As they prepare to ride into playoffs, the Yankees get a Suzuki
Brian Cashman has preached all season that he is happy with his team’s roster, and probably was going to be quiet on the trade front this year.
We all should know better.
The Yankees general manager has pulled off another blockbuster. He has acquired Japanese legend Ichiro Suzuki from the Seattle Mariners for minor-league pitchers D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar. He has yet again made headlines, More importantly, he has shored up the outfield for the Evil Empire.
Ichiro did not have to travel far for his first game as Yankee. It happened to be at Safeco Field, where he has spent the last 11+ seasons as a member of the Mariners. Ichiro simply went to the other dugout. The crowd that has cheered for the 10-time Gold Glove winner for his entire MLB career made no exception yesterday. Prior to his first at-bat, he received a 45-second standing ovation. He politely bowed twice, promptly hit a single and then stole second.
Ichiro was tired of losing. The Mariners were in last place. So he requested a trade, not wanting to be part of a rebuilding team. Seattle obliged, sending him to the team that sports the best record in baseball.
He also had to make some sacrifices in order to come to the Bronx Bombers. The two-time batting champion, who has spent the majority of his career hitting lead-off will now bat eighth. The ten-time all-star right fielder will now be in left. He may also sit versus left-handed pitches. Ichiro doesn’t mind, waving his no-trade clause for a chance at a World Series title (something that has eluded him).
He should fit right in with the Yankees. The team has acquired several superstars for the playoff push in the past. Captain Derek Jeter has seen his fair share of them, starting with Cecil Fielder his rookie year.
“We’ve made a lot of trades throughout the years,” Jeter said. “There have been a lot of guys that came here that were unexpected and out of the blue. That’s what you come to expect around here. That’s why you don’t listen to rumors. Getting someone like this is unbelievable.”
After learning that Brett Gardiner would need surgery and probably be done for the season, the team needed a left fielder. Sure, Andruw Jones and Raul Ibanez have played admirably, but now one of these two can transition into a full-time designated hitter, while the other will provide depth, as was the original design. Ichiro can also be a capable lead-off man when Jeter rests, something the rest of the roster has struggled with. He is an upgrade defensively over any other outfielder the team has. Now, he also becomes arguably the best hitter in baseball that’s batting eighth.
This year has been a struggle at the plate for Ichiro. He is only batting .261. But in Seattle, he was counted on to be the guy. In New York, he is just another piece to their potent attack. He is a career .322 hitter, that had an MLB record 10 straight 200+ hit seasons. He was the fastest player ever to 1000 hits. He also set a record for most hits in a season (261) in 2004. He is a three-time Silver Slugger and two-time AL batting champion. With less pressure, there’s no reason to think his numbers won’t improve, especially considering his resume.
Ichiro can also provide speed to a lineup filled with power-hitters. He has lead the league in steals, and also set a league record for consecutive steals without being caught (45). This fact alone should keep pitchers on their toes, all throughout the Yankee lineup.
Ichiro Suzuki is a sure-fire future Hall of Famer. He may now also be a future World Series Champion. The last time the Yankees had a hitter from Japan it worked out pretty well. In fact, after Hideki Matsui’s last game in pinstripes, he was named World Series MVP. Ichiro is no Matsui, he’s better. Hopefully the results will be just as good.
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