As a die-hard Mariners fan since 1994 and dedicated Yankees hater, this week’s trade of Ichiro Suzuki to the Yankees (the YANKEES) just about killed me. Ichiro has been a much loved member of the
Bad News Bears Seattle Mariners for 12 seasons. As if his departure wasn’t painful enough, he actually played his first game as a Yankee at Safeco Field against the Mariners. It was so bad that when a hiring manager stopped by my desk shortly after I heard the news, he found me in a near fetal position, eyes watering. One of my co-workers told him it wasn't a good time, which caused him great concern. Was I ok? Did something awful happen? Yes. Ichiro went to the YANKEES. My restraint was admirable - I didn't kick him in the shin when he laughed at me.
Also this week, a good friend left my company. It was unexpected and, yeah, left a big gap in right field. But I’m not angry. I was surprised, saddened, yet most of all hopeful that my friend’s new career path is the right one for him. I’m looking forward to what his replacement (when we find one) will bring to the table. It’s the natural ebb and flow of recruiting.
That is at the very heart of what we do. Every time we recruit someone from another team, we’re creating opportunity for someone else. Ichiro’s departure has given the Mariners two minor league prospects. Only time will tell if this was a good idea. Long story short – if people stay in the same position too long, there’s no growth. No opportunity. No recruiting. I think most of us agree some turnover is healthy, even necessary. The question we have to ask is, are we losing people (and gaining others) for the right reasons? I’ve watched too many great players leave my beloved Mariners. I’ve suffered through losing Griffey, A-Rod, the Big Unit, Sweet Lou…
There are those departures that make us pull our hair out. That great developer you recruited a couple years back? He's been lured away by the promise of more money, a sexier project... it happens to us all. Now we have to - no, GET TO - replace him. What about that awesome sales person? She's now working for the competition and threatening to take your fans - er, customers - with her. What to do? Just this - don't stop recruiting.
In a perfect world everyone gets a goodbye party. The leaving team member is sent on their way with well wishes and fond memories; the new employee is welcomed with excitement and enthusiasm for the new skills and ideas they’re bringing with them. On some level I understand the Ichiro trade. He wants a shot at a ring. Who can blame him? He’s only got a couple years left and I’m sure he wants to make the most of it. He’s not going to get to the playoffs with the Mariners. There, I said it. From the team’s perspective, they seem to “get” that they’re in rebuild mode (and have been since, oh, 1999??). These new prospects along with the growing maturity and leadership of King Felix Hernandez could be the start of a beautiful and successful team. So this trade? I guess I’m ok with it.
Except that part about the YANKEES.