M's 7-2 without Ichiro
Perhaps the kids feel like the room's been ventilated?

Q.  Does Dr. D like, or dislike, Ichiro on a personal level?

A.  He's one of my five favorite people-players of all time.  In many respects he, more than any baseball player I've seen, has upheld the human morals, ethics, and principles that a baseball organization should stand for.

He's kind of a Mr. Spock of baseball.  Mr. Spock would have approved of Ichiro's tenure in Seattle.  What's not to like about polite, dignified, restrained, considered professionalism?


Q.  Does SSI believe that it's a coincidence that, the very instant that Ichiro left the Mariners, they started playing joyfully, exuberantly and successfully?

A.  Like Commissioner Gordon told Tim Drake.  You're a detective now, son.  You don't believe in coincidences any more.


Q.  Supposing for a second that Ichiro's departure was a load off of the young Mariners' shoulders.  Why would that be?

A.  Dr. D, in real life, once joined a military / commercial organization as a consultant, and was given a few privileges and perks that did not apply to the people around him.  Several of the senior employees read this as "refusing to play by the same rules everybody else did" and bitterly resented it.  Despite Dr. D's charming personality, critical contributions, and general ability to cause axe heads to float on water, the entire organization fell apart over the ensuing, nonsensical, feud.  Budgets and schedules were missed, managers were fired, and general upheaval was beyond belief.

Dr. D doubts seriously that major league clubhouses are immune to these syndromes.  Ichiro was playing by his own rules, receiving illogical and extreme privileges, and stepping on others' toes in a context that did in fact make others' jobs much more difficult.  More difficult?  Ichiro's privileges made it impossible for others to attempt to do their jobs in some cases.


You have the fact that Ichiro was 10-15 years older than everybody else.  That he was a Hall of Famer.  That he outworked other people. That his disdain for others' foibles would have been palpable.  For some people, it had to have been kind of like having a disgusted batting coach sitting four feet away at all times.


I've also been part of organizations in which one person brought a less-than-pleasant ... well, let's say an "uncomfortable" ... presence to the offices every day.  It was a dampening influence on the entire work environment.  Then, when that person left, it was as though somebody opened a window.  Suddenly people who used to run for the elevator at 4:59 p.m. would lounge around until 5:30 p.m., just chatting and laughing and getting extra work done.




Q.  So the young M's maybe feel like the page has been turned?  Like it's their recess now and they get the four-square court?

A.  To me that's how they've visually appeared.  Jesus Montero tonight kind of fiddled the bat around in his brawny arms, took a relaxed swat at the ball, and easily lined it into right-center for a long single.  He just looked released.

I could be wrong.


Q.  It doesn't count, beating the Royals.

A.  Siiiigggghhhhhhh.  What are the Royals, 29-and-132?

The "Mariners can only beat the Royals" shtick makes for a good quip.  It makes for really lousy analysis.  The Royals have won over 40% of their games.   Let's not make 41-and-60 sound like they're a AAA team.


Q.  How's Ichiro doing in New York?

A.  He's on an 8-game hitting streak, has hit in every game since he got there, has three stolen bases (adds to 60 pro-rated).

People go, "well, he's still just hitting .250."  That misses the point.  Ichiro fanned (I think) 13 times in his last 20 games here; as a Yankee he has yet to strike out his first time (!).  He's hitting the ball hard, running with spring in his step, and just a coupla hard-hit balls through, he'd be hitting .300-and-plenty.

In New York they're talking about how good he looks.  The batting average itself is based on too few at-bats.  The 0 strikeouts, the line drives sprayed everywhere, the early returns are that Ichiro's liable to enjoy a rejuvenation.


Q.  All meaning what, for the M's, going forward?

A.  Sometimes it's funny what will ignite a team.  In 1995, the trade for Benes and Coleman helped a lot.  Sometimes a manager switch does it.  In 1975 the Cincinnati Reds moved Pete Rose to 3B and got another bat in the lineup at LF.  Sometimes it doesn't take much.  There's an important saying in baseball:  when a batter believes his slump is over, it probably is.

It's possible that the Ichiro Exit will mark the transition point for the Zduriencik Mariners.  This one bears watching, anyway, I'll tell ya that much.

If I'm Jack Zduriencik, this trade request fell into my lap like manna from heaven.  Weird how sometimes all the skill in the world means nothing, until you catch a break.  Then you're a genius.

Arigato Ichiro,

Dr D



Hey, I miss more than I hit ... (doesn't everyone in baseball?) ... but I called the NEED for Ichiro to depart months ago ... though I could not have given the rationale so eloquently.
My own view is that the "mental reset" of the All Star Break was sorely needed for a class of kids stuck in permanent cramming for exams mode. The change in the "energy" was almost certainly present in the week BEFORE Ichiro was traded. The club scored 9,9,7,6 against KC and took 3 of 4 with Ichiro. And they followed that up with 2 out of 3 wins against a much tougher Tampa team ... also before Ichiro's departure.
In fairness ... the "striking of the match" could be heard in those games from July 13-22. That said ... I think Ichiro's departure was lighter fluid onto the pile of glowing coals.
The problem with anyone pulling out the blame-thrower on Ichiro is that the complex reality is far more subtle than simple and direct cause and effect. Did Ichiro CAUSE the struggles of the kids? IMO, no. Kids are going to struggle. My view is more nuanced. Ichiro's continued presence was likely making those struggles longer and harder than they might have been otherwise. His departure likely accellerated or added fuel to the engine of change.
For all that ... it's still a bittersweet moment in the history of a team. I remember being emotionally crushed when the Braves allowed Dale Murphy to walk away. For most of my childhood, Dale Murphy was the one shiny gem glowing in the midst of a pile of incompetent ... gravel. I hated seeing him leave ... right up until the Braves became a playoff fixture. It was years later I grasped the simple truth -- that the Braves could not really have moved FORWARD, if they remained tethered to the icon of the previous decade of failure. This wasn't a commentary on Murphy directly ... he was nothing but class and talent from his first day until his last. But, you cannot wish away all of the associations that build up over time.
Though Ichiro was there for the 2001 peak ... overall, he will be far more associated with the decade of failure that followed. Great, great player. But, yes Virginia ... Seattle needed him to move on, so Seattle could move forward.

ghost's picture

Swapping out Smoak for a red hot Carp and deepening the line-up...and swapping out a bunch of struggling outfielders like Peguero for the increasingly interesting Trayvon Robinson have helped enormously.
Is it just me or does Robinson look much shorter and more compact to the baseball this year? His K rate was in fact down quite a bit in AAA this season.

glmuskie's picture

The M's offensive explosion against the Rangers earlier this year came with Ichiro riding the pine, iirc. I didn't think that was coincidence either.


Someone kept saying "don't judge this offense until it's had a full dose of healthy Carp."
Let's hope Thames can give it another jolt, and if we can figure out how to get Ack on track, we might have something.
And, yes, the Ichiro trade was addition by subtraction, for sure.  (And, lookee here, D.J. Mitchell went 7.0 IP, 0 ER last night.)


Moving on, sometimes, is a great thing.
Interesting how Iwakuma goes all Satchel Paige AFTER Ichiro wears pinstripes.
I've never really understood the conviction that you HAD to have a veteran presence to settle a team. It isn't absolutely needed. And we have Felix in the face-of-the-team role now, anyway. Is their any more veteran of a 26-yr old in the game?
And what's as important as Ichiro going is that ALL talk of M's demotion/promotion/trade talk is now done. We have a lineup of guys that know, for the next 50+ games, they are penciled in nearly everyday.
Relaxation helps focus.
Everytime we say, "OK, Mike Carp, go get 'em!" and he knows he's the guy, he starts to mash. There's a lesson here. Just give him the dang bat!
Wells and Saunders are locks to play nearly everyday. Jaso and Montero are now catching more than Olivo. Seager looks like a veteran on the field....AND he's only 24!
Ackley has started looking like Ackley.
Even Trayvon looks like a guy who has been told, "Just breath deep, you'll get your whacks."
Will see how Thames looks, probably tonight against Villanueva.
I think even Wedge, the Sarge, looks less like Sgt.Styker and more like Sgt. Bilko in the dugout now. He looks that relaxed.
And sometimes the key to managing better is to manage less (or less intensely). Seems to be less of the "Eddie Shore, Old-TIme Hockey" routine lately.
Billy Martin is the example of managing intensity that comes to mind. Tommy Lasorda is not. Both did just fine, thank you.
In fact, there's a little of the Lasorda Dodger's developing here.
The only guy in our lineup who you might even have a 1% notion about his having his career-type year is Jaso (144 OPS), but even he has a dang fair track record of being a productive MLB bat so it's hard to argue he won't produce well down the road. Three + of our guys are going to be SIGNIFICANTLY (maybe HUGELY) better at the plate next year. Is there any position where we will have significantly less production in '13? Uh uh! But we will have major improvements at one COF/1B/2B, at least.
We will be better.
And I love the attitude this team now has. We have players at every position (well, LF is still a bit of a question mark), the non-hitters now sit.....and there's a wiggle in our step.
Maybe Wedge has borrowed a bit from Tark the Shark's notebook, as well.
Ichiro is one of my 5 favorite all-time players, easily.....heck he might be my favorite. But I love the move we made...for him and for us.
Go team.


My dad and I were talking about this trade and were both happy it happened the way it did. Ichiro got love from the crowd in a way he hasn't for years and there was no awkward contract talks that would have only brought negative feelings to everyone.
The other component is that Ichiro was always and still is a better fit for the Yankees than the Mariners.
1. He is GQ model handsome and has a media presence that fits perfectly in New York.
2. Ichiro demands to be elite. He's proud that he is and isn't shy about it with his body language. He uses an interpreter so he always is talking to the fans through someone else, which I think Pac-NWers take some sort of offense to. It's almost like Ichiro's attitude isn't humble enough for this area. Elitism, arrogance, attitude, etc. are all positive qualities for a Yankee.
3. Ichiro doesn't and never would have been the 1 or 2 or 3 or ... superstar or the only superstar - Jeter's been the man before Ichiro came to the US not to mention the other 50% of the roster.
He's the married Japanese version of Derek Jeter and I mean that as a respectful compliment.


Didn't see the Mitchell start. Thanks.....
Hey Spec, (and I'm not trying to thread jack here...as I like this one) tell me what you know about Dario Pizzano, the M's 21-yr old Rookie League OF. He appears to be an on-base machine. 18 BB's/24 K's, OBP of .414 AND he had these numbers in college http://www.thebaseballcube.com/players/profile.asp?P=dario-pizzano .
Man, he has 53 BB's/34 K's over his last two (Soph/Jr) college years. OK, he played at Columbia, but much of that seems to be carrying over this year.
I did some youtube searches last night and he seems to be a guy who gets great lag with the bat, yet keeps it in the zone a long time...kind of like Ackley. His tater total went down in college as the bats changed, but he continued to whack. Ball jumps.
I'm intrigued, greatly.
What do you know.

ghost's picture

It's depressing watching an idol play like crud every day...think that some of this little rejuvenation might be because we don't have to watch Ichiro look old five times a game? Jr. Griffey was HORRIBLY depressing to watch at the end...Ichiro left before it got out of hand so the players may be glad that the situation is resolved and everyone is happy with how it was done.

goldie's picture

I've been seeing the "it's because of Ichiro" threads all over the web. SSI seems to be the most sensible M's oriented blog around so I have braved to comment here. No offense, but the whole it's all Ichiro’s fault smacks of the human nature we all have to find a scapegoat for the problem. I do like the sentiment that there is no coincidence. However, saying Ichiro is the answer is way too easy.
Several things coincide with Ichiro's departure. Smoak was sent south, Iwakuma hit his stride, Beavan, Carp moved to 1B, Montero recovered his stroke and Seager to an extent. New tryouts were brought in and Peguero soon after sent packing. That’s addition by subtraction and addition. It could easily be argued that management finally drew the line on hitting below MLB levels with the demotion of a way over privileged unproven bat. That will get your attention.
If anything Ichiro's exit made it clear that the joke of seriously competing for anything was over. It's all tryouts now fellas. The last guy that placed winning over developing just left the station. "Relax and have fun or you may be next", if I may interpret Wedge's call for playing relaxed ball post break. The threat of serious churn is as likely a motivator as anything.
Had there been more churn earlier we may have seen more players perk up sooner, perhaps. Just IMO, trying not to scapegoat.


Don't happen to remember the prediction but of course I know you're reporting it accurately.  That is one whale of a called shot.
Murphy sounds like another classic example.  ... it's a funny thing; this particular light bulb never really flicked on for me until this week.


The 1975 Reds were 22-22 or something ... moved Rose to 3B and got Foster into the lineup ... and went 41-10 from there.  It's not like they had no talent before the move!
We're talking about rosters that have talent, that isn't jelling for some reason, talent that's underperforming.  The 2012 Mariners have had a lot of unrealized offensive talent going for them.
Swapping Smoak for Carp was big; getting Iwakuma-san in there was big; Beavan throwing an offspeed game was ...
Still and all, it says here that the mood has changed.  We'll see.


It's not like Ichiro being here was an excuse for somebody else not to hit well.
In my mind, it's a situation where it's really nobody's fault necessarily:  it's just that you have a starting gun going off, BANG!, okay all positions on this team are now up for grabs.  Let's get on with the new era of earning your PT.
Agree that "scapegoating" arguments would be misdirected.  It's more of a positive angle, turning the page, getting on with life and with the new Felix locker room.

Lonnie of MC's picture

... along the lines that there are no coincidences, the removal of Ichiro has had a palpable effect on the Mariners. He was not THE problem, but he may have been the linchpin.
Or not... Regardless of whether Ichiro was THE problem, or even A problem, I am once again looking forward to the next Mariner game and enjoying myself.

Taro's picture

Or to be more blunt, Ichiro never fit on a loser.
Its too bad he didn't leave earlier as hes had to play the scapegoat for the past several years.

ghost's picture

Way to pull this game back from looking rather hopeless there...these Ms cannot be stopped! :)


Pizzano's numbers don't scream at me yet, but he's definitely a guy to watch.
First thing that jumps out is that he's a college guy playing at the rookie level, so he's a little older and more experienced than a lot of the opposition.  That doesn't mean you ignore his stats, only take that into account.
Second thing is that he's hitting a lot of singles and not very many doubles, which makes me question whether he'll have enough pop for a corner position.
But your analysis of the swing mechanics is a big help, because that's not something that I'm good at.
One guy you could check out is Chris Taylor, who is the same age as Pizzano and has a similar OBP, but is playing two levels higher and is also considered a Jack Wilson-y "pure shortstop."
I hope to get around to posting this video at Stalk with some commentary, but if you fast-forward to 10:15, you'll get Taylor's game-winning hit with multiple slo-mo replays.
Love to know what you think, and anyone else, of course.
(And if you watch the whole thing you'll see him turn a few double plays as well.)

EA's picture

Perhaps the M's need to trade for Ichiro and then trade him away again ;-)

Add comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd><p><br>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.


  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.