mariners

Memo to the Mariners: Five reasons Ichiro needs to go!

Ichiro at the Heart of M’s Woes

Disclaimer: this article is not for the weak of heart.

Seattle Mariners fans love Ichiro Suzuki, as they should. For 11 years he has patrolled rightfield, a time that’s spanned 10 different 200 hit seasons, 1 MVP, 1 Rookie of the Year, 10 All-Star appearances and 10 gold gloves.

As it stands, Ichiro is 38 years old, batting .255 on the season and, for the second season in a row, providing little to no value to the team.

I know it’s very hard to hear, but it’s time the M’s began to explore trades.

Please, let me state my case. I know what it’s like to get bogged down in thoughts of “what used to be” when it comes to professional sports. I’m also a Red Sox fan, and it killed me when Nomar Garciappara was traded.

But, hindsight is 20-20, and without that trade the team might have never won the 2004 World Series.

Sometimes, you have to know when to let go. For the Mariners, that time is now. Still don’t believe me?

Well then, here’s the evidence.

Follow the Money

Ichiro, in the last year of his contract, is currently making $18,000,000. That’s 21% of the Mariner’s current payroll of $84,928,100.

The quickest gain from trading Ichiro is that it will open up some payroll space. Sure, Seattle will most likely have to pick up some of his remaining salary; but, even if it frees up $3,000,000-$5,000,000 that can make a huge difference.

Seattle could do one of two things with that much more.

First, they could reallocate it into a trade—you never know who will be available come July. Second, they could hold onto it and use it next season—that much money can be the difference between a stud free agent or disappointment.

Look to the Future

No. 51 represents everything the current Mariners team is against.

Jesus Montero, Dustin Ackley, Kyle Seager, Michael Saunders, Justin Smoak, and Felix Hernandez. These names represent a bridge to the future, and hopefully dominance of the MLB.

Ichiro Suzuki. That name represents an impasse.

Seattle has one of the premier farm systems in baseball. Their current roster is filled with a myriad of under-26 year olds with tons of potential. Combine those two and you have the recipe for MLB success.

However, all it takes is one grizzled veteran to block a roster spot, dilute a lineup, saturate payroll and inevitably derail an organization from it’s future.

Is there Performance

All it takes is one look at a stats page to see why Ichiro should be traded.

.255/.282/.363, 4 home runs and 9 stolen bases. Not what we’ve come to expect of our rightfielder.

Last season marked the first time Ichiro had failed to reach 200 hits in a season, but at least he still had 40 stolen bases. This season, not only is Ichiro on pace for just 172 hits, but he’s also only on pace for 21 stolen bases. Both would represent career lows.

2011, and the current season, do not represent bad luck or statistical anomalies. Ichiro is 38 years old, and though he looks in pique physical condition, no one can outrun the facts of life.

Ichiro Suzuki

At 38 years old and NOT in his prime the 2012 version of Ichiro is at best a reach.

At least he still plays stellar defense… but is an extra out here-or-there worth $18,000,000?

Support the Lineup

Ichiro is a man without a home.

In 52 games batting third, he possessed a slash line of .271/.305/.367. Not horrible, but certainly not fitting of a middle of the order bat. So, Eric Wedge moved him to leadoff—a much more customary role for the fleet footed outfielder. In 15 games since the move, Ichiro is batting just .206/.206/.353.

As you can figure out, that’s 0 walks since moving to the leadoff position. What kind of leadoff hitter has 0 walks in 15 games?!

As it stands, Ichiro has no “right” spot in the lineup. They tried him in the middle, but with such a low batting average he wasn’t exactly an RBI factory. Then they moved him back to leadoff, where he’s stunk.

For 11 years, Ichiro has patrolled rightfield for the Mariners. That means no matter what, he commands respect from ownership. As long as he has that respect they won’t do what’s needed—such as moving him to the bottom of the order.

With Ichiro in lineup purgatory, he’s not going to make the offense any better.

Is he Marquee

If King’s Court is proof of anything, it’s that Ichiro isn’t the only name in Safeco that matters anymore.

The signing of Ichiro opened great doors for the M’s. It allowed them to establish a very strong following in Japan, which is one of the most lucrative foreign markets in baseball. However, the Seattle brass had to know the cash cow would eventually end.

Ichiro Suzuki is no longer a marquee name in Safeco. Outside of Felix Hernandez, names like Jesus Montero, Dustin Ackley and Franklin Gutierrez are becoming big amongst fans.

There’s also no guarantee that every foreign fan of the Mariners is going to immediately jump ship with the departure of Ichiro.

It’s true that Ichiro is the most famous Japanese player to ever play in the MLB, but is that notoriety worth sacrificing wins?

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  • Bob

    What can you expect from a Red Sox Fan…just the article we read…it is more than what takes place on the field as much as what veteran players offer in the clubhouse. His salary is high, much like all top players, and he fills the stands with fans from here and across the Pacific to see him play. Perhaps we need a blog on the reasons it makes sense to trade you from the NW sports beat to Boston…and who knows, you might be suggesting such a trade from Seattle to the Sox to bolster their clubhouse, potential ulterior motive for your comments.

  • Bob

    What can you expect from a Red Sox Fan…just the article we read…it is more than what takes place on the field as much as what veteran players offer in the clubhouse. His salary is high, much like all top players, and he fills the stands with fans from here and across the Pacific to see him play. Perhaps we need a blog on the reasons it makes sense to trade you from the NW sports beat to Boston…and who knows, you might be suggesting such a trade from Seattle to the Sox to bolster their clubhouse, potential ulterior motive for your comments.

    • Gord

      As a lifelong mariner fan and Pacific NWer, I agree that Ichiro’s time is out. Right Field is a power position and we have sacrificed that power for OBP, BA, and RS for the last 11 years. Well for the past 4 years, the RS have been absent, grant it that was intitially as a result of not having any power to drive him in, but now it is because he can’t get on base. Now not only do we have a power position that has no power, but it is also giving the M’s nothing in replace of that power. There are plenty of guys that can fit well under Ichiro’s salary, have a similar BA and produce 30 HR’s per season. Sorry to say, a winning team draws more fans than a washed up Japanese player. Also, how can a guy that has never cared enough to learn english be that much help in the clubhouse.

    • NWSportsBeat

      Bob I’m a lifelong Mariners fan, and Ichiro has been great for us for 10 years. His time is done. It’s time to move on. He’s holding a roster spot for $18,000,000 a season. It doesn’t make sense any longer. For the record. Jon is born and raised a Red Sox fan (due to his family raising him that way. But he is a closet M’s fan, and we chat about them daily.) He’s not going anywhere.

    • http://nwsportsbeat.com/ Jon Irwin

      Trust me Bob, last thing I want is for the Red Sox to acquire Ichiro. We have enough under performers on our team as is.

      If you read my background you’d see that I’ve lived in Oregon all my life. Baseball is like a religion to me, and it doesn’t matter what team. That’s not to say I don’t follow the Mariner’s and want to see them succeed. Yes, I am a Red Sox fan first and foremost because I was raised that way by my dad who’s from New Hampshire. That doesn’t mean I can’t root for another team, especially the only baseball team close to home.

      One more question for you sir. If Ichiro “fills the stands” as you put, then how come Seattle is 26th in attendance in the MLB and averages 46.5% capacity every night?

      • Bob

        Jon, I understand it is possible to have other teams, and we are influenced by our upbringing, to be a Duck or Beaver fan in Oregon, etc. While you point to low attendance, look to the Japanese fans who still fill the stands for Ichiro. Their attendance is low because they have failed to field a competitive team in some time, which is not an issue of his salary but their lack of interest in retaining quality players over the years…add to this their letter to the Seattle City Council in opposition to an NBA/NHL area in the SODO district which has been zoned for stadium use…I am lifetime Mariners fan, grew up on the Rainiers at Sick Stadium, then the Pilots for a couple of years, use to attend in the Kingdom when fan attendance was low, saw Randy throw his no hitter than and so many memories…been to the Safe, watched the return of Alex and the monopoly money and all those memories…this year I am not attending, was even invited by my son as a fathers day gift and said no because of the letter about the stadium…so some fans stay away for reasons other than players so we cannot discount their attendance because they have a Japanese star attraction on the team.

        ________________________________
        From: Disqus
        To: javaking1@yahoo.com
        Sent: Thursday, June 21, 2012 10:33 AM
        Subject: [nwsportsbeat] Re: Memo to the Mariners: Five reasons Ichiro needs to go!

        Jon Irwin wrote, in response to Bob:
        Trust me Bob, last thing I want is for the Red Sox to acquire Ichiro. We have enough under performers on our team as is.
        If you read my background you’d see that I’ve lived in Oregon all my life. Baseball is like a religion to me, and it doesn’t matter what team. That’s not to say I don’t follow the Mariner’s and want to see them succeed. Yes, I am a Red Sox fan first and foremost because I was raised that way by my dad who’s from New Hampshire. That doesn’t mean I can’t root for another team, especially the only baseball team close to home.
        One more question for you sir. If Ichiro “fills the stands” as you put, then how come Seattle is 26th in attendance in the MLB and averages 46.5% capacity every night? Link to comment

        • http://nwsportsbeat.com/ Jon Irwin

          Well, if you understand I can be a fan of both teams, while call into question my ability to write about the Mariner’s?

          The second time through your comment I read what you said about “veteran leadership” in the clubhouse. To repeat what Gord said in answer to your comment, how is a guy who never took the time to learn English providing veteran leadership in the clubhouse…? Maybe he’s providing it to the two other players from Japan on the roster, but two players out of 24 others isn’t really a huge influence.

          As for attendance, we’ll just have to agree to disagree on this one. I think the M’s attendance will be just fine without him, you obviously think differently. With the letter thing, well I’m a Portland fan so I’m indifferent on the NBA returning to Seattle.

          Though I do have to say you pointed out that attendance is down because the Mariner’s can’t field a competitive team, which as you also said has nothing to do with salary. Well, let me ask you this:

          Rewind and we’re in winter 2011 all over again. This time we’re in a parallel universe and the M’s have traded Ichiro and relieved themselves of salary stress. Now they have extra money to throw at Prince Fielder. They sign him, and he platoons between DH and 1st. Are the Mariner’s more competitive with him on the team?

          • Bob

            And I do understand your point of picking up Fielder, then again, look at what Mariner management does with money…if they were not paying Ichiro do you really think they would let loose of money and spend it…their track record would say otherwise even when they have the financial background to spend they have chosen not to just look to their low payroll from media revenue they seem to be satisfied to just call up players from AAA and say they are developing young talent as Seattle fans look to other sport venues for a championship and while he does not speak great English, he does have an interpreter. I am not denying he is losing the cutting edge which made him great, when the contract runs out and he retires he will be held in the same esteem as Martinez who also lost steam at the end but captured the imagination and hearts of the city for his determined play.

            ________________________________
            From: Disqus
            To: javaking1@yahoo.com
            Sent: Friday, June 22, 2012 2:48 PM
            Subject: [nwsportsbeat] Re: Memo to the Mariners: Five reasons Ichiro needs to go!

            Jon Irwin wrote, in response to Bob:
            Well, if you understand I can be a fan of both teams, while call into question my ability to write about the Mariner’s?
            The second time through your comment I read what you said about “veteran leadership” in the clubhouse. To repeat what Gord said in answer to your comment, how is a guy who never took the time to learn English providing veteran leadership in the clubhouse…? Maybe he’s providing it to the two other players from Japan on the roster, but two players out of 24 others isn’t really a huge influence.
            As for attendance, we’ll just have to agree to disagree on this one. I think the M’s attendance will be just fine without him, you obviously think differently. With the letter thing, well I’m a Portland fan so I’m indifferent on the NBA returning to Seattle.
            Though I do have to say you pointed out that attendance is down because the Mariner’s can’t field a competitive team, which as you also said has nothing to do with salary. Well, let me ask you this:
            Rewind and we’re in winter 2011 all over again. This time we’re in a parallel universe and the M’s have traded Ichiro and relieved themselves of salary stress. Now they have extra money to throw at Prince Fielder. They sign him, and he platoons between DH and 1st. Are the Mariner’s more competitive with him on the team? Link to comment

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_X3GDADQR5HMHKCZDJPL2P342WM RalphF

    “Ichiro Suzuki is no longer a marquee name in Safeco. Outside of Felix Hernandez, names like Jesus Montero, Dustin Ackley and Franklin Gutierrez are becoming big amongst fans.”
    We’re not sold on Guti, replace his name with Kyle Seager and you would have been correct with that sentence.

    • http://nwsportsbeat.com/ Jon Irwin

      Well I know a lot of fans aren’t sold on Guti’s future, but I know quite a few Seattle fans who just enjoy watching him play (at least defense that is!)

  • http://www.facebook.com/tyronegood Tyrone Good

    Sorry bro this article is pretty off. Starts okay then rambles into oblivion I honestly wasn’t even sure if you were talking about the Mariners half the time

    • http://nwsportsbeat.com/ Jon Irwin

      You mind elaborating…?

  • Fohn

    completely agree and it’s time for everyone to realize that Ichiro is hindering the team in stats and “is a lame teammate”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Parrothead63 Jim Crawford

    That’s baseball. Time and age happens. I agree it would be best for the team to trade him and move on. Wedge has done a good job with the team so far, if trading Ichiro will help in the building of a winning team: they have to do what is best for the team.

  • NWSportsBeat

    Great discussion everyone. Thanks to all for the comments, and the “playing nice”. We are all fans of the M’s. We just all have different points of view. Love the respect I’m seeing around here for other people’s views. Thanks. Go M’s!

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