The Yankees are still talking with Raul Ibanez about a return to pinstripes and I don’t think I could be more lukewarm about it. My first thought with regards to Lord Voldemort’s look alike–and this dates back to when he was brought on in the first place–is that he’s a guy you let go a year too early rather than a year too late. The Yankees took this approach with fan-favorites (and more accomplished players) Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui, and I don’t think they regret it in the least. But the more I think about this situation, the more I warm up just a little bit.
Last year, Brett Gardner‘s injury–and Nick Swisher‘s two week-long absences–forced Raul into the field much more than we cared to see. Now, with a healthy Gardner and an officially re-signed Ichiro Suzuki to go along with Curtis Granderson in the outfield, the Yankees should discover it–much to their delight–rather hard to find time for Raul Ibanez to play at any position other than DH. The less an older player (and a poor fielder at that) has to take the field, the better it is for the player and the team. Staying on the bench while the team is on defense will help Ibanez stay healthy and help keep runs off the board. The Yankees can further limit the Dark Lord by playing him only against right handed pitchers.
Though he didn’t light up the board against righties like we’d’ve liked last year, he was still productive against them. He ended up with a .343 wOBA/115 wRC+ against them, with a walk rate over 9% and an Iso of .245. By no means is any of that bad, but it’s still not quite enough out of a guy who’s essentially a platoon player. But again, perhaps playing the field so much affected him enough that his performance at the plate suffered.
In terms of an acquisition for DH, Ibanez is most certainly the devil the Yankees know. He will probably give above-average production against right handed pitchers, but given that he will contribute nothing defensively, he’ll need to be more than just above average. Can he do that? I’m not entirely sure. As RAB’s Mike Axisa said in the above-linked article, the team will need a big bat in a power spot like this. The Yankees are going to be down power bats in right and left as well as catcher. Ibanez is a perfectly suitable DH, but the Yankees need something more than suitable.