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Monday, July 16, 2012

Gleeman: Mariners GM expects to re-sign impending free agent Ichiro Suzuki despite declining production

Hopefully they plan to face him with the zeal of a salary-cutter.

Ichiro Suzuki is a 38-year-old impending free agent having the worst season of his brilliant career, hitting .258 with a .286 on-base percentage and .345 slugging percentage, but Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik made it very clear that he has no plans to trade the outfielder and in fact expects to re-sign him for next season.

“He’s going to be a Mariner,” Zduriencik told Jon Morosi of FOXSports.com. “We intend to keep him. I’m telling you, he’s going to be a Mariner. He’s a big part of this team. He’s a franchise player here, and we have phenomenal respect for him.”

The District Attorney Posted: July 16, 2012 at 11:07 PM | 52 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hall of fame, ichiro suzuki, mariners

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   1. Bhaakon Posted: July 17, 2012 at 08:18 AM (#4184599)
I can't believe that his contract is up already. It doesn't seem like it's been 5 years since people started complaining about it.
   2. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: July 17, 2012 at 08:22 AM (#4184603)
hitting .258 with a .286 on-base percentage and .345 slugging percentage

Oof.
   3. bunyon Posted: July 17, 2012 at 09:04 AM (#4184631)
Yeah, that is a brutal statline. But, if the Mariners are going to suck, and they are, may as well keep a fan favorite.


I assume he's a fan favorite, right?
   4. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 17, 2012 at 09:42 AM (#4184672)
Ichiro could re-sign himself to a contract if he wanted to.
   5. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: July 17, 2012 at 10:29 AM (#4184731)
Ichiro is about done.

The Mariners could and probably should keep him around another few years if he's cheap, but if he expects more than about 3/18 they're better off letting him walk. (Insert "but Ichiro doesn't walk!" witticism of your choice here.)

And yeah, like #1 I can't believe that contract is up already. I thought it was just last month David Samson was calling it the end of the world as we know it (I think those were his exact words). The Mariners got their money's worth out of it, I think.
   6. Ray (RDP) Posted: July 17, 2012 at 10:36 AM (#4184736)
WTF is going on with Seattle's offense this year? An 85 team OPS+? Is the park doing something screwy that normal park adjustments can't pick up?

EDIT: Upon closer inspection, I see that they indeed have wide home/road splits as a team as I had suspected: a .563 OPS at home, and a .723 OPS on the road. This is a team with some capable hitters.
   7. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: July 17, 2012 at 10:40 AM (#4184745)
Ray: To believe that you'd have to also believe they have a spectacularly bad pitching staff.

There's this thing called "talent". They don't have it. At least not on the major league team; the Mariners seem to have the same aptitude for failing to develop hitting talent that the Orioles have long had for pitching talent.
   8. The Good Face Posted: July 17, 2012 at 10:47 AM (#4184754)
WTF is going on with Seattle's offense this year? An 85 team OPS+? Is the park doing something screwy that normal park adjustments can't pick up?


Well, considering they put up an 82 team OPS+ last year and a 79(!) in 2010, I'd say they're on the road to victory.

Seriously though, it's not a bad question. Do they just have truly terrible hitters, or if there is something especially screwy about the park?
   9. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: July 17, 2012 at 10:51 AM (#4184756)
Is it possible they're doing a very poor job of identifying which offensive talents play best and worst in their particular park?
   10. Yonder Alonso in misguided trousers (cardinal) Posted: July 17, 2012 at 10:55 AM (#4184760)
Kyle Seager (the 3rd baseman) is hitting .167/.275/.264 at home and .313/.343/.548 on the road. So there must be at least some talent there, I would think. I mean, I doubt he's as good as the road numbers (which aren't spectacular, but are serviceable), but he can't be as bad as those home numbers are. He wouldn't be the starter if he was.
   11. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: July 17, 2012 at 10:57 AM (#4184761)
Seriously though, it's not a bad question. Do they just have truly terrible hitters, or if there is something especially screwy about the park?

The park didn't slow this team down. I think the simplest explanation is they just suck.
   12. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: July 17, 2012 at 11:05 AM (#4184771)
It seems to me like if you're playing in a severe pitchers' park then above all you want patient hitters, since the park makes no difference in walk rates. But the Mariners DO have patient hitters--Smoak, Ackley, Brendan Ryan and Casper Wells all have excellent walk rates, and Michael Saunders and the aforementioned Kyle Seager knows how to take a walk too. But the other hitters in their lineup (Ichiro!, Montero, Olivo or whoever's playing catcher today) are so completely useless that there's no one to drive those runners in, not even with singles.
   13. Esoteric Posted: July 17, 2012 at 11:09 AM (#4184777)
There's this thing called "talent". They don't have it. At least not on the major league team; the Mariners seem to have the same aptitude for failing to develop hitting talent that the Orioles have long had for pitching talent.
Dear god it's true.

And, in an irony Zeth can appreciate, they traded the ONE legitimate homegrown hitting talent that they had developed in years (Adam Jones) to the Orioles for the one legitimate homegrown pitching talent that THEY had developed in years (Erik Bedard).

Guess who won that trade?
   14. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: July 17, 2012 at 11:15 AM (#4184787)
That's excellent, Esoteric. Clearly what Duquette needs to do is call Seattle and start offering pitchers (non-Bundy division) for Ackley or Smoak or both. Profit! should come soon behind.
   15. Esoteric Posted: July 17, 2012 at 11:15 AM (#4184788)
Is it possible they're doing a very poor job of identifying which offensive talents play best and worst in their particular park?
You have to think they would know how to figure this out, since WE can figure it out, but then again: this is the team that gave Adrian Beltre a mega-contract to play in a home park that might as well been designed by General Zod out of kryptonite to specifically suppress Beltre's power.

Thankfully AB was just so damn good that he still earned the value on that contract, and has gone on to prove his worth with other teams since. But ugh. I got so sick of having to defend Beltre to people who joked about how his Dodger homers in 2004 either had to have clearly been "steroids!" or an embarrassing Gary Matthews, Jr.-esque fluke that bilked the M's out of a ton of cash. My two-pronged defense was: 1.) No, Beltre's still a fine hitter, it's just that Safeco viciously suppresses his numbers unlike any other park in the league; 2.) He's still worth it because of his glove, his awesome habit of appealing his own check swings to the 1B ump, and his reaction to being touched on the head.

Rarely seemed to work.
   16. bfan Posted: July 17, 2012 at 11:20 AM (#4184797)
Come one, their talent isn't that bad; the stadium is making the same distortions on batters and hitters that Coors did in its hey-day (just in the opposite direction). Someone said something about this year cold and wet conditions (is that the cause)?

You know what King Felix has as a road ERA this year? 3.79 (which is not so kingly and may not even be princely). It is his home 2.21 that masks his current level of success.

Justin Smoak looks historically bad because of his home performance; on the road for a full season, he is a 30 HR kind of low average guy.
   17. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: July 17, 2012 at 11:30 AM (#4184809)
Seattle pitchers:

Home OPS allowed: 614
Road OPS allowed: 788

   18. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: July 17, 2012 at 11:32 AM (#4184811)
Come one, their talent isn't that bad; the stadium is making the same distortions on batters and hitters that Coors did in its hey-day (just in the opposite direction). Someone said something about this year cold and wet conditions (is that the cause)?

Hmmm. Maybe it has something to do with the park and the weather? The conspiracy theorist in me thinks maybe MLB dampened the bounce on the balls a couple of years ago to get past the steroid "scandals" and maybe this is affecting large parks on the coast more than others? It would explain Oakland becoming a graveyard for hitters, also. Then again, the Giants have had some good offensive performances. So, hell, I don't know.
   19. andrewberg Posted: July 17, 2012 at 11:33 AM (#4184812)
Dave Cameron wrote about this subject on fangraphs a couple of weeks ago. He said that temperature has been a contributing factor this year because Seattle has been WAY below seasonal temp averages all year, and the colder temps are killing the offense despite wetter air. Essentially, the M's have had a small handful of home games with favorable weather conditions for hitters.
   20. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: July 17, 2012 at 11:37 AM (#4184817)
Come one, their talent isn't that bad


The team is hitting .230/.292/.359, the league is at .256/.322/.412, if OPS+ didn't adjust for park it'd be at 78...

OTOH the team is hitting .256/.306/.417 on the road versus .196/.275/.288 at home...

their home era is 3.09, on the road it is 4.69...

their one year park factor is 85

so it is an extreme pitchers park
and the Mariners are also bad

BTW Smoak's career road numbers are .237/.304/.399... as a 1B that is BAD
   21. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: July 17, 2012 at 11:40 AM (#4184819)
Justin Smoak looks historically bad because of his home performance; on the road for a full season, he is a 30 HR kind of low average guy.


1969-2012, 1Bs with 1000+ PAs:

Rk Player OPS+
1 Dave McCarty 76
2 Mike Squires 78
3 Tony Muser 82
4 Justin Smoak 87
5 Ken Harvey 88
6 Todd Benzinger 88
7 Tom Hutton 88
8 Brian Hunter 89
9 Broderick Perkins 89
10 Pete LaCock 89 
   22. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: July 17, 2012 at 11:47 AM (#4184829)
The A's are hitting .168 at Safeco this year in 204 PA's and .228 overall. I don't know if that means anything, but it's ####### terrible.
   23. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: July 17, 2012 at 11:48 AM (#4184832)
If we took 1994/1995 Greg Maddux and put him in 2012 Safeco with a good defense behind him, would he ever give up a run?
   24. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: July 17, 2012 at 11:49 AM (#4184835)
If we took 1994/1995 Greg Maddux and put him in Safeco with a good defense behind him, would he ever give up a run?

Maybe a pity run, now and then.
   25. andrewberg Posted: July 17, 2012 at 11:50 AM (#4184836)
If we took 1994/1995 Greg Maddux and put him in 2012 Safeco with a good defense behind him, would he ever give up a run?


What if it was Brett Lawrie playing third and Mr. Toronto Shift playing short RF. Teams would struggle to hit .100!
   26. Ray (RDP) Posted: July 17, 2012 at 11:59 AM (#4184853)

What if it was Brett Lawrie playing third and Mr. Toronto Shift playing short RF. Teams would struggle to hit .100!


I don't know why the Jays need 6 other players in the field, with Lawrie being the greatest defensive player ever.
   27. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: July 17, 2012 at 12:02 PM (#4184859)
I don't know why the Jays need 6 other players in the field, with Lawrie being the greatest defensive player ever.

We should call him Brett Bunny.
   28. andrewberg Posted: July 17, 2012 at 12:04 PM (#4184861)
We should call him Brett Bunny.


Bugs Lawrie would actually be a really funny nickname.
   29. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: July 17, 2012 at 12:06 PM (#4184865)
seager's splits are crazy

kid is slugging over .500 on the road
   30. McCoy Posted: July 17, 2012 at 12:19 PM (#4184878)
Why would anyone give Ichiro a multi-year deal?
   31. BFFB Posted: July 17, 2012 at 12:19 PM (#4184880)
Is it possible they're doing a very poor job of identifying which offensive talents play best and worst in their particular park?


Or they are doing an extremely good job but somebody has switched the headings for "aquire" and "do not aquire" in Excel.
   32. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: July 17, 2012 at 12:28 PM (#4184896)
Why would anyone give Ichiro a multi-year deal?


I suspect he's still very marketable. If you're not going to win anything over the next two or three years anyway...
   33. madvillain Posted: July 17, 2012 at 12:30 PM (#4184901)
I really hope Jack Z is just blustering here. I listen to a pretty good amount of Seattle Sports talk on my daily commute, and the fans (however representative this chunk that calls sports radio is) are ready to pack Ichiro's bags themselves.

I'm sure there is a certain group of fans that won't come out to the ballpark if there hero is no longer there, but there is a much larger set of fans that are sick and tired of #### teams, and realize that Ichiro, at this point, is a huge reason why their team is ####. They have around an 80 million dollar payroll, and 17 of those million are going to a replacement level RF, that's not good.
   34. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: July 17, 2012 at 12:33 PM (#4184905)
I don't think anyone is suggesting they pay $17 million a year to Ichiro! after this year. More like $5-6 million a year, if that, and that only because of the marketing value.

Of course, this all assumes Ichiro! wants to stay in Seattle and wind up his career playing for a bad team. But then again I don't think any good teams are going to be promising him a starting gig.
   35. Petunia inquires about ponies Posted: July 17, 2012 at 02:32 PM (#4185061)
Interesting discussion. So per [20], they are ALMOST average on the road. Except that the league overall #s also include a few PA's at Safeco...

Re Ichiro! and TFE, my initial take was that this is pretty much the dreaded "vote of confidence" statement that can be read as near-certain confirmation of the opposite of what is being said.
   36. Joey B. is being stalked by a (Gonfa) loon Posted: July 17, 2012 at 03:06 PM (#4185106)
Why would anyone give Ichiro a multi-year deal?

Most teams wouldn't at this point. But Ichiro is a Japanese living legend, and the Mariners are owned by Nintendo and thus have close ties to Japan, which I suspect is the main reason why they will.
   37. DL from MN Posted: July 17, 2012 at 03:09 PM (#4185110)
Ichiro could be a useful piece as the LH/defense half of an outfield platoon. I think he's done as an everyday player. That's probably worth $3M to the Mariners.
   38. Monty Predicts a Padres-Mariners WS in 2016 Posted: July 17, 2012 at 03:13 PM (#4185114)
Is Jack Zduriencik still a genius?
   39. vortex of dissipation Posted: July 17, 2012 at 03:14 PM (#4185119)
I assume he's a fan favorite, right?


Yes. He's also still the lynchpin of the M's marketing. If you hear a radio or TV ad for an upcoming game, it's still likely to be something like, "Come see Ichiro, Felix, and the rest of the Mariners take on the Yankees at Safeco Field July 23-25."
   40. Tripon Posted: July 17, 2012 at 03:20 PM (#4185126)
Ichiro's probably an owner's favorite as well. You do not want to piss off Nintendo. They might take away your free 3DS, and don't even think you'll get a free Wii U if you don't re-sign Ichiro.
   41. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: July 17, 2012 at 03:21 PM (#4185127)
Is Jack Zduriencik still a genius?


If "genius" is defined as "someone who's not very good at putting together a baseball team," he's Albert Einstein times Stephen Hawking.
   42. vortex of dissipation Posted: July 17, 2012 at 03:24 PM (#4185133)
Most teams wouldn't at this point. But Ichiro is a Japanese living legend, and the Mariners are owned by Nintendo and thus have close ties to Japan, which I suspect is the main reason why they will.


The only time we know that Hiroshi Yamauchimi has stepped in to influence a personnel decision since he bought the team was to tell the Mariners to sign Ichiro at all costs when he came over in 2000. It's not impossible to think Yamauchimi still has that sort of regard for Ichiro and has issued a similar edict. Yamauchimi is not that much of a baseball fan; he does know how famous Ichiro is in Japan (a few years ago a poll reported that he was the second most recognizable person in Japan, second only to the emperor, and he's not going to sign Akihito.)

Is Jack Zduriencik still a genius?


See above. If he's making this statement on orders from above, there's nothing he can do about it.
   43. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: July 17, 2012 at 03:35 PM (#4185147)
Is Jack Zduriencik still a genius?

6th best genius.
   44. MM1f Posted: July 17, 2012 at 03:37 PM (#4185153)
I mean, I doubt he's as good as the road numbers, [.313/.343/.548](which aren't spectacular, but are serviceable)


A 900 OPS is only serviceable?
   45. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: July 17, 2012 at 04:48 PM (#4185218)
Some of the fans in Seattle are attached to Ichiro just because he's famous, but really people just want good players to root for. None of the promising position players in Seattle ever seem to turn out. Smoak's been disappointing, Ackley and Montero haven't really done much, and while Wells/Carp/Gutierrez could be good, they all get hurt and haven't really played to their potential. It's even more frustrating when players leave Seattle to become bigger stars elsewhere - Beltre, Jones and Morse all left Seattle and found great success. It just feels like the team is cursed or something.
   46. The District Attorney Posted: July 17, 2012 at 08:27 PM (#4185420)
Jay Buhner is making sense:
Salk asked Buhner what his reaction would be if Ichiro was brought back for three years, $35 million or $40 million -- which works out to just over half the yearly salary he's now earning.

"I'd vomit,'' Buhner said. "I mean, really, no offense. No offense, we've got to get this organization turned around. You can't be spending all the money on one guy.''

Buhner went on to say that he doesn't necessarily blame Ichiro for all the team's problems. He said he'd understand if the Mariners wanted to bring him back "as part of the equation" and have a fit on a rebuilding squad.

"But at the same time, they need help desperately,'' Buhner said. "They need some veteran leadership in the clubhouse. Wedgie (manager Eric Wedge) can't keep growing the beard, growing the mustache, shaving it off, that's not the answer.''

Buhner went on to say he's a big Wedge fan, but that "quite frankly, he's exposed" and needs help from within the organization.
   47. vortex of dissipation Posted: July 17, 2012 at 08:48 PM (#4185460)
An excellent, thoughtful article.

Still, when I look at how this season is unfolding, it bothers me that the mere mention of Ichiro these days is greeted by negativity all around. Yesterday's mention that he could possibly return to the Mariners in 2013 set off a Twitter firestorm within minutes. And it got me thinking that there is one more thing I'd like to write about Ichiro before giving the topic a rest for the remainder of the season.

And that is, to remind everyone: we are very likely witnessing the final months of Ichiro's storied career.
   48. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: July 17, 2012 at 10:59 PM (#4185697)
M's team OPS:

2011 - .623 Home, .658 Road
2010 - .623 Home, .651 Road
2009 - .712 Home, .719 Road

Opponents team OPS:

2011 - .667 home, .728 road
2010 - .663 home, .768 road
2009 - .685 home, .737 road

The park is certainly a pitcher's park, but this year's splits are probably exaggerated due to small sample size. I think the more likely scenario is that the hitters still suck and that there will be some regression to the mean for both the home and road numbers in the second half.
   49. Everybody Loves Tyrus Raymond Posted: July 17, 2012 at 11:11 PM (#4185703)
I assume with this kind of organizational support Ichiro still has a pretty good shot at 3,000 hits. But he's going to have to at least keep hitting .250 as a regular for another three years. May be a tall order.
   50. Ray (RDP) Posted: July 17, 2012 at 11:15 PM (#4185705)
And that is, to remind everyone: we are very likely witnessing the final months of Ichiro's storied career.


As I've said before, I'll be happy to bet a b-r page sponsorship that Ichiro does not retire at the end of the year.
   51. The Yankee Clapper Posted: July 17, 2012 at 11:17 PM (#4185706)
He said that temperature has been a contributing factor this year because Seattle has been WAY below seasonal temp averages all year, and the colder temps are killing the offense despite wetter air.

BBTF might have to revisit the global warming issue, again.
   52. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: July 17, 2012 at 11:22 PM (#4185707)
"I'd vomit,'' Buhner said. "I mean, really, no offense."


Buhner has correctly identified the problem here.

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