Thursday, July 26, 2012

Ichiro a Yankee, Other Big Moves

A surprise trade happened earlier this week with Ichiro Suzuki getting traded to the Mariners for two pitching prospects. Ichiro had spent his whole MLB career with the Mariners, and before that spent 7 seasons in the Japanese league. Ichiro has made 10 All Star appearances, has 10 Gold Gloves, won two batting titles, won the 2001 AL Rookie of the Year, and was named 2001 AL MVP. Ichiro also set a single season record in 2004 with 262 hits. For his career, Ichiro has over 2,500 hits, and could reach 3,000 if he plays long enough. He also has over 400 steals as well.

The only thing missing from Ichiro's resume is a World Series ring. He has only played in the postseason once, during his rookie year when the Mariners won 116 games. The Mariners fell to the Yankees in the ALCS that year, and Seattle hasn't been back to the playoffs since. Ichiro is 38 now, and I'm sure he's ready to play for a contender after years of playing on bad Mariners teams.

Ichiro isn't the player he used to be, though. Last season, Ichiro only batted .272, the first time in his career that he hasn't batted over .300. This year, he is only batting .262. Ichiro isn't as quick as he used to be, but is still above average on the basepaths. Ichiro is still a good defender as well, but he's not at an elite level like he used to be. Still, a trade to a contender should energize Ichiro, and he might get a boost in play now that he's surrounded by good players.

Yankees GM Brian Cashman asked Ichiro if he was willing to bat lower in the order, play left field, and take some days off. Ichiro was willing to do that to play for a contender. Ichiro has plenty of personal achievements, so at this point of his career he's willing to do what it takes to be on a winning team. With Brett Gardner out for the year, Ichiro should provide a boost for the Yankees.

It looks like the Marlins are having another fire sale this year. Their spending spree in the offseason hasn't worked out, and they are currently 7 games under .500. Mark Buehrle has worked out well, but Jose Reyes, Carlos Zambrano, and especially Heath Bell haven't worked out as well. Manager Ozzie Guillen has also stirred up controversy. They traded Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez to the Tigers for Jacob Turner and other prospects. They have put Josh Johnson on the market. They traded away onetime franchise cornerstone Hanley Ramirez to the Dodgers on Wednesday for two pitching prospects.

Han-Ram is only three seasons removed from winning the batting title. From 2007 to 2010, Ramirez batted over .300, hit over 20 home runs, and stole over 25 bases each season. In 2011, Ramirez had a subpar year, and batted .243 and missed 70 games. This year, Ramirez moved from shortstop to third base to accomadate Reyes. His defense was average at best at short. Ramirez' average was down again this year, but he was hitting for more power.

Even with Han-Ram's struggles the last couple of seasons, he's still a vast improvement from Juan Uribe and Adam Kennedy. With Dee Gordon out as well, Ramirez could play some short as well. A change of scenery could do Ramirez well. The Dodgers are hoping so, because they need another bat to go along with Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. Currently, they are 2.5 games back from the Giants in the West.

Another big move made recently was the Phillies signing Cole Hamels to a six year, $144 million extension. Hamels is now the second highest paid pitcher ever after the Yankees CC Sabathia. The Phillies now have three pitchers making $20 mil plus a year, with Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee being the others. Even with that, it's been a dissapointing season for the Phillies,and they are currently in last place. Hamels is a three time All Star, and the 2008 World Series MVP. For his career, Hamels is 85-58, with a 3.38 ERA, and a 1.14 WHIP. This signing leaves Zack Greinke as the only ace pitcher on the free agent market this offseason.

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