Just like every unusual twenty-something coming of age in North America, every young baseball player in Japan surely dreams of playing with Ichiro! one day.

This isn’t realistic as most pasty-faced Ichi-worshippers aren’t good enough to play Major League Baseball. Most Japanese baseball players aren’t good enough to play with Ichiro! either, even though he plays for a team in which hitting at the level expected of professional baseball players isn’t imperative to drawing a Major League contract.

Which brings us to Munenori Kawasaki of the Southbank Hawks. He wants to come to the Major Leagues of American Baseball to play for the Mariners. Of course he does.

The 30 year-old Japanese shortstop announced his free agency this week with the intention of signing for the Mariners. As a free agent, he requires no posting fee. The only thing stopping the Mariners from signing Kawaski and bringing him to Seattle is any desire to bring Kawasaki over to play for the Mariners.

M’s general manager Jack “Ctrl-V” Zduriencik admitted earlier this week that he’s “aware” of the veteran shortstop and the team is in the market for a backup shortstop. Kawasaki’s willingness to accept a minor-league deal might just grease the wheels but there doesn’t seem to be any real draw for the Mariners to sign slap hitter to do much of anything.

Kawasaki’s NBP numbers don’t exactly inspire a great deal of confidence in his ability to be much of an upgrade over anything. Like Ichiro!, he is a slap hitter with no power to speak of. Unlike Ichiro!, he is not a baseball singularity of preternatural talent and uncommon dedication to weirdness and the dark arts of awesome.

Greg Johns of MLB.com suggests Kawasaki is “a quality defender with good baseball instincts, speed and hustle.” Which is all swell and everything. He steals bases too but, alas, one cannot steal first.

Maybe he can come to the big leagues and slap hit his way into some value. Maybe he can adapt the same discerning eye and impeccable coordination that makes Ichiro! a folk hero and be something on the Mariners. Or maybe he would just be another Japanese guy on a team with a long history of employing Japanese guys.

If replacement level is what the Mariners want, there is little doubt he can probably deliver about that in a part-time role and then receive a lucrative contract offer from the Minnesota Twins. Which is great. If Ichiro! wants another guy familiar with the native tongue around then bring him in. Other than that…what’s the point?