We have all heard the news by now, Ichiro has played his last game in a Mariners uniform. In fact, in almost a too good to be true scenario, he was able to walk over to the visitor clubhouse and join his new team for game 1 of the series. Just 24 hours has passed since the news broke and fans in Seattle and New York are in a fury. Mariners fans are showing mixed reactions from excitement to sorrow while New Yorkers are hoping to gain the Ichiro of 10 years ago. I think we need to look at this trade in several ways.
First off, this is a win-win for everyone involved. It is always hard to part with a legend. We have seen that here from Griffey to Hasselbeck. Emotions run high when someone has done so much for your team. We could already see the writing on the wall here with Ichiro. As his numbers continued to sink and production was down, the question kept being asked, what about next year.
I was shocked as anyone by this move. I did not hope or expect him to be back next year given his stats. He was batting .261 with a .288 on base percentage. That is just not good enough. Not for him or any player really. I always thought he would play out the year and we would have all these questions in the off season. The trade answered those questions in one quick press conference.
The Mariners will now have some options. Carp is coming back from his rehab assignment and we can get some young guys rotating through. The Yankees get some speed and defensive help in their outfield that has been hit pretty hard with injuries. I think Ichiro gets the best of both worlds. He goes from worst to first and now has a chance at playing for a ring.
It came out in the press conference that Ichiro asked for the trade. Now whether that was because he felt it was the right thing to do for the young guys as he stated or he made the decision after getting told he was going to get a diminished role who knows. I think it was the best move either way. The team is moving on and he knew he wasn’t in the future plans. He also deserves the chance, as any great player, to play for a ring. Remember his only real playoff shot was back in the 2001 season where the M’s put up 116 wins. Since then, he has been the star on a declining franchise.
Last night was a great sendoff for him. Whether you love him or hate him, the stats and the play don’t lie. Over 2,500 career hits, Rookie of the Year and AL MVP in the same year, .322 career batting average, 10 straight seasons of over 200 hits, 10 straight All Star appearances, and 10 gold gloves. A lot of sports fans here wanted to see Ichiro go (me included), but we need to respect what he has accomplished and if he truly is leaving so the team can get better, I have even more respect for the guy.
So take another bow Ichiro. This is New York’s only trip to Safeco this year. We appreciate all that you have done for the Mariners over the last 11+ seasons. I wish you well and hope you find success, even though it is with the Yankees.
SIDE NOTES: It was also announced last night that Justin Smoak is gone… for now. He was optioned to Triple A Tacoma after another 0 for 3 performance at the plate last night. Smoak is batting a stunning .189 and has all but lost it at the plate. I hope this trip works out for him. It would be nice to see him finally start hitting the ball, but my hope is about as high as his batting average.