Going into 2013, we all knew about the Yankees “austerity” plan; get below $189 million for 2014. So in free agency, they re-signed their own guys, like Hiroki Kuroda and added guys like Travis Hafner to one year deals. The only guy who got more than one year was Ichiro Suzuki. He got a two year deal with the thinking that he’d be the right fielder for the next two years. Now the question is, should he even be starting right now?
Let’s take a look at Ichiro, month-by-month since the beginning of last season:
March and April: .294/.311/.382
May (as of 5/19): .200/.228/.327
Not exactly robust, though he was a huge contributor down the stretch last season. With Curtis Granderson‘s return, Vernon Wells‘ return from mediocrity, and Brett Gardner providing excellent center field defense, where does that leave Ichiro?
To me, it should be right next to Ben Francisco on the bench, unless Hafner can’t play. One of the things that Ichiro used to be able to do so well is get infield hits, but with age, he’s not as fast as he used to be and can’t do it as much as he used to.
You can’t bench Granderson because he has huge lefty pop and is a better player right now than Ichiro. Gardner gives the Yankees speed and defense and has been able to hold his own with the stick so far. Wells gives right handed pop, something the Yankees really don’t have with that Alex Rodriguez guy and Kevin Youkilis on the shelf.
Right now, Ichiro should be the odd man out. Will this be the case a month from now? A week from now? You never know with the amount of Yankee injuries this year. For now though, it’s time to bench him.