Over the past two weeks we’ve seen Dewayne Wise do some incredible things with the Chicago White Sox. He’s hit as many home runs in 9 games as he did in his 54 others with the Yankees. He’s hitting a robust .361 with the White Sox and seems to be a nice addition to their team. The question is whether signing Ichiro was a better option than keeping Wise. The answer is still the same as it was when the Yankees signed Ichiro; they made the right choice. Ichiro, and there might be some hindsight at play, but he was a better option than Wise and I’ll tell you why.
Wise will never cut it as an everyday outfielder. That in itself is a problem. Sure he could spell Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones but what value does he have aside from being a bench guy? Not a lot. There isn’t a real justification for him playing every day over those two. His defensive value is immensely better than both of those players and he is invaluable on the base paths. Wise has had chances to play nearly every day back when he was a White Sox player, most notably saving the day on Mark Buehrle’s perfect game. I’m not sure whether he has run into situations like he did with the Yankees his entire career, but it certainly seems like it’s the case.
While Wise is younger than Ichiro and more apt as a bench player moving forward, the Yankees don’t need another platoon outfielder at the moment. Wise currently possesses a 1.3 WAR and it’s pretty hard to argue against that especially since he has made the most of every opportunity he’s been given. It’s also hard to justify keeping a bench guy moving forward. Sure he’s of more future value than Ichiro, but you can find bench guys every year, it’s just very rare when they perform as well as Wise has in his past 9 games.
Again, there is a talent disparity here. Wise isn’t better than Ichiro. It’s a fact. All the statistics point towards this. We don’t need to look at Ichiro’s league leading 2,200 plus hits in the MLB since 2001. We don’t need to look at him being the greatest Japanese player to ever play the game. We’ll keep it simple and look at his numbers from this season. Ichiro is exceeding expectations during his time with the Yankees. Ichiro has now hit safely in 25 of 28 games and is hitting .298 as a Yankee. Wise hit .253 in 30 less at bats. He stole 3 more bases than Ichiro which is to be expected of a younger, faster player. Ichiro has hit as many home runs as Wise in their times with their respective new teams however Ichiro has been much more consistent on the year as well as with the Yankees. Ichiro has improved his average, on base percentage, slugging percentage and stolen base total since becoming a Yankee and it doesn’t look like he’s slowing down anytime soon.
The last comparison I’ll use is simple; Ichiro draws more fans and interest than Wise. Again nothing you couldn’t figure out by a simple Google search but Ichiro peaks fan interest. Ichiro draws media attention while Wise, sadly, is an afterthought. The more and more I think about why this deal was made, the more and more it makes financial sense. The Mariners paid for Ichiro’s contract, but in the end, I’ll want to see more games with Ichiro in pinstripes and I don’t think I’m alone in that sentiment.
As much as Wise was tearing up the AL East pitching staff’s the three weeks before he was demoted and subsequently released, there were better options available. At the time of the deal, it seemed hard pressed to find such options but the Yankees did in Ichiro. An attraction, a hall of famer, an essential cog for a deep playoff run, call him what you want but the Yankees are off better with Ichiro than Wise.