The Seattle Mariners traded their 38-year-old star outfielder to the New York Yankees today for a pair of pitching prospects. For the past ten years, Ichiro Suzuki has been the face of the Mariners franchise, ever since coming over from Japan prior to the 2001 season.
That season, he became the first Japanese position player to ever play in the MLB, and as a 28-year-old rookie he set multiple rookie records, including becoming just the second player in history to win both a Rookie of the Year and MVP award in the same season. Boston’s Fred Lynn in 1975 is the only other player to accomplish that feat, although the Los Angeles Angels’ rookie phenom Mike Trout is currently making his own case for that same accomplishment in 2012.
Ichiro was traded before tonight’s game between the Yankees and Mariners for D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar, a pair of 25-year-old pitching prospects in the Yankees’ farm system. Ichiro apparently had asked to be traded since the Mariners are currently in a rebuilding stage, and at age 38, Ichiro wants to win now. It’s hard to blame him.
"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."
With an MLB-leading record of 57-38, it hardly seems as if the Yankees needed to bring in any additional help, but after just getting swept in a four-game series against the Oakland Athletics, and losing left fielder Brett Gardner for probably the remainder of the season, they apparently wanted to further bolster their star-studded lineup. The Yankees lead the MLB in home runs, though this season they have really seemed to only score by means of the long ball. Bringing Ichiro to New York will certainly help solve that problem, for those who do consider their reliance on home runs a problem.
Ichiro has the most hits in the MLB since entering the league in 2001, while his new teammate Derek Jeter has the second most. In 2004 Ichiro set the single season record for hits with 262, breaking George Sisler’s record which had stood for the 84 years prior to 2004. His trademark left-handed leaning swing and quick first step out of the box has allowed him to beat out countless infield throws to first base over the years. Furthermore he is a ten-time All-Star and a ten-time Gold Glove recipient.
Ichiro played his first game for the Yankees tonight in the same ballpark which he has called home for the past 11 seasons. Batting eighth, he came up to the plate in the third inning, and was met with vigorous applause and a standing ovation from the Mariners’ fans before singling in his first at bat as a Bronx Bomber. Finally playing for a winning franchise, Ichiro is right where he wants to be, and the Yankees will be thrilled to add a player of his caliber who will get hits, score runs, and flawlessly patrol the outfield at Yankee Stadium.