Monday, November 21, 2005

Over Stimulation

Repeat it with me: I will not get worked up over Ichiro. I will not get worked up over Ichiro.

It’s one thing for The Seattle Times to mull the possibility of an Ichiro deal, in light of his recent disparaging comments. But for Newsday to pick up such a story so quickly and link it to the Yankees is bordering on ridiculous.

Don’t get me wrong: I’d love to see Ichiro in pinstripes. Who wouldn’t? No one available via trades or free agency brings more to the table than Mr. Suzuki does. He’s an outfielder with impeccable range (read: center fielder) and a cannon for an arm. For those Yankees fans out there who think that Jeter isn’t the answer at leadoff, Ichiro certainly would be (though I think DJ is just fine leading off). Yeah, maybe he doesn’t draw a boatload of walks, but the guy can flat out hit.

There are just a few problems with this scenario, the first of which being that Seattle isn’t likely to dish him. You don’t just make a guy the center of your franchise and then go dish him two years after inking him to a contract. That is, unless the situation escalates to Vince Carter proportions and the only remedy is to part ways with the player at 50 cents on the dollar. But even with Carter, it wasn’t his complaining that got him shipped out of Toronto, it was his complaining followed by him merely going through the motions during games. Here was the franchise guy doing just enough to not get benched.

Another aspect that must be considered is that the media is probably blowing this whole shindig out of proportion. Here’s a simple rule of thumb in the New York media regarding the Yankees: if there is a top flight player who has even the remotest possibility of being traded, talk it up until everyone is sick of the story.

Finally, the potential price tag wouldn’t be one the Yankees should be eager to meet. Just imagine this exchange between Cashman and Seattle GM Bill Bavasi:
Bavasi: Please take Ichiro off my hands! I’ll take anything!
Cashman: Isn’t this a happy coincidence? You are desperate to sell, and we are desperate to buy.
Bavasi: Desperate, eh? Advantage, Bavasi. This is my offer. I think you’ll find it’s most UNfair, but those are the breaks.
Cashman: But Bill, this is twice his market value.
Bavasi: That’s my final offer. Take it or leave it.
Cashman: All right, Bill, you win. But beware. We Yankees aren’t all smiles and sunshine.
Bavasi: Ooh, the Yankees are mad at me. I’m so scared. Ooohh, the Yankees.
Cashman: Stop that.
Bavasi: Uh oh, the Yankees are coming to get me.

And in the process the Yanks will have lost Cano, Pavano, Duncan and Philip Hughes. Some say, however, that losing Cano would be a small price for a guy like Ichiro. But I ask you, the Yankees faithful, a question posed over on Replacement Level: what is a more attractive scenario: Cano at second and Giles in center, or Womack at second and Ichiro in center? Does anyone else think this is a no brainer?

The case for Ichiro can be made a thousand times over, but the fact remains that he’s simply not available. Maybe if this was MVP Baseball or a fantasy league, something could be worked out. But this is the real world, and in the real world, the New York media sensationalizes any story with a semblance of a pulse.

If, however, Ichiro does become available, it likely won’t be in the near future. Hopefully by that time, the Yanks will have filled their center field needs and won’t have any need for Ichiro. Let some other team sell the farm to acquire him.

Now to more important, pressing issues like bullpen help. The list, in essence, was shortened by two last week, as Scott Eyre signed an inflated deal with the Cubbies, and B.J. Ryan admitted that he has no rocks and doesn’t want the stress of New York. Yet, he visited the Mets. What, does he think the tabloids here avoid the team from Flushing? Last time I checked, they made a series of high profile moves last off-season, and are being held under the microscope.

What I’d really love is for Toronto to waste their surplus cash this off-season on Ryan and A.J. Burnett. Both will command top dollar, and both will be inked to long term deals. I don’t have high hopes for either pitcher (I did for Ryan, until he proved a pansy), so a big splash this year in free agency could mean they’ll be at a stalemate for next year’s round.

A couple of other rumors to touch base on, just because I have the space. I’m sure it’s printed elsewhere, but Lee Sinnis over at The Hardball Times has a blurb about the potential Rangers-Marlins deal that would send Hank Blalock and a pitching prospect to Florida for Josh Beckett and the contract of Mike Lowell. Apparently, the deal is just about ready to go through, but the Marlins want to test the market and see what they can squeeze out of the Red Sox. Shortstop prospect Hanley Ramirez is reportedly being demanded by the Marlins, and I’m sure an arm like DelCarmen will be involved as well.

Repeat after me: I will not try to figure out who the Yanks could give up for Josh Beckett. I will not try to figure out who the Yanks could give up for Josh Beckett…

In other Marlins fire sale news, the Mets are reportedly interested in acquiring second baseman Luis Castillo or catcher Paul LoDuca, while the Orioles are pursuing first baseman Carlos Delgado. First off, I think the Mets would do well to acquire both LoDuca and Castillo, IF the price is right. However, I just don’t see the two of them being shipped anywhere for anything remotely resembling a bargain. Prospects is the name of the game, and the Mets would do well to avoid the entry fee.

Oh, and those wacky Orioles. Do they ever learn? Hey, let’s add another big bat so we can try to bludgeon our opponents to death. Sure, Delgado will be more productive than Sammy Sosa, but when are the O’s going to wise up and not beef up their offense until they add a viable starting pitcher? It’ll be the same old story next year with the Orioles. But hey, they’re in the AL East. What am I complaining about?