Ichiro, Ackley And SafecoJune 15th, 2012 by terrybenish
For about fifteen months I have written about the setting of
Ichiro’s sun. The decline began in the middle of the 2010 season.
At the end of the 2009 season his career OPS was right at .800.
other more substantive stats but OPS is recognizable and in July of 2010 it started to fall apart, where he posted monthly OPS of .568, then .756 and finished in September with .766.
2011 saw him run off monthly OPS of .761, .508, .689, .538, .678, .678. Real bad year, we continued to write that he was not going to return to his high performance and that he should retire.
I was vilified and team people and beat people suggested that I shut up and one guy suggested it was because I hated him because he was Japanese. Which was not true.
Then the first game of the season was remarkable and he went 4-5 in Tokyo, there were other moments, he got two home runs in a game after being returned to the lead off spot. But in March/April he had an OPS of .675, May was .651 and now in June its .611. During June as the leadoff hitter he has an onbag of .232. During a period where all the young kids are shuffled through the line up and put in odd positions they should not be in, and the manager screams at the kids about various stuff, if your lead off hitter can’t get on base, or before that hit as a third hitter, then it is not a matter of fulfilling some quest for 200 hits as much as you might ask him to allow you to trade him or even, why don’t we have an Ichiro day next week and let him retire.
Ackley has suffered through all this baloney and it is a factor in his performance or under performance. I would be more concerned with him as an investment than Ichiro’s fate now.
The general manager and President at one time or another this year have remarked about Ichiro being here next year. You might suspect that the gm was being politically correct in deference to Chuckles. My word of the day is obsequious, which describes the GM’s behavior. A memo was leaked to me that the team plans to have Ichiro bobble head night for every home game in August and September, but I can not get a confirmation.
Another bit of internal team communication was the Wedgester’s speech to players yesterday to shut the “F” up about not being able to hit at Safeco due to playing in winter like conditions so far this year and outfield distances that challenge their ability to hit home runs. Guys continue to get contracts and get bigger contracts if they can hit home runs. If not they go home and sell insurance.
The team this year has played 28 games at home and 37 on the road so here is a few of the guys that play every day and their OPS, home and then away:
Ichiro .660 .670
Ackley .533 .752
Montero .606 .777
Smoak .532 .741
Saunders .640 .919
Seager .631 .899
Well gee, it looks like there might be an issue.
Not talking about it is typical for this management group. They’ve got filthy richer (great phrase, sounds like an Eddie Murphy film from the 80s) by dint of having this park. So maybe they don’t want the city fathers to get involved, since they would not finance a project to move the fences in, nor would the Mariners. So let’s not talk about it.
Right now there are maybe three young players that are showing they can hang and get good, Seager, Saunders, Montero and I don’t know, maybe Ackley. If that happened it is really unlikely the Mariners could retain them when free agency presented itself.
The other part of that dips into Geoff Baker’s paradigm, in that he claims that the M’s didn’t try to sign free agents. I suspect at one time or another Gillick and Bavasi tried to sign high end free agent players, and got middle tier guys, Beltre, Sexson, Olerud, Boone. It seems that they would have to way overpay to get a great player to come here and that might not be possible.
The world is different now, but Beltre is now a high end player, but was average here. Sexson had a great year and a half and I won’t talk about how the 116 win team succeeded.
As a general statement, a lot of people in baseball think the team is looney tunes in terms of how the organization is run. Great place to live, career killer etc.
If they were to move the fences in, they would get better players and retain players they developed.
Be fun to see how it plays out.