(I'll admit it. He looks pretty good right there. Courtesy of Getty Images)
By now I don't really need to remind everybody that I'm firmly against re-signing Ichiro Suzuki for next season (even though I just kinda did right there). But with the available free agent cupboard left pretty bare after last week's Winter Meetings, and the Yankees appearing unlikely to get seriously involved in the Josh Hamilton sweepstakes unless his price goes WAAAAAAAYYYY down, talks about the Yankees and Ichiro started heating up again over the weekend. Yesterday Ken Rosenthal reported that there was "strong interest" on both sides in bringing Ichiro back for 2013, and this morning Jon Heyman reported that the Yanks and Ichiro were hoping to have a deal done "within the next few days."
I'm not going to be happy if/when this deal becomes official, and everybody knows my reasons. But there's been a lot of support for Ichiro in both the comments section of this blog and on the AB4AR Facebook Page anytime I bring him up in a negative context. So in an attempt to shelf the negativity until the deal gets done, and to appease the AB4AR masses who are so pro-Ichiro, here are some positive things I can say about him and what he'll be able to offer the Yankees should they re-sign him this week.
- He adds another high contact bat to a lineup that could use at least 1
- He gives the Yankees another internal option to hit leadoff or near the top of the order should Derek Jeter not be ready to start the season or should he a/o Brett Gardner get injured during the season
- He combines with Gardner to give the Yankees speed to play with at the top and bottom of their batting order
- He could combine with C-Grand in left and Gardner in center, if the Yanks are smart enough to make that move, to give the team a very good defensive outfield capable of covering a lot of ground (always helpful when Hughes & Nova are in the rotation)
- Whatever power he does have left will play up hitting in YS3, as it always has with Ichiro
- He's a good bet to stay healthy (has never played fewer than 146 games in a season; has played in at least 160 in 8 of his 12 seasons)
- If, that's IF, he manages to repeat his 2012 Yankee performance over a full season, that production will be great value for what the Yankees will likely pay to sign him
- Pairing Ichiro up with a righty bench bat will limit his exposure to LHP and help to maximize Ichiro's value
- He's only coming on a 1-year deal, so no negative impact on the 2014 payroll plans
There. That's enough positivity, right? Enough to buy me a little equity with all you Ichiro fans until the signing becomes official and I absolutely blast it? Bare minimum I think you have to applaud the gesture on my part. It's not that I think Ichiro is completely useless, certainly not. He's proven that there's still a little gas in the tank. I just hope it's enough to get him to the finish line if the Yankees do sign him.