Daily Archives: December 21, 2012

Ichiro a Puzzling Signing

On Wednesday, the Yankees officially announced the signing of Ichiro Suzuki for two years and $13 million.  The Yankees have been reluctant to hand out contracts of more than one year all offseason and Ichiro was the first player that got a multiyear contract from the Yankees. It was widely reported that Ichiro was receiving two-year offers from other teams, which compelled the Yankees to go to two years. It is a move that unfortunately makes little sense.

Ichiro hit .322/.340/.454/.794 during his stint with the Yankees last season. Clearly getting out of Seattle and into a pennant race gave him extra energy that helped him perform very well. However, expecting that energy to carry over into a full season with the Yankees may be wishful thinking.

Why the Yankees felt that they had to have Ichiro is beyond me. He certainly was not the only right field option out there and I don’t think he was the best one. I was hoping right field was the spot that the Yankees would pull off a big trade, but even without doing that Ichiro was not the only option. The Yankees now have three lefty outfielders and you could argue that all of them could use a platoon. Scott Hairston would be the best option to platoon with Ichiro, but it seems like he wants to go back to the Mets for some reason.

Ichiro’s success with the Yankees does not make me throw out his awful 2010 season and his awful first half last season with Seattle. There was a clear decline there, as Ichiro hit .272/.310/.335/645 in 2010 and .261/.288/.353/.642 with Seattle last season. His w/OBA was a brutal.281 in 2011. Those are just not starting outfielder caliber numbers. You can say that he was getting tired of Seattle, but you can also say he was approaching 40 and declining.

I cannot figure out why the Yankees felt compelled to give Ichiro a two-year deal and not Russell Martin. Martin is only 29 and his defense and relationship with the pitching staff was very important. Also, he was a great leader and was one of the few Yankees to come up with huge hits last season. They now do not have a legitimate major league catcher on the roster when they could have had Martin on a very reasonable deal. A theory that is out there for giving Ichiro a two-year deal is that he may get to 3,00 hits in year two of the deal. That would bring in a lot of money for the Yankees and seeing how much they care about their bank account lately that would be appealing for them. I really hope that is not why they did this.

On Wednesday, Andrew Marchand was tweeting about how Ichiro is not an upgrade over Nick Swisher. That is obviously true, yet his mentions were filled with hate about that opinion from Yankees fans. Say what you want about Swisher, but Ichiro is not going to replace his regular season production. Swisher blows Ichiro away in any offensive metric you look at over the last two years. I’m not saying Swisher should have been re-signed, but all things being equal Swisher is by far the better player at this point in their careers.

With the Yankees trying to save every penny to get under the $189 million plateau for 2014 it makes no sense giving Ichiro a deal that will cut into that. Now if Ichiro repeats his production with the Yankees last season it will certainly will be a good signing, but I just don’t see that happening. It is hard to understand why the Yankees felt that they had to have Ichiro back in the fold.

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Yanks miss out on Pierzynski

Where was the Yankees offer?

Where was the Yankees offer?

It has been reported that the Texas Rangers have agreed to terms with Free Agent Catcher A.J. Pierzynski.  The Yankees were said to have looked into the 35-yr old as an option to replace Russell Martin but ultimately backed off because he supposedley wasn’t strong enough defensively.  To me, I thought AJ would be an excellent match for the Yankees but I thought he was out of the picture because he would receive a 2-yr deal from someone.  I wanted to see the Yanks offer a Kevin Youkilis type deal – high money for just 1 yr for AJ.  In fact I thought they should have offered the same $12M deal to AJ that Youk signed for.  Well, I was crushed to see that Pierzynski signed with Texas for a mere $7.5 Million for 1 year. Where was the Yankee offer?

Based on the wreckage that is the current state of Yankees catching and the club’s ridiculous insistence on 1-yr contracts – there really couldn’t have been a better match.   I don’t expect AJ to hit 27 HRs and win a Silver Slugger again like he did in 2012, but he seemed to be a good fit and would have improved the team immensely over the Catchers they have now.  AJ is a high average , contact hitter who is one of the toughest to strike out in the league.  He crushes RHP which would be ideal to match with any of the Yankees RH hitting backups in Stewart, Cervelli or Romine.  AJ feasted on RHP in 2012, hitting .287/.338/.536/.874 with 24 HRs in 399 PAs.  It would have been ideal to have him start the roughly 110 games this year vs RHP and one of the RH backups to start vs LHP.

Pierzynski is an all-out player with a fiery personality who gets under the skin of opponents.  He’s one of the more disliked players in MLB but he’s known to be a good teammate and leader.  His demeanor and effort would be a welcome addition to the team.  Apparently, the Yankees had concerns that he was only an “average” defensive catcher. This is rather laughable considering the Catchers currently on the team.   At this point in their careers AJ is better defensively then Cervelli and Romine.  And while Stewart is a solid defender he is like having a Pitcher in the batting order.  Pairing AJ with Romine may have been a good move so the young catcher could learn on the job from a seasoned veteran the way a young Posada learned from the veteran starter Girardi.

Looking at the state of catching in MLB, Pierzynski was an excellent option and a no-brainer at the contract he got.  Although its been just 114 PAs over the last decade, he’s shown that he won’t wilt in the post-season with a .300 BA, 5 HRs and a  .892 OPS.  AJ’s LH power also could have made it easier to trade Curtis Granderson for young talent without inhibiting their offense in 2013.  There seems to be a multitude of good reasons to have signed Pierzynski to be the Yankees catcher in 2013 yet they had very little interest.  I have been perplexed with a number of the team’s decisions this Winter (and the last 2-3 Winters actually) but I totally don’t understand this one.  Currently, it looks like the Yanks have perhaps the worst starting Catcher in the A.L. which doesn’t add up with their apparent strategy.  All of their moves this offseason make it seem that they are going with a lot of veterans to take one last shot while guys like Pettitte, Mariano and Jeter are still around.  They have made no effort to get younger or to make any significant additions for the team’s future beyond 2013. Pierzynski was the perfect fit to go after it in 2013 without adding any further commitment/burden to the 2014 payroll.  I want to believe the team has a plan but with each subsequent move and non-move it makes it harder to understand it.

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