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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Go Go Go Go, Ichiro

The Yankees' acquisition of Ichiro yesterday would have been a blockbuster deal a few years ago. As it stands now, Ichiro is an aging superstar whose best days are behind him. 

But Ichiro has always enjoyed the spotlight and is a somewhat larger-than-life figure, not one to shy away from media attention but rather embrace it fully. Couple this persona with the fact that he went from worst to first and should be playing in October for the first time since his rookie season of 2001 and I believe Yankee fans will be seeing a rejuvenated Ichiro that thrives among the bright lights of the big city.

This trade is a shot in the arm for both Ichiro and the Yankees, who have become far too stationary on the bases without Brett Gardner. He provides speed and defense and, while obviously not a home run hitter, I expect he'll take advantage of the short porch in right at least a few times this season.  And while he's hitting .261 overall, his average away from the cavernous Safeco Field is a more Ichiro-like .296.

Ichiro tipping his cap to the Seattle fans after a lengthy ovation. (Yahoo! Sports)

Another important aspect that has largely been ignored by critics of the trade? The protection he'll be provided by the vaunted Yankee lineup. In his last game as a Seattle Mariner, Ichiro led off in a lineup that included FOUR men hitting below .200. After John Jaso (who has played in just over half of the games this season and is hitting .292), every single Mariner is hitting below .267. The Mariners are second to last in the A.L. in average (.230), home runs, RBI and runs scored and dead last in On Base Percentage and Slugging. Now he suddenly finds himself in a lineup full of productive superstars providing the sort of protection he could only dream of with the Mariners in one of the most hitter-friendly ballparks in the league.

He's not going to hit .350 or steal 40 bases but before this season's over, I think Ichiro is going to make his mark on this team and fully embrace New York and all it has to offer.

Check out Ben Gibbard's (Death Cab for Cutie, The Postal Service) musical tribute to Ichiro


Brian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mashort07 said...

With Alex out of the lineup, I think the Yankees should insert Ichiro into the second slot in the batting order. He may be long past his prime but he still serves as a viable table-setter. The same can't be said for Curtis Granderson, whose home run prowess would be better served in the middle of the order (especially considering his diminished stolen base numbers and inflated strikeout totals). Without the length the Yankee lineup is used to having, I think moving Granderson into the fifth slot behind Cano and Teixeira serves the Yankees better when you have mobile singles hitters in Jeter and Ichiro at the top. Then you can insert Swisher, Chavez/Nix, Martin and whomever else as you please. I love the Ichiro trade and I feel like he still has enough in the tank to help the Yankees at the top of the order. What do you think? After all, as you pointed out, he's much better protected in this lineup and could thrive with Cano/Texeira/Granderson behind him. Another great entry.

Lara Schutz said...

I like your thinking re: the lineup, Matt. It's not an easy lineup to just stick someone in given that the Yankees have a number of legitimate candidates for the clean-up spot but Ichiro adds a nice, non-power element that can only help them (especially with the RISP struggles and such). I love the trade as well and I'm excited to see how it all plays out. Thanks again for reading, it means a lot!