Could Ichiro have been an Oriole?

July 24, 2012 | James Finn

So, Ichiro in pinstripes, huh?

Yesterdays trade seem to out of nowhere, and rendered a gasp heard all around the MLB. Chalk another on up for the “Evil Empire”.

It got me thinking: Was it public knowledge that Ichiro was on the trade block?  How did the Yankees give up essentially nothing to collect Ichiro.  The Mariners even tossed in cash to cover a significant chunk of his salary.  The players the Yankees offered up, no names with seemingly little potential.  This deal has the fowl stench of back room deals politicians make make with snake oil salesmen.

Ichiro said during his press conference that he wanted a chance to play for a contender, while allowing Seattle to give an opportunity to younger players to play and develop.  Well, my friend, believe it or not, the Orioles are still contenders.

Would the Orioles have had a chance to match, or even sweeten the offer?  Even as a .261 hitter this season, Ichiro would almost certainly hit lead off on this team (still has speed, a more natural lead off hitter then Markakis).  Granted, we don’t need help in the outfield, but since the Orioles have consistently been in the practice of adding aging veterans to the roster (i.e – Thome, Tejada, Guerrero, Sosa, Tejada again), this would be a deal that would be right in the wheelhouse of the front office.  Imagine for a second, and outfield with Ichiro, Jones, and Markakis.  Without question, this would have been the best defensive, if not outright, outfield in baseball.  It wouldn’t have solved the holes at 1B and 3B, but regardless, when the Birds acquired Thome, we didn’t “need” a DH, but the deal has started to pay off over the past road trip.

Any team chasing a playoff spot that doesn’t jump at the chance to add an Ichiro to their roster, quite frankly, is bonkers.  I have no idea what the market is for him, but with so many teams in contention, he could have been worth a kings ransom to an overzealous GM.

The Mariners, I feel, reacted too quickly in this scenario.  Ichiro, who gave so much of himself, wanted a chance to play for a contender.  He’s a future Hall of Fame player, He’s earned it.  The front office bent over backwards to facilitate a quick trade, and it just so happened the Yankees were in town.  Should Ichiro had longed to play for a contender early in the month, when the O’s were in town, things could have been different.

If Ichiro really wanted to help out the franchise that treated him like a golden god for over a decade, he’d have allowed them time to negotiate a bigger deal, that strengthens their roster for the future, not . I strongly feel that if it were announced he was on the market, the Mariners would have had several suitors lined up making offers.  They’d have a tougher decision then Emily Manard on the Bachelorette over who to pick*.

The Orioles have done business in the past with the Mariners.  We were able to dump that bum Erik Bedard off on them, and in exchange, got a franchise player in Adam Jones (who by the way, leads the Orioles in nearly every offensive category this season), George Sherril (who by the way, was an All-Star closer during his time here), and Chris Tillman (who by the way, has only given up 2 earned runs since being called up to the 25 man roster this season).  If the Mariners truly wanted AA level arms, we’ve got tons of em. Take your pick!

All in all, I can’t fault Ichiro for going to the Yankees.  I’m probably just a little sour the Yankees found a way to get better.  I don’t mind Yankee player like the Jeters, Riveras, Posadas, those that came through the originization.  I don’t like the scores of players (Rodriguez, Texiera, Giambi, Mussina, Clemens, Sabathia, Damon) who found success elsewhere, then sold his soul for the chance at a ring.  Seems we can add Ichiro to this list now.

I think it’d been nice to see him finish out his career in the Blue and Green uniform that suited him so well for so long.  It’s so rare that a player sticks out an entire career in just one city.  Even if he wins a championship this season, it’ll just be a footnote, and won’t be what he’s remembered for.

Ichiro, as far as I’m concerned, will still be a Mariner.  Even if he had ended up wearing Orange and Black in Charm City.

*Note: I’ve never seen an episode of the Bachelorette.  I had to Google her name. Coincidentally, the finale was last night.  I didn’t read far enough, nor do I care, who she ended up with.

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