Let’s slow down the massive hype on this “Ichiro to the Yankees” deal.
News broke yesterday that Ichiro had been acquired by New York in exchange for two minor league players, as well as cash.
Let’s be honest, if it were a guy named Bob Smith this deal would not even be worth mentioning.
Ichiro is having his worst season in recent memory. Both his batting average, as well as his on base percentage, are under .300. He is 38 years old and his best days (and possibly generally productive days) are behind him.
Put me in the camp that considers this deal a gigantic victory for the Mariners.
Seattle has never really had a gigantic superstar stay with them throughout the duration of their career. Yes, there have been some great talents, but none remained with the M’s from sunrise to sunset. Ichiro didn’t even arrive until he was 27.
Looking at another year outside of the postseason, ownership knew fans would be pulling strongly for re-signing the guy who has never known a MLB team other than the Mariners.
Ownership also knew that, for a small-market team, a declining outfielder would not be producing the numbers that the money he demanded would be worth.
The Yankees are absolutely running away with the AL East and likely would have made the playoffs with or without Ichiro.
Why give up ANYTHING in order to land a declining outfielder who hits nothing but singles when you were (in my opinion) the favorite to land him next year?
Yes, the Yankees land a first ballot Hall of Famer and, from a marketing aspect, this deal may make a bit of sense. But, this is the New York Yankees we are talking about. They can acquire a one-armed, one-legged blind and deaf third baseman and he would still be revered as a superstar from most members of the media.
Many other options were available to the Yankees as far as upgrades go, including one who was already on the team. DeWayne Wise, the player the Yankees DFA’d to make room for Ichiro, has a higher OPS than Suzuki has had in the last three seasons.
If Ichiro isn’t hitting, which he hasn’t done consistently all year, it creates an awkward situation for Joe Girardi when he has to bench him.
And, don’t give me the “But Brandon, Ichiro said he doesn’t care if he plays every day, he just wants to be on a winner” line. It’s New York. Everything from Derek Jeter’s dating habits to Alex Rodriguez’s RBI total is a story. Don’t be foolish and tell yourself that if Ichiro started riding pine it wouldn’t headline your favorite baseball news show.
I think the Yankees made a mistake here. I see it as them giving up a potential future starter, and possibly a bullpen guy, in order to have a declining player for two extra months who they could have signed next year anyway.
By no means does this mean the Yankees are out of contention. This doesn’t mean they aren’t the likely victors of the AL East. Ichiro is not going to cost them a World Series.
I see it as a move with a microscopically small upside, and a rather annoying narrative should it not be a success