MOOSE JAW, CANADA – Even though it’s Saturday, I’m gonna give you my take on last week’s Ichiro trade, which along with the Penn State situation was the other big story as I prepared to leave town for a little vacay way up north. If you want my new rant about Penn State an the NCAA, click here.
I think the Ichiro story is still relevant to MTM Land. Why? Because “The Franchise” of MTM, aka Angry Ward, is a long time Seattle Mariner’s fan and Yankee-hater.
Personally, when I heard about the trade, the first thing I thought about was Gabe Paul.
For those of you too young to remember, Paul was part-owner and GM of the Cleveland Indians during the 1960s and early 1970s. He wasn’t able to do much with that team. His most notable move was bringing in a young Luis Tiant.
But in 1973, Paul left the Indians to become part of George Steinbrenner’s Cleveland-based investment group that purchased the Yankees from CBS. Steinbrenner then named Paul as his first GM, and Paul promptly traded for almost all of what what would become the fabled Bronx Zoo team of the late 1970s. Among the new faces were a slew from the Indians team he’d just left: Graig Nettles, Chris Chambliss, Oscar Gamble, and Dick “Dirt” Tidrow. In return for the starting corners and key contributors of a championship squad, his former team got, well, not much.
The whole thing always smelled fishy. And I’m reminded of that after the Yankees and Mariners pulled off their second blockbuster trade in a span of just six months. Of course there’s no connecting piece – like Gabe Paul – to explain it. But either way, Seattle has given away their two biggest draws to the Yankees.
First it was star pitcher Michael Piñeda for unproven prospect Jesus Montero. Piñeda’s out with a bum arm for now, but the guys’ scary good. At age 23 he’s already a Cy Young-caliber pitcher. Meanwhile, Montero’s hitting all of .257 as I write this, and he’s so bad behind the plate that the M’s mostly DH him.
And now Seattle has shipped off the face of their franchise, the one and only Mr. Suzuki for . . . well, not much.
The Mariners are one of the worst teams in baseball and Ichiro wanted out during the last year of his contract. That’s not an unusual story. But it seems to me Seattle got next to nothing: two almost-done 25-year-old minor leaguers. What’s more, the M’s will be paying some of what’s left on Ichiro’s $17,000,000 salary for the season.
What exactly was Seattle thinking?
They got nothing of merit in return for their most beloved player and still have to fork over tons of cash. If they’d held pat, they could have made money in August and September with an Ichiro farewell tour. Come see the Greatest Mariner before he departs via free agency! Yet, I don’t think there’s anything fishy in Denmark, or Seattle as the case may be. This isn’t some weird Gabe Paul thing, just some run-of-the mill questionable decision making. The important thing is this:
Angry Ward’s about to blow a gasket. And in an effort to see if we can send him over the top, I offer the following scenario.
Imagine, if you will, that Ichiro re-ups with the Bombers on a two-year contract. Then think about him collecting his 3000th hit while wearing pinstripes. That enough will cause conniptions. But wait. Now picture him entering Cooperstown five years later wearing an NY cap.
Won’t happen of course. But just the hint of a million-to-one chance that it could go down, might finally be enough to get AW to stroke-out.
I bet he’s already the color of cranberries just thinking about it.
Cheesy Bruin’s a real peach tomorrow.