The parade route the San Francisco Giants took to celebrate the 2012 World Championship has been cleaned up. Now they start the not-always-pleasant process of trying to defend their title.
The Giants need to solve a problem with their outfield depth. Hunter Pence and Gregor Blanco are both returning.
But Pence's average, on-base percentage and slugging all dropped in 2012. And Blanco, while a nice story and a contributor to the 2012 crown, is an adequate player at best who spent all of 2011 in Triple-A.
Angel Pagan is a free agent and may find work elsewhere. Melky Cabrera is a free agent as well and seems to be persona non grata in San Francisco.
Who can the Giants get to be an everyday outfielder? Free agent Ichiro Suzuki could fit the bill perfectly, and the Giants could meet his needs as well.
The Giants could probably sign Ichiro to a reasonable two-year deal. He still is a solid outfielder with terrific speed. He could still be valuable patrolling either left or right field in San Francisco. His slap-and-run style of hitting could be an asset in spacious AT&T Park, where speed can be more powerful than home runs.
And many teams and pitchers have not faced Ichiro as often in the National League.
For Ichiro, the chance to win a World Series would be greater in San Francisco than it would be if he remained with the New York Yankees. The Giants have the superior pitching staff, lineup and stars to take the pressure off of the future Hall of Famer.
Plus of course San Francisco has a Japanese American population that would give him a hero's welcome.
Ichiro might not have too many years left playing a slash-and-run style of baseball. But his time in New York showed how he can still be one of the truly dynamic players in the game in the right situation.
A World Series title is something that Ichiro's legacy needs. And the Giants' defense of their World Series title needs a spark.
The two seem made for each other. Bring him aboard, Giants. A little new blood from a motivated superstar could be what the defending champs need.