Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Why Re-Signing Ichiro is Wrong - Reason #1

According to various reports the Mariners are about to sign Ichiro to a 5 year 100 million dollar extension. I don't like this move at all.

Purely from a philosophical standpoint I have a problem with this signing. In any sport, I believe the goal is to have a player give you the best years of his career in his prime. Then when he goes for his last pay day have a high level player ready to replace him at a lesser salary. Then use the saved money to pay a new player that fulfills much of the lost players production.

The key here is that someone else gives your player their last big contract for the deeds they have just achieved and more often than not they receive less value as the player ages.

Specifically to the Mariners, Ichiro is age 33 (born October of 1973) and will finish this contract at 39 years old. This is paying someone for their past and getting far less production. Moreover, the Mariners have the heir apparent waiting in Adam Jones.

Jones is a first round draft pick and this is precisely why you have first round picks in your system to replace a player like Ichiro and then you use the money to make a play on the free agent market with another player.

I think we will look back upon this as a real mistake.

Sidenote -- The only way to have this make sense is if you just view what the Mariners did as letting go Ichiro the centerfielder and re-signed Ichiro the right fielder with Jones playing Center next year.

However, that leaves us with the $20 million issue. That will be the next installment.


Brian said...

You make a good argument Locke, but I think the M's are almost forced to bring back Ichiro and overpay. The fan backlash if he were allowed to walk away would be astronomical. He puts fans in the seats. As bad as attendance has been the last couple of years, imagine what it would have been had Ichiro not been here.

Ichiro does keep himself in tremendous shape so hopefully any dropoff in production towards the end of the contract would be minimal.

courtsense said...

Using the NBA analogy of a "max" contract, the M's are giving $20 million/year to a guy who:

1) plays Gold Glove defense - which is fine in principle. But am I the only one who thinks he was better in RF than he is in CF? I'm always seeing balls hit into the gaps that Ichiro doesn't quite get to. Mike Cameron was a better CF.

2) For a guy who hits for such a high average, why are so many of Ichiro's hits "low impact" in terms of how they affect the M's offense? How often does he pull weak grounders to 2nd? And has any player ever hit into so many fielder's choices? Ichiro beats the throw to 1st and everyone cheers, but the lead runner got forced out - that hurts the team!

3) Yeah, the occasional double or triple is nice, but pitchers have adjusted to Ichiro since 2001 - they know he'll swing at pitches in the dirt and way out of the zone, so they constantly feed him garbage. If he really wanted to impact the team, he'd walk more, steal more, and score more! I always have the feeling Ichiro is playing a mind game of trying to prove that "his" way of playing is somehow better - when what the team needs is less slap hits, more line drives, more runs, and more overall impact.

Bottom line: If I'm paying $20 million/year, I want a guy who I can count on for .325+, 40+ HR, 140 RBI, 100+ runs, and an OPS out of this world...Pujols, A-Rod, Griffey in his prime, etc.

I'd offer Ich 5 years/$60 million at the most, and if he walks, so be it. That money is better spent elsewhere. Griffey in his prime was twice the impact player Ichiro is, and even Edgar was a better and higher "impact" hitter.

Peter said...

i think signing ichiro is only a bad move if you don't sign another stud to go with him. ichiro just got "superstar, carry the team on my back" money. i'm not sure he is that type of guy. but. he is definitely a phenomenial "i'll support the top guy" kind of guy.

so the money is justified to me IF Ichiro becomes the Manny Ramirez to the David Ortiz. However, if Ichiro is supposed to be THE GUY, then it is a bad move.

Jones in center. Ichiro in right. And I say, Griffey at DH (i cant believe i just said that, but it kinda makes sense to me.)

locke. i'm glad to find you blogging again. i'm hoping you're gonna be staying in the area. please keep us posted.

Anonymous said...

2 thoughts (I largely like this, though a little concerned with the $'s):

1. Can Jones play left? I really like Ichiro's D in center

2. It will really be nice to have Ichiro go into the hall of fame as a Mariner. Griffey may choose us or the Reds, but Ichiro is ours.

John S said...

Very valid points David, but I have to disagree, I like the move. Who takes over the leadoff spot for the M's? Adam Jones is not a leadoff hitter of any sort. He strikes out too much to leadoff, plus you want his power in the middle of the order. You need someone defensively who can cover Safeco. How many more balls would have been outs in Safeco if Raul Ibanez was not in left field. Ichiro leads the outfield in putouts by a wide margin. This tells me that he is getting to balls that he has to get to because of the lack of range of Raul and Jose Guillen. Ichiro and Adam Jones would be dynamite defensively for us just for the amount of space they will cover. If you lose Ichiro, you lose a lefthanded bat who hits lefties at a prolific rate. Looking through the M's farm system, you really do not see a left handed bat to replace Ichiro's. He's a singles hitter now and will be a singles hitter until he's 38-39. He's not going to be Bret Boone, John Olerud or Edgar and lose his bat speed.

Jeremy said...

Dave over at USS Mariner has a very good defense of the trade. I happen to agree with his reasoning on this one.


Anonymous said...

Geez Locked you've been spewing the same "garbage" about Ichiro for like the last 3 years, the M's are in the playoff hunt, Ichiro is a serious MVP candidate and he is peaking interest and putting fans in the seats, by that definition he is worth it, I'm wondering if you're worth it.............

SuperDave said...

First to courtsense, if Ichiro's hits didn't have good context he wouldn't be the top performing leadoff hitter by the best measure of contextual hitting, WPA.

Ichiro is 30th in the majors by that measure


He's 26th by Batting Runs Above Average which is a linear weights style measure


And he's tenth by Runs Created


All this while being regularly rated the best defender in baseball in Tango Tiger's Fan Scouting Report


While Locke is right that you are paying a guy in his past peak years, and philosophically I tend to agree. Ichiro though is someone quite special. I told you this in 2000, and I still feel it.

He's a game changer, remember our research about the team's record when Ichiro gets on-base? He is the fuel to the current offense.

The FA market is going to explode again, ARod will get thirty million per year and the Ichiro deal will seem a bargain.

This Dave (clark) is going to agree with Dave Locke in part, but really thinks that in this specific instance Dave Cameron is right.