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. (more…)