If you haven’t yet heard, the Mariners have agreed to sign DH/1B/OF(?) Raul Ibanez. This will be Raul’s third stop in Seattle, after being a member of the Philles and Yankees for the last few years. The deal is for one year at $2.75 million, and while I have always been a fan of his, I cannot say I am happy with the move.
Sure, Raul had a memorable performance in the playoffs last year, but when you look passed the heroics, you see an average hitter, and poor fielder. The 40 year old Ibanez hit a respectable .240/.308/.453 with 19 home runs for the Yankees last year, but again, when you dig a little deeper, it gets a little less respectable.
Most of Raul’s success last year came within the friendly confines of that children’s playground they call Yankee Stadium. He hit .273/.349/.545 at home, compared to a lowly .208/.269/.365 on the road. And while the fences are coming in and he is a lefty, I can’t see that translating well to Safeco.
Now, I don’t think the team views him as a big time, every day bat. But, I think they will have him in a role that I still think is too large for him.
There are a couple options, neither very ideal.
- They could use him as in a platoon with Casper Wells in left field
- Use him at 1B/DH/OF
The first option could make for decent offensive production (I have wanted a platoon for Wells for a long time), but defensively, its another story. Raul has never been a great defender, but that is an understatement at this point. He really doesn’t belong anywhere but DH or 1st, but there is a good chance he gets significant time in left field.
The second option has the chance to be destructive if done wrong. If he starts taking at bats away from John Jaso, Jesus Montero and Justin Smoak, then it becomes a very bad signing. Jaso was one of the Ms best hitters last year, and Montero and Smoak also need to play consistently. Raul is not enough of an upgrade (if any at all) to warrant taking at bats away from the current guys.
I think we can assume that these are the lineups we will see the most:
That is probably best case scenario for this current team, but seeing as its Eric Wedge making the lineups, anything can happen. If used correctly and sparingly, Ibanez can be helpful. But I worry that that’s not how it will be, and that he will take at bats away from better players, namely John Jaso, who people have began to speculate could be traded.
I really don’t know what to think. I am not a fan of this move in any case, but it has the ability to make me hate it if it is implemented poorly. If Raul is utilized as a bench bat and mentor, then this is a great move. But if he is supposed to be a regular player and someone who will help this offense, it is quite the opposite.