As you’re no doubt aware by now, yesterday afternoon, the New York Yankees acquired Ichiro (!) Suzuki from the Seattle Mariners for two Minor League pitchers, after the future Hall of Famer requested a trade from his team of a dozen years. While the deal doesn’t have the same impact that it would have a decade ago when the 38-year old Ichiro (!) was a younger, single slapping, base stealing machine, it’s still a very important transaction for a lot of Mariners fans who grew up watching the newest member of the Yankees lead their team.
In fact, minutes before the Ichiro (!) trade was announced, the Detroit Tigers and Miami Marlins made a swap that figures to have a far greater impact on the 2012 season than the one made by Seattle and New York, but the enormity of Ichiro’s legend in both the city he played in for the last twelve years, and also all of baseball, is such that no other trade could overshadow his move. He spoke with reporters prior to taking the field in Seattle last night for the time from the visitor’s clubhouse.
From Jeff Sullivan of Lookout Landing:
It’s impossible to summarize the Ichiro Suzuki experience in a blog post written in one afternoon. Entire books could be written about what Ichiro has meant; entire books have been written, in fact, and they will continue to be. Remembering the Mariners with a successful Ichiro will stop you in your tracks. Remembering the Mariners before there was Ichiro will make you dizzy and sit down. We were all different ages and in different places in our lives in 2000, but for all of us that was 12 years ago. Ichiro’s been one of them constants, the baseball player on TV while you lived a dozen years. We all grew accustomed to him, we all started taking him for granted, and only now might we begin to appreciate how much he was a part of our lives. Ichiro hasn’t always been there, but he’s been there long enough to stretch back into the years that all blend together.
From Dave Cameron of USS Mariner:
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.
From Mike Axisa of River Avenue Blues:
The trade is obviously a reaction to Brett Gardner going down with season-ending elbow surgery. Ichiro provides similar speed and elite defense — plus that cannon arm — but not the same on-base ability. The Yankees are very clearly banking on a change of scenery here, because Suzuki is hitting just .261/.288/.353 this year and .268/.302/.342 over the last two seasons. With any luck, the move to New York and a contending team will rejuvenate him a bit and he hits .450 the rest of the season. The Yankees value makeup and there is little doubt the 38-year-old Ichiro will fit well in New York. He’s arguably the most popular player in the history of Japan and has lived with the media circus since arriving in the States more than a decade ago.
From Brien Jackson of It’s About The Money Stupid:
Obviously this is a response to Brett Gardner‘s season being over, but even as a reactionary move I have to say I don’t really know that I’m super enthusiastic about it. Ichiro’s offensive skills have eroded quite a bit, to the point he’s hitting all of .261/.288/.353 this season, good for a wRC+ of 77. Worse, his wRC+ was just 82 over the full 2011 season, so this isn’t just some sort of aberration. Still, the Yankees do have an opening, obviously, and Ichiro is a good defender still who adds some depth to the aging and fragile Raul Ibanez/Andruw Jones/Eric Chavez trio, so considering that they aren’t giving up anything beyond a fringey pitching prospect to get him, there’s no real downside to the deal.
From Larry Stone of The Seattle Times:
For a decade, Ichiro was a joy to watch, a thoroughly unique bat artist who sometimes confounded us but always enthralled on the field. You could quibble with some of his idiosyncrasies (and believe me, he irritated some teammates over the years), but I firmly believe he was a winning player who had the misfortune to be stuck on a team not equipped to win. It wasn’t always that way; the Mariners won 116, 93 and 93 games in Ichiro’s first three seasons. But since 2004 — the year he set the major-league record with 262 hits — it has been mostly about futility. Now, while the Mariners go about their ongoing task of trying to build their way back to respectability, Ichiro can rejuvenate himself in a pennant race.
From Joel Sherman of The New York Post:
Ichiro should benefit in going from one of the worst offenses in the majors to one of the best. Perhaps he will be energized by a pennant race and rediscover some of his past magic. And the Yankees know this: Nothing will be too big for Ichiro. Not playing in a Yankees uniform. Not playing in the most important games on the hugest stage. Not the size of a media throng.
Ichiro has been in the most glaring of spotlights with a personalized media crew for most of his adult life, whether in Japan or in the States. He is a star, even if he isn’t a star any longer. In fact, it is probably best to remember he is Ichiro these days in name only. The seasons of batting well over .300 with well over 200 hits are gone at age 38. He was hitting just .261 as a Mariner and pretty much should be a platoon player these days. His .510 OPS vs. lefties was the fifth worst in the majors among players with at least 100 plate appearances against southpaws.
From Keith Law of ESPN:
The trade of Ichiro Suzuki to the New York Yankees for D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar sounds huge, but its impact is quite small. Ichiro, now 38, has been awful at the plate for a year and a half, as his longtime aversion to walks has finally caught up to him because his bat has slowed enough to prevent him from hitting above .300. His overall stat line includes Safeco Park’s status as a pitcher’s haven this year, but even outside of that park, he’s best cast as a platoon outfielder against right-handed pitchers and defensive replacement. The Mariners get two non-prospects in return, with Mitchell possibly profiling as a last man on a pitching staff, but also get out from the PR nightmare this winter of choosing not to re-sign their best-known player.