2009

Iwanna Iwamura?

I received an email from super awesome reader Kate J. yesterday where she asked an interesting question,

Iwamura?  Do we want him?  (I do!)  He’s probably (maybe) going to be available.  He could potentially be part of the patch up for the left side of the infield, he’s not super Nick Punto-like and his defensive prowess is something to be admired.
Do you take the Crede/Harris until Valencia is ready approach or Iwamura at third until Valencia is ready and then transition Iwamura back over to 2nd?
I think for the money Iwamura is a good option.
I am also in love with Jason Kubel—good to see some other Kubel lovers out there and to see former Kubel haters come around to our kind of thinking.

Mainly I find this intriguing because the times I've watched Iwamura play, I've liked him.  Of course, subjective opinions based on small sample size observations, despite being the main info sources for mainstream journalists these days, are not the best way to evaluate things, so let's take a look.

First off, he's under contract with the Rays, and they have an option for 2010 at $4.25 million, compared to his 2009 salary of $3.25 million, with the buyout at $250,000.  Based on the fact that Iwamura just missed half the season with a torn ACL, that the Rays are reportedly going to be over budget already next year, and that the Rays have other options including prospect Reid Brignac who are cheaper, I think the odds that they let him go are fairly good.

Iwamura was a .290/.355/.390 hitter in 260 PAs this year before getting hurt, and is a .281/.354/.393 hitter for his career (3 seasons).  These numbers rate him as an average major league hitter, and also average for his position in the AL in 2009.  What really stands out to me is a good average and a very good OBP - his overall numbers are dragged down because he doesn't have much power (14 career homers), although he did have 45 extra base hits in 2008.  Over a full season that .355 OBP would have ranked him 36th in the AL, and fifth amongst second basemen (just .002 away from 3rd).  He would certainly be an upgrade over Punto, whose .337 OBP isn't that far off but he is nowhere near Iwamura in average or slugging.  He's also a better hitter than Brendan Harris or Alexi Casilla.  Imagine Punto's patience, but with more hits and a lot more doubles.  This, I like. 

Fielding metrics aren't perfect, and we've been able to see how good Punto can be with our own eyes, but according to Ultimate Zone Rating (which I think is considered the best of them), he's comparable, though slighlty worse than Punto, and far better than Harris (who, by the way, is a much better defensive second basement than third basemen - nice job Gardy.)  In a trade off, Iwamura's offensive upgrade at second outweights the slide downgrade in the field, and he's an upgrade at third from Harris in both ways.

Perhaps most interesting, I found something at the wonderful that takes into account a players hitting and fielding, their position, how much better or worse they are than a replacement level player would be, the league's aveage salary, and computes what a player should be worth on the open market.  Interestingly, Iwamura comes out at $11.8 million in 2008, and $5.5 million in 2009 (for half a season, so double it to $11 million) - a veritable steal at his option of $4.5, not counting of course the risk of coming off a major injury.  According to this metric, Iwamura falls between Cuddyer and Kubel in his value - certainly someone the Twins should look at.

I have no idea what the market will be like, but I would much rather have Iwamura than Orlando Cabrera, if they end up at a comparable price.

Thanks for writing Kate.  I'm glad somebody pointed him out to me, because now I have someone to pine for the entire offseason.  Hopefully with the "new money" coming in from the stadium, they will at least take a look.  And as always, if any other readers ever have a question, shoot them on over to

Oh, and I also had a dream last night where the converted Jason Kubel to a DH/8th inning relief guy.  He threw in the low 90s with a good slider and impeccable control and mixed in a knuckleball here and there.  I think this could happen.


SSF said...

Kubel's new nickname= The homerun kid

WWWWWW said...

Hey Rockies guy - what is up with that weird purple triceratops behind home plate at Coors?

SSF(gophers suck El Todds balls) said...

WWWW I sent it to your facebook but me and Dawg may have a small very exclusive Gopher vs. Sioux Hockey party. And NO ONE parties like a sioux fan so it should be a good time. All the vodka tabs you can drink ;)

I even invited the Bear as long as he promises not to make anymore Jasen Blake jokes. I would invite optimator and El Todd but then I would have to have my head checked. Although it COULD be interesting. Maybe we can make it a DWG Gopher vs Sioux Hockey Party where only people from Dwg will be there. And since that is only like 5 people we can just get one case of beer. haha

But really you should come. Anyone else that likes hockey enough and is brave enough to acutally meet me is welcome. Except the fuck bag that calls my kid ugly. On second thought you are #1 invited on my list. You should come! It will be fun?

Sioux fan out

WWWWWW said...

When is this?

SSF(Optimator also infact sucks balls) Along with Don Lucia said...

Tomorrow night 7:30 be there or be gay

Helton said...

The purple triceretops is Dinger, apparently when they were diggin up Coors field to be built they discovered some Dinosaur bones there for the mascot is the Dino, supposedly a mascot of Mountains running around does not do much as far as entertainment goes

WWWWWW said...

Thanks, makes much more sense now.

Anonymous said...

I think they called your kid crazy. You and the Dawg must be overjoyed to see that balloon kid story. Finally we have found parents that are raising their children to act more trashy and underhanded than you.

Optimator said...

I prefer a neutral site. Especially one that doesn't favor Nazis or hippies. Clearly you love hippies.

snacks said...

re: Dinger

I love when teams give themselves such stupid nicknames that they can't even come up with a rational mascot to fit. Much like the Iowa State Cyclones, whose mascot is a cardinal. If I gave a shit about hockey I would probably know that the Wild have some dumb mascot too.

ssf said...

I wrote a preview....for DOASF

Anonymous said...

Who Cares?