Josh Hamilton Mariners Rumors: Could His Star Power Replace Ichiro's?
Seattle Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik has stated that he doesn't see the M's as major players in the Hamilton sweepstakes (via Greg Johns of MLB.com). Still, there would be a number of positives in adding Hamilton.
Despite the Mariners' losing records, last-place finishes and non-existent offense, they kept two star players on the roster to attract fans and at least give them hope: Felix Hernandez and Ichiro Suzuki.
When Ichiro was traded to the New York Yankees, it had to affect ticket sales, fan loyalty and organizational trust. Mariners management needs to sign another player with star power, one who receives national recognition, draws fans and it able to contribute to the success of the team.
Ichiro was unique. He was from Japan. He was a 27-year-old rookie. Although he was a four-tool player, he was arguably the best in baseball at each of the four (hitting for average, fielding, speed, arm).
The Mariners had their superstar. Ichiro drew enormous crowds every game. He was the best player on a record-setting team. He was a perennial All-Star and Gold Glove winner as well as an MVP candidate. As long as Ichiro was in Seattle, the Mariners were relevant.
Josh Hamilton has been one of the most prominent power hitters over the past five seasons and is now the most sought-after free agent this offseason. Hamilton is a great story in his own right: A former alcoholic and drug addict turned baseball All-Star and MVP.
Adding Hamilton would give Seattle another star to not only draw fans and keep the rest of the baseball world somewhat interested, but he would undoubtedly help the Mariners' impotent offense.
He wouldn't be the next Ichiro. Hamilton isn't going to rack up 262 hits or steal 40 bases. But he'll hit near .300, crank out 35 home runs and drive in triple-digit runs. Josh Hamilton would be a Ken Griffey Jr.-like superstar, something the city and team desperately need.
The M's have money to spend, though, so we'll keep a close eye on each move they make this winter.
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