The Ichiro problem

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Derek Albin at Pinstriped Bible looked at the numbers and concluded that Yankees right fielder Ichiro Suzuki isn’t likely to be much more productive than he has been thus far in 2013. The 39-year-old has a .239/.280/.328 line in 145 trips to the plate, putting him on pace for the worst season of his career by far.

To answer the title’s question: Ichiro’s certainly done as a regular, and truthfully has been finished since 2011 with the exception of one month. The other outfield candidates are simply better: Brett Gardner gets on base more frequently and is an elite defender, there’s reason to be cautiously optimistic about Vernon Wells for the rest of the season, and Curtis Granderson needs no rationalization.

The Yankees signed Ichiro to a two-year, $13 million contract back in December on the heels of a productive second-half tenure — including the post-season — with the club after coming over from the Mariners. But if he continues to struggle offensively, it wouldn’t be hard to see the Yankees reducing his playing time, especially now that Granderson is back.

Jim Crane thought the heat over sign-stealing would blow over by spring training

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The Astros’ sign-stealing story broke in November, a steady drumbeat of coverage of it lasted through December and into January, when Rob Manfred’s report came out about it. The report was damning and, in its wake, Houston’s manager and general manger were both suspended and then fired.

After that a steady stream of media reports came out which not only made the whole affair seem even worse than Manfred’s report suggested, but which also suggested that, on some level, Major League Baseball had bungled it all and it was even worse than it had first seemed.

Rather than Manfred and the Astros putting this all behind them, the story grew. As it grew, both the Red Sox and Mets fired their managers and, in a few isolated media appearances, Astros’ players seemed ill-prepared for questions on it all. Once spring training began the Astros made even worse public appearances and, for the past week and change, each day has given us a new player or three angrily speaking out about how mad they are at the Astros and how poorly they’ve handled all of this.

Why have they handled it so poorly? As always, look to poor leadership:

Guess not.

In other news, Crane was — and I am not making this up — recently named the Houston Sports Executive of the Year. An award he has totally, totally earned, right?