Fan Reaction: Ichiro may just shine in pinstripes
Earlier this week Ichiro Suzuki was traded the the AL East leading New York Yankees for two minor league relief pitchers the Yankees won’t miss. Although Ichiro is no longer the Japanese superstar who took the MLB by storm in 2001, a season in which Suzuki batted .350, notched a rookie-record 242 hits, stole 56 bases and won both the Rookie of the Year and AL MVP awards, he is still the player the Yankees have been missing since left fielder Brett Gardner‘s season ending injury.
Suzuki today, is probably faster than Gardner, even if his numbers don’t show it. Many scouts and analysts are saying the decline in Ichiro’s numbers aren’t due to age, but he was playing down to the basement level of the Seattle Mariners. I’ll go ahead and say it’s a mix of the two. The Mariners have been nowhere near sniffing the playoffs, so this change of scenery is long overdue. While Ichiro isn’t going to be hitting .350, he can flirt with .300 hitting in the bottom of the Yankees’ order for the remainder of the season. Suzuki puts the ball in play, and some time with hitting coach Kevin Long will help his approach at the plate.
A three-time Silver Slugger and two-time batting champion, will enjoy Yankee Stadium’s short porch in right field. Also, as a 10-time Golden Glover, Ichiro should be fine stationed in left field. He has not lost a step defensively, and he still has a cannon of an arm, making him amongst the top-defensive outfielders in the game still.
He won’t be asked to do much, just to be himself. Be the guy who will slap the ball to all parts of the field for a single, steal second on the next pitch, steal third and score on a Jeter hit. He’ll have little room to roam in left, especially playing next to Curtis Granderson, who will also cover plenty of ground. Where Ichiro will be needed is somewhere he hasn’t been much, the playoffs. The Yankees will need him to be on top of his game coming into October, as the Yankees have struggled offensively in the playoffs in recent seasons.
The acquisition gives manager Joe Giradi more depth in an injury-riddled outfield, and if he happens to fizzle instead of booming, his contract is up at the end of the season and general manager Brian Cashman can wipe his hands clean.
Ichiro to the Yankees gives them a player who will be more than happy to step in and be a piece of the puzzle. Sure, at first the media buzz will be a lot, but the honeymoon phase will end when the playoffs begin. Needless to say, he’s a professional, a 10-time All Star, who will put the time in to capture an eluding World Series ring, eventually inking his name in baseball immortality