Disappointing news this morning as Jayson Stark reports the Phillies have agreed to a three year, $30 million deal with 36-year-old left-handed outfielder Raul Ibanez. Ibanez is a very good hitter, but so was longtime Phillie Pat Burrell. It’s hard to imagine the financial commitment the Phils appear to be willing to make to Ibanez is much less than it would have taken to bring back Burrell. The Phils will apparently be paying Ibanez about $10 million a year when he’s 39 years old and will give up a draft pick to bring him in.
The addition leaves the Phils just about naked from the right side of the plate. Jayson Werth was fantastic in 2008. The second-best right-handed hitter on the team is Pedro Feliz, Chris Coste or Ronny Paulino. Take your pick. Switch-hitter Shane Victorino hit lefties well last season, 282/345/537. Fellow switchy Jimmy Rollins was a little better against righties than lefties. He hit 288/341/436 against left-handed pitching. The Phillies needed two right-handed bats without the addition of Ibanez. Still do, and if Ibanez joins the team there’s less places for them to play.
None of this is Raul Ibanez’s fault. Ibanez has pumped out at least 20 home runs four years in a row and put up 338 RBI in the last three years. He strikes out far less often than Burrell — over his career, Ibanez has struck out in 787 of his 5,301 plate appearances, which is about 14.8 percent of the time. Burrell has struck out 1,273 times in 5,388 plate appearances, about 23.6 percent of the time. It should also be pointed out that Ibanez has put up his recent numbers at Safeco Field, which is not a particularly good place to hit. Curiously, however, in three of the last four years his numbers have been better at Safeco than away.
Other than his age, the downside with Ibanez as an offensive player as I see it is his 268/322/411 career line against left-handed pitching. That .733 OPS is worse than Burrell’s 251/352/467 (.819 OPS) against his same side. Burrell’s .950 career OPS against his opposite side (left) of .950 is also better than the .849 OPS Ibanez has put up against righties. There are more right-handed pitchers than left, though, and Ibanez pounded lefties in 2008. In 2008 he hit 305/368/497 against left-handed pitching, after hitting a miserable 256/294/356 against them in 2007 and a miserabler 243/301/362 against them in 2006.
Interesting question about who will hit behind Howard in 2009 for the Phils. The answer is almost surely Jayson Werth at this point, assuming Utley and Howard continue to hit three-four.
It’s a little tough to separate how this will affect the Phillies on the field and the disappointment with the realization that it means Burrell won’t be back. I do think Burrell is the better hitter and will be this year as well, but not by a huge amount. All the left-handed hitters is a problem for the Phils that needs a solution. Overall, though, I would have to disagree with Amaro who suggested previously in relation to Burrell that it was not the time to be sentimental. I think it was a perfect time to be sentimental.
Cole Hamels has some stuff to say about the Mets and their ability to finish. Interesting question for me has been how Hamels is going to motivate himself after winning the World Series and being named the MVP of the NLCS and World Series all before he turned 25. That may be the answer.
If you’re every wondering if the article about Brad Harman you’re reading is from an Australian news source, learning that he was “overawed” by facing Randy Johnson and that Tim Lincecum throws 150km/h (that’s 90 miles an hour) should clue you in. No word on how things came out between Victoria and Queensland, though.
This suggests that Derek Lowe will get about four years, $65 million.
This says the Brewers are interested in Jamie Moyer.