I know, I know, you probably think Ichiro Suzuki does not have much left; Ichiro has not had a great year(batting .261), but can you really blame him when he was playing for an American League team with no real chance of making the playoffs and a team tied for the most losses in the AL. If I were a betting man, then I would say that Ichiro will bat a lot better than .261 in pinstripes. The chance to make a deep playoff run is something that you can’t place enough value on especially for a veteran of Ichiro’s experience. Especially one who has yet to get a World Series ring.
“I’m going from a team having the most losses to a team with the most wins, so it’s been hard to maintain my excitement.” Ichiro said.
This moment has been brewing for Ichiro since the All Star Break, and he has clearly given it an immense amount of thought.
“When I spent time during the All Star Game to think. I realized that this team has many players in their early twenties. And I began to think, I should not be on this team next year, when I thought about the future of the team.” Ichiro said at his Seattle Mariners farewell presser. “And I also started to feel a desire to be in an atmosphere that I could have a different kind of stimulation than I have now. If that were the case, it would be the best decision for both parties involved that I leave the team as soon as possible. And I have made this decision.”
When you hear Ichiro talk about having a “different kind of stimulation”, and then you take a look at this picture of the Yankees starting line-up tonight, then it is hard not to see that this group is capable of special things.
Derek Jeter is excited about Ichiro’s consistency on both sides of the ball. “He’s done some great things in the league,” said Jeter. “Offense, defense, there’s a lot of different ways he can beat you. He’s been as consistent as anyone.”
It is fitting that in his first game not playing for the Seattle Mariners, that he will be playing against the Mariners, but in left field instead of right.
“I haven’t played left for a long time, to be honest with you,” Ichiro said. “But the last time I played left was a playoff game — my first playoff game in Yankee Stadium, so it’s a very memorable position for me for that reason.”
The Yankees have needed outfield depth, because of an injury to left fielder Brett Gardner; he will need arthroscopic elbow surgery, and the Yankees have generally started either Raul Ibanez or Andruw Jones in left this year. A healthy Ichiro batting 8th in the line-up is a definite upgrade and gives the Yankees both more fire power and better fielding as well.
Manager Joe Girardi seems almost more excited about Ichiro’s fielding than his hitting at this time.
“Sometimes you need to create a run, and his defense is going to be outstanding — 10 Gold Gloves — and we’re excited about that, as well,” Girardi said.
The post-season is still a ways off, but this is a move geared towards that time. The New York Yankees have pushed their chips all-in, and this will either be the move to win it all or bust it all for them this year.