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.
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.