Ichiro and free agency, Lowe’s woes, and more

DMZ · February 21, 2007 at 8:17 am · Filed Under General baseball, Mariners 

Ichiro’s comments yesterday on free agency are covered extensively.

Ichiro may leave” in the PI.
Geoff Baker on the same subject. The picture of Ichiro hanging out in his pink shirt is worth it.

The Japanese star was taking live batting practice in his first spring workout here Tuesday when Seattle reliever George Sherrill sent him lunging out of the way on a pitch that ran inside. After the chuckles subsided all around him, Ichiro finished the workout, then let reporters know that Sherrill’s errant slider was about the only “pitch” he has seen yet from a Mariners squad he is thinking seriously about leaving.

That comes after not one but two blog entires (“Ichiro won’t rule out free agency” and “Agent confirms Ichiro “very disappointed,” mulling options“)

Lowe may go under the knife again, or Lowe still not cleared to throw. Short version: the arm’s not right, and they’re going to MRI it to see what the deal is. Results may drive another surgery.

The Times follows up on WSJ story on the M’s re-working their suites and includes this tidbit:

Safeco Field opened in 1999 with 67 luxury suites and subsequently added another suite on the press-box level. For the first few years, 98 to 99 percent of the suites were filled, said Aylward. He said last year’s percentage was in the mid- to upper-80s.

At the PI, the Go 2 Guy, who for some reason showed up at the wrong spring training league and is still filing Mariner stories, writes about Moyer and Garcia and Adam Eaton, who “In a better world, from a Seattle perspective, Adam Eaton would be wearing a blue uniform in Peoria instead of a red one in Clearwater, Fla.” In a better world, his asking price would have been reasonable for the team to pay. That was a good pass for the M’s.

Also, my “Bugs Bunny, Greatest Banned Player Ever” post here at USSM is going to be in the next Best American Sports Writing annual. I’m super excited.


54 Responses to “Ichiro and free agency, Lowe’s woes, and more”

  1. terrybenish on February 21st, 2007 8:28 am

    “In a better world, his asking price would have been reasonable for the team to pay. That was a good pass for the M’s.” The money was better spent on Batista and Weaver, for sure.

    Tell me, do the M’s get the Commissioner’s Award for not being profligate? Do they put it on the shelf next to the fourth last place trophy in a row?

  2. DMZ on February 21st, 2007 8:41 am

    Feh. I don’t see why I can’t point out that that pass was a good move, even if it’s a good move in a season of ill ones. I’ve certainly spent enough electrons slagging the bad ones.

  3. msb on February 21st, 2007 8:43 am

    Bill Stoneman had a fine discursion last night on why the Giants were stupid to pay Zito that time & money.

  4. vj on February 21st, 2007 9:01 am


  5. msb on February 21st, 2007 9:05 am

    well, the Bugs article is a fine piece of investigative journalism.

    Drayer’s blog on Ichiro’s remarks

    oh, and not just a pink shirt: “He was wearing a standard Ichiro outfit. Stocking cap, pink tee shirt with a silver gothic number 13 on the front with a long sleeve black shirt underneath. The pants were hard to explain. Denim jeans with camouflage patches and pockets. Silver tennis shoes rounded out the ensemble.”

  6. dw on February 21st, 2007 9:07 am

    You know, there’s something you missed in the Bugs Bunny post. You say that it’s at the Polo Grounds, but look at the sequence with the Gorillas player getting knocked into his own tombstone — there’s a flagpole ON THE FIELD OF PLAY with the wall at a sharp corner. There was no flagpole in the field of play at the Polo Grounds? That’s right-center at Griffith Stadium. How did the Gorillas player end up in Washington?

  7. msb on February 21st, 2007 9:10 am

    harkening back to the Angels thread, there is an entertaining article on Scioscia this morning …

  8. Replacement level poster on February 21st, 2007 9:17 am

    I didn’t like this off-season at all, but if Ichiro leaves next year….

  9. Evan on February 21st, 2007 9:18 am

    oh, and not just a pink shirt: “He was wearing a standard Ichiro outfit. Stocking cap, pink tee shirt with a silver gothic number 13 on the front with a long sleeve black shirt underneath. The pants were hard to explain. Denim jeans with camouflage patches and pockets. Silver tennis shoes rounded out the ensemble.”

    Yep, Ichiro’s still Japanese.

  10. bermanator on February 21st, 2007 9:21 am

    It’s been my (admittedly poorly-worded) argument that all the offseason suggestions here that involved not signing high-cost free agents and dumping guys like Sexson, but then re-signing Ichiro, were unrealistic (even if they may be smart), because the traditional signal to players when a team does things like deal marquee names and avoid high-cost FAs is that they’re not really trying to win.

    To that end, I’m curious to hear from people what your sales pitch to Ichiro would be (assuming you feel he should be re-signed). How would you go about convincing him about the team’s future success?

  11. Matthew Carruth on February 21st, 2007 9:33 am


  12. BlackHaloBender on February 21st, 2007 9:34 am

    Trade him before he walks I say.

    Unrelated: you guys ever going to design this site? :)

  13. waldo rojas on February 21st, 2007 9:36 am


  14. Uncle Ted on February 21st, 2007 9:40 am

    Ichiro is one of a very few players who is exciting enough aesthetically that he is worth way overpaying for based on a standard SABR evaluation of his value. I sure hope the team keeps him.

  15. morisseau on February 21st, 2007 9:45 am

    the Times poll in the linked-to story currently shows 76% of respondants feel that Ichiro will not be a mariner next year. I’d be curious what a similar poll of USSM readers would show.

  16. tangotiger on February 21st, 2007 9:46 am

    In my evaluation of Ichiro, Wells, Andruw, Ichiro’s fair market price as a free agent after this season will be 4/85 (and 20 MM more per year, if you want to extend him to 5 or 6 years).

    What does the non-stathead, Ichiro-loving M’s fan want to pay him? I’ve gotta believe that it’s inline with mine?

  17. msb on February 21st, 2007 9:50 am

    but gosh, according to Sandmeyer this morning, there is a whole separate payroll for Ichiro which wouldn’t impact the rest of the payroll– so if you do give Ichiro a lot of money for the next few years you aren’t hamstrung the way you would be if you gave money to someone else who isn’t Japanese.

  18. Evan on February 21st, 2007 9:57 am

    Oh, and congrats on the Bugs Bunny thing, Derek. That’s really cool.

  19. PositivePaul on February 21st, 2007 10:02 am

    One thing I’m almost 100% sure of — the M’s are willing to shell out oodles and oodles of cash at Ichiro. Money should not be the factor that causes Ichiro to leave the Mariners. Bavasi (or whoever the next GM will be) would most definitely have a blank check for Ichiro. He is the face of the franchise and if he were to leave, financially, the M’s would most definitely suffer. A return to the playoffs without him, of course, would reignite some of those flames.

  20. msb on February 21st, 2007 10:17 am

    ooh, Dick Fein says Ichiro is the 10th, 20th best out-fielder in baseball. I love sportsradio in Seattle.

    Baker has an update on his blog.

  21. Dave Clapper on February 21st, 2007 10:22 am

    Congrats on the Best American Sportswriting inclusion. That’s a hell of a feather in your cap.

  22. junglist215 on February 21st, 2007 10:27 am

    I wonder how large of an economic impact trading Ichiro would have on the franchise. Sure, you would lose a large portion of the Japanese fanbase, but that would be offset by retaining Joh. Also aren’t international television revenues shared by all of the teams? I for one would be in favor of instigating a bidding war between the Yanks and BoSox. However, there’s still ball to be played and winning would easily change Ichiro’s tune.

  23. Evan on February 21st, 2007 10:31 am

    And the division is winnable. I’m predicting we’ll finish third, but I don’t see anyone running away with it unless Billy Beane robs some other team blind again.

  24. msb on February 21st, 2007 10:40 am

    you know, I go for looong stretches without hearing KJR, and then I was stuck listening this morning to the anti-Ichiro blather, and just now was stopped by the comments. Fein would trade Ichiro for Jason Bay in a heartbeat. Mahler doesn’t buy Fein’s stat comparisons because stats, well, you can say anything with stats … ‘there are a lot of nerds out there that pull baseball stats out of their butts, OPS plus something, you know the ones, the ones that live in their mother’s basements and eat macaroni and cheese’

  25. phildopip1 on February 21st, 2007 11:04 am

    Mmm…macaroni and cheese…

  26. Otto on February 21st, 2007 11:34 am

    Anybody care to give a guess as to what kind of money it will take to retain Ichiro? 5yr 88 million?

  27. frenchonion on February 21st, 2007 11:38 am

    Somebody on KJR was wishcasting a 3 year deal this morning.

    Tangotiger has him pegged at 4/85. I’m figuring he knows it’s his last “big” contract and goes for a longer deal..something like 6/120MM. The “hometown discount” is probably about 6/108MM.

  28. Deanna on February 21st, 2007 11:42 am

    Oh my. Ichiro really needs to stop hanging out with Munenori Kawasaki and/or taking his fashion advice, I think.

    Congrats on the BASW inclusion!

  29. frenchonion on February 21st, 2007 11:43 am

    To clarify that last post: I think [he] (meaning: Ichiro) thinks it’s his last big contract.

  30. bakomariner on February 21st, 2007 11:50 am

    I think it’s all pointless to speculate now…he’s gone if the team fails to produce…they’ll either trade him (and if it’s Bavasi, we’ll get injured or underachieving prospects) or he’ll leave on his own…ichiro was quoted that he’d still consider leaving if he was offered a billion dollars, if the team is still losing…

  31. msb on February 21st, 2007 11:51 am

    commercials to be shot tomorrow

    Jeff Clement left the field with what looks like a finger injury

  32. msb on February 21st, 2007 11:53 am

    damn. that is some outfit.

  33. frenchonion on February 21st, 2007 12:27 pm

    There’s no way the M’s trade Ichiro. That would give the appearance of shutting the door on any possibility of resigning him, and *that* would be horrendously unpopular, it’s a total “white flag”. (As an added bonus, if the M’s were to trade Ichiro they’d screw over all those tourists with late-season tickets who were coming to see him, specifically. Bad for business.)

    Besides, for the casual fan, who’s worth going to the ballpark to watch if the M’s lose Ichiro? Felix, maybe, if he develops as we all hope, and even then it’s a once-every-5-days thing. Griffey used to be that guy. I don’t see any other position players that dynamic, or “exciting”, or whatever on the roster.

    The M’s are going to cross their fingers and hope Ichiro resigns and run the risk of losing him for a supplemental draft pick.

  34. kwk on February 21st, 2007 12:34 pm

    If Adam Jones takes another step forward, I’d trade Ichiro! midseason for a five star staring pitcher prospect.

  35. msb on February 21st, 2007 12:46 pm

    who is going to give you that prospect?

  36. junglist215 on February 21st, 2007 1:23 pm

    35 That’s where a Yanks/BoSox bidding war would be ideal. Start with a Bucholz end with a Hughes. The trade drums already began rumbling a few days ago in Boston(Sorry no link i’m typing this on my cell ). If he’s serious about testing free agency could always trade him then throw a fuckton of cash at him. That’s the scenario going around for the recently traded Forsberg.

  37. eponymous coward on February 21st, 2007 1:31 pm

    If Adam Jones takes another step forward, I’d trade Ichiro! midseason for a five star staring pitcher prospect.

    OK, let’s say:

    - Ichiro’s having a standard year for him
    - Jones is hitting .300 with power in Tacoma
    - The Mariners are at .500 and 3-5 games out, in a close race
    - It’s July 31

    I think you’d be nuts to trade Ichiro for prospects in that environment, as it makes the White Sox “white flag” trade look good- and the odds that Bavasi would basically sign the death warrant on his and Hargrove’s jobs are close to nil.

    Ichiro getting traded only happens if the team’s in the toilet come June-July, folks. I don’t think we should be hoping for that.

  38. DMZ on February 21st, 2007 1:39 pm

    Yeah. In that situation, you pick either Vidro or Guillen, whoever’s not performing, and punt them, bring Jones up to play right/center depending on Ichiro’s preference, and if Vidro was just punted, you put Guillen in left and DH Ibanez.

    Oooooh that would be sweet.

  39. Manzanillos Cup on February 21st, 2007 1:49 pm

    I agree that if Seattle is contending, there’s no way he gets traded. But if the M’s have a bad start, it seems to me that you have to trade him. Overwhelming evidence suggests that he’s not happy with the M’s current state. What are the chances that he’ll re-sign after a .500 year? Do we want to risk losing Ichiro and getting nothing in return?

  40. Manzanillos Cup on February 21st, 2007 1:52 pm

    I guess the more realistic view is that Bavasi throws everything he has at winning this year, though.

  41. msb on February 21st, 2007 2:19 pm

    is he as valuable to another team as he is to the Mariners? What realistically could they get for him?

  42. mln on February 21st, 2007 2:23 pm

    That picture of Ichiro in the pink shirt and stocking cap is wacky, wacky stuff.

    Ichiro looks a little like Shaggy from the Scooby Doo cartoon series.

  43. bakomariner on February 21st, 2007 2:30 pm

    i’m sure we could get either Billingly/Penny and Either/Kemp/Repko from the Dodgers…they have a surplus of SP and OF after this off-season…hopefully Bavasi will make a move that has immediate pay-off, as the West is winnable now, and we are only a couple guys away…and there is the rumor of Ichiro going to LA…

  44. tangotiger on February 21st, 2007 2:52 pm

    Do you think that two months of Ichiro is all the Dodgers can get for Billingsley/Penny? You don’t think the other 28 teams could offer more?

    This reminds me of when Vlad was in his walk year, and all I hear from Mets fans on the radio was how they could offer all their bench players for him.


    As for the Forsberg deal, the Flyers got an 18th overall pick from 2 years ago, and will get almost the 30th pick this year. Certainly no 5-star players. Even so, Nashville gave up alot. However, Nashville is on the cusp of a Cup, they need the fanfare that would generate, and a healthy Forsberg is one of the best players in the league, and he’s fantastic in the playoffs. (Don’t forget, Nashville will get Forsberg for 20 games in the regular season, plus 20 in the playoffs).

    Nashville’s move was high-risk, and that’s still more conservative than the Dodgers offering Billinglsey and Penny for Ichiro.

  45. terry on February 21st, 2007 3:19 pm

    The Ms have no chance for Penny because according to my Reds buddies here in Cincy, the Dodgers will trade Penny, Ethier, and Brazoban for Dunn and Milton.

    I guess Ms fans will have to settle for trading Ichiro next July for either Peavy or Brandon Webb….

  46. David J. Corcoran I on February 21st, 2007 3:39 pm

    Haha. Wow. Read the bottom of the notes on the official site. If I ever see Vidro at SHORTSTOP I will cry.

  47. Karen on February 21st, 2007 3:45 pm

    I think Ichiro isn’t saying and never will say, that he’ll stick around if the team is winning because the FO already canned Hargrove. In other words, I bet he thinks the team won’t win as long as Hargrove is still in place.

    My woman’s intuition says Ichiro doesn’t a very high opinion of his field manager.

    So, here we go again. Hargrove won’t get canned unless the team falls into a 5-15 hole in April, and Ichiro will be really steamed if the team gets off to that bad a start.

  48. Karen on February 21st, 2007 3:46 pm

    Edit: …doesn’t HAVE a very high opinion of his field manager.

  49. eponymous coward on February 21st, 2007 4:12 pm

    I think it unlikely Vidro gets punted 4 months into a 3 year deal if the M’s are in contention, simply because it would be Aurilia/Boone/Cirillo/Olerud/Spiezio/Everett all over again- Mariners acquire or sign veteran, dump veteran when he turns crappy and eat contract. Especially if Doyle’s outperforming Vidro, Bavasi would look like an idiot, and telling your bosses “sorry, but you have to write $10-15 million in checks the next 3 years for a guy who won’t be wearing our uniform” isn’t the way to start your contract renewal negotiations. I think it’s going to be hard for the M’s to make roster moves involving players on multi-year deals on the FIRST year of the deal, unless they’ve done a spectacular multiyear flop (note that Sexson’s still on the roster, intimidating everyone to the tune of $14 million or so, and he HAS trade value. Once the M’s lock in on you, they tend to stay put on the roster until their hand is forced). The team was willing to let Cirillo and Spiezio twist in the wind for quite a while, remember (and please note that both of them bounced back quite a bit to be reasonably effective role players as opposed to complete garbage once released, which is even more egg on Bavasi’s face).

    Guillen and Weaver I suspect are more likely to be moved under the right circumstances, though, and I would guess if they are modestly effective and the team is in the crapper, they’d get traded ala Wynn/Villone, or if they are gaping festering sores they’ll be 86′ed. Ichiro, though, only gets traded if there’s a pretty impressive offer and the team’s in the crapper, because his leaving pretty much means the end of the Bavasi/Hargrove regime- and I somehow doubt you’re going to be willing to trade the dude for B-level prospects and take the HUGE PR hit of basically saying “our team sucks, back to the drawing board”.

  50. joser on February 21st, 2007 4:53 pm

    Ichiro getting traded only happens if the team’s in the toilet come June-July, folks. I don’t think we should be hoping for that.

    Hoping for that? Definitely not.
    More than half-expecting it? Unfortunately, yes.

  51. bakomariner on February 21st, 2007 5:25 pm

    #49- i don’t know how you could lump Boone and Olerud with Cirillo and the others you mentioned…Boone almost won the MVP…Olerud won a gold glove (i believe)…the others were complete busts…Boone and Ole gave us some good ball…

  52. DMZ on February 21st, 2007 6:16 pm

    I don’t think there’s a comment on ability there: he’s making the point that when those players were no longer productive, the team was willing to release them or eat substantial amounts of their contracts to move them.

  53. Tim_G on February 21st, 2007 7:15 pm

    Congratulations Derek!

    Me like Ichiro’s skater dude style.
    Maybe Ichiro will have an especially good year because its a contract year?
    But unless the team has a good year, I don’t see him wanting to stay in Seattle.
    Of course, that would presumably mean that Bavasi and Hargrove would be gone, and who knows?
    Can we expect real change if this is another underwhelming year?

  54. CouchGM on February 23rd, 2007 11:07 am

    Hey Wise Ones:
    I’ve been looking but can’t find if you’ve done this yet. In light of Attanasio’s new ‘book’ on Ichiro, I’d be interested in knowing y’all’s analysis of Ichiro vs. the League.(cf? rf?).
    I for one would not be bothered if the Mariners traded him before the deadline as long as they got a decent trade. To me, it’s a package including a starting CFer and a front end starter and a top prospect AA or higher. Your thoughts?

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