COMMENTARY | There is nothing surprising about the New York Yankees re-signing right fielder Ichiro Suzuki for $13 million over two years. After all, why discontinue a good thing?
Even if conventional wisdom dictates committing no more than one year to a 39-year-old, with Suzuki presumably earning $6.5 million in each of the next two seasons, this is, financially speaking, a low-risk move for the Yankees. And what they are getting back in Suzuki, even at his age, is someone who can hit in the No. 1 and 2 spots of their batting order and play great defense in right.
After getting traded from the Seattle Mariners to New York last season, Suzuki hit .322 with five home runs, stole 14 bases and drove in 27 runs in 67 games. Prior to being traded, he was batting, over 95 games, .261 with four homers, 15 stolen bases and 28 RBI.
Defensively, Suzuki is a huge upgrade in right field over Nick Swisher, a free agent whose return to New York is unlikely at best. With the 10-time Gold Glove Award winner in right, and Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner in center and left, respectively, the AL East champions have one of the best defensive outfields in all of baseball. Suzuki, Granderson and Gardner possess great range, so highlights in the outfield could be the norm for the 2013 Yankees.
Now, those among you worried about the Yankees lacking power in both corners of their outfield should be reminded of this year's offensive blackout during postseason play. Five of New York's top seven home run hitters this year--Alex Rodriguez, Granderson, Swisher, Russell Martin and Robinson Cano--all but disappeared against the Baltimore Orioles and Detroit Tigers in the ALDS and ALCS, respectively.
They were a gestalt of virtual outs, going 19-for-156 (.122) in the playoffs. Their abominable performance paved a smooth path to the World Series for Detroit, which completed a four-game sweep. Getting back a healthy Derek Jeter and Gardner, and replacing Swisher's 20-plus homers with a base-stealing singles hitter in Suzuki, who hit .275 (11-for-40) vs. Baltimore and Detroit combined, means New York will manufacture runs on a more frequent basis.
As the postseason resoundingly proved, the Yankees need less hitters who're likelier to make an unproductive out than extend an inning with their legs. Thus, given Suzuki's price, durability and ability to still perform at a high level, bringing him back to the Bronx was a no-brainer.
Ray Monell is a sports and entertainment writer based in New York City who's been covering New York Yankees home games since 2007. He is an associate editor at LatinTRENDS magazine and a Featured Contributor in sports for Yahoo! Contributor Network.
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