M's Close to Picking Up Ichiro?
Baseball's Bruce Lee could be preparing to kick the M's OF up a level


Greg Johns makes it sound quite possible or even probable, while Jon Heyman makes it sound like a done deal.  Ben Gamel's oblique has him out for an admitted 4-6 weeks and you know what the consensus of the Denizens is on this injury.

Dr. D had always thought this would be a fun solution to the M's outfield depth, provided of course that Ichiro doesn't insist on 550 AB's.  Obviously he doesn't, since he's been at 215-438 the last four (4) years.

The Mainframe warns not to let Ichiro's slash line (.255/.318/.322) in 2017 fool you.  For one thing, he went .309/.398/.393 in the second half, which full-season would have been his best since 2007.  For another thing, he's been bouncing up and down on the batting average for 5 years.  A return to his original MLB home could be just the thing to energize him.


Ichiro swears he'll play MLB until he's 50.  HQ notes that his SX finally dropped from the 135 level he'd sat at for many years to about 89 last year.  Strangely, they project him conservatively at 117 SX next year.  As SABRMatt points out, an injury can drastically take out your SX.  Dr. D enjoyed watching Rickey play here at age 41 and although it will be age 44 for Ichiro, it's safe to say that the lighter, more balletic Ichiro should project to perform better past his 40's.

HQ also complains about the 1 in Ichiro's SB column, but his opportunities were down to 3% (from their normal 15-18%) and his actual SB% at 50%. 

Here is Lookout Landing's take on the situation, a quite useless twenty sentences' worth of "ahahahahahaha!" while allowing that it could work.  (?!)  Here is Fangraphs' more serious article on the subject.  They also clearly state that they have no idea whether he'll play well, but gingerly guess that he'll play at replacement level for a few months (0.0 WAR) and then retire with dignity.  

Dr. Detecto does not cover his behind by straight-facedly allowing for 12 different possibilities:  our prediction is that Ichiro will reach deep into his Safeco soul to produce. A .280 AVG and plus defense, with basepath contribution, would set Ichiro as one of baseball's best role players, at least for the first half.


As Greg Johns points out, the Mariners are a team open to bringing back aging team stars, such as Griffey and Vizquel almost came back.  Also they're not at all averse to aging non-team stars such as Mike Sweeney.   Then again they're big on Japanese players, with the best example being their persistence in trying to rehabilitate Hisashi Iwakuma.

The Mainframe guesses that Ichiro still has the needle at about 1/8 to 1/4 on the gas tank, as he adjusts the magic wand towards pool-cue singles through the left side and wrings whatever kinds of singles are left out of the towel he's swinging.   I guess you and I would have to wait and see -- in his first ST week -- whether HQ is right about his legs being gone.  It would surprise me if that were true.

But watching Ichiro have a .300/.400/.400 half season in Safeco Field, while running down gappers in RF, now that would be my idea of a fun consolation prize for a lifeless winter.


Dr D




at https://seattlesportsinsider.slack.com/messages/C9FMJRJVA/ .  With a good sampling of SSI Denizens already in.  Should be the supplementary chat the users were looking for, and a strengthening of the community's bond actually, without disrupting Klat's patent goals or their way of developing the tech here.  For example when an article is posted here, a message notification shows up there.


In that chat, they point out Sullivan's use of BP's sprint-speed timing which last year had Ichiro's equal to Seager's.  This is represented in HQ's SX score.  If Ichiro signs we'll be able to get a look for ourselves what he's got left in the tank as far as footspeed.  Would be surprised to see Dipoto sign him if a winter's rest had not restored some power to his legs.


...If that is still what they were using in 2013, that consists of watching footage of a player's balls in play, selecting those balls in play where the bitter was deemed to be running as hard as possible (grounders they were trying to beat out or extra base hits where speed was crucial) and getting frame numbers for contact and then foot touching first.

There isn't a more accurate way to measure speed than that, other than the statcaat player tracking.

If he ran like Seager when running hard, that's extremely bad.

We'll know immediately I'd that's all he has now.


... love this.  Remember when they re-signed Jr?  It may not have worked out so well in the long run, but at the outset it was a beautiful thing.  Additionally, Ichiro works at taking much better care of himself than Griffey ever did, and also seems to expect a higher standard of performance from himself.  On the flip side, if this signing occurs, I would hope that Ichiro would leave his earlier standoffishness behind.  Perhaps age has mellowed him a bit in that area.  One can hope -- right?



Ichiro indeed had an off year running so let’s hope it was due to injury. It probably was – I doubt many people would bet on Kyle Seger to tie Ichiro in a 40 yard dash this week in spring training.

In any case h is HQ-conceded ability to bang a single, and the clinic he puts on in right field, should make his return fun to watch. :- ). Dr D is 100% bullish on 2018 Ichiro in a 300-AB role.


Gamel out 4-6?  Dangnation.

With that, then Ford may indeed stay up AND get some ST RF time.  Andreoli has a shot.  I'm a big Bishop fan.  Heredia?  As a the short end of a platoon, maybe.  He's been mostly worthless vs. RHP.

But Ichiro for a bit would be real cool.  However, parting with him in early May would be a tough organizational call.


The Mariners lead all of organized baseball in the rarely-used but crucial IMCLUMSY - Injured Myself: Cause Largely Unknown, Muscle Strain Yet (Again).


Am very skeptical about the usefulness of this move.  We were talking earlier about the difficulty of squeezing in all the talent already on the roster.  Gamel being out for at least a few weeks of the season potentially opens a spot (I'd rather have Ford on the bench if he's ok in LF).  But that's probably only a small chunk of the season.  Ichiro on the bench plus an 8 man BP seems like a very weak bench to me.  Just Ichiro, Romine and Marjama?

I'll hope to see Gamel- like production but with some speed.  I'm not going to root against him. 


was 27.5 ft/s, top 1/3 or so alongside Adam Jones and Rougned Odor, as opposed to last year’s 26.6.

in either case he’ll probably need to spray thos singles at .280 plus (worth gambling on IMHO) , and put on the clinic in RF (a given), to contribute As a role player.  In any case I’d like to be there Opening Day :- )


And there's probably no reason he couldn't start over Heredia on Opening Day.  Would be fun to hear the crowd :- ) 

Like Wishhiker says, they're going to have to go to the Tacoma Trolley more heavily (7 RP's) or something if they want to keep Mike Ford (or Vogelbach for that matter).  But they were going to need a fast, versatile 4th OF in any scenario, and with Gamel out, not sure who would fill that slot better than Ichiro - 


at this point are all capable CF gloves, Heredia being the main backup but Haniger good enough there for stints.  The last outfielder should have some offensive tools but I can see a case for Ichiro still bringing that. 


Ichiro works best as a (reverse) platoon guy vs. LHP.  He's hit .278, .339 and .340 vL the past three seasons. I thought that was his best role for a '18 M's team. 

But, Ichiro or not, he's mostly been worthless vs. RHP.  In '15 he was a vR .514 OPS guy (341 PA's).  In '16 it was .700 (295) and it was .607 (158) last season. 

Heredia is a career .591 vR guy.

If we assume that Gamel misses 5 weeks (splitting the difference), that makes him available for game play on April 12th.  Give him a week of AAA, and we get him on the 19th.  We will have had 17 games by then.  I will suggest that it is more likely that we use Cruz in RF vs. RHP than it is that we roll Ichiro or Heredia out there vR for that whole time.  Motter is a .593 vR guy, so he doesn't work well.  Cruz in RF allows us to use Ford vR.  There is some logic there.

Romine and Perkins really struggle vs. RHP.  Nieuwenhuis is a career .728 guy, vR, with 28 HRs.  Lake is a career .599 guy, and he's likely not that good right now.

Bishop has hit .303/.371, .275/.337, .309/.394 vs. RH in three professional seasons.  I am a pretty big fan.  Chuck Taylor ("All-Star"), a switchhitter, was at .270/.365 in AA and Winter Ball last season. 

But Cruz and Ford might be our best vR combo. 


might actually often be a hole much of the early going?  As a team they had a .760 OPS last year vs RHP (.716 VS LHP) so that's not as much of a worry.  This has been the case for years, that hitting lefties has been the weak side.  In that respect Ichiro makes more sense.

Haniger was .877 vs RHP .734 vs LHP

Zunino was .827/.883

Segura was .762/.819

I hope for more PA this year from all 3 than last year. 


It is one of the easiest way to ask yourself questions about a player.  Like did Ichiro change after the All Star Break.  The guy's got 17 season in MLB and another 10 in Japan, so what could he change right?  Well, here's the thing; from mid-July 2013 through July of 2016, Ichiro hit 3 home runs in 1,151 AB, while striking out 13% of the time, then, from August of 2016 through June 2017, he hit 3 homers in just 234 AB while striking out 19.3% of the time; 28% of his hits were XBH with a .273 BABiP.  By June, 2017, Ichiro was striking out 23.6% of the time (season total).  One almost wonders whether someone FINALLY convince Ichiro to try out his power swing...at 43 - who knows.  But from July 1st forward, a very intersting version of Ichiro appeared, he hit just one more home run, but struck out less than 10% of the time while walking a surprising 11.8%, XBH made up 17% of his hits (.333 BABiP).  Of course that was just 110 PA, but he had just come off 3 consecutive months of striking out more than 20% of the time, so at least it shows that there was real improvement to his game.  

Like with Dee Gordon, I went to the tape, and sure enough, there's a batting stance change.  Early in 2017, Ichiro seems to hold his hands a little higher, bend his knees a little more, and hold the bat head nearly perpendicular above his shoulderAs the season progressed past July, the bat head started to tilt up, and Ichiro's posture became a bit more upright overall, and to my eyes, his swing looks a bit slower, like he's coming back to KBITZLT...or whatever you guys call it (Keep the Bat In The Zone a Long Time?).  I figure I might as well get myself a little hopeful for some actual production, what do you guys think?


Ok, I'm seeing more possibility for actual value.  Thanks for the insights, that's all really interesting.  

Pete Rose did put up .264/.395/.319 at 44, so it's not even unprecedented at around his age.  I'd also wager Ichiro is much healthier in that comparison.  Julio Franco's .810 OPS age 45-46 run isn't the same player type at all.  Makes one wonder why Ty Cobb retired at 41 after a .323/.389/.431 season.  I guess the .366 Career BA would have continued to suffer.

On that note, is R.A. Dickey the next shoe?  Shoot, he's young. 



Can't say I'm at all excited by this. I didnt watch the Ms or baseball between 1999 and 2008. So I missed all of Ichiros heroics and have no real connection to him. He was good in 2009 and 2010 as well I think, but my memory of 2011 and then 2012 before he was traded was that he was really quite bad. Maybe the numbers dont play that out, but that was certianly my impression. Without all the history of what he has done and was capable of, I have no expectation of him being anything other than 5 years older and worse than he was when he last played for us. And how do they let him go when Gamel is better, or does it get awkward?


But Gamel does have options and things he can improve.  Heredia looks better overall to me.  None of the OF guys (Andreoli, Lake,etc.) on the bubble look necessarily better for right now nor would be hurt by a couple months of Ichiro taking the spot.  If Ichiro were at a point that he's hurting the team I'd worry about what the plan was.  I'm with you on how it could negatively affect them just based on how Ichiro is playing and how long the leash might be.  But I am not really a Gamel fan. 

In the long run any of Filia, Bishop and Lewis could push Gamel out late next year anyway.  Gordon, Matt and I were talking about trading Gamel on Slack shortly before the news of further (or clarified) injury was reported.


...by the lack of support for Heredia.

The exploded shoulder and bad BABIP destroyed the end of his season.  Before that, he was just fine--maybe better.

Who's our best outfielder--Gordon or Haniger?  Place your bets.

But in my mind, Heredia is not only clearly better than Ichiro, but also better(when healthy) than Gamel.  (I can feel the disagreement surging on this one.)

If he's healthy on opening day, Heredia belongs in there every day until Gamel is better.  Ichiro is 4th outfielder--and not a very good one, at that.   


Ichiro is certainly being brought in as 4th OF.  Heredia is starting LF.  Haniger is the best OF overall.  Gordon best speed.  Heredia best defense unless Gordon proves otherwise. Heredia may have the best eye/ patience on the team. 


How do we already have 2 starting pitchers that are out of action, with already questionable depth, yets as soon as Gamel pulls up lame we go sign a 1 year deal with an aging vet for the outfield?

Haniger is supposed to be back soon right?

Yes we have Cruz. Granted I'm not sure it's worth the risk of him hurting himself in the field

Heridia is back

I don't get it.


Granted I love the idea of having Ichiro back. I think a reunion tour would be cool

just don't see this playing out well. Possibly I'm wrong

Just dont' see how this makes the team younger and more athletic 

Isn't that the reason for not going out and getting another SP?


 +1 Chucky

I Bleich to know since when two $8 million relievers are worth more than Lance Lynn, or since when three $8 million reliever were worth more than Jake Arrieta. You’re supposed to be able to build a bullpen fairly easily from within.

And I think there are a lot of GM’s out there who would express exactly the same complaint about Dipoto.  He is so terrified about a $15M contract going awry and so nonchalant about a Zep- or Nicasio- level deal going wrong.

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