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The Yankees and Ichiro: The unlikely match

Tweet [1]

[2]I remember sitting in a Seattle cab making my way to Safeco Field and using my phone to update Twitter just in case. That’s when news of the Ichiro Suzuki trade broke. And when I got to the stadium a few minutes later, the rest of the beat was either just getting the news or would find out within a few seconds. It was completely unexpected, the scene was truly bizarre, and Ichrio’s numbers were so bad it was unclear whether he was an actual upgrade over Dewayne Wise.

Ichiro held a press conference, switched to the visiting clubhouse, played so-so baseball for a few weeks and suddenly became the Ichiro of old. He was popular in the clubhouse, moved from the bottom of the order to the top, and hit .322/.340/.454 during his time in pinstripes.

Now the Yankees are said to be “all over” Ichiro [3] as their solution in right field.

There is considerable risk here. As good as he was down the stretch, Ichiro was pretty bad for the previous year and a half. He’s 39 years old with a game that’s build largely on diminishing speed. He would give the Yankees an entirely left-handed outfield, which means they’ll still need some sort of right-handed fourth outfielder.

But less than four months after the stunning mid-season trade, it’s amazing how much more it all makes sense today.

The Yankees are looking for short-term solutions. The big bats on the market seem out of their price range. They now have to split their remaining payroll between a right fielder and a third baseman (and a designated hitter and maybe a catcher). Ichiro’s time in New York was enough to suggest he still has something left, maybe enough to be an everyday player for another year. Ichiro plus a right-handed bat — maybe Cody Ross, maybe Scott Hairston, maybe someone else — could be the best solution outside of Josh Hamilton or Nick Swisher.

An Ichiro deal certainly would be less stunning today than it was on that day in mid-July.

Associated Press photo