Ichiro to the Yankees

Dave · July 23, 2012 at 3:12 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Holy crap. As you’ve probably heard by now, the Mariners have traded Ichiro to the Yankees for right-handed pitchers D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar. But let’s be honest, you don’t care about those two right now. They don’t matter. This isn’t a trade for prospects, this is a trade to allow Ichiro a chance to play in the postseason.

And it’s absolutely in everyone’s best interests. For Ichiro, struggling to perform on a disappointing team in front of a restless fan base every night couldn’t have been enjoyable. Being continually cited as the reason for the team’s demise while having his personality and character called into question couldn’t have been enjoyable. In fact, to be honest, I’m not sure there’s been much about Ichiro’s time in Seattle that has been enjoyable the last few years. He clearly enjoyed getting to play with Junior. He probably enjoyed performing well, even when the team didn’t, though we don’t really know that to be true because we don’t really know much about Ichiro.

So, now, Ichiro gets to go to the Yankees. A team that scores runs and wins game, and will almost certainly be playing in October. He’s probably going to be a platoon player, sharing time with Andruw Jones in left, and giving them outfield depth and a guy who can still play some defense. If he starts hitting again, that will be great for them, but they’re not counting on Ichiro to hit. For probably the first time in his entire career, Ichiro won’t be under intense pressure to hit well. That will probably be different. That will probably be fun.

For the Mariners, this trade has a bunch of benefits well beyond the two pitchers they got back in return. It opens up playing time for younger players and removes a guy who has been a lightning rod for criticism among members of the media and the fan base for several years. But, perhaps most importantly, it shows that the Mariners are willing to move on. Last week, when Jon Paul Morosi wrote that the Mariners were planning on re-signing Ichiro, the reaction was mostly negative. This is a fan base that is ready to move on from Ichiro. This is a fan base that wanted to know that the team knew it was ready to move on from Ichiro. I guess they could still re-sign him as a free agent this winter, but this seems like a pretty clear sign that the organization is ready to move on from Ichiro. And that, more than anything, is a sign that the fan base needed.

It’s also a reminder that as much griping as people do about ownership, no one really has any idea how the inner workings of the team’s front office works. Howard Lincoln, Chuck Armstrong, and Hiroshi Yamauchi have taken a lot of shots over the years about perceptions of interference in the baseball operations department, and it was assumed by many that ownership was not going to let the baseball operations staff make this kind of move. Those assumptions were wrong. At the end of the day, the Mariners made the right call here, and they deserve credit for making that call.

Later tonight, or maybe tomorrow, I’ll write the goodbye Ichiro post that he deserves. He was a great player for the Mariners, and I’ll miss watching him perform his wizardry at the plate. I’ve missed that for going on two years, though, which makes this goodbye easier to say. In his prime, he was amazing. And then he got bad, and the end wasn’t pretty. This is probably for the best for everyone.

Thanks for all your years of fine performance, Mr. Suzuki. And thanks for knowing that it was time to move on.


121 Responses to “Ichiro to the Yankees”

  1. Jopa on July 23rd, 2012 5:00 pm

    A champion getting to play for a championship team. I love this. Also, the Yankees are under no pressure to play him every day, or in RF only, or to bat him at the top of the lineup, and in NY Ichiro will be cool with all of that.

    This also gives Ichiro his best chance of showing he’s got something left that could lead to a couple more years in the league somewhere.

    This will be the first (and last) time I root for the Yankees to win it all, as long as Ichiro is getting playing time.

  2. pgreyy on July 23rd, 2012 5:02 pm

    I won’t be rooting for the Yankees to win…anything. Not even to give Ichiro his ring. If they do win, then Ichiro (and Raul and Raphael) getting some post season success will be the only comfort.

    …but, I’ll say this. The only thing that will make me really angry is if Ichiro ends up hitting .400+ for the rest of the year, with 10+ home runs…if he finds a way to get back to being the player we wanted him to be. If I end up feeling about Ichiro how I felt about Randy when he left…I won’t be very happy (though, I admit, I got over that.)

    …but I’m not worried about that. I think Ichiro gave it everything he had. And I love him for it.

  3. Zero Gravitas on July 23rd, 2012 5:04 pm

    What a shocker watching that press conference. I couldnt help but think of when I saw Ichiro first introduced as a Mariner. That was the first season I decided to try watching the Mariners (I’d just moved to Seattle and never watched much AL baseball at all). So my whole past 11 years of M’s fandom were 100% sparked by the arrival of Ichiro. This hurts but I am really hopeful that he gets a ring – he certainly deserves it. What a sensational athlete. We were lucky to have him here.

  4. stevemotivateir on July 23rd, 2012 5:15 pm

    This is one of the most numbing moments I’ve had upon learning of a Mariner trade. I’m happy for him. Can’t say I’ll be cheering on the Yankees, but I’ll certainly be wishing him success.

    Second reaction: Who takes the roster spot? Ford? Could another trade be in the works?

  5. Bremerton guy on July 23rd, 2012 5:19 pm

    If they want to try a new first baseman, they can add Luis Jiminez to the 40-man and give him a shot. Maybe he isn’t the future, but it seems like he can hit the ball.

  6. PinedaExpress on July 23rd, 2012 5:23 pm

    “Pushing him out of his accustomed leadoff position to accommodate Figgins was really great. I think that his performance has been largely negatively affected by the change of approach.”

    Explain last season? I can’t stand Wedge, but he’s not the issue, the issue is that the M’s have three hitters that could belong in the top 7 of a decent order…and 7 places to put them in. Ichiro will probably do fine hitting 9th in Yankee Stadium but blaming Wedge for him not hitting is insane.

  7. ck on July 23rd, 2012 5:28 pm

    Thank you, Ichiro Suzuki, for many years of faithful service. You were ready to play, everyday. The Mariner’s miserable losing finally conviced you to play for a winner before you retire. Ever since the M’s front office lamented that because Freddy Garcia won his salary arbitration, now the Mariners CAN’T make a trade at the deadline; the mismanaged, bad decision, cheapskate, incompetent front office can continue to field a non-competitive, minimum salary team.
    Four years of Figgins, four years of Gutierrez on the disabled list, trading Cliff Lee for Blake Beavan; Rob Johnson, Olivo, Horacio Ramirez…a million for Pokey Reese! Giving away players that are now all-stars for other teams…
    What will the ‘Ichiro Hit Meter Lady,’ do tonight?

  8. Wolfman on July 23rd, 2012 5:32 pm

    “Maybe Ichiro got sick of all of the constant ungrateful media attention?”

    So he’s going to play for the Yankees under the classy scrutiny of the New York media??? Uh, okay.

    This move was purely about freeing up money and giving Ichiro a shot at a ring. I hope the M’s use some of that moolah to bring in some players this off-season. I hope this signals that this is their plan.

    Or maybe they’ll be sold in a year. Sigh!

  9. beadyeyes123 on July 23rd, 2012 5:34 pm

    “Or maybe they’ll be sold in a year. Sigh!”

    Lincoln intentionally pointed out in the presser that the team is NOT for sale. Not that I believe him but any payroll cuts next year will be met with some serious criticism with Ichiro most likely not coming back.

  10. mca on July 23rd, 2012 5:39 pm

    I’m in favor of the Ichi-meter staying up–updated just like the out of town scoreboard.

  11. argh on July 23rd, 2012 6:17 pm

    Heard about this at 3:30 driving back from the golf course and got to listen to the depressing and (to me) astonishing large amount of Ichiro “hate” expressed by callers. He was “disrespectful” not saying good-bye in fractured English (have any of these callers actually listened to themselves, speaking of bad English?); he never was a leader; he was selfish; who cares about singles? Etc. etc. Kind of shakes my faith in the Seattle area sports audience.

  12. Lauren, token chick on July 23rd, 2012 6:27 pm

    Zero G: Ichiro was pretty much solely responsible for me becoming a baseball fan at all. He was so different from everyone else and so much fun to watch.

    argh: You must not have ever (smartly) read the comments on any Seattle Times articles. Or from radio callers. There is a lot of shit talked about Ichiro round these parts, and it’s actually one of the reasons I’m glad for this deal. I want people to move on to thinking of him as a Mariners icon rather than bitching about what they perceive as his personal shortcomings… while we’re hard-pressed to defend him due to his current performance.

  13. vj on July 23rd, 2012 6:35 pm

    Love the new byline.
    Howabout “Felixfanboyism” once we’re past the sighing.

  14. wabbles on July 23rd, 2012 6:37 pm

    I really really wish I could find that post one of the authors did (Derek Z? Dave? Jeff?) that said something like, “Ichiro is a great player whose game is built on speed. When that goes the end will come rapidly and it won’t be pretty. OR Someday the speed will disappear and he’ll fall off a cliff.” Something like that. I didn’t think it would ever happen when I read it but 1.5 seasons into his decline it has. Thanks Ichiro!, it was a great ride.

  15. henryv on July 23rd, 2012 6:46 pm

    I am numb.

  16. argh on July 23rd, 2012 7:03 pm

    Lauren – I certainly heard and read all the grumblers and critics in years past but I guess what kind of shocked me was the viciousness expressed now that he’s leaving. Jeez, folks, can you *ever* be classy? And the utter ignorance expressed in views that he’s been some kind of drag on the team throughout his tenure (“Ichiro: How He’s Responsible for the Curse of Safeco”). Anyway, carry on folks. We got to see a lot of extraordinary baseball and maybe we still will see some. Losing to the Yankees if Ichiro makes the hit or scores the run will be a tiny bit less painful than it might otherwise be. At least the first time. After that, to hell with him — Go Mariners!

  17. Mustard on July 23rd, 2012 7:11 pm

    All the best, of course….but is this really the best the M’s can do? I am all for the lovefest and well wishes but at the end of the day this is a horrible deal made worse by the fact that we sent money to the Yanks for two guys that will never factor into the M’s plan. Disappointed, numb, happy for Ichiro, frustrated with the M’s.

  18. joser on July 23rd, 2012 9:55 pm

    The Mariners weren’t going to get anything of value for Ichiro. Every time trading Ichiro came up, the smart people pointed out that he was more valuable to the Mariners than he was to any other team. This just confirms that.

    The players they got back were just pro forma. This is about letting Ichiro go to a team where he can play in the post season. That’s it. He is an aging star who hasn’t been worth his contract for the last couple of years, and he was going to be a free agent at the end of the year. His salary was sunk, and the Mariners were going nowhere so it’s not like his contribution for the rest of the season was going to amount to anything. That they got any players back is a victory. That the Yankees are paying any of his salary is a victory.

    This is a good deal for Ichiro. And that’s what it’s about. It really doesn’t make any difference to the team beyond that.

  19. marinerblue on July 23rd, 2012 9:57 pm

    I’m glad this happened, now we can see how awesome his replacement is going to be. The Mariner’s position player scouting and development is a joke. Ichiro at 45 is better than most of the bums we roll out there on a nightly basis. This franchise has become a study in futility.

  20. tylerv on July 23rd, 2012 11:18 pm

    We are all big fans. God what a romantic ending; Rooting passionately that the Yankees win it all!

  21. nvn8vbryce on July 24th, 2012 12:37 am

    Ichiro! is one of the main reasons outside of my grandfather that I follow the Mariners at all. However, I’ve always said that if he gets traded, it will be for that elusive ring, and considering that he’s on the wrong side of 35, I’m happy that he gets to play for a contender.

    My thoughts are that if the Yankees win the World Series, Ichiro retires after this season. If not, possibly a one or two year deal, if he can reinvigorate his career in New York.

    I’m glad that Z was finally able to talk some sense into HowChuck and trade Ichiro to a contender. He deserves nothing less, and for any of us to begrudge him of that chance is foolhardy at best.

    Go Ichi and I hope the Yanks kick ass in the playoffs. We’ll be seeing you in Cooperstown.

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