The post-Ichiro era in Seattle began when the Mariners traded the veteran outfielder to the Yankees last July, but reality ought to really set in for fans when the team reports to spring training in Peoria without Ichiro Suzuki for the first time since he arrived from Japan in 2001.
That might be an unusual prospect for fans and the team, but it's exactly what the Mariners needed to move the organization forward. As much as Ichiro did for the Mariners, he had become part of what was holding them back. Even he recognized that and asked to be traded.
Ichiro's enormous salary -- 17 million in 2012 -- had become a hindrance to the Mariners improving their roster. With a payroll under 100 million each of the last four seasons, Icihiro typically made up between 18 to 20 percent of it.
There was also the fact that Ichiro was for so long unmovable in a trade and unbenchable when his numbers declined because of team owner Hiroshi Yamauchi's unwavering loyalty to his star. Only when Ichir...