Another year for Raul Ibanez?

 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.

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Jason A. Churchill

Churchill founded Prospect Insider in 2006 after getting his start at InsidethePark.com. He spent several years covering prep, college and pro sports for various newspapers, including The News Tribune and Seattle PI. Jason spent 4 1/2 years at ESPN and two years at CBS Radio prior to joining HERO Sports in July, 2016. Find Jason's Mariners podcast, Baseball Things, right here and follow him on Twitter @ProspectInsider.

9 Comments

  1. Not sure why the sale of the team would be accelerated (or even considered). Part of the reason that Yamauchi gave Ninetendo of America (and the local ownership) 51% ownership, was so that the functions of the Mariners would remain un-interrupted in the event of his death, as I recall.

  2. JAPANESE OWNER DIES.

    Hey Jason, could this accelerate the sale of the team? If so, how soon.

  3. From what I can gather, the best offer the Mariners got for Ibanez was less than what the White Sox received for Alex Rios, who is actually under contract beyond 2013. All the Sox could get was cash or a player to be named later. That’s why he wasn’t traded. No other reason.

  4. Raul has had a good two months to the season and that is it. His bat got hot, really hot for two months and that’s where all his value is. His second half numbers? .223 batting average. 4 home runs, which equates to a HR every 42 plate appearances (!!!!). A .372 slugging percentage and a .683 OPS. Did his BABIP fall? Nope still above .300. The problem is Raul had a power surge for two months.

    He is an over the hill player that has no value moving forward. He’s useless in the field and just as useless on the base paths. His second half line is much more indicative of the type of player Raul is moving forward then the two good months he had this year.

    He should have been flipped a month before the deadline when he was hot, instead he reverted to his true self, which is not a ball player anymore. If the M’s resign him they are in serious serious trouble.

  5. I agree with WSM in that Raul isn’t a bad player. I don’t think he’s as good as WSM says: the fact that he’s one of our better hitters this year speaks more to how shitty our team is than to Raul’s prowess.

    That said…..I don’t mind having him on the team. I just wished the team used him in better ways.

    The roster construction this year was VERY poorly conceived, and the fact that Raul has played 92 games in the OF is a direct result of bad planning. Having around a guy like Raul as a part-time DH/PH/emergency OFer isn’t a terrible thing. In that proper role, his benefits to the clubhouse are valid. But since the club loaded up on too many defensively limited players, and because Wedge doesn’t evaluate talent very well, he was put into a position to play far more than he should have. Especially in the OF, where his defense negated a lot of what he did do at the plate.

    He’s played much better than anyone could have expected. But if the M’s hadn’t built a fundamentally flawed roster last offseason, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. The problem isn’t Raul. Its Jack and Wedgie.

  6. Having a platoon DH is a problem no matter who the player is if he can’t also play the field and provide some value there.

  7. Raul has a better OPS this year than any Mariner since Russell Branyan and Ichiro in 2009. Sure, he’s not likely to repeat that, but still…

    He has no business in the outfield. I think the club knows that. If he’s back next year, it won’t be as a starting LF or even as a 4th OF.

    We’ve repeatedly done worse than Raul at DH, year in and year out. If Morales walks that could be the story again. There are much worse things than having Raul as a platoon DH.

    But as a cheap 5th OF/part-time DH/pinch hitter/2nd bench coach I’m all for it. Having Ackley in the outfield gives the team the necessary IF insurance to carry Raul on the bench along with a backup SS and a true 4th OF.

  8. Nope, but you made a good point, of course.

  9. Well said Jason! Did my comments under your previous Ichiro article inspire this one? 🙂

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