Sherman: “Top of the Yankees hierarchy” was behind Ichiro re-signing


This isn’t the most surprising thing in the world, but Joel Sherman reports the “top of the Yankees hierarchy” demanded the re-signing of Ichiro Suzuki this past offseason following “a strong Division Series and adoration from the fans.” Who knows what “top of the hierarchy” actually means, but it sure sounds like something above the baseball operations department.

Ichiro, 39, has managed to raise his early-season batting line to .185/.233/.296 following a multi-hit game and a homer against the Indians these last two days. The Yankees gave him a two-year, $13M contract over the winter and it just so happens he has a shot to record his 3,000th MLB hit next September. He’ll have to pick-up the pace to get there though, he’s currently 389 hits away from the milestone. It seemed like a move motivated more by off-field interests (marketing, merchandise, etc.) than on-field production from the start.

Categories : Asides


  1. Karl Krawfid says:

    Gonna give him a little more time before I write him off.

  2. V says:

    “It seemed like a move motivated more by off-field interests (marketing, merchandise, etc.) than on-field production from the start.”

    Isn’t everything the Steinbrenners/Levine/et al. do motivated by off-field interests?

    Sell the team. Please.

    • Havok9120 says:

      It’s as if people forget that the vast majority of baseball ownership groups invest a fraction of the money the Steinbrenners et al. do each year. Being a big market team or a recent acquisition by a major set of investors is absolutely no guarantee of ever-increasing payroll/general overhead expenditure.

    • jtb10238 says:

      Ichiro performed AWESOME in the playoffs why dont you news mafia worshippers shut up for a change and THINK for yourselves. I wonder why we NEVER have articles written by the news mafia on Brian Cashman

      • Guns says:

        Hideki Matsui had an AWESOME World Series in 2009 but they didn’t bring him back on a 2-year deal and Cashman specifically cited his World Series performance, saying he wouldn’t be swayed by such a small sample size. What’s different with Ichiro? He can play a position… but the reason he was the only multi-year deal handed out in the offseason is clearly because of marketing purposes.

        • RetroRob says:

          They actually would have brought him back. He signed right away with the Angels because his agent (correctly) believed the Yankees would only bring back one of Matsui or Damon, and that Damon was the preferred one. Oddly, if he had waited, the Yankees would have signed him again once the Damon deal went south and they went about looking at the Nick Johnson’s of the world.

        • mike says:

          Ichiro can actually field a position, and he raked in September as well….Matsui was clearly slowing down, which is why the Yanks let him go.

          BTW pummeling a defenseless Pedro’s hanging curves and sliders didnt fool the Yanks scouts

  3. blake says:

    of course….Japanese marketing.

    • trr says:

      100% on the money…. yen that is.
      I work for a Japanese company, they are crazy for baseball, and by crazy I mean cukoo for cocoa puffs crazy

  4. blake says:

    if they really wanted to market in Japan they could have had Darvish for 9 AAV….

  5. It’s still early but I cannot see Vernon Wells lose his playing time when Granderson comes back, if he continues to hit like a respectable major leaguer. Can’t wait to have a $13 million dollar 4th outfielder, even though whoever sits between Wells and Ichiro it will actually be the same thing. You know Suzyn, you just can’t predict baseball.

    • Jim Is Bored says:

      Calling him a 13 million dollar 4th outfielder is fudging the truth a little.

      He’s really a 6.5 million dollar 4th outfielder.

      • blake says:

        technically he’s an 11.5 million dollar outfielder this year and about a 2.4 million dollar outfielder next year….

        • MannyGeee says:

          If this is the mindset we are following, well hell, I thought he was essentially free in 2013. So a 0M dollar outfielder next season? Even I could live up to those expectations.

  6. mitch says:

    I really don’t get these marketing-based decisions. History shows that success dictates fan interest. Any incremental revenue from Ichiro’s Japanese fan base and chase for 3000 will pale in comparison to the revenue lost if the team isn’t winning.

    • Havok9120 says:

      If history was as clear on that point as you seem to think such marketing-based decisions would be far less common than they are.

      Successful businessmen tend to be many things, from myopic and narrow minded to ruthless…but they’re rarely actually stupid.

      • mitch says:

        Well the difference between Ichiro and (smartest on-field investment of $13mil) isn’t going be the difference between being good and being bad. I just wish they’d focus on putting the best possible team on the field, and leave the personnel decisions to the experts. Instead they’re focused on making the extra buck. Field a winning team and the profit will take care of itself.

      • Kevin M. says:

        Actually, they often are ‘stupid’ – particularly when their wealth was inherited.

        • vicki says:

          after barry switzer: the steinbrood were born on third but go through life thinking they hit a triple?

        • Havok9120 says:

          ‘Tis why I said “successful businessmen-” which Hal is in his own right if you know much about him- rather than “rich people.”

  7. LK says:

    No surprise here. No amount of squinting could make this contract seem like a wise investment from an on-field perspective.

  8. Robinson Tilapia says:

    There’s always the very important “Joel Sherman doesn’t know dick” factor.

    • LK says:

      Sherman’s analysis is usually garbage, but I always thought he was one of the most well-connected writer as far as reporting, no?

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        I think most of the senior guys who have been around a while are well-connected. I don’t think Sherman’s got more in than Feinsand, or whatnot. I do find a whole lot of what they write, including this, to be unnecessary bullshit.

        I don’t care who liked the Ichiro signing. I care about whether Ichiro hits and fields his position well. Seven games into the season doesn’t say a whole lot to me as to how he’ll do over the next two seasons, or what role he’ll even play.

        I’ve been very indifferent to his re-signing, years and all. He’s not breaking the bank, and I assume that he’ll do enough to be worthy of a 25-man spot next year, even if he’s the world’s most famous fourth outfielder.

        • Robinson Tilapia says:

          I meant “I don’t care who was behind the signing.”

        • Guns says:

          Seven games into the season doesn’t say a whole lot to me as to how he’ll do over the next two seasons

          But I would argue his last 1,400 PA would be enough to give you an idea of how he’ll perform over the next two seasons. It doesn’t look promising. The Yankees made sure he’d be the right fielder for two years anyway.

          • Robinson Tilapia says:

            Not really.

            He could sit in favor of Wells. He could sit in favor of Boesch. One of the kids could put themselves in a position to win a spot in the outfield in 2014. The team could bring in another option. All these things could push Ichiro into a lesser role with the team if he fails to perform.

            This is why I don’t see the big deal with the Ichiro contract. You have an additional two years of an aging HOFer getting at-bats somewhere in your outfield in an era where you can’t name half your 25 man roster next season.

  9. Bubba says:

    This is why it’s tough to get on the Cashman’s gotta go bandwagon. Has he made mistakes? Sure, but I’d bet there aren’t a lot of GMs out there who have to put up with these shenanigans.

    • Havok9120 says:

      While still putting together winning teams no less.

      • JobaWockeeZ says:

        And which GM has had 200 million payrolls for a decade?

        • Havok9120 says:

          The whole comment, and my response, was solely to the idea of interference from above. Which IS something most GMs don’t tolerate which is why Steinbrenner went through so many of them despite the astronomical payroll he let them have a hand in playing with.

          Go be grumpy about people actually liking and/or respecting Cashman elsewhere.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      I bet every single GM in baseball would put up with higher-ups getting involved. Every single one of them.

      This also happens in management…..everywhere. Your higher-ups are going to swoop down and do something you don’t agree with sometimes when you’re towards the middle of the hierarchy.

      • Havok9120 says:

        There is a difference between general interference and outright micromanagement. Plenty of people have resigned or transferred in response to true micromanagement, including GMs and managers of baseball teams.

        I will say that Levine and Hal don’t SEEM to stray into the territory of running baseball ops out of the Owner’s suit. I hope for Cash’s sake that that’s actually the case.

        • Robinson Tilapia says:

          Of course, and I’m not even pretending this is the type of micromanagement you’re alluding to. I, for example, don’t like being micromanaged one bit, nor do I enjoy when I’m put in the position where I have to micromanage someone. I absolutely hate being a micromanager.

  10. JonS says:

    Prioritizing off-field (money) over on-field (wins, success, etc) things will be the downfall of Hank and Hal.

    They’ve put greed over a desire to win not realizing that the latter supplies the former.

    • Havok9120 says:

      Just like most owners.

      • Now Batting says:

        Most owners don’t have a territorial right over the largest market in the country.

        • Havok9120 says:

          But the ones that DO usually still put the emphasis on fiscal concerns rather than purely on field success. As the history of the Mets, most/all Yankee owners pre-Boss, the Dodgers before the buyout, the Angels before the last 3 years, or almost any other era of any other big market franchise would tell you.

          • Bob Buttons says:

            Lay off Col. Jacob!

          • Now Batting says:

            Why the hell are you comparing other franchises to the most valuable franchise in North American sports? They’re worth in the ballpark of 2 BILLION. Of that 2,000 million they’re trying to save 30 a year while keeping prices the same in an era where MLB is more lucrative than ever. Reading this whole thread you’re nothing but an apologist. Sickening.

  11. Dalek Jeter says:

    Later in his report Sherman went on to say he was informed by somebody on the inside of the Yankee organization that their home jerseys are in fact white with navy blue pinstripes.

    Seriously though, everybody suspected/knew this already, and I fully expect them (Hal/Hank/Levine) to wind up with egg on their face because of it. Seriously, who really thought the 2 year signing of a contact/speed guy who’s contact skill has evaporated was a baseball signing?

  12. noseeum says:

    If these things are true, why doesn’t Cashman just quit? Does he get in Levine’s business about how to sell tickets? Perhaps he should, but that’s a different story.

    How many times does he have to go in there and tell them to stay out of personnel decisions? When was the last time their meddling led to a good outcome? I mean, if an owner wants a player, it’s his right, but why would they allow Levine to even have an opinion on players? Hal and Hank can talk to Cashman and say they want Ichiro. Cashman can explain to them why that’s dumb. And they can say, “well we want him anyway.”

    But Randy Levine should never be asked what he thinks about a player or a deal.

    • jtb10238 says:

      Or these are articles written to protect Brian Cashman since the news mafia simply doesn’t know how to tell the truth period.

      • Guns says:

        That’s total nonsense if you’re being serious…

        Why would anyone in the media “protect” Cashman? These articles (of which there have been many over the years) aren’t flattering to Cashman. The fact that the front office has gone over Cashman’s head on many occasions isn’t a good thing.

    • OldYanksFan says:

      Cashman was going to quit a few years ago, and the Steinettes agreed to take the Tampa Faction out of the equation and give Cashman more autonomy. Since then, there has been a lot more emphasis on the farm, keeping younger players and not just chunking away draft picks. However, the ‘Boss’ will always have some say-so. There is not a company on the planet where a #2 (or #3 or #4) can tell the Boss he has no authority to make some decisions.

      We know ARod was not a Cashman decision. Ichiro probably was not. There have been others. But owners will always have control. Cashman could quit, but it will be the same anywhere else.

      By the way, Ichiro needs to post a 1.5 WAR to earn he keep. He will probably do that on Speed and Defense alone. Ichiro has a better chance of being worth his salary WAR-wise then ARod, Teix, Granderson or Jeter.

      I wasn’t for 2 years (1 @ $6.5m would have been OK) but it won’t hurt us much. And he is still a talented player. You never know if he will get a second wind.

  13. jsbrendog says:

    ::bangs head against the wall::

    either the gm is in control or he isn’t. i honestly would not be surprised if cashman walked (which would make the trolls happy.) I just shudder to think about his replacement….

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      If Cashman leaves, it’s not because he’s fed up with anything. It’ll because it was the plan all along.

      We huff and puff on here about what we think the job should look like, or what we think he should be happy with. I’ve never once looked at him and thought this was a guy who wasn’t comfortable in the skin he’s in.

      • vicki says:

        even when that skin is swathed in an elf costume. i just can’t get past it.

      • mitch says:

        True. It’s not like the Ichiro deal will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. He’s been working for Steinbrenner’s for a long time and has been overridden on much bigger deals.

      • jsbrendog says:

        except the fact that when he resigned he did so only on the condition he be allowed to handle personnel and have autonomy…which, yeah, he doesn’t have.

        • Robinson Tilapia says:

          He’s still there.

          I think we make too big a deal out of this sort of stuff. Higher-ups swoop down, meddle, and swoop back up. That’s life, and you learn to deal with it.

          Imagine if he were working for Papa Bear….

          • Havok9120 says:

            Like he did for the better part of a decade.

            • jsbrendog says:

              which is why he demanded to have control when he resigned. cause that shit sucks and led to awful moves.

              • Havok9120 says:

                Yep yep.

                From what we understand though the situation has improved pretty heavily. Especially in that he also has complete control of a lot of things I’d consider the purview of the manager.

  14. vicki says:

    and the cash cow sits tonight against rhp kluber.

  15. NYYROC says:

    Are the Steins running a baseball team or a circus? If Ichiro was signed as an “attraction”, why not just sign the bearded lady and goat boy? That’ll get fans to the stadium.

  16. Ichiro says:

    Haters gonna hate…

  17. steves says:

    What tangible marketing/merchandising initiatives have the Yankees instituted in connection with Ichiro? Sounds like one of those bullshit observations that is commonly mentioned but rarely substantiated. Ichiro performed terrifically last year for the Yanks and they signed him for a relatively fair price based on that production. Besides his hitting (albeit more streaky since he came to NY) he is still fast on the bases and a decent fielder with a decent arm. Even if Ichiro closes in on 3,000 hits its hard to believe the associated marketing opportunities will have any material monetary impact for the Yanks.

    • vicki says:

      he’s the most famous and best-loved athlete in japan. you really need it spelled out for you?

      • steves says:

        How naive are you? The Yanks dumped Matsui at his potentially highest marketing value as a World Series MVP hero (and probably more loved in Japan than Ichiro). If this idea that there is some kind of marketing bonanza for having a successful Japanese athlete perform in the USA had any legs the Yanks wouldn’t have been so willing to dump Matsui so fast and hard. Use your noodle!

        • vicki says:

          it’s a formula. matsui was a full-time dh; while there was no spot for him, ichi is overpaid (money and years) for his legitimate spot (platoon/backup of). the yankees easily could’ve gotten the same production from a much cheaper player but there is a marketing and merchandising upside, especially if he miraculously realizes the 3K. if you think he’s relatively cheap for his production and that he’s “albeit more streaky since he came to ny” i don’t think i’m going to change your mind.

        • OldYanksFan says:

          You may be wrong. In Japan, they televised Seattle games because of Ichiro. Now they televise Yankee games. It’s hard to measure the value of that exposure, but there is some there.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      I…..actually kind of agree.

      • vicki says:

        what part? that the yankees signed him for a fair price for his production? that having one of the world’s most popular players approach 3K won’t make the franchise a ton? that matsui’s non-re-signing after 2009 proves that ichiro was given the offseason’s only two-year contract at age 39 for baseball reasons?

        • ClusterDuck says:

          I (and many others) would have signed Ichiro for his potential production.

          And I don’t give a rats ass about Yankee marketing.

          Perhaps you don’t agree with the signing because Ichiro won’t produce and that’s fine. But many of us do agree with the signing for production reasons and therefor it’s not too far fetch to think that the Yanks would do the same.

          • vicki says:

            i very much do not agree with the signing. though i would celebrate if he were to bring something significant to the team. but the point here is what he brings to the organization’s bottom line. it doesn’t take a cynic to see the angle.

  18. RetroRob says:

    This is a nonsense story that means nothing. Sherman just had space to fill.

  19. mike says:

    Ichiro will retire if he hits .215, so there is no worry about 2014 unless he has a good year

    • Preston says:

      Players with guaranteed deals don’t retire that often. It’s hard to turn down 6.5 million to play baseball, and players are pretty dishonest with themselves about their skill level. If he hits .215 he’ll still be talking about bouncing back to .300 and getting to 3,000 hits.

  20. ClusterDuck says:

    Sherman: “Top of the Yankees hierarchy”

    Sherman’s sources are unnamed.

    I don’t take much from sources like that.

  21. BigLoving says:

    So we are writing Ichiro off and calling him a bust after 27 AB’s? Fantastic.

    By the way the last signing by the “top of the hierarchy” in Rafeal Soriano didn’t work out so bad now did it? I guess saving the Yankees season by being one of the better stoppers in the game last year and netting the Yanks a much needed comp pick is just awful.

  22. Slu says:

    Glad to see the usual Yankee apologists are here to set everyone straight…jesus, this thread is something.

  23. EndlessJose says:

    Ichiro needs 390 hits to pass 3000.He hit only 160 last year and 170 the year before.Does the Yankees Brass really think he’ll hit 200 this year?

    Wells is getting paid $12 million this year and Ichiro has a multi year deal.This offseason has been a joke.

  24. trr says:

    The Steinbummers strike again; wish they’d stick to counting their $$$

  25. Garyward says:

    My guess is the “source” was Cashman. He will backtrack once/if Ichiro heats up and will try to take some credit for signing. Similar to last year. Cashman is an insecure lemming who should have been canned a long time ago.

  26. Jim Cavanaugh says:

    Cashman has always had run in’s with trying to do things his way & maybe it’s reached an apex who knows; i mean who can forget the way he got served by the upper heads w/ the Rafael Soriano escapade. Other things concerned me since; Brian’s rather obvious fear of international signings after the Igawa debacle and his curious affinity for former players who went out of here on sour notes which necessitated second runs with guys like Nick Johnson & Javy.

    Personally, i see his run ending here sooner than later. Guys like Friedman in TB & Daniels in Texas seem to be the wave of the future.

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