The Yankees haven’t yet signed Raul Ibanez to be a left-handed bat off the bench, but it’s been rumored the team is in discussions with the free agent. Let it be known: I despise this idea. Ibanez, who will be 40 years old in June, is a replacement-level player at this point in his career. His -0.4 WAR last season indicates as much.
He’s useless against left-handers, and isn’t exactly tearing up the league against righties, either. Last year, he hit .256/.307/.440 against them with an OPS of .747 and a .322 wOBA. All that means is he was less productive than Jorge Posada, who had an .814 OPS and .353 wOBA against righties last season.
He might benefit from the short right field porch at Yankee Stadium, and he has some pop left, but it’s worth noting Ibanez hit an appalling .210/.261/.317 with a .577 OPS on the road last season. Not to mention, he offers little to no defensive value at any position, only walked 33 times in 575 plate appearances, and his .289 OBP hovered in Alfonso Soriano territory.
Is it possible that his 2011 campaign was an anomaly? Sure, but if I had to make an educated guess, I’d venture to say there are no bounce back seasons on the horizon for the veteran.
A Phillies fan’s perspective:
I’m not a professional scout, obviously, and I haven’t watched enough of Ibanez over his 16-year career to have that strong of a grasp on what he does well and what the holes are in his game. But I know someone who has: my dad. He was born in Philadelphia, and, unfortunately for him, has been rooting for the Phillies for about 50 years. I attempted to get his opinion on Ibanez, and what Yankee fans can look forward to should Raul wear pinstripes this season.
Full disclosure: He’s not Ibanez’s biggest fan. Which should be abundantly clear in the following list of pros and cons:
- “He’s not on the Phillies anymore.”
- “He’s a waste as a ballplayer, but I hear he’s a great guy. The Phillies all liked him.”
- “I’ve never seen a guy foul off more hittable fastballs in my life.”
- “He shouldn’t be a major league baseball player. He’s a clown.”
- “He has Sammy Sosa disease against a left-hander’s breaking ball.”
- “If a left-hander comes into the game, Raul Ibanez is a dead man. The only two people who don’t know this are Raul Ibanez and Charlie Manuel.”
- “As you may have noticed looking at his numbers, he doesn’t walk much.”
- “His bat speed is gone. He can’t catch up to a fastball, and can’t hit a breaking ball down and away. What does that leave — a mistake right down the middle?”
- “I’d rather have Kenny Lofton, and he’s 106.”
His response to learning that Ibanez’s production against righties wouldn’t replace Posada’s?
“And Posada’s retired. What’s that tell you?”