June 12, 2007
I'm pretty sure Ichiro Suzuki is messing with us. And if so, you have to love a guy with this kind of humor. If not, well, we are after all just bumblebees on life's lilac petal. Bumblebees with two legs. And no wings. And Starbucks gift cards.
Culled from various publications and websites, these are, near as I can tell, actual observations from Ichiro the Sage:
On his first matchup with Daisuke Matsuzaka on American soil: "I hope he arouses the fire that's dormant in the innermost recesses of my soul. I plan to face him with the zeal of a challenger."
See? Totally goofing on us.
On the then-slumping Mariners' prospects of improvement: "If there is a problem, we need to notice what creates the problem. The problem usually isn't just on the cover. You need to look much deeper. For example, if we're talking about a tree and the tree has a problem, you need to look at the root. But you cannot see the root. The mistake is to keep watering the fruit. That's not going to solve anything."
I sort of get that one, I'll admit.
On losing a fly ball in the flint-gray Anaheim sky: "The ball became the same color as the sky. So, I wasn't able to see it. … I was sending mental signals for the ball not to come my way, because during that time of day it's impossible for me to see the ball, so I lacked mental signals. I lacked in that area. … Usually, I don't send mental signals. So, because this is the first time, I thought, 'Please don't come my way.'"
Next time, a tin foil cap.
Finally, on making up yet another game in Cleveland last night, to the Seattle Times: "To tell the truth, I'm not excited to go to Cleveland, but we have to. If I ever saw myself saying I'm excited going to Cleveland, I'd punch myself in the face, because I'm lying."
Mental signal to Cleveland: If I become a free agent, don't bother calling.
If it is, let's see, baseball season, then Adam Dunn must be available, because Adam Dunn is always available, because few people – the Cincinnati Reds apparently among them – seem to appreciate the ballplayer Adam Dunn has become.
As we move into that time of year, five players contending general managers will be tracking:
• Carl Crawford, OF, Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Good player, better contract. The Devil Rays listened over the winter, and should spend a fair amount of time having the same kinds of conversations. Elijah Dukes is perhaps more likely to be dealt. The Washington Nationals are only one of a handful of teams interested in Dukes, though Jim Bowden has had success with troubled players. Also generating early phone calls in Tampa: closer Al Reyes and first baseman Carlos Pena.
• Mark Buehrle, SP, Chicago White Sox. The free-agent-to-be is holding hitters to a .238 batting average, his best since 2001. Possible landing spots: Seattle Mariners, contending in the AL West despite a starters' ERA of 5.55; Philadelphia Phillies, who have lost Freddy Garcia to the DL; Cleveland Indians, getting little out of Cliff Lee, Jeremy Sowers, Jake Westbrook. Buehrle's teammate, Jermaine Dye, has had a down couple of months, which is helping neither his pending free agency nor the White Sox' season. He might be better off staying in the American League, where he's spent the past 11 years.
• Dontrelle Willis, SP, Florida Marlins. The New York Yankees view Willis as the perfect Yankee Stadium pitcher and would do almost anything to pry him out of Florida. Willis' teammate – third baseman Miguel Cabrera – is just as popular around trading-deadline time and it wouldn't be surprising to see someone (either L.A. team would make sense) make a hard run at him.
• Eric Gagne, RP, Texas Rangers. Pitching well and presumably healthy, Gagne has a limited no-trade clause that could complicate a trade. The alternative is a long summer in Texas, however, and Gagne would be welcome almost anywhere, as a closer or setup man. Think Cleveland, Detroit, Boston, Seattle, Atlanta and both New Yorks. Package deal: Sammy Sosa could go too, along with Kenny Lofton.
• Steve Trachsel, SP, Baltimore Orioles. Who doesn't need a fifth starter? One of the last free agents to go last winter, Trachsel's 3.82 ERA ranks 37th among AL starters, and the ballpark in which he pitches isn't doing him any favors.
… AND FLY
• Orlando Hernandez – impressively – walked Juan Pierre twice last night in Los Angeles, a feat last achieved on Sept. 4, 2006, when Pittsburgh's Paul Maholm dug down and walked Pierre twice in three plate appearances.