*My apologies to Bill Shakespeare for the title.
There were conflicting reports this morning about the status of Ichiro Suzuki and the Yankees. One report from Japan claimed he signed a one-year deal worth $5M plus incentives while writers here in the States said the Yankees and Ichiro haven’t even discussed a deal yet.
Frankly, it was amusing to see the varying reactions to both news items.
Some people were admittedly excited when the news surfaced of a deal between Ichiro and the Yankees. After batting .261/.288/.353/.642 in 95 games for the Mariners, he was revitalized after the trade to New York and played like the All-Star he once was batting .322/.340/.454/.794 in 67 games. His wRC+ was 90 and his wOBA .300 for the whole year (both teams combined).
Those people who are gung-ho about an Ichiro signing obviously feel that he can sustain the level of play he managed to eek out in those final 67 games of the season with the Yankees.
Other people weren’t too jazzed about the idea of an Ichiro signing. Those particular folks seem to be envisioning a worst-case scenario in which Ichiro’s 2013 morphs into Andruw Jones‘s 2012 campaign, which in case you don’t remember, was not very pretty. But if you look at some numbers, Jones and Ichiro weren’t that far apart. While Jones’ slash line, in particular, was a sad sight .197/.294/.408/.701 in 94 games, his wRC+ and wOBA, were 86 and .306 which is very close to Ichiro’s 90 and .300.
It’s actually a good thing that Ichiro picked things up in his time with the Yankees because a .300 wOBA isn’t good, in fact it’s classified as poor while a .310 is below average. And at .306 that makes Andruw Jones slightly better in that category.
So yes, the Yankees will be old if Ichiro re-signs but they’re already pretty long in the tooth and it’s not like those guys will have to go to their positions with walkers or replace their Gatorade with Metamucil. Now, do I think Ichiro will fall off that badly in 2013? Honestly, no. I think he can still contribute to the team, even at his ‘advanced’ age of 39, but I think he’d be better off more as a bench/platoon type of player not as a full-time starter.
Of course, you never know what’s going to happen during the course of a season with injuries and other unforeseen circumstances and an outfield of Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson and Suzuki wouldn’t be awful. I just think the Yankees should try for a better option for the everyday right fielder. And it’s not that I feel Ichiro’s bad defensively, it would just be nice to have a younger player patrolling right field since Nick Swisher will more than likely be signing elsewhere.
This morning Michael Eder wrote about the possibility of Shane Victorino being a FA target for the Yankees. While 2012 wasn’t great for Victorino, he had a pretty unlucky offensive season split between both Philadelphia and Los Angeles, he is only 32-years old so there is a chance he can turn things around, especially in a left hand hitter friendly park like Yankee Stadium. Also, he’s pretty speedy on the bases and is a good defensive outfielder.
There is also the possibility of the Yankees looking to Chris Dickerson as a cheap, in-house, everyday right field option because while the goal for now is to field the 2013 squad, the Yankees are also looking to drop payroll in 2014 and will have to figure out what to do with both Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson.
Back to Ichiro, in order for him to sign with the Yankees he’d more than likely have to take a tremendous pay cut – he made $17M last year so there’s still no guarantee that he’d re-sign. It’s also possible he could head to another team that has an opening in the outfield and little more money to work with.
So what do you guys think? Should the Yankees bring Ichiro back for 2013 or should they thank him for his contributions in 2012 and say thanks but no thanks? (Leave your thoughts in the comments.)
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