Monday, July 23, 2012

Trading Ichiro

Today the Mariners announced they traded Ichiro Suzuki to the New York Yankees for two guys named Danny Farquhar and D.J. Mitchell.  They're both pitchers, really small pitchers.  Mitchell spent a short time with the big league club and Farquhar is 25 at AAA Wilkes-Barre. The M's will also receive cash. Club president Howard Lincoln announced Ichiro requested a trade several weeks ago.

I have mixed feelings about this.  In one sense I'm thrilled.  This was the right move.  The M's can go on with their rebuilding plans and put a youngster in right field.  Unfortunately, with Franklin Guttierrez injured they don't really have a youngster to take Ichiro's spot.  I am not a Carlos Peguero fan; he's a train wreck waiting to happen in the outfield. Figgins is a wasted spot in the batting order.  There really isn't anyone ready to play outfield at the major league level in Tacoma. Maybe this the first of a couple of deals that brings another young player to the eam.  The best part about this deal, however, is that it liberates general manager Jack Zdurencik from having to re-sign Ichiro.  Yes, Ichiro is free to play for a championship caliber club, but it also puts distance between any M's obligation and the end of his career. This may be one of the most important trades in club history because it allows the team to move on.
Ichiro's record breaking 258th hit in 2004.  His hit chase was the only show in town as the M's lost 99 games.

The most famous White Sox fan in America talks to Ichiro.
There are lots of Ichiro haters out there.  Just look at some of the comments in any of the Seattle Times comments sections regarding this trade.  Ichiro didn't go all out.  He was a selfish player.  He wasn't a team guy.  Some of this could be true.  Even so, I confess a fondness for him.  Ichiro could do things with a bat nobody else could.  He never drew a lot of walks, even in his prime, but he could always work an at-bat.  Eight, nine, ten pitch at bats weren't unusual. He'd foul off pitches in the dirt, a foot outside, anything to get that hit. Every once in a while he'd surprise us too.  I was at Safeco the only time the M's beat Pedro Martinez (who was like 9-1 against the M's, and the scores were humiliating.)  In that game was sitting in the left field bleachers when Ichiro hit a grand slam to put an exclamation point on things.  I cheered for him when he broke Sisler's record.  I cheered for him in 2008 when the M's spent a  $100 million and lost 101 games. The last couple of years have been tough as he's been in obvious decline, but I continued to cheer him on and hope for the best.  It was a little like watching Willie Mays as the end neared in '72.

I'll continue to wish Ichiro well.  His days as an every day player are likely over, and with that probably his quest for 3,000 hits will end too. I've never rooted for the Yankees before, but as the season wears on-or at least after Wednesday-I'm likely to follow them a little more closely.  For me Ichiro will probably be on a slightly shorter pedestal than Edgar, Buhner and Griffey, but certainly there with Dan Wilson and Jamie Moyer.  I'll look for him to be elected to the Hall of Fame on the first ballot.

1 comment:

Dave S. said...

I have mixed feelings about the trade. I like Ichiro and will miss having him on the team, but it did feel like it was time for him to move on (although I really expected him to be on the team until the end of the season).