Monday, July 23, 2012

Ichiro traded to the Yankees!

By Kshell

Many thought this day would never come but shockingly it has. The Seattle Mariners traded away Ichiro Suzuki to the New York Yankees for two pitching prospects. What the Mariners received at this point doesn't matter what matters is the fact the face of the franchise since 2001 has been traded away. Since 2001 Ichiro has occupied mostly right field and some centerfield while batting leadoff for the Mariners. He had 10 consecutive 200+ hit seasons for the Mariners but his production has dramatically declined in 2011 and this year. Ichiro actually was the one who asked to be traded as he probably would like to win to end his career. Jack Zduriencik didn't receive much in this deal but two b-list pitching prospects. This was a trade that was more about addition by subtraction. This trade was so the Mariners franchise can finally move forward. So the new faces behind Felix Hernandez can finally emerge. Much like the Seahawks last year getting rid of Matt Hasselbeck so the youth can take over this roster the Mariners are doing just that with today's trade. The Mariners franchise led by for better or for worse Howard Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong are showing they are allowing Zduriencik to do what he wants. For that you have to be excited knowing our general manager has no restrictions and most likely never did.

As if Zduriencik's job hasn't been hard enough in Seattle under his watch the two greatest Mariners of all-time had awkward endings. Ken Griffey Jr. the Mariners greatest player ever had a nice comeback in 2009 but in 2010 was horrible. Griffey ended up turning the clubhouse against manager Don Wakamatsu which cost him his job as Griffey quit midseason. I do believe Ichiro is the second greatest Mariner of all-time. He'll finish his Mariners career with .322 career batting average, 2,533 career hits, and 438 stolen bases. He won the MVP and rookie of the year in 2001. He has won two batting titles in 2001 and 2004. He has led the league in hits seven times including 2004 when he had 262 hits which is a major league record breaking George Sissler's record back in 1920. Ichiro has won the All-Star game MVP in 2007 as he was selected to 10 all-star games and won 10 gold gloves. He also won three silver slugger awards in Seattle. Like Griffey and most athletes for that matter his career didn't have that fairy tale ending. Instead his ending leaves a sour taste in your mouth but that is sports. Sadly this is the typical ending we must endear as a fan base when one of our beloved heroes is at the end of his career.

In 2001 the Mariners had just lost Randy Johnson in 1998, Ken Griffey Jr after the 1999 season and Alex Rodriguez after the 2000 season. The Mariners were desperately looking for the new star and they got that in Ichiro Suzuki who came over from Japan. In 2001 Ichiro took the league by storm as he become only the second Mariners player to ever win the MVP award as he led the Mariners to a record tying 116 wins. During that season he hit .350/.381/.457. Had 242 hits, 8 HR's, 127 runs, 69 RBI's and 56 SB's. He took home the rookie of the year award, batting crown, all-star game, gold glove, silver slugger and of course MVP. During that postseason Ichiro hit 16-43(.421) with three RBI's, seven runs scored and 3 stolen bases as the Mariners lost to the New York Yankees in the ALCS.  In 2001 that was a magical time for Ichiro as he came in so mysterious like and immediately dominated the game of baseball. That year would start a run of 10 straight seasons where he had 200+ hits, made the all-star team and won a gold glove. Ichiro due to being such a great player in 2007 was resigned for 5 years at 90 million paying him 18 million per year. The Mariners have been restricted due to that wage and Ichiro's production fell off as he is now 38 years old. Ichiro has declined which is natural but what he gave this franchise in 2001 shouldn't be forgotten as that was the last great moment for the Mariners.

Ichiro was traded for right handed pitchers D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar. Mitchell this year for the Yankees has appeared in four games having pitched 4.2 innings with a 3.86 ERA, 2.14 WHIP and 2 strikeouts. This year in the minor leagues he appeared in 15 games making 14 starts where he is 6-4 having thrown 85.2 innings he has a 5.04 ERA, 1.33 WHIP and 72 K's(7.6 K's per 9). For his career he has appeared in 94 games making 87 starts. He has thrown 538 innings sporting a 3.56 ERA, 1.32 WHIP and 421 K's(7.0 K's per 9). Farquhar has been in three different organizations this year in the minor leagues and has pitched only two innings in the major leagues giving up three runs. In his minor league career he has appeared in 208 games where he is 14-17 with 59 saves in 282.2 innings. He has a 3.06 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and 290 K's(9.2 K's per 9). The Mariners didn't receive much as currently Ichiro is no longer the player he was. Ichiro this season is hitting .261/.288/.353 with only 15 stolen bases. Ichiro last season was worth 0.3 WAR and this year he is at 1.4 due to mainly his defense not his bat. The Mariners didn't receive much and would have gotten more had they dealt him back when I suggested in July of 2010 but that isn't the point. The point is this franchise is moving forward which should be rewarding to so many fans who have questioned this managements leadership over the years.

This day is a bittersweet day for me. Ichiro for years was my favorite Mariner and if I were going to the Mariners-Yankees game tonight I'd cheer Ichiro as he deserves to be cheered. He has done a lot for this franchise and will be our second first ballot hall of famer. Still his production has fallen and this was a move that had to be made. Hopefully Ichiro can finally taste some team success being in New York and hopefully the Mariners young kids can finally grow to be what we had hoped. Zduriencik didn't receive much for Ichiro and they pretty much released him. That shouldn't be held against Jack Z though as Ichiro is 38 with a big contract and is declining fast. He no longer brings in fans as Mariners attendance has been dwindling for some years now. Ichiro will leave Seattle like Matt Hasselbeck, Ken Griffey Jr, Gary Payton and many other stars before him on awkward terms. Saying goodbye to your superstar is tough to do especially when he still views himself as a superstar when in reality he is no longer that guy. The Mariners had to make this move, this move doesn't hurt or help the Mariners right now and I'll always remember the great run Ichiro gave this franchise. I wish Ichiro luck and more importantly I hope the Mariners can start playing some meaningful games in September something they haven't done since 2003.

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