The Yin/Yang of a returning Raul

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.

A native and resident of the Mean Streets of Southwestern Connecticut, Matt is a narcissistic, misanthropic 20something English teacher who lives by a simple creed: Yankees Only.

6 thoughts on “The Yin/Yang of a returning Raul

  1. TheOneWhoKnocks

    I feel like they can do better.
    It’s hard for me to make suggestions because while there are some options left, you don’t really know who is willing to sign under what terms. Hairston is the guy they are linked frequently to, and I like him more than Ibanez but it’s clear he’s looking for a 2-3 year deal and the Yanks probably won’t go there.
    But to use a roster spot on someone who can’t play the field, and can only hit righties, and doesn’t even hit them particularly well…We need to aim higher than that.

  2. Brian Henesey

    Did you even bother to look at Raul’s defensive statistics last year- he was actually above average. Raul hit 2 bombs in the playoffs versus left handers. Ichiro had a 307 OBA? That is the person who should have been left on the roster.

    • Ibanez had a .223 wOBA/32 wRC+ against LHP in 2012.

  3. OldYanksFan

    Yes… logic mught say look for a RH’ed power bat, but I honestly never liked RH’ed power in YS, unless they went the other way a lot (like ARod and Miggy) or the were VERY powerful (mcGuire, Kingman)… but I don’t think guys like Swisher and Teix do that well powerwise, batting RH’ed. Youk is going to be very disappointed.

    There are more RH’ed RPs in baseball, and Raul may be very effective off the bench.
    But whatever the question, the answer is always…
    What is the alternative?

  4. How much would Raul wind up costing the Yankees financially?

  5. fuster

    Ibanez turned out to be a great addition to the team and they paid him quite little.

    it looks like they are gonna need pinch-bitters given the likely catchers, and they REALLY need an outfielder who can bat from the right side, but Ibanez was a great bench guy and still should be.

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