Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Now Let's Get Things on the Right Track

Ichiro acknowledges the crowd at last night's Mariners game.  It was class all the way.

 I watched last night's game, mostly in sadness.  There was something special about seeing number 51 in right field all these years.  It was predictable and for many years Ichiro was special.  I think the crowd understood that too, and the 29K+ thankfully gave him his standing O in appreciation of his accomplishments in Seattle.  It's especially hard to see him go to the Yankees, whom I've always hated, but as I said last night, I'll always wish him the best.

After 18 or so hours to reflect, I generally stand by my comments of yesterday.  This trade is a boon to Ichiro, and it gets the Mariners out of a difficult spot.  It means the M's can fill Ichiro's spot on the roster with younger players that are more a part of their future, and Ichiro can finish out the year, and possibly his career, with a winner. 

The Yanks are going to the playoffs, and possibly the World Series.  The team is full of 30something veterans who know how to win.  Ichiro can be the complimentary piece he should have been in Seattle: a guy who can get on base, run a little, and play great defense--not a guy who's supposed to carry the team. Despite his talents and salary, because of his language and style of play, due to his deliberate reticence and strangeness, Ichiro could never be the leader his teammates needed and the public demanded.

For the M's, there is no question Ichiro is safely in their rear view mirror, and when the Yankees leave town on Wednesday, he will be in the past, with Junior, A-Rod, and the Big Unit: guys who were here but left for greener pastures.  They don't have to answer the question-do we re-sign him or not. Whatever plans Ichiro has probably don't include the M's.  In the mid- to long-term, this deal makes a lot of sense.

In the shorter term, however, things don't look any rosier for the Mariners. The young guys continue to struggle.  There are a few players that look like they may be serviceable.  Michael Saunders has held his own.  Casper Wells looks like decent player at right or left.  Jesus Montero seems to be figuring it out. The pitchers look like they've figured out Kyle Seager, but he's not going quietly.  John Jaso is a probably the best hitter on the team, and he needs a bigger role.  I don't think much of Carlos Peguero with the bat or a glove, but obviously somebody else does. 
Justin Smoak goes to Tacoma to fix his swing.  Hopefully he's got a warranty.
Last night it was announced that Justin Smoak was being sent to Tacoma, and Mike Carp was being recalled.  It's about time.  It's not because I think Smoak should be locked away with key thrown away.  He just needs to work through his issues in AAA.  Ditto Dustin Ackley, but it doesn't look like he'll be heading south any time soon.  I don't have a lot of hope for Carp either, so this may be his last chance.  Love Brendan Ryan, but the man can't hit.  Don't love Chone Figgins, and the shark tank is waiting.
Kyle Seager leads the team with 58 RBI's, but recent struggles have me worried.
In the end this deal makes the team even less experienced, but if this year is really about starting over and stripping this Mariners down to basics, this was the right move.  It should also free up some cash so the M's should be real players in the free agent market. And they better be if they want to show the few fans left they're serious about winning.

Jeff Pasaran at Yahoo! Sports wrote the most moving account of yesterday's dugout swap.

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