Ichiro: I considered the Yankees

Does this mean something?
Twins' demands for Santana coming into view

Ah, the what if’s of baseball. Those are the part, right? What if Torre hadn’t pulled the infield in the bottom of the 9th of game 7 of the 2001 World Series? What if Tony Clark’s ground-rule double over that pathetic short fence in Boston’s right field somehow stayed in play? What if Ichiro had forsaken the Mariners for the Yankees last year?

That’s right. You read that last one correctly. Last year, before re-signing with the Mariners, Ichiro considering leaving Seattle for the Yankees, a reporter in Japan reported today. That would have been some decision for the Yanks to make.

Ichiro eventually re-signed with the Mariners for $20 million, but could he have been on the Yankees? It’s a tough call. Heading into the spring, they had Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, Bobby Abreu and Melky Cabrera all in need of outfield time. By the end of the year, of course, Matsui was DHing, Damon was in left and Melky had assumed the role of the starting centerfielder.

So a year ago, the Yanks probably would have passed on Ichiro. They just didn’t have had space for Ichiro and seemed to be entering what ended up being a one-year period of conservative-for-the-Yankees spending. Too bad.

Of course, if the Yanks had Ichiro right now, trading Melky would be even more of a no-brainer than we seem to think it is. But that’s always the joy of playing baseball’s What If game.

Does this mean something?
Twins' demands for Santana coming into view
  • http://www.mvn.com/mlb-rays Eric SanInocencio

    Amazing how the market can correct itself over time. When Ichiro first signed that long term extension during the season, the critics jumped out lashing Bill Bavasi for giving too much money to a one dimensional player with no power.

    Fast forward to the hot stove season, and you take a look around and what’s available and the prices on the market and you realize that the Ichiro deal isn’t that bad after all.

    With Jones and Rowand floating out big numbers (14-18 million per) and Torii Hunter signing that monster deal with the Angels, you tell me.

    Is Hunter better than Ichiro? I don’t think so. I would have loved to see him in pinstripes. Imagine how many more followers the Yanks would have in Japan had the hit machine came to Gotham?

    Eric SanInocencio

  • E-ROC

    Ichiro in pinstripes would have been a dream come true. Well, I was hoping it would’ve happened this winter, but obviously it didn’t. I would’ve had him in the three hole in front of A-Rod. That would’ve been sick. Ichiro probably would’ve hit for more power in the 3 hole, IMO.

  • Kevin23

    Ichiro batting 3rd for the Yankees? That doesn’t even make sense in video-game-land. 3rd is an OPS slot. I could see 2nd, because he can advance runners with his contact, but not 3rd. I’d rather have him on base when the number 3 guy hits.

    But this does raise another point. The Yankees haven’t had a true lead-off hitter in a long time. Even Soriano was an odd fit.

    • Stephen

      I agree. Ichiro is the game’s best leadoff hitter, so what would be the point of signing him to not hit leadoff. It certainly would have been nice to have Ichiro anchoring the top of the lineup. Noe the Yanks are going to have to find some legitimate replacement if Melky is dealt, unless people are confident that Gardner can come up and get the job done.

      By the way, Soriano has never been a logical leadoff man, in my mind. He’s had one season with an OBP above .350 (his monster year with the Nats) Damon was signed to fill that hole and he will likely be back in that slot plenty next season.