In full disclosure, Ichiro Suzuki has never been very high on my list of favorite players. However, there are plenty of things to like about the New York Yankees‘ acquisition of the 10-time All-Star from the Seattle Mariners.
First of all, the New York Yankees really did not give up much at all to acquire Suzuki by sending over right-handers D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar. Mitchell has the profile of a back-of-the-rotation arm while Farquhar is a 5’9″ bullpen piece. Regardless of how Ichiro plays for the remainder of the season, it is not likely that Mitchell or Farquhar will come back to haunt the Yankees.
Offensively, Yankees fans are hoping that Ichiro has some juice left in the tank. He’s been a hit machine over the majority of his career, but has fallen flat the past couple of seasons. If he does have any game left, a move into a pennant race and into a very lefty-friendly ballpark will bring it out. It isn’t clear where in the lineup he’ll hit, but it makes sense to bat him 9th. He could certainly fit into the lead-off or number two slot, but the top of the order has performed well so why disrupt it? In the 9-hole, not only does Ichiro avoid the spotlight of a high-profile lineup spot early on, but he also provides a threat at the bottom of the order. A return to his batting title form does not seem likely, but maybe he’ll take aim at the short porch and run into a few more round trippers than we’re accustomed to seeing from him.
Defensively, Suzuki is an instant upgrade at whichever corner spot he settles into. Based on his arm alone, one would probably assume that he’s headed into his natural right-field position once he puts on the pinstripes. However, the decision might not be quite as straight forward for Joe Girardi when he considers the size of left-field at Yankee Stadium. The configuration of Yankee Stadium has prompted the New York Yankees to field a “bizarro outfield” at times and there is a decent chance that this will continue once Curtis Granderson, Ichiro and Nick Swisher are all in the lineup.
All in all, the New York Yankees’ acquisition of Ichiro Suzuki serves as a low-risk, high-reward transaction. The excitement of a pennant race should rejuvenate Suzuki and could allow him to find the fountain of youth for a few months. The fingers are crossed.
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