Mar 16, 2014; Tempe, AZ, USA; Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Roenis Elias (81) throws in the first inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Seattle Mariners News: The Risk of Promoting Roenis Elias


The Seattle Mariners are taking a major risk with Roenis Elias…unless they actually are not.

Great story. Lots of potential. Uncertain future.

Are the Mariners finally going to have an exciting phenom that takes Major League Baseball by storm and inspires the team to turn the corner? Or, will this be yet another “hot” prospect that fails to live up to expectations?

Jerry Brewer of The Seattle Times wrote an interesting piece about Elias, suggesting that the Mariners are being a little impatient. He argues that the Mariners may repeat the Brandon Maurer experiment, and that players such as Justin Smoak could have benefited from more time in the minors. There are more that fit into this scenario. Brewer wrote:

Jesus Montero needed more time in the minors, especially because the Mariners tried to make him a catcher initially. Dustin Ackley needed more time. So did Mike Zunino, Brad Miller, Nick Franklin and even Kyle Seager, who eventually figured it out.

Brewer may be on to something. Or, it could be that these players just aren’t stars. Did Maurer struggle last year because he was rushed or because he is just not good enough?

This is the problem that plagues player evaluation. Brewer also notes:

We live in a world obsessed with potential. Few can live today without dreaming of a more glorious tomorrow.

True words from Brewer, but we just don’t know how Elias will handle the pressure. If he can’t handle it now, then when exactly will he be more poised? The same question could be applied to Taijuan Walker and James Paxton. Could some additional seasoning in the minors be helpful? Possibly, but at some point players need to make the jump. Elias has not pitched above Double-A, but he is also 25 years old. He isn’t getting any younger. Should the Mariners send him to Tacoma and bring him up when he is 27?

Truthfully, we aren’t sure what we want sometimes. There are situations where we see the need to be patient. However, we are obsessed with the future, as Brewer wisely points out. We want to see players like Taijuan Walker now, and see if he really has the “stuff” to be an ace.

Elias is a risk, but life is all about taking chances. Maybe this one actually will pay off.

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Tags: Roenis Elias Seattle Mariners

  • Bob Gordon

    The larger point about rushing players may be germane – I won’t quibble with that..

    In Roenis Elias’ particular case, however, I think the story mis-characterizes the situation a little. I don’t think the M’s are bringing Elias up for the season. Instead, he’s getting a few April starts in place of Walker. When Taijuan’s ready, then Roenis will go back down and pitch most of the season in Tacoma or Jackson. Aside from this early-season temporary appearance, 2014 is still largely a minor-league developmental year for him.

    • Todd Pheifer

      Certainly a possibility, Bob. The challenge is that the Mariners seem to be assuming that Iwakuma will be healthy and Walker will be ready for the rotation. Neither is guaranteed, nor is the health of Chris Young.

      • Bob Gordon

        No argument there; anything can happen. I’m just saying that I don’t think Jack/Lloyd are really “bringing Elias up” with quite the same mindset that occurred with other players you mentioned.

        You bring up good points about Kuma/Walker. I am reasonably sanguine about Taijuan; all indications are that he’s going to be fine health-wise. Overlooked, however, is that despite his tremendous upside, he’s still a rookie. Even though all projections are that he’s going to succeed, we still don’t KNOW for sure that he’s going to make the jump quickly. He has as good a chance as anyone for a long fruitful ML career…doesn’t mean he’s not going to get lit up by big-league hitters during his first full year (I guess the same observation pertains to Paxton, for that matter).

        Re Iwakuma, I’m likewise confident that he’s going to return healthy on the projected timeline. His finger will be recovered, from a medical perspective. BUT…it’s his throwing-hand middle finger, and his killer pitch is the splitter. I’ve had enough minor finger injuries (jams, etc) to realize that it can take a very long time for true “feel” to 100% return. I’m mildly surprised that there hasn’t been more discussion of such in the “Mariners blogosphere” during the past 7 weeks.

        Do I think Kuma’s going to return and be a competent ML pitcher? Yes. But do I think he’s going to return with that “something special” that enabled him to flirt with the Cy Young last year? Mmmm…I don’t know about that.

        • Todd Pheifer

          Great points, Bob. A different way to look at this is that part of the confidence for these young pitchers may be connected to the production of the offense. If Robinson Cano and this offense can actually score some runs in 2014, the young hurlers may be able to relax a bit more and not feel like they have to hold a 1-0 lead or pitch from behind.