Back Where They Belong: Ibanez, Jones, Chavez


(Al Bello/Getty Images)

As we’ve learned through the years, winning the AL East and eventually a World Series takes an awful lot more than the nine regular position players, five starting pitchers, and a closer. Clubs need not just a strong bullpen and bench, but they also need quality backup backup players in Triple-A. The full 40-man roster is important.

The Yankees have gotten some excellent production from their projected reserve players this season, but they also assumed more prominent roles due to injuries — specifically Brett Gardner‘s. Dewayne Wise filled in admirably for a while but was replaced on the roster by Ichiro Suzuki yesterday. He’s not the Ichiro of old but he does add some sorely needed speed and outfield defense, and perhaps more importantly he relegates those reserve players back into their projected roles.

Raul Ibanez
Gardner’s injury forced Ibanez into left field far more often than we or the Yankees would have liked, but now he gets to return to the platoon DH role he was brought in to fill. Ichiro is going to play left field against right-handed pitchers while Ibanez’s bat stays in the lineup and his glove stays in the clubhouse. Hopefully the extra rest can revive Raul’s bat a bit, because he has tailed off noticeably since that monster start in April…

We’re still going to see Ibanez play the field once in a while since Joe Girardi figures to rest Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher more often down the stretch, especially if the Yankees maintain their big division lead. Once a week isn’t the end of the world but not having to run him out to left day after day is a huge boon.

Andruw Jones
Andruw’s role actually won’t change very much at all. He was and remains the right-handed hitting half of the left field/DH platoon, so whether he subs in for Ichiro in left or Ibanez at DH depends on the day and whoever else is resting. Jones already has just 22 fewer plate appearances against righties this year thanlast, so expect that pace to change a bit. He’ll probably get fewer total plate appearances moving forward that he otherwise would have, but that’s not necessarily a bat thing as long he still takes his hacks against southpaws, either as a starter or off the bench.

Eric Chavez
In terms of playing time, Chavez probably lost the most with the Ichiro pickup. He had been getting regular DH and third base plate appearances — just six fewer plate appearances than last season with two months to go — but now will give Alex Rodriguez a day or two off a week and little more. There will be occasional spot starts at DH and Chavez could spell Mark Teixeira at first base once in a while, plus he’ll be the primary left-handed pinch-hitter off the bench. Given his fragile body, less playing time for Chavez is probably a good thing in terms of keeping him healthy down the stretch and potentially into the postseason.

* * *

I’m hopeful that with Ibanez spending more time at DH, Girardi will be a more open to pinch-hitting for him against tough lefties in the later innings. As the left fielder, a pinch-hitting appearance generally required three players — Ibanez the starter, Jones the pinch-hitter, and Wise the defensive replacement. Now they can replace Ibanez with Jones, leave Ichiro in the outfield, and still have Chavez on the bench in case Andruw winds up facing a right-hander later in the game. Whether or not he’s actually open to doing that remains to be seen, but I’m cautiously optimistic.

Ichiro isn’t Gardner but he’s a reasonable approximation, at least in the field and on the bases. The Yankees should use him in a similar way, which means hitting near the bottom of the lineup while sitting against tough lefties. Returning Ibanez, Chavez, and to a lesser extent Jones to their intended roles is a fringe benefit that may have huge dividends if Raul stays fresh and Chavez stays healthy.

Categories : Bench


  1. YanksFanInBeantown says:

    The tag spells “Ichiro!” wrong.

  2. Eddard says:

    Ichiro is a godsend. No longer will we have to endure Ibanez lumbering in left field or Andruw Jones sauntering to balls in the gap. He upgrades the defense and team speed. There was a need for speed and defense in the outfield so it was a great pick up by Cashman. Now if he could just get us a catcher that can hit above .200

    • gc says:

      Last week, according to you, all was “fine” in the Yankee outfield and there was no need to panic and make an upgrade. Now you call that same situation having to “endure” their play. Hilarious.

  3. Alkaline says:

    I know Voldy’s production declined a bit, but we can’t help but thank him and the others for what they did during the past couple months. I really like the bench overall. Maybe a replacement for Nix, but you’re probably not going to see a significant upgrade.

    I, like everyone, am hoping Ichiro finds a bit of the fountain of youth in NY while these three get some more rest rejuvenating themselves for playoffs.

    I’m pretty optimistic about the team, albeit a bit cautious. One of the other commenters mentioned how the rational people didn’t get too high during the win streak and were not too low during the losing streak. That’s a good mindset to keep.

  4. BK2ATL says:

    WHEN we win the WS, do Nunez, Wade, Wise, and Mitchell receive postseason $$$ and a ring each??? How does that work?

    I’ll say it again, Cashman deserves GM of the year, esp. WHEN we win this WS. By trading off AJ Burnett and opening up the $5 million needed to get Ibanez and bring back Jones and Chavez, he provided the team with the veteran role players that have been crucial to the team’s success.

    Now with Ichiro, even in a declining stage, we now have a legit starting OF in LF and a legit bat and speed combo in the 9 spot of the lineup.

    • Sweet Dick Willie says:

      The players vote who gets a full share and who gets a fractional share. They all get rings.

    • Kiko Jones says:

      You know that AJ is 11-3 on a contending team, right?

      • BK2ATL says:

        You try trading the worst SP in MLB from 2010-2011 with a $16.5 AAV to just any team. Sounds really easy, right??? Cashman deserves a LOT of credit for getting that done, and directly using those savings to bring in Ibanez, Jones, and Chavez, who have done bang-up jobs in expanded roles.

        Great that AJ’s having successful season in Pitt. He wasn’t going to do the same in NY. Glad it’s working out for him.

        • CS Yankee says:

          These are the Yankees, they don’t need savings, coupons or revenue sharing.

          They need mor’ rings!

  5. jjyank says:

    ? What’d you get banned for?

  6. vinny-b says:

    “Ichiro’s not Gardner”

    Gardner’s not Ichiro. (corrected)

    • Kiko Jones says:

      Confusing the lowly Gardner with a sure fire HoFer? Ugh.

      • Need Pitching (and maybe hitting too) says:

        Healthy current Gardner > 38 y.o Ichiro

        Ichiro aint what he used to be.

        • Kiko Jones says:

          38 year old, ain’t what he used to be, Ichiro >>> Healthy, current, light-hitting Gardner any day.

          • 28 this year says:

            Gardner hits better than Ichiro and defensively is still a bit better than ichiro. Ichiro isn’t as fast as he used to be but he’s still fast just Gardner at this stage is definitely better than Ichiro is at 38. Ichiro of old is ahead of Gardner no doubt but this version of Ichiro isn’t better than Gardner but he’s certainly very useful for this team.

          • Need Pitching (and maybe hitting too) says:

            Ummm … hate to break it to you, but Ichiro is at least as light hitting as Gardner.

            Since beginning of last year –
            Gardner 262/349/370 .333 wOBA 105 wRC+
            Ichiro 268/302/342 .286 wOBA 80 wRC+

            Ichiro makes many more outs and has hit for less power. Some of that is because of Safeco, but most of it is because Ichiro is a shell of his former self.

            • CS Yankee says:

              Park factor and SB sucess (%) might make it a push though.

              • Need Pitching (and maybe hitting too) says:

                Gardner’s road numbers are also better than Ichiro’s road numbers. As for the SB%, Ichiro probably has better instincts in that regard, but Gardner ran more often (Ichiro 65 attempts in 257 games, Gardner 64 attempts in 168 games).
                Bottom line, I think realistically, Ichiro’s best case scenario is similar production to 2011 Gardner, and it’ll likely be less than that.

  7. Jacob says:

    what does comment in moderation mean?

  8. JGNYC says:

    Not sure what Ichiro has in CF, but being that Gardner was the backup and Granderson has had to play almost every game, hopefully he can get some rest down the stretch.

  9. Darren says:

    Wow, Cashman just can’t help himself can, he? He has to constantly show that he is more powerful than the players.

    It wasn’t enough to make a very good trade, he now has to rub Ichiro’s face in the dirt. Way to go. I’m sure that will help the team.

    If you haven’t seen it yet, Cashman explicity stated that Ichiro agreed to bat at the bottom of the order, sit agaisnt lefties and switch positions.

    “He was fully educated on all our requirements.”

    What a dick. Let the man have some honor. Just say “We spoke to Ichiro because we wanted to confirm he would be comfortable doing whatever it took to help the Yankees win, and there was no hesitation at all. Ichiro is a team player and we are very excited to have aboard.”

    • Jacob says:

      Well actually he didn’t do anything wrong he wanted to make sure ichiro understood he would not be a superstar on the team because he is now older and different than he once was, he did not want him complaining about his part on the team and performing terribly because of it(or using it as an excuse for that)

    • jjyank says:

      Link? Just reading that one quote, I don’t get even remotely close to your reaction.

      • Jacob says:

        Glad I am not the only one who did not understand why he thinks it is so bad

      • yoo boo says:

        there are several articles about Cashman asking Ichiro about possible role for Girardi. It is not really a bad approach because Ichiro has 10-5 right. No big deal.

        Honestly, it does not matter because there is a majority of RHP in MLB and he is lefty. He will sit few games to rest his aging ass.

        He has only a real challenge is can he read off bat well as LFer.

    • gc says:

      And apparently some people just can’t help themselves in bashing Cashman. I see nothing wrong about what he said. There were parameters that the player needed to understand and agree to in order to make this happen. They told him what they were. He agreed.


    • Need Pitching (and maybe hitting too) says:

      Wow, dude. Serious overreaction. First Girardi is dickish for not batting a shitty hitter leadoff, then Cash is rubbing Ichiro’s face in it by truthfully setting everybody’s expectations?

      • jjyank says:

        Yeah, really. Cashman is a dick because he wanted Ichiro to understand that he wouldn’t be batting lead off and potentiall play left field?

        Ichiro himself doesn’t seem to have a problem with it.

      • RI$P FTW says:

        Cashman DID bat a shitty batter leadoff for 1.5 years. Then Jeter snapped out of it.

    • Steve (different one) says:

      Lol. Get a grip.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      I hate it when people speak in black and white terms on this site…..who said that again?

      Your assumption that Ichiro has the emotional makeup of a six year-old is ridiculous.

      Ichiro Suzuki is an adult. Ichiro Suzuki is a professional. As professionals, our jobs are going to come with things we like and things we may not like. Some of those things are negotiable. Some of them aren’t.

    • Kiko Jones says:

      Yeah, as far as speaking to the press about this, it seems like an unnecessary choice of words on Cashman’s part. Should’ve taken his cue from Girardi in this regard.

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        He never said “We asked him to do it because we think he sucks.” This is the role they were looking for him to play on this team. Looks entirely professional to me.

        There’s nothing that turns me off more than throwing your players under the bus, but I’m not seeing this as that.

        This is why I’m fine with Girardi speaking in cliches and using the nicknames.

    • Jeff B says:

      Perhaps Cash is a man who doesn’t like to elaborate. This isn’t English class, where you get to see your words in print and come back to them later for your final draft.

      Been a Yankee fan long? If you love Cash’s way with words, you would’ve loved George Steinbrenner. He had no problem expressing how he felt. He could go on for hours…

  10. Chris says:

    “Ichiro isn’t Gardner”

    No…Gardner isn’t Ichiro.

    All due respect our left fielder I would rather have Ichiro than Gardner right now.

  11. Travelbug83 says:

    I feel dumb for asking cause I feel like I am missing something here but if Granderson is supposed to get more off days, who will fill in in center? I assume it can only be Ichiro?
    That question being asked, I love the aquisition as it gives us some much needed speed on the bases. Love it even more if Ichiro proves to be a worthy CFer :)

    • yoo boo says:

      I guess he won’t take any day off. July is almost over and we will have a full month of August to thrive. He better not get hurt.

      • Travelbug83 says:

        I’d be surprised to see Granderson play through all of August without an off day. We’ve already been hit hard in the OF with the loss of Gardner, would Girardi really risk another loss by playing Granderson every day? The Yankees have a 20 game stretch without a scheduled day off coming up in August and I don’t see Granderson playing through every single game of this stretch.

        • jjyank says:

          True. Maybe the plan is to bring up Dickerson in a couple weeks.

        • yoo boo says:

          Granderson plays shallow so he rarely hit onto the wall. checked.

          Granderson’s body is heavy for size and golden. checked.

          Granderson lacks aggressiveness in stealing bases. checked.

          beanball. unchecked.

          twist ankle stepping on a base. unchecked.

          I won’t be surprised that he never miss a start. knock on wood.

    • jjyank says:

      No idea if Ichiro can emergency fake center once or twice over the next month. But even if he can’t, the rosters will expand in September and Grandy should get some breaks.

      • Travelbug83 says:

        Yeah, once September rolls around I guess we are golden. Just that 20 game stretch in August without a legitimate CF backup is making me a bit nervous.

        • Robinson Tilapia says:

          Whassamadda? You afraid of a little Raul Ibanez in centahfield?

        • yoo boo says:

          CF on 40 man roster is Melky Mesa. Thats it.

          Dickerson or McDonald will have to take someone off 25 and 40 man rosters.

          Nix, Ibanez and Qualls are our weakest links. I doubt it is Nix and Qualls will be replaced by Chamberlain. That is a tough call.

        • PJ says:

          If Girardi would start Wise for a spot start in center, I don’t see him having any problem doing the same with Ichiro. With his range and arm he should be able to compensate for his inexperience to provide an above average defensive center field. At the very least he could not be any worse than Ibanez in LF.

          • yoo boo says:

            Girardi can do the scheduling for stadium. Granderson takes day off when Yanks play smaller CF area. Or something like that.

          • Travelbug83 says:

            But Wise has always been playing all three positions, last time Ichiro was in CF was four years ago. With his speed I agree that he can most likely be a respectable CF, but above average? I doubt it and his arms has also seen better days. Oh well, I agree that anything is better than Ibanez, even though he has not been the butcher in left that I expected him to be.

  12. Klemy says:

    Maybe it’s just me, but I find more and more highly combative people visiting these threads and it really has lessened my enjoyment of reading them. I notice more and more insulting and less debating facts. When I first started coming here in ’08, there was a much more friendly and forgiving atmosphere.

    I certainly don’t expect everyone to agree or care, but I’ll say it anyway.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      I think the site’s always been combative in many ways. Do you remember how much everyone used to lay into Bo?

      I think there was an expectation back then that, when you made the outlandish-type points, you had something to back it up with. If not, yeah, there was an army of guys ready to pounce, and guys like TSJC certainly had a level of wit about it I don’t have on my best day. Still, you had best know what you’re talking about back then, which is why I mostly lurked and had fun reading the threads.

      There’s a ton of vitrol and venting now. Some of us still try to fun with it all but, sometimes, you’re just not in the mood.

      • Klemy says:

        Yeah, that’s probably putting it better than I did.

        I mean, yeah…this is the internet and all. It just feels way different here than it did a short time ago. Maybe I’m just not in the mood for it more than I used to be.

        • jjyank says:

          I can’t speak for the good old days really. I’ve been reading RAB since forever, but never really broke into the comment section until last year. I think there is a pretty good core of commenters though. Most people are pretty rational, knowlesgeable fans, at least as far as the regulars go.

          Of course there are trolls, but I feel like we do our best to make light of it all.

      • vin says:

        Yeah, I agree. I think Klemy has his rose-colored glasses on. Remember the fella named DonnyHOF (or something along those lines?). He used to get everyone’s blood boiling.

    • pat says:

      Especially when it’s the same 5 people having the same 5 arguments every f*ckin thread.

    • BK2ATL says:

      There’s also a trolling element that exists as well.

      Some choose to ignore it, some choose to confront it, some choose to participate.

      I can’t say what’s the correct way for anyone else to handle it or approach it. My personal preference is to ignore the trolls and read past them. When it gets out of hand, I close out of that site and head elsewhere.

    • RI$P FTW says:

      RAB is still great, but can’t expect quality in the comments section of any site on the internet.
      Just read the content and skip the comments.

  13. vin says:

    Just wanted to go on record of saying I’m in favor of the Ichiro move… however, Chris Dickerson seems to be lost in all this. I’m willing to bet he can produce similar offensive numbers to Ichiro, and backup CF (not to mention that he has experience playing LF). It seemed like the only player to bump wise from the roster was either going to be a clear upgrade (Justin Upton) or a veteran with a major track record (Ichiro!).

  14. Kiko Jones says:

    Sad to see Wise go but glad to have Ichiro as a Yankees.

    As for those other guys, bottom line: I have not missed Gardner—yeah, he’s a great defender but his speed is of more consequence in the OF than on the bases: he’s not that great a hitter and is the most tentative base stealing speedster I can recall, ever—and I’m not about to dis the lineup that got my team a 10 game lead in the division. All of a sudden it’s “Oh, thank goodness we don’t have to rely that much on these scrubs anymore”? Sorry, not buying it.

    • Klemy says:

      “All of a sudden it’s “Oh, thank goodness we don’t have to rely that much on these scrubs anymore”

      I don’t know if I’ve really noticed everyone saying that, so much as that people are being put back in to the rolls they were originally signed for.

      • Kiko Jones says:

        It’s the gist of this post, albeit in not as harsh language.

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        “so much as that people are being put back in to the rolls they were originally signed for”

        We’re turning DeWayne Wise into a sandwich. Cashman really is a dick.

        • jjyank says:

          Haha nice one.

          I do miss Gardner though. Tentative base stealer or not, he lead the league in stolen bases last year. I miss that.

          • Cris Pengiucci says:

            But I’d really rather have Ichiro on the bases. While I admit I haven’t seen him play extensively, he seems to have much better instincts than Gardner. At 38, I don’t him to have as many steals as Gardner would have now, but I’m hopefull that he’ll take better advantage of the opportunities and make more of them (if that’s within his control). I just see him being better able to advance with Jeter hitting behind him than Gardner did.

  15. NYCSPORTZFAN says:

    its helps, because it gives us really great depth.. Some games you’ll have Chavez, Ibanez, and even ichiro on the bench, and some combonation of ichiro, Chavez, Jones, and ibanez.. Thats pretty sweet. Nix has been solid with the bat as well..

  16. Reggie says:

    The Chavez stat is a bit misleading, no?

    He was on the DL for most of May, June, and July – I’m sure that has more to do with his proximity to last year’s marks than the construction of the Yankees roster. If anything, it’s more indicative of the role he was meant to play last season.

  17. yoo boo says:

    I did not pay attention to Ichiro’s uniform until now. I am sure Dave Winfield laughed hard somewhere. What is his size? 5 7 130?

  18. that space cadet glow says:

    The bench has been gold, Jerry, gold.

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