The timing’s right for Raul


Game-winner for Ibanez. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

That Raul Ibanez is off to a slow start comes with little surprise. His poor spring portended such a performance, as did his declining numbers the last two seasons in Philadelphia. The Yankees, we can only hope, did not expect a full recovery from Ibanez, who will turn 40 in just over a month. Instead they sought a serviceable player who could lend a hand for at least half the season.

At .250/.277/.409, Ibanez is looking a lot like his 2011 self. He oftentimes looks overmatched at the plate, as he did last night against Yu Darvish, unable to get his bat around on top-flight fastballs. So far he has been a half-run below average on offense, and his presence in the DH spot, or otherwise playing a poor outfield, further diminishes his value. Thankfully, there is a redeeming factor.

Ibanez has been at his worst in the most forgivable situations: no men on base. In his 21 bases empty PA he has gone 4 for 20 with a walk and no extra base hits. Yet when there have been men on he has put in his best effort. In 26 such PA he has gone 7 for 24 with all three of his extra base hits. As such, he’s been able to turn his 11 hits this season into 9 RBI. The fortuitous timing has made Ibanez more valuable in reality than his overall stat line indicates.

It’s normal, of course, for hitters to perform better with the pitcher in the stretch. This year AL hitters are OPSing 20 points better with men on than they are with the bases empty; in 2011 they hit .013 better with men on. Even still, Ibanez’s performance is out of line even with that disparity. That he’s hit all three of his extra base hits with men on base means a lot for the Yankees’ run scoring. We’d probably have a much more negative opinion of him if he’d hit a pair of solo homers and got stranded after a bases-empty double.

Just as we’d expect Ibanez to even out a bit, so we should expect the Yankees offense to do the same. They’re out of line with the league trend, OPSing just 9 points better with men on base than with the bases empty. That is, Ibanez has picked them up early on, when they needed the boost. Yet this doesn’t mean Ibanez will suddenly disappear. Remember, last year he was hitting .154/.238/.209 after 100 PA. From that point on he hit .264/.300/.462 in 474 PA. Those are no sterling numbers, but for $1.1 million the Yankees would probably take that.

It won’t be an easy year for Ibanez. He’s clearly a shell of his former self at the plate, and his previously poor defensive skills have completely eroded. But for a temporary solution to a vacant DH slot, the Yankees could have done worse. If the Yankees can squeeze just a little more well-timed value out of Ibanez, they can approach the trade deadline with an eye on acquiring a bat. That might sound a little cold, to eke as much value out of a guy as possible and then bid him goodbye, but that’s the reality of a team pursuing a championship.

Categories : Players
  • http://none Ton Lon ton

    If his bat speed improves maybe he cousin be the MVP candidate if he hits 50 or mor dingers

  • JobaWockeeZ

    The DH production in general is 102 wRC+ which is league average. However Ibanez is weighing it down with his 80 wRC+.

    We might not need to get a bat at the deadline since even while resting these guys are productive. It does mean Nunez gets playing time but he’s showing that he isn’t useless with the bat so far. SSS yes but he’s not over matched at all.

  • http://none Ton Lon ton

    Can posada unretire?

  • Manny’s BanWagon

    You need some plus skill from a 4th outfielder/part time DH whether it be speed on the bases, solid outfield defense, power, high OBP, etc. but at this point, Ibanez is pretty much below average all the way around.

    He’s pretty much a 0 tool player and it’s somewhat of an indictment on the Yankees farm system that they have no one in AAA who would be considered an upgrade over Ibanez.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      We all know they’re playing catchup as far as developing position players. No one’s hiding that. The guy who could have DHed was traded in part because the team felt all he could do was DH.

      I understand what you’re saying with the former part. My feeling is that “The Marcus Thames Role” is a sort-of quasi-roster spot filled by guys like Thames and Ibanez. A big part of the problem happens when you put that guy out on the field, which Ibanez should only do if he’s the last person left in the stadium that night. Gardner’s being out changes how much Ibanez we see in general, and it’s more than even a guy, like me, who was fine with the signing, even wanted.

      • Manny’s BanWagon

        Hopefully in a year or 2, that 4th outfielder/part time DH will be filled by one of the Almonte’s or Melky Mesa, maybe even Ronnier Mustelier instead of some completely shot over the hill veteran.

        I agree about Gardner. When he comes back from the DL, Ibanez glove should be burned.

  • Bonnie Parker

    Solution: Chavez DHs against righties. If that doesn’t work we can trade Hughes at the deadline for a bat.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      If he’s at the point where the team wants to trade him by midseason in 2012, they may get just that for him: a bat.

      • jsbrendog

        ::golf clap::

      • Bubba

        Well played sir… well played

    • RetroRob

      If Hughes’ value is high enough that he can bring back a quality bat, then he’s probably pitching well enough that he’ll be a loss to the rotation.

  • Typical MIT Nerd

    For those wondering, like I was, here’s the free agent list for next year w/r/t a possible 2nd half DH:

    First basemen
    Lance Berkman (36)
    Russell Branyan (37)
    Jorge Cantu (31)
    Jason Giambi (42)
    Brad Hawpe (34)
    Eric Hinske (35)
    Aubrey Huff (36) – $10MM club option with a $2MM buyout
    Casey Kotchman (30)
    Adam LaRoche (33) – $10MM mutual option with a $1MM buyout
    Carlos Lee (37)
    James Loney (29)
    Xavier Nady (34)
    Mike Napoli (31)
    Lyle Overbay (36)
    Carlos Pena (35)
    Ty Wigginton (35) – $4MM club option with a $500K buyout

    Second basemen
    Jeff Baker (32)
    Robinson Cano (30) – $15MM club option with a $2MM buyout
    Mike Fontenot (33)
    Bill Hall (33)
    Orlando Hudson (35) – $8MM club option with a $2MM buyout
    Maicer Izturis (32)
    Kelly Johnson (31)
    Adam Kennedy (37)
    Jeff Keppinger (33)
    Jose Lopez (29)
    Freddy Sanchez (35)
    Ryan Theriot (33)

    Left fielders
    Jay Gibbons (36)
    Jonny Gomes (32)
    Scott Hairston (33)
    Josh Hamilton (32)
    Willie Harris (35)
    Brad Hawpe (34)
    Eric Hinske (35)
    Conor Jackson (31)
    Reed Johnson (36)
    Andruw Jones (36)
    Austin Kearns (33)
    Mark Kotsay (37)
    Carlos Lee (37)
    Ryan Ludwick (34) – mutual option for 2013
    Juan Pierre (35)
    Juan Rivera (34) – $4MM club option for 2013 with a $500K buyout
    Delmon Young (27)

    Center fielders
    Alfredo Amezaga (35)
    Rick Ankiel (33)
    Michael Bourn (30)
    Marlon Byrd (35)
    Melky Cabrera (28)
    Mike Cameron (40)
    Curtis Granderson (32) – $13MM club option with a $2MM buyout
    Scott Hairston (33)
    Angel Pagan (31)
    Corey Patterson (33)
    Cody Ross (32)
    Grady Sizemore (30)
    Ryan Spilborghs (33)
    B.J. Upton (28)
    Shane Victorino (32)

    Right fielders
    Lance Berkman (36)
    Matt Diaz (35)
    Andre Ethier (31)
    Kosuke Fukudome (36) – $3.5MM club option with a $500K buyout
    Willie Harris (35)
    Torii Hunter (37)
    Andruw Jones (36)
    Mark Kotsay (37)
    Ryan Ludwick (34) – mutual option for 2013
    Xavier Nady (34)
    Carlos Quentin (30)
    Juan Rivera (34) – $4MM club option for 2013 with a $500K buyout
    Cody Ross (32)
    Ryan Spilborghs (33)
    Ichiro Suzuki (39)
    Nick Swisher (32)

    Designated hitters
    Bobby Abreu (39)
    Johnny Damon (39)
    Edwin Encarnacion (30)
    Travis Hafner (36) – $13MM club option with a $2.75MM buyout
    Raul Ibanez (41)
    David Ortiz (38)
    Manny Ramirez (41)
    Luke Scott (35) – $6MM club option with a $1MM buyout
    Jim Thome (42)

    • Manny’s BanWagon

      Free agency sucks next year for positions players.

      Considering the infield is set, the only guy I’d be interested in would be BJ Upton as a replacement for Swisher and you could play a Gardner/Upton/Granderson outfield.

      I’d take Melky back as a 4th outfielder but he’ll probably end up a starter for someone else.

      • Typical MIT Nerd

        Crazy that Melky is only now hitting his prime (age 27). After the 120 OPS+ last year, he’s at a 130 OPS+ this year.

        You wouldn’t take Ethier or Hamilton? I certainly would over Upton. BJ scares me especially cause he could get a 7 year deal. Hamilton would seem lucky to get five.

        • jsbrendog

          i honestly cannot believe that he is good now. it boggles my mind

    • Typical MIT Nerd

      Hamilton and Ethier are really the class of that list, aren’t they? But they aren’t being traded. I wonder if the Rangers have the Benjamins to sign both Hamilton and Napoli.

      The guy to get this year is probably Hafner.

      • BigDavey88

        I’m surprised that Hafner is 36 already.

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

          He’s body is 56 after all those injuries.

          • Manny’s BanWagon

            Steroids will do that to you.

            • Typical MIT Nerd

              Your evidence is what?

            • Typical MIT Nerd

              I guess you’d say the same thing about Grady Sizemore?

      • RetroRob

        Swisher is better than Ethier.

        • Typical MIT Nerd

          That’s a controversial statement. Care to defend it?

    • RetroRob

      Could be one of the worst free-agency classes for position players I can remember. Teams will be salivating for the likes of Granderson and Cano to reach the market, which is why the Yankees current policy of not negotiating until one of their players reach free agency will now work against them, especially with the 189M soft cap in place.

      The Yankees should seriously consider changing their approach moving forward.

      • Typical MIT Nerd

        No, no, they should not. They can match any market offer from now until the Apocalypse. There’s exactly no reason to sign a guy long-term prematurely. Even now, their early contract to Cano may have actually cost them money. They gave him a raise too soon ad the market for 2Bs has yet to catch up.

        • RetroRob

          I understand they can match any offer, but always going to market creates a situation where they don’t just match offers, they exceed them. Suddenly they’re paying A-Rod and Soriano way more money than the #2 bidder.

          The new CBA has changed the market. The Yankees can exceed the soft cap (and let’s call it what it is), but there are great incentives to come in under. That will require the Yankees to change how they operate, because if they overpay by millions for a player, then that reduces their ability to go after other players.

          The landscape has changed; the Yankees approach needs to change.

  • infernoscurse

    Having montero + darvish would have been far better than pineda with no montero. Sure it would have cost darvish salary to the cap but they will have to spend that money anyways to have a balanced lineup otherwise we might be the 2012 phillies in a couple of years

    • Manny’s BanWagon

      That could all change if the Yankees use the money it would have cost for Darvish and sign Cole Hamels, though at this point I think the Dodgers have to be considered the strong favorite.

      • infernoscurse

        and you still would have the hole in the lineup unless you are trading pineda for a bat

  • DJ4K&Monterowasdinero

    “to be released”

    The end of the title to this thread.

  • mike

    IMO he really hasn’t been a detriment so far, and the flexability he has by standing in the OF doesn’t hurt.

    i still would have went for damon, or even matsui, but the pressure to play those guys probably isnt worth the value they potentially would bring over Ibanez at this point

  • Bonnie Parker

    Another alternative is Hideki. He is close to a deal with the Rays but I’m sure if the Yankees came calling he’d come back. He’s beloved here and we know what he can do in the clutch. Cashman should give Hideki a call before the Rays get him.

    • jsbrendog
      • infernoscurse

        right cause giving matsui a minor league deal would be far worse than signing jack cust, steve pearce and a bunch of no name guys for AAA in the rare circumstance that you might catch lightning in a bottle by a rejuvenated matsui feeling back at home with better protection than in oakland

  • jsbrendog

    i wonder if branyan will ever get healthy. i’m interested to see what he could contribute

  • DM

    Surgery for Pineda

    • Tom

      torn labrum…. not good.

  • http://NYBronxBombers24-7 Brian L

    Yeah Pineda out for the year!

  • Moose

    We need a Pineda thread