Ichiro a Puzzling Signing

On Wednesday, the Yankees officially announced the signing of Ichiro Suzuki for two years and $13 million.  The Yankees have been reluctant to hand out contracts of more than one year all offseason and Ichiro was the first player that got a multiyear contract from the Yankees. It was widely reported that Ichiro was receiving two-year offers from other teams, which compelled the Yankees to go to two years. It is a move that unfortunately makes little sense.

Ichiro hit .322/.340/.454/.794 during his stint with the Yankees last season. Clearly getting out of Seattle and into a pennant race gave him extra energy that helped him perform very well. However, expecting that energy to carry over into a full season with the Yankees may be wishful thinking.

Why the Yankees felt that they had to have Ichiro is beyond me. He certainly was not the only right field option out there and I don’t think he was the best one. I was hoping right field was the spot that the Yankees would pull off a big trade, but even without doing that Ichiro was not the only option. The Yankees now have three lefty outfielders and you could argue that all of them could use a platoon. Scott Hairston would be the best option to platoon with Ichiro, but it seems like he wants to go back to the Mets for some reason.

Ichiro’s success with the Yankees does not make me throw out his awful 2010 season and his awful first half last season with Seattle. There was a clear decline there, as Ichiro hit .272/.310/.335/645 in 2010 and .261/.288/.353/.642 with Seattle last season. His w/OBA was a brutal.281 in 2011. Those are just not starting outfielder caliber numbers. You can say that he was getting tired of Seattle, but you can also say he was approaching 40 and declining.

I cannot figure out why the Yankees felt compelled to give Ichiro a two-year deal and not Russell Martin. Martin is only 29 and his defense and relationship with the pitching staff was very important. Also, he was a great leader and was one of the few Yankees to come up with huge hits last season. They now do not have a legitimate major league catcher on the roster when they could have had Martin on a very reasonable deal. A theory that is out there for giving Ichiro a two-year deal is that he may get to 3,00 hits in year two of the deal. That would bring in a lot of money for the Yankees and seeing how much they care about their bank account lately that would be appealing for them. I really hope that is not why they did this.

On Wednesday, Andrew Marchand was tweeting about how Ichiro is not an upgrade over Nick Swisher. That is obviously true, yet his mentions were filled with hate about that opinion from Yankees fans. Say what you want about Swisher, but Ichiro is not going to replace his regular season production. Swisher blows Ichiro away in any offensive metric you look at over the last two years. I’m not saying Swisher should have been re-signed, but all things being equal Swisher is by far the better player at this point in their careers.

With the Yankees trying to save every penny to get under the $189 million plateau for 2014 it makes no sense giving Ichiro a deal that will cut into that. Now if Ichiro repeats his production with the Yankees last season it will certainly will be a good signing, but I just don’t see that happening. It is hard to understand why the Yankees felt that they had to have Ichiro back in the fold.

About Matthew B

I am a student at William Paterson University and studying to become a sportswriter. I have a huge passion for the Yankees and love sharing my opinions on them. I can analyze every aspect of the Yankees very well. I am very active on Twitter so feel free to contact me there Twitter: @RAYROBERT9

Posted on December 21, 2012, in No Category. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. I personally would have rather seen Russell for another two years but thinking in a business way, Ichiro is actually the cheaper player to obtain as his returns are going much higher than Russell’s. I doubt the merchandising returns on Russell was very much at all, while Ichiro should be able to sell enough crap to cover at least half his 2014 contract.

    Obviously, they are banking on him to get the team though what will certainly will be a bad 2014 team. They will focus heavily on and cash in on his quest of 3000 hits. The hype will come to a frenzy at the end of his second year and he will be the main topic for the Yankees PR team to gloss over the fact that the team is not going to make it to the playoffs that year.

    Yet by my estimates and barring injury, he should fall short by about 20 to 30 runs and should get 3000 in mid April to mid May of his third season. I have a feeling we’d be seeing him for a third year on the Yankees if my thoughts about all this is correct.

    With the tight budget for years to come it makes more sense for them to come up with schemes like this to make money and bide their time until the large contracts goes away. That’s basically what I thought their plans where when they signed Arod to that long contract, that they are going to focus in on records rather than championships.

    • Rusty, I think the upside for Ichiro is much better than the upside for Martin. Romine is closer to being ready than either Heathcott or Williams, this move makes sense to me.

  2. Swisher at times looked lost at times in the field…Ichiro has more options of getting positive results offensivly too…Swisher @ 15mm for even 3 years? Not smart… Ichero by far a much more safer option a much more digestable contract to swollow…

  3. I like Ichiro but hate having to give him the 2nd yr. And if they want Hairston as the RH hitting OF, they may have to give him 2 yrs also. I really hoped they would trade for a young OF but chances don’t look good.

    At DH, I really hope they don’t bring Ibanez back now also. Raul hit some big HRs in the playoffs but overall he didn’t have a great yr. He provided some pop vs RHP but was brutal in the OF and didn’t have a good BA or OBP. Let him go a yr too early if anything….thanks for the memories Raul.

    I’d rather see them go with younger players. Give guys like Corban Joseph, David Adams, Ron Mustelier, Eduardo Nunez and Chris Singelton a chance to get those extra DH ABs. They have nothing more to prove in the minors. Between those 5 players, I’m sure they could form a productive platoon. And the bonus is they are young and play positions. Putting 1 of those guys in the lineup allows Joe to DH his veterans.

    • Hairston is a good fit for the Yanks, I would give him 2 years 8 million, it would fit their 189 million budget for next year. Next year Grandy will be gone and they can bring up Heathcott or Williams or both.

    • fishjam, now that the Yanks didn’t sign Ibanez it looks like they are interested in upgrading their RH bats, and improving their hitting with runners in scoring position which was a big problem last year. Maybe they will try to use some of their own prospects even if they are not their best prospects.

  4. I think I might be changing schools but in the mean time, does anybody know any baseball related jobs in the greater New York area? idk I just thought it wouldn’t hurt to ask 😛

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