Thursday, July 17, 2008

Trading Ichiro

The P-I's Jim Moore thinks the Mariners should trade Ichiro:
Nothing against Ichiro, but isn't it time to blow this thing up and start over? Realizing they had no shot at an NBA championship, the Sonics dealt Ray Allen to Boston and began a process that will someday turn Oklahoma City into a perennial contender.

When you blow things up, you don't hang on to your best player, especially one who will be 35 in October. You don't let the player's popularity get in the way. If you're truly serious about winning, you forget about the marketing consequences, understanding that a successful team is more essential to long-term fan appeal.
I think Moore's probably right. Ichiro isn't going to be around the next time the Mariners have their shit together, so it's probably a good idea to move him while he still retains a lot of value.

Not that it's a slam dunk, of course. Indeed, Moore runs a lot of quotes from Dave Cameron* over at U.S.S. Mariner who makes the case that, if for no other reason than fan confidence, the team needs to keep its biggest star (not that that's the only reason Cameron cites).

Regular reporters and columnists almost always go to experts to get added insight for their pieces, but you very rarely see it happening in the sports pages. Nine times out of ten this kind of piece would have been given the "I think the local team should trade player X, and there is no dispute about it" treatment. Moore is obviously capable of forming his own opinions about trading Ichiro here, but it's really nice to see him go to Cameron -- a guy who probably knows more about the Mariners than anyone on the planet -- for a dissenting voice, added flavor, or whatever. I'd like to see more of this.

I realize that Ichiro may be a special case in terms of marketing, but at the end of the day the Mariners need to run themselves like a baseball team. If I'm running that team I put him back in centerfield to maximize his value, start shopping, and take the best offer that comes my way.


Peter said...

If you're truly serious about winning, you also don't sign Kenji Johjima to a fat contract when you have Jeff Clement waiting to make him one of the worst-hitting 1B in the game. You can push all the other stuff (Soriano for Ramirez, Vidro as DH, wasting Morrow in the pen, drafting Fields, etc) on Bavasi if you wish, but we pretty much know that the Johjima contract was mandated by ownership.

Does anyone think that the people who insisted on giving an average Japanese catcher a big extension, despite having Clement waiting in the wings, will allow them to even think about dealing Ichiro?

Jason said...

Peter, you're being awfully kind to Kenji.

Daniel said...

I think this has to be an ownership thing. Their ownership, at least in part, is Japanese. The Mariners have a large fanbase beyond what we see at Safeco because of their popularity in Japan. I'm guessing that the revenue streams from that popularity might be of greater value to ownership than getting even two surefire star prospects. In this case, I think it might be smart to keep their best player and keep some money rolling in, even though he's 35.

I mean, are the Mariners really two prospects away from contending in 3 to 4 years? From what I hear, their farm system is pretty slim on top end talent and they took a college reliever in the first round this year. Keeping Ichiro is keeping them from being a laughingstock at this point.