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IchiRolls into the Bronx: 10 Reasons to Love The Yankees’ Newest Acquisition

 

Even if you’re a mild Yankees fan, you probably heard about how they swung into Seattle for a three-game series and swapped two pitching prospects the legendary Ichiro Suzuki, the 11-year Mariners’ veteran. The 38-year old outfield is far removed from his speedster days, but the Bombers and their fans should be thrilled to have him on board because…

 

1)…his resume speaks for itself: 10 All-Star selections, 10 Gold Gloves in the outfield, 3 Silver Sluggers, and a Rookie of the Year AND MVP award in 2001 (to name a few accolades). Granted, Ichiro’s decline hasn’t been pretty; he’s currently hitting .261/.288/.353 with 49 runs and 15 stolen bases through 95 games, which palls in comparison to his .332/.366/.418, 98 R, 36.5 SB career average. Then again, who wouldn’t take him to bolster their roster, especially with…

 

2)…the Yankees’ injured outfield. Right fielder Nick Swisher is riding the bench with a strained hip flexor, and the club has decided to put Brett Gardner under the knife for elbow surgery, killing the left fielder’s non-existent 2012 season. Even in decline, Ichiro serves as a more versatile, everyday outfielder than Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones. However, his position eligibility is less important than…

 

3)…his speed. Without the fleet-footed Gardner, the Yankees have swiped a measly 50 bags this season, only 24th in the league. With 15 stolen bases in 17 tries, Ichiro’s efficiency makes up for his loss of speed over the years. However, the guy still has wheels, so don’t be surprised if his SB count spills over 30 by the end of September. This speed can come in handy if he’s placed towards…

 

4)…the bottom of the lineup, where he can facilitate run production from the top-half of the lineup. If Yankees manager Joe Girardi continues to slot Ichiro into the eight-hole like in last night’s game, there’s a good chance that the Yankees’ newest acquisition will be on base when the big boppers (Granderson, Teixeira, Cano) come to the plate.  This setup can only be sweetened by…

 

5)…the IchiRolls, Safeco Field’s specialty sushi named after the ex-Mariner; hopefully, Ichiro brings this delicacy to the Bronx. Big Apple prices aside, this menu option could dramatically change the culture around the Stadium’s Japanese cuisine stand; I once watched obnoxiously-intoxicated fans order sushi from an Asian man whom they were convinced was Kei Igawa. To be fair, the vendor did look like the Yankees’ bust and the sushi was not worth the $15 price tag, but maybe the IchiRolls will change things. At the very least, you can expect Ichiro to…

 

6)…create revenue for the city. This past semester, I wrote a research paper that looked at the value of Ichiro’s first American contract, a cheap $12 million, three years signing. The Mariners clearly got exceptional talent for a low cost, but the city of Seattle also benefitted from his presence, earning an estimated $100 million in tourist dollars over a five-year period. New York-Tokyo is obviously a less convenient flight than Tokyo-Seattle, but Japanese native Hideki Matsui reportedly added $500 million to the Big Apple’s economy when he joined the Yankees in 2003. Now in his twelfth MLB season, Ichiro might not draw the same attention as he once did, but having a Japanese legend in New York can’t hurt. But let’s get back to baseball because…

 

7)…we’ve forgotten Ichiro’s strongest on-field attribute: his defense. The outfielder now leads the majors with a 15.6 UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating), which means he saved approximately 16 runs with his extraordinary range in right field. By comparison, Yankees left fielders totaled only an 8.7 UZR. While you’re doing the math, let’s take the time to say…

 

8)…how much of a stud Ichiro is. He’s cool, calm, and collected, with a swagger that only comes with being one of the best baseball players of the past decade. If his speed, defense, career achievements, and economic perks don’t convince you, then maybe you forgot that…

 

9)…Ichiro is a work-hard, fly-right personality. His training regimes and pre-game preparations are legendary in the league. The Yankees brass won’t mind when his work ethic rubs off on the younger players in the clubhouse, especially considering the fact that…

 

10)…the Yankees essentially bought him for nothing. Two no-name prospects for a superstar? Even if Ichiro is entering his twilight, he can add depth and stability to a playoff-bound team with question marks in the outfield. AND Seattle eats most of his remaining contract? That’s like a punch in the face to the Mariners, payback for swindling the Yankees with the offseason Montero-Pineda swap.

 

In short, the deal’s a steal. Yankee fans should embrace Ichiro in the Bronx, where he could pay dividends for the Bombers during their stretch drive.

 

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