Archive for Raul Ibañez
The Yankees will have a new DH next season. Raul Ibanez is headed back to Seattle, having agreed to a one-year deal with the Mariners according to multiple reports. He’ll earn a guaranteed $2.75M with another $1.25M in incentives. Just a few days ago we learned the Yankees were still talking to Ibanez about a return next season, but you can’t blame him for taking that deal. Great job by his agent. It’ll be Raul’s third stint in Seattle.
Ibanez, 40, earned True Yankee™ status with all of those ridiculously clutch homers late in the season and in the playoffs, but I was all for turning the page. I dig the idea of acquiring Jason Kubel to DH, but the free agent market has plenty of alternatives as well — Jim Thome, Travis Hafner, Jason Giambi, and Luke Scott just to name a few. I expect the club to seek a DH capable of actually playing the field in an emergency, so that probably rules out the Thomes and Hafners of the world.
Via George King: Brian Cashman confirmed that the team is still speaking to Raul Ibanez and his agent about a possible return next season. “We are talking to Raul Ibanez and his agent.,” said the GM, in case you didn’t believe me.
Last month we heard the Yankees had “significant interest” in bringing Ibanez back as the left-handed half of a DH platoon only. Of course, they said the same exact thing last offseason, but plans have a way of changing. Given the offensive hit they’re expected to take in right field and behind the plate, I really want the team to pursue a bigger bat for the DH spot. Raul’s a great guy and he hit some amazingly clutch homers, but that 102 wRC+ just isn’t doing it for me.
Via Ken Davidoff: The Yankees have “significant interest” in re-signing Raul Ibanez, but have asked him to hold tight while they take care of more pressing matters first. Those matters involve re-signing Mariano Rivera, Hiroki Kuroda, and potentially Andy Pettitte.
Ibanez, 40, hit .240/.308/.353 (102 wRC+) with a number of huge late-season homers this year, and I think it’s fair to say the team wouldn’t be interested in bringing him back without those homers. He didn’t exactly kill the ball from June through mid-September. The two sides have already had preliminary discussions and Ibanez told Davidoff that his first choice was to return to the Yankees next year, plus the free agent DH market stinks. The Yankees are going to need a DH capable of playing the field a bit, and despite how poor he is defensively, Raul can at least fake the corner outfield if needed.
Unsurprisingly, Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera was named the MVP of the AL tonight and it wasn’t all that close. He received 22 of 28 first place votes (362 pts) and Mike Trout (281 pts) finished a distant second. For shame. Robinson Cano (149 pts) finished fourth behind Miggy, Trout, and Adrian Beltre (210 pts). Derek Jeter (73 pts) finished seventh, which does not trigger the $2M escalator for his 2014 player option. There are still enough bonuses available for him to max that thing out at $17M, though. Rafael Soriano (one eighth and one ninth place vote) and Raul Ibanez (one tenth place vote!) also received votes while Hiroki Kuroda got shutout. I was hoping he’s grab a vote or ten, but oh well.
On the NL side of things, Buster Posey (422 pts) beat out the trio of Ryan Braun (285 pts), Andrew McCutchen (245 pts), and Yadier Molina (241 pts) pretty handily. There were like, six guys who could have legitimately won that award, but no one noticed because of the Trout-Miggy stuff. The full ballots are here (AL, NL), and the awards season is mercifully over. On to the hot stove.
Via Dan Martin: The Yankees have had “preliminary discussions” with Raul Ibanez about bringing him back for a platoon gig next season. He played more than the team wanted him to play this year due to Brett Gardner‘s injury, which makes it sound like they’re hoping to limit him to DH duties against righties going forward.
Ibanez, 40, hit .240/.308/.453 (102 wRC+) with 19 homers this year, including a 115 wRC+ against righties. He also started 76 games in the outfield thanks to Gardner’s elbow. The Yankees reportedly had interest in bringing him back a few weeks ago, which I guess I’d be fine with as long as they plan to limit him to DH work against righties and don’t consider him a right field solution. Either way, Ibanez will forever be remembered for many clutch homers down the stretch. That was a blast.
Via Wally Matthews: The Yankees have expressed interest in re-signing both Ichiro Suzuki and Raul Ibanez to short-term contracts. The former “strongly wants to stay” with the club while Brian Cashman said the latter won’t be as cost-effective going forward following his hugely clutch season.
Ichiro, 39, posted a 114 wRC+ in 240 plate appearances with the Yankees while the 40-year-old Ibanez put together a 102 wRC+ with a number of massive late-season homers. New York bought low on both guys and they did a fine job, but I’m always wary of bringing back older guys like this after an unexpectedly strong season. I’d rather replace them during the offseason rather than at the trade deadline. Hopefully the Yankees consider both backup plans and will look for better solutions in right and at DH.
Johnny Damon. Hideki Matsui. Carlos Pena. Vlad Guerrero. Magglio Ordonez. After the Yankees traded Jesus Montero in mid-January and created an opening at DH, that was the lot of free agent solutions. All offered name value and track records, but instead the club went in a different direction. They signed Raul Ibanez to guaranteed contract.
The move was met with plenty of skepticism — how could they pass up Damon and Matsui?!? — and for most of Spring Training, it sure appeared as though the Yankees got the wrong guy. Ibanez, who turned 40 in June, went 9-for-60 (.150) with 14 strikeouts and just three walks in camp, and only a brief homer binge in the final week of March made him look like a competent big league hitter. The Yankees stick with their guys though (just ask 2010 Marcus Thames), and Ibanez opened the season as the left-handed half of the DH platoon despite his brutal spring showing.
On Opening Day, Raul made the club look pretty smart. He drove in New York’s first run of the season with an RBI ground out in his first at-bat of 2012, and one inning later he turned a 4-3 deficit into a 6-4 lead with a three-run homer off Jamie Shields. Four days later plated the go-ahead run with a ground rule double against the Orioles in the 12th inning — who knew one-run wins in extra innings against Baltimore would be such a big deal at the time? — and five days after that he walloped a two-run homer off Jason Isringhausen that very nearly made the upper deck in right field. It was a bomb.
By the end of April, Ibanez had proven his worth by providing a number of big hits during the first few weeks of the season, but more importantly he had a new position. Brett Gardner went down with an elbow injury in the 11th game of the season, forcing Ibanez into left field on a semi-regular basis. He was still platooning with Andruw Jones at the time, so it wasn’t an everyday thing just yet. As funny as it sounded at the time, the Yankees signed Ibanez over guys like Damon, Matsui, and Vlad because of his defense. Not because he had more range or anything like that, but because he was more physically equipped to play the outfield on an everyday basis if need be.
Raul has a reputation of being a very streaky player, and after topping out at .268/.318/.543 on May 30th, he fell into a long and prolonged slump that saw him hit .191/.278/.330 in his next 234 plate appearances. It appeared as though all the extra time in the outfield had worn him down a bit, and it didn’t help that Gardner was hurt or that Jones cratered in the second half. The Yankees didn’t have many alternatives, so Ibanez continued to play left field for most of the summer despite being a two-way liability — on defense and in the batter’s box.
That 234 plate appearance slump dropped his season line to .222/.294/.415 with 14 games to go in the season. That’s when Ibanez turned things around and got hot. Very hot. And very clutch. Despite not starting against the Athletics on September 22nd, he came off the bench to hit a pinch-hit homer in the fifth before tying the game with a monster two-run homer in the 13th to complete the four-run comeback. He hit another huge game-tying two-run homer in Game 161, this one in the ninth inning against the Red Sox. He later won that game with a walk-off single (against a lefty!). The Orioles had already won that day, so a loss would have moved the Yankees into a tie with Baltimore for first place in the AL East heading into the final day of the season.
The Bombers won the division (and finished with the best record in the league) and Ibanez closed the season on a 15-for-47 (.405) hot streak that included four homers, including the pair of game-tying two-run shots. That was just the beginning though. Raul upped his clutch game in October, starting with Game Three of the ALDS. He came off the bench to pinch-hit for Alex Rodriguez down a run in the ninth, and hit a game-tying solo homer off Orioles super-closer Jim Johnson. A few innings later, he clubbed another solo homer, this one the game-winning walk-off shot against Brian Matusz (a lefty!). That gave New York the Game Three win and a 2-1 series lead. In Game One of the ALCS, he hit a(nother) game-tying two-run homer, this one off Jose Valverde in the ninth to cap off the four-run comeback. True Yankee™ had been achieved.
All told, Ibanez hit .240/.308/.453 with 19 homers in 425 plate appearances this season, doing most of his damage against righties (.248/.319/.492). Those four game-tying homers in September and October went down as the team’s four biggest hits of the season by WPA, which really doesn’t do them justice. They were enormous, season-defining shots. Ibanez also started 76 games in the outfield while Gardner was out, which was what, 70 more than expected? His defense won’t get any praise from me, but I will give Raul credit for stepping up and stepping in to help the club when (and where) needed.
Damon and Matsui hooked on with the Indians and Rays, respectively, but were released by midseason due to poor performance. Pena stuck with Tampa all year but hit just .197/.330/.354. No team even bothered to sign Vlad or Magglio. The Yankees chose the unpopular DH solution prior to season and were rewarded many times over. Ibanez was the team’s second best hitter behind Derek Jeter in April and he piled up enough jaw-droppingly clutch homers down the stretch to last a baseball lifetime. One-year contracts worth about a million bucks don’t get much better.
A total of 137 players around the league officially hit free agency today, including a dozen Yankees: Eric Chavez, Pedro Feliciano, Freddy Garcia, Raul Ibanez, Andruw Jones, Hiroki Kuroda, Derek Lowe, Russell Martin, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Ichiro Suzuki, and Nick Swisher. Rafael Soriano can join them if he opts out of his contract by Wednesday’s deadline, which seems likely. Feliciano’s inclusion in the list of free agents is an indication that the Yankees have already declined his $4.5M club option. That is not surprising at all after the left-hander threw zero meaningful pitches during his time in pinstripes.
Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, players don’t even have to file for free agency anymore. They just hit the open market. I never understood the point of that anyway. Players are free to sign with new teams starting Saturday. Click here for the full offseason schedule.
Via Kristie Ackert: Brian Cashman chimed in on the status of both Russell Martin and Raul Ibanez, two of the team’s impending free agents, during a recent radio interview. The Yankees and Cashman love what Martin brings to the table but “me liking him doesn’t guarantee us keeping him.” The backstop turned down a three-year, $20M-something extension offer last year and honestly I would not be surprised if he winds up with something like three years and $27M on the open market. There will be competition for him, specifically from the deep-pocketed Red Sox and Rangers.
Meanwhile, Cashman also seemed to indicate that a second tour of duty for Ibanez was unlikely. He said he was a great one-year signing who hit some massively huge homers, but his price went up and he won’t be as cost effective. The Yankees landed him at a discount last winter because of his poor 2011 season with the Phillies. Raul won’t ever have to buy himself dinner in New York again, but I would have no problem with the team bringing in someone else to DH. Ibanez is the kind of guy you want to get rid of a year too early rather than a year too late.
The Yankees were swept out of the ALCS by the Tigers almost a week ago, but it wasn’t until today that Joe Girardi conducted every manager’s annual end-of-season press conference. He said the team has yet to look back and evaluate the 2012 campaign just because everyone takes a few days off to be with their families and kinda get away from baseball immediately after the season ends. They’ll obviously evaluate the club top to bottom in the coming weeks. Here are the important notes from the press conference…
On Alex Rodriguez…
- “These were things that we evaluated a lot before we made our decisions,” said Girardi when asked about benching A-Rod in the postseason. “I don’t go back and second guess myself.”
- Girardi has not yet spoken to Alex (or any other player for that matter) about their relationship, but said “that will take place … it just hasn’t yet.” He isn’t worried about things being strained but acknowledged that actions have consequences and he will deal with them if need be.
- Girardi said he believes A-Rod was healthy in the postseason and was just struggling, particularly against righties.
- “Can Alex be a very good player again? Absolutely, I don’t have any question in my mind,” said the skipper. He praised A-Rod’s baseball smarts and said he expects him to be his everyday third baseman next season.
- Chad Jennings has Girardi’s full quotes about A-Rod if you aren’t sick of hearing about it yet.
On the playoffs…
- “Yes it was somewhat puzzling,” said Girardi on the offense’s struggles. He attributed Robinson Cano‘s disappearing act to being pitched well and just falling into a poorly-timed slump. He did acknowledge that Robbie was frustrated, which likely compounded the problem.
- Girardi said he doesn’t think the team’s unfavorable postseason schedule contributed to their lack of hitting, ditto all the tough games they had to play down the stretch in September. He basically said he doesn’t believe his team was worn out after a month of playoff-type games.
- “I hope not,” said Girardi when asked if he may have he lost the trust of some players by sitting them in the postseason. “I was making moves trying to win ballgames … I’ve been honest with our players and I will continue to do that, and I will do my best for this organization to win every game.”
- Girardi attributed the dull Yankee Stadium atmosphere in the postseason to a lack of scoring on the team’s part, nothing more. “I think our fans are very passionate about the Yankees (because) we see it even on the road.”
- “(It has) not taken place,” said Girardi when asked if CC Sabathia has gone to visit Dr. James Andrews about his elbow. He is encouraged by his ace left-hander’s performance in September and the ALDS and he expects to have him in Spring Training. “We’re always concerned that it’s maybe something more than you think it is … I don’t like people going to see doctors (but) sometimes people have to be evaluated to make sure everything is okay.”
- “We expect him to be back and playing for us next year on Opening Day,” said Girardi about Derek Jeter and his fractured ankle. He added that there are always concerns following a surgery, including Jeter pushing his rehab too hard and having some kind of setback.
- Mariano Rivera did throw sooner than expected this year but Girardi never did ask him if he will definitely return next season. “I don’t think you push a rehab like he pushed it unless you have some interest in coming back,” he said.
- There were no undisclosed or “hidden” injuries this year, so to speak. Russell Martin‘s hands are banged up but that is typical catcher stuff and isn’t a long-term concern.
- Both hitting coach Kevin Long (elbow) and third base coach Rob Thomson (hip) will have surgery this offseason, if you care.
On free agents and the team moving forward, etc…
- “There’s a lot of hunger and fire in him,” said Girardi about Andy Pettitte, but he doesn’t know if the veteran southpaw will return next year. He expects him to discuss things with his family before making a decision.
- He mentioned briefly that like Pettitte, Hiroki Kuroda is among the players who will make a decision about his future and playing beyond this year.
- Girardi said he was unsure about Ichiro Suzuki coming back next year but he knows the veteran outfielder enjoyed his time in New York. He also praised Ichiro for making adjustments like playing left field and batting towards the bottom of the order.
- “I think this kid has something to offer us,” said the manager about Eduardo Nunez while also acknowledging that his role for next year is undetermined because other parts of the club are unsettled. “There is talent there, there is speed, there is excitement, he has a lot to offer.”
- “There’s a lot of players we have to decide what we’re going to do with, but I believe when Spring Training starts next year, we’ll be a championship club,” said Girardi, acknowledging that the team has a lot of players with open contract situations.
- He also spoke about the Yankees getting power from non-traditional power sources (specifically catcher, second base, and center field) and their ability of the offense to absorb the loss of a homerun hitter (i.e. Nick Swisher) if that happens this winter.
- Girardi acknowledged that the team has a busy offseason coming but doesn’t expect the chaos to be a problem. “Sometimes quiet is a bad thing,” he joked.
On the status of him and his coaches…
- “No. The pressure you see I put on myself,” said Girardi when asked about the pressure of entering a contract year. He doesn’t expect the team to talk about a new deal until his current one expires and he doesn’t anticipate asking for an extension before then either.
- Girardi expects the entire coaching staff to return next year but again pointed out that the team has not yet discussed everything.
- Girardi praised his role players for stepping up into more prominent roles than expected this year, mentioning Raul Ibanez, David Phelps, and Cody Eppley by name.
- When asked about Cano’s general lack of hustle down the line to first base, Girardi said he “will address with every player to play hard.”