BY Art Thiel 10:22AM 04/22/2018

Ramirez returns; M’s keep Ichiro over Heredia

Erasmo Ramirez was called up to start Sunday’s game in Texas, but productive OF Guillermo Heredia was demoted while Ichiro was kept on the roster.

Ichiro is staying on the roster as Guillermo Heredia is demoted to Tacoma. / Alan Chitlik, Sportspress Northwest

Erasmo Ramirez will make his first start of the season at 12:05 p.m. PT Sunday when the Mariners pursue a three-game sweep of the Rangers in Arlington, TX. But in a surprising move, the Mariners made roster room by sending down LF Guillermo Heredia to AAA Tacoma despite the fact that he’s hitting .310 with two home runs.

That means keeping Ichiro as the reserve outfielder despite the fact that he’s hitting .212 in 33 at-bats over 11 games — seven singles, no walks and four strikeouts, leaving him with a .212 on-base percentage. Plus, he has had a few episodes in the field of failing to get to catchable fly balls.

But he was in the starting lineup Sunday, hitting sixth and playing right field. Mitch Haniger was moved to center as Dee Gordon, resting a sore foot, was out of the lineup against Rangers lefty starter Martin Perez.

This controversial roster moment was anticipated since the March 7 signing of Ichiro, 44, a future Hall of Famer and former Mariners hero who was released after last season by the Marlins, who used him primarily as a pinch-hitter. He was hired to fill in for starter Ben Gamel, who strained an oblique muscle early in spring training and would not return until last week.

Heredia, a good defender recovering from a shoulder injury, was slated to platoon in left when Gamel was hurt. Now that all are healthy, that left the Mariners with five outfielders, or one too many if the club wanted to keep an eight-man bullpen, an almost mandatory minimum given the shakiness of the starting rotation. The short start Saturday of James Paxton (five earned runs in four innings and 96 pitches, including three walks)  in an 8-6 Mariners win helped make that point.

But Ichiro signed a one-year deal for $750,000 despite appearing to be a temporary hire. Unless his production improves dramatically, there’s little to justify keeping him in favor of the 27-year-old Cuban who fills the platoon role well and keeps getting better.



  • Effzee

    “Unless his production improves dramatically, there’s little to justify
    keeping him in favor of the 27-year-old Cuban who fills the platoon role
    well and keeps getting better.” Since when do the Mariners need to make sense of their roster moves?

    • art thiel

      When they lead the American sports world in playoff absence.

      • Effzee

        But still. Its not like they “need” to answer to anyone about that. They’ll just keep doing what they do, making baseball decisions for non-baseball reasons.

  • Talkjoc

    Maybe we can team Ichiro with his father and put them in the outfield together. Yeah, let’s hold on to these guys who’s best years are in the rear view mirror.

    • art thiel

      Given that Ichiro reportedly no longer has a relationship with his father, the feat would be more significant than you know.

  • Theyfinallyfiredcable

    “Heredia, a good defender recovering from a shoulder injury ..”

    Maybe he’s hurt worse than we know ? Just throwing it out there .. this team is beset by injuries more than the average bear . Maybe he twisted his ankle walking down the dugout steps .

    • art thiel

      He’s recovered. He’s looked very healthy in April.

  • Husky73

    Heredia is a spare outfielder. He’ll get 20 AB’s a week in Tacoma, instead of 4 with the M’s. He’ll be called back up.

    • art thiel

      Yes, but he’s more productive now than Ichiro. And at 11-9, the Mariners have no margin to indulge a flat tire.

  • Alan Harrison

    Here’s the letter that should have been written:

    Dear Ichiro,

    I’m sorry, but it’s time we broke up. It’s not you, it’s us. Our time together was wonderful. You’re a good guy. You’ll be able to find someone perfect for you. We know we carved SSJdP + IS = MS4EVER into the Griffey statue on the new bat (and again, please, don’t tell anyone), but things have changed for us. You can do better. You deserve better. We hope that you can forgive us and that we can remain friends, if possible.

    Good luck, Ichi. We’ll never forget you,

    Scott & Jerry

    • art thiel

      Your relationship management skills need a bigger platform. Have you thought about the White House?

      • Alan Harrison

        Not THIS White House. You can appoint me to a cabinet position in 2020. I serve at the pleasure of the Thiel.

        • art thiel

          Chauffeur for the VA adminstrator-designate?

          • Alan Harrison

            I’d rather drive for El Cheeto Grande and drop him off at his favorite моча публичный дом and let him fend off the golden showers of justice.

    • 2nd place is 1st loser

      You forgot Howard Lincoln.

  • Trygvesture

    M’s sell schmaltz, not baseball. Rizzs defines both the team and the business strategy.
    PR dept can’t imagine selling baseball: it’s beyond their ken.

    But– A’s could be comin’ to Portland! Big local money behind it already, and MLB ain’t sayin no. Wouldn’t THAT just chap some asses up here!

    • art thiel

      The Portland MLB thing has come and gone a half-dozen times, but eventually the growth and the wealth will make it happen. And that will take a bite out of the M’s. Although the A’s games that draw few now would be 30K+ each game.

      • Trygvesture

        The Diamond group in Pland actively trying to purchase school admin site near MODA. Want to offer replacement site further out of town— not going over well with school board right now. They are clearly active w/better shot than Hanson ever had re BBall here. A’s just lost out on new stadium property that had looked viable. Diamond group seems likely to succeed.
        “You can look it up…”

        • art thiel

          The Diamond group sounds good, but I would caution anyone iinterested n pursuit of an expansion franchise to avoid using the word, “likely.”

  • Ed Norton

    It all comes down to the Mariners being able to sell any leftover Ichiro bobbleheads they may have from a few years ago. All they need to do is get out the gray spray paint and update them a little. Despite Servais’ drivel about needing a left handed bat, keeping Ichiro was not a move dictated by any legitimate baseball consideration. It insults our intelligence to spin this move as anything but pandering to nostalgia.

    • art thiel

      I’m guessing this isn’t Servais’s idea, but he’s not the boss. He’s stuck.

      • Ed Norton

        I am sure you are correct, Art. I should have not piled on Servais so much. This is more like a Stanton / Dipoto decision. Servais just had to fire up the centrifuge to generate the most spin possible.

      • 2nd place is 1st loser

        Art, it’s Howard Lincoln on the line. He’d like to clarify the term “boss” reference you made.

  • Theyfinallyfiredcable

    Ichiro in yesterday’s loss : 2 hits , 2 walks , on base 4 times . Just sayin’ ..

  • StephenBody

    Okay, I’ve now asked this question of maybe 50 different people online and at least twice on the radio and I have NEVER gotten an answer. In fact, most people seem genuinely baffled buy the question. Maybe you, hyper-lucid type that you have always been, will actually give a reasoned response (and if you don’t want to screw with this, just erase it):

    “What is it that Seattle sports fans feel they are going to get out of whether a team – and local team – either trades or hires or promotes or releases or inserts in the line-up any one particular player? What impulse moves people to whine incessantly and complain that “________ is wrecking the team!” or BITTERLY grumble about the team’s management? It’s NOT as simple as civic or regional pride or bragging rights or “I just like to win!” because we all like to feel pride and want our teams to win. So, what? Better job, prettier wife, bigger penis, smarter kids? WHAT? Don’t the teams have people whose very JOBS are dependent on those decisions? Are you REALLY delusional enough to think that you could be a better manager or coach or GM than they are? What is it that YOU expect to happen if the Ms or the Seahawks or the Huskies or the Sounders win a title? It’s NOT just wanting to win because most adults can process winning AND losing without crying.”

    If I had just heard this about Ichiro, today, I wouldn’t be asking this. But in the past 25 years, I have now heard those same complaints about Edgar Martinez, Randy Johnson, Gary Payton, Matt Hasselbeck (“Bench Hasselbeck and PLAY TRENT DILFER!” remember that one?)… and Jay Buhner and Marshawn Lynch and Richard Sherman AND Earl Thomas and on and on and on…NOBODY is exempt. I grew up immersed in my Tennessee Vols vs. Alabama and all the craziness that involves and even ‘Bama fans weren’t that irrational. Is it really always ALL about Ws and Ls, all the time? Don’t we all whine about how pro sports are becoming All About Business? I’m going to LOVE taking my grandkids to see Ichiro, this summer, and unless everybody has been lying, all these decades, one guy doesn’t either cause a baseball team either to lose or win. So, why is Ichiro being here such a disaster and why does it make grown men whine like South Georgia debutantes?

    You’re my last hope. Any thoughts?

    • Rocketeer

      Ah yes this old chestnut from sports fans of little intelligence.

      ” Are you REALLY delusional enough to think that you could be a better manager or coach or GM than they are?”

      Hope you never go to a restaurant and criticize the food then, or do you think you’re a better cook than the chef?

      • StephenBody

        I AM a chef.

        • art thiel

          And do you listen carefully to the opinions of customers who are not chefs?

          Or is it, “No soup for you!”

          • StephenBody

            I didn’t bring up chefs. Rocketeer did. I really no NOT “listen carefully” to anybody’s opinions. I don’t speak for anyone else, just me. I asked YOU a question and you didn’t answer. I was actually interested in your opinion. I don’t do that a lot. Thank God for Tian Biao. He is the ONLY one out of fifty+ people I’ve put this question to who even bothered to give a real answer. I have mostly contempt for glib and superficial. Just the fact of getting one answer is very hopeful.

    • Tian Biao

      very good question and one i’ve asked many times. here’s what I think: first, sports fans are passionate, and passion eclipses reason. second, teams (especially the M’s) really do make a lot of questionable decisions, ie Ichiro-Heredia, that leave them open to second guessing. third, baseball players fail a lot, and if you see them fail selectively, in a limited sample size, it might be easy to conclude that the player in questions sucks. selective observation, as it were. lastly, in the case of really superior players, like Edgar, Randy, Gary Payton, etc, i think one, there is more pressure on those players to carry a team, and two, familiarity breeds contempt, ie, the more you see a player, the less exceptional they might seem.

      • StephenBody

        THANK YOU! Finally, someone took the time to give a thoughtful response. I appreciate it more than I can tell you.

      • art thiel

        Good response, Tian. I would add that in the case of the Mariners, the Ichiro decision reinforces a belief held by many longtime fans that ownership/management prioritizes the stadium experience over winning. And since they don’t win enough, the default position is assumed on almost every occasion.

    • art thiel

      Fairly simple, Stephen. Caring about a sports team means being invested in its welfare. Any since many people above the age of 6 play the sports as well, they believe they have an understanding of what it takes to be successful.

      Most people can’t know how to make Microsoft or Boeing or U.S. foreign policy better because they haven’t been participants. Nevertheless, they are entitled to their opinions, informed or not.

      Sports, they think they know. That passion fuels the multi-billion-dollar engine that allows you to take your grandkids to see Ichiro.

      Ultimately, having opinions about sports and outcomes is fun, distracting entertainment.

      I think you take the opinion rhetoric a little too seriously. Try imagining it being fun, not logical and rational.

  • tor5

    I’m a huge Ichiro fan, but if such decisions aren’t at least superficially merit based l worry about the spirit of the team.

  • coug73

    One more episode for How the Turn-Sitles Turn. The tired drama called Mariners baseball decision making.