Ibanez won't help Phillies all that much

December, 12, 2008
What are they saying in Seattle about officially losing their longtime left fielder?

    The Phillies gave Raul Ibanez a 3 year, $30 million deal to replace Pat Burrell today. It was pretty much a lock that the team that signed Ibanez was going to be an old-school type, but honestly, I'm a bit surprised that Philly was dumb enough to make this move. With guys like Jayson Werth, Shane Victorino, Geoff Jenkins, and Pedro Feliz, it was clear that they knew a good defensive player when they saw one. I guess they just feel that it's totally fine to have a lumbering oaf running around left field. They'll regret this contract by July, though.

So the Seattle blogger isn't upset about Ibanez leaving.

What about the Philadelphia blogger? Hope springs eternal, right? Here's Beerleaguer:

    I'm in total agreement with the majority of posters that said this deal makes very little logical sense. To borrow what's been written on FanGraphs.com, "it makes no sense to sign someone with similar skills that is less productive, older, and almost as, if not equally, costly." Perhaps more costly, when you consider the lost draft picks, tallying three when you consider the forfeitted pick to Seattle and the two lost picks that would come from offering Burrell arbitration a week ago.

    The fact that the Phils get together with Ibanez, a very good player but no superstar, and decide to set the bar this way in a saturated market for corner outfield is a thing of Phillies beauty. There was little to seperate Ibanez, who isn't an exact fit for their needs being another lefty bat and will push 40 by the end of this contract, from Burrell or many of the other options, including lesser players who could have served a platoon role. I think Amaro and his men are basing this decision on clutch hitting and a high batting average -- areas of typical fluctuation -- while ignoring many of the negative aspects of Ibanez's game, areas like defense that more and more clubs deem crucial. Above all, I can't get past his age, adding years -- five over Burrell -- to a team that's starting to have a few too many. Thumbs down.

Familiarity can do strange things to one's mind.

Pat Burrell is a good player. Not a great player, mostly because he's such a lousy outfielder. The people who run the Phillies watch Burrell every day all season long, and decided, reasonably enough I suppose, that they didn't want to spend $16 million per season on more of that.

Meanwhile, the people who run the Phillies have not been watching Raul Ibanez play every day. Sure, they've got their scouts. And outgoing Phillies GM Pat Gillick is certainly familiar with Ibanez, having worked for the Mariners as a part-time consultant in 2004 and '05 when Ibanez was playing (and playing well) for the M's. But unless the Phillies look at (and trust) the sophisticated fielding metrics, they probably don't know that Ibanez is just about as lousy in left field as Burrell.

Will they figure it out by July, though? Hard to say. We tend to see what we want to see. Ibanez is regarded as a good guy in the clubhouse, and he does hit for a higher batting average than Burrell (and Ibanez's average has now hovered within a 21-point range for seven years running). But regardless of what the people who run the Phillies might think over these next few years, the bottom line is this: They've just committed to spending $30 million on a player who won't help them win a great number of games.



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