Meet Raul Ibanez, The Yankees DH
If you had told me back in October that Raul Ibanez would be the Yankees’ DH, I’d call you crazy. Jesus Montero was finally ready for a full season in New York, and with Jorge Posada either retiring or certainly not returning, the DH was probably the least of the Yanks’ concerns.
Sure enough, a blockbuster trade on January 13th that sent Montero to Seattle left Yankee fans scratching their heads and asking, “who’s the DH now?”.
Well, over a month later, we have our answer – 40 year old Raul Ibanez.
The former star of the Seattle Mariners, Ibanez is coming off his final season in Philadelphia where he batted .256 against righties with 16 home runs and a .440 slugging percentage. I’m not that big on analytics, so that’s as far I’ll go with the stats, but it’s clear to me Ibanez is not the same player he once was and is not the best fit for the Yankees’ DH, in my opinion.
Granted, $1 million for 400 at-bats is a steal, and Johnny Damon, though seemingly out of all other options, still was reportedly demanding somewhere around $5 million. And his quest for 3,000 is probably the last thing the Yankees want to go through again, as Christian Lopez is still in the process of receiving 50% of Modell’s ownership. (I kid)
But Damon is 38, a couple years younger than Ibanez, and though many people don’t like this “factor” – he’s played in New York before, and won a championship too. He knows exactly what to expect in playing for the Yanks, and if the big excuse by Cashman for not signing Damon is for his defense, it makes him look stupid. Why is Cashman looking at situational fielding when picking a DH? And since when is Ibanez, at age 40, so much a better fielder than Damon, who is a lot faster and more athletic?
Anyway, you probably can tell by now I wanted Damon back. I feel that he still has more left in the tank than Ibanez, and could play a couple more seasons at DH if the Yanks can’t find a new one for 2013 and so on. But I guess I have to accept that Ibanez is the guy, so let’s try to look on the bright side, which there is for the 40-year old.
While Ibanez’s once electric bat speed is no more, whenever a left-handed pull hitter comes to Yankee Stadium, production is almost guaranteed. The short porch in right would have added more power to any of the veteran DH options that were on the Yankees radar. And with Ibanez, I wouldn’t be surprised to see his home run and double totals increase as well. Citizens Bank Park is by no means a pitcher’s park, but a move to 161st and River Ave. should benefit Ibanez as far as becoming a better overall hitter.
So what’s my final thought on the Raul Ibanez signing? Honestly, though I still think Damon is the better overall player, Ibanez will produce nicely for the Yankees and should fit in batting somewhere 6th or 7th, depending on the production of Nick Swisher. 15-20 home runs and 60-80 RBI are not out of the question, and maybe even likely because of him playing in Yankee Stadium. If the Yankees get that out of Ibanez, it’ll be a great one-year relationship in New York.
Oh, and by the way, I’m Brian D. One of the new writers on the blog. Hope to be talking with you all soon! Go Yankees!