Raul Ibanez turned 41 years old this past June. He’s having a remarkable season … considering he’s 41 years old. He’s chasing a record for home runs hit at this advanced age. That record is currently held by Ted Williams. Ted. Williams. Quite impressive, it is. This week, Ibanez told reporters that he’d like to play another year. Heck, he was productive this season, so why not?
There’s no reason Ibanez shouldn’t play in 2014. There are plenty of reasons, however, the Seattle Mariners should not be the name on the front of his uniform.
When you have to qualify a player’s performance before placing positive adjectives into the description — he had a great year “for a 41-year-old” — that suggests he really didn’t have a great year by normal standards. Ibanez has been a fine addition to the ’13 Mariners. He’s hit 28 homers and posted a .506 slugging percentage. He’s not a value on defense at all, nor on the bases, making him a DH-only player that the M’s mis-used for most of this season.
The M’s should thank Ibanez for his performance, his professionalism and wish him well over the winter. He doesn’t fit what the club needs to do over the offseason. Having DH-only bats play the field is too detrimental, and Ibanz’s bat isn’t good enough to lean on regularly as the designated hitter.
Furthermore, having poor defenders — players that really shouldn’t play defense, particularly in the outfield — limits the manager’s flexibility, and the M’s may need platoon scenarios in one of the corner outfield spot and even at first base net season if they have any hope of scoring runs consistently, but a platoon-side DH-only player is too restrictive to the roster.
Yes, the Mariners need a lot more offense to show drastic progress in 2014. They also need to get better defensively, however, and shouldn’t sell out for home run power the way they did a year ago when they brought in Michael Morse, Kendrys Morales and Ibanez.
The Oakland Athletics have perfected the blueprint in this area. It’s copycat time.