Browsing Posts tagged Raul Ibanez

It’s been a difficult offseason for Yankee fans. Derek Jeter broke his ankle, but should return for Spring Training. Alex Rodriguez, who is undergoing hip surgery, will miss at least half of 2013. Nick Swisher, Russell Martin, Raul Ibanez, Eric Chavez, and Andruw Jones, who combined to hit 94 home runs, signed elsewhere. Rafael Soriano, who saved 42 games, is also expected to sign elsewhere. For better or worse, the Yankees were not linked to any top free agents. The Yankee brass is committed to spending less than baseball’s $189 million luxury tax threshold by 2014, so free agent spending sprees are off the table.

Brian Cashman always emphasizes the importance of keeping his ‘core’ together, so four key pieces were re-signed to team friendly deals. Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, and Hiroki Kuroda signed one-year deals while Ichrio Suzuki signed a two-year deal. These deals should help the Yankees win in 2013, but each player is over 40-years-old and adds little value to the future of the team.

The Yankees are one of the oldest teams in baseball, but still boast some of the game’s best players. Jeter and Ichiro will set the table for Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira, and Curtis Granderson. CC Sabathia will be supported by Kuroda, Pettitte, and Phil Hughes in the starting rotation. Mariano Rivera and David Robertson will lock down the backend of the bullpen. This core won 95 games last season, so anything less will be a failure.

While the Yankees boast a strong core, many are questioning their complementary parts. As of today, the Yankees have not named a starting catcher or designated hitter. Cashman will not sign a free agent catcher, so expect a combination of Francisco Cervelli-Chris Stewart-Austin Romine to start. Kevin Youkilis will start at third base, but he was signed as A-Rod’s caddy. The Yankees will need Youkilis to play third base and DH, but he can’t seem to stay healthy. If Youkilis suffers another injury, will the team trust Eduardo Nunez to play third base? Nunez is currently the de-facto designated hitter, but Cashman always extends multiple Spring Training invites. The Yankees have a glutton of left handed hitters in its outfield, so expect a right handed bat to join this threesome. Remember, Marcus Thames and Raul Ibanez were signed late and played significant roles. Expect similar moves.

Going into 2013, the Yankees have a very small margin for error. The roster is primarily comprised of older players that may break down. Each AL East foe improved its roster and many are expecting the Toronto Blue Jays to win the division. However, the Yankees boasted baseball’s best run differential and have a roster full of players that have endured October battles. The Yankees continue to pour resources into scouting and player development, but don’t count them out. In terms of player development and a more cost conscious approach, the 2013 season may prove to be a transition year. That doesn’t mean the Yankees are incapable of raising another AL East flag.

It took five games, but the Yankees were able to get the best of the Orioles. After watching Justin Verlander throw a gem last night, CC Sabathia delivered a gem of his own tonight. The big man was electric, dominating both sides of the plate while getting ahead of hitters with first-pitch strikes. CC is the definition of an ace and has earned every penny of his massive contract. 

The Yankees had their moments offensively, but Curtis Granderson’s seventh-inning home run sealed the deal. Granderson really, really struggled during the first four games of the series, but gave the Yankees a big boost when they needed it.

A few take-aways from the ALDS:

  • I was/still am 100 percent against benching A-Rod. He’s struggling and his at-bats are futile, but as we saw with Granderson, one swing can change everything. Baseball is all about confidence and I find it troubling that Girardi sat him. I don’t think A-Rod is hurt nor do I think he should be hitting third in the order. However, he plays great defense and can still get on base. One big swing may change his post-season, but that can only happen if he’s in the lineup. All four of Detriot’s pitchers are right-handed, but we can’t expect Girardi to start Chavez in each game. I hope/fully expect A-Rod to be in the starting lineup tomorrow night.
  • Yankee Starting Pitchers were dominant. Over the course of five games, the starters threw 38 innings and gave way to only nine earned runs! In addition, the Yankee bullpen was great and gave the offense additional innings to score run(s) (Cite: Mr. Ibanez)
  • Nick Swisher is terrible. I’m getting sick of Swisher. Fans love him because he’s a ‘happy-go-lucky’ type of guy, but this is the playoffs and he just sucks. Swisher was just 2-for-18 with five strikeouts. During his post-season career, Swisher is 23-for-139 (.165) which may be the worst batting average among players with 100+ at-bats. Since Gardner can’t swing a bat and Ibanez can’t run, Swisher is the de-facto starting right fielder. In the playoffs, it’s impossible to hide hitters, but I’ve learned to not expect anything from Swishalicious. In a month, he’ll be suiting up for Kenny’s New York Mets!
  • Will Joe add Andruw Jones? Given Swisher’s struggles and Joba’s injury, does Joe add Andruw Jones to his ALCS roster? Detriot’s starters are all right-handed and Jones has been futile against righties this season (.185/.293/.400). However, Swisher has been so bad that he has to at least consider it.
  • Still waiting for Soriano. Rafael Soriano didn’t have a big pressure-packed moment in the ALDS. Soriano’s counter-part, Jim Johnson was involved in almost every contest. Soriano was able to keep games tied, but did not have a pressure-packed save opportunity. With that being said, I’m sure Soriano will have that opportunity against the Tigers. We’ve seen closer after closer crumble in October, but we don’t know how Soriano will fare. Since Yankee fans are so used to ninth inning, post-season dominance, anything less will be a massive disappointment.
  • Congrats to the Orioles. No one expected anything from the O’s this season. However, they battled the Yankees for 23 games this season. The Yankees were able to get the better of them, but the future of the team is very, very bright.

Since both the Yankees and Tigers just used their aces, we’ll see #2 pitchers square off tomorrow night. Andy The Dandy vs. Doug Fister. Fortunately for the Yankees, a meeting with Justin Verlander won’t happen until Game 3. The downside? No CC until Game 4. Aces are wild, but these two will not meet unless there is a Game 7.

Days after finding out that Brett Garnder would need elbow surgery, the Yankees completed a trade for Ichiro Suzuki. To land the 38-year-old Suzuki, the Yankees dealt prospects, D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar, both of whom aren’t ranked among the team’s best players. The Yankees will be responsible for roughly $2 million of Ichiro’s remaining $6 million contract. 

Make no mistake about it–Ichiro isn’t the same player that he used to be. Ichiro has posted a line of .262/.288/.353 this season which is a far cry from his career averages (.322/.366/.418). However, Ichiro has played very well on the road, posting a more respectable line of .297/.314/.402. It’s clear that Safeco Field has plagued his production, so hopefully a change of scenery will help boost his numbers. Ichiro is still a top defensive player and has a great arm, so he’ll provide depth at all outfield spots.

Last night, Ichiro started in right field, which may be a sign of things to come, but with the incumbent Nick Swisher already in place, Ichiro may start in left field. However, the Yankee left field platoon of Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones has been excellent, so don’t expect Ichiro to earn playing time based on name value. At this stage of his career, Ichiro is no longer a top of the order, everyday player. Ichiro will provide depth at all outfield spots and will give the Yankees a talented bat at the bottom of their order. Ichiro hasn’t played in the post-season since 2001, but don’t expect any rust from the future Hall of Famer. 

In essence, Ichiro will provide some great outfield depth. With Brett Garnder sidelined, the Yankees needed a multi-dimensional outfielder that could spell all positions. Great players always have the ability to unlock their talents and perhaps Ichiro will feel re-motivated in New York. Ultimately, this move is very, very low risk for the Yankees and could pay off handsomely if ‘Road Ichiro’ shows up. 

Considering his age (40) and pre-season role as a pinch hitter, it was extremely easy to write off Raul Ibanez as a non-factor for the 2012 New York Yankees. However, after Brett Gardner suffered a wrist injury, Ibanez was thrust into the everyday lineup and has delivered time after time. While he doesn’t present much value defensively, Ibanez has carried a big stick, clubbing 12 home runs in 228 at-bats. Last night’s eighth inning grand slam off of Jason Frasor broke a 2-2 tie as the Yankees notched their AL-best 55th victory. 

While Ibanez has had his share of adventures in left field, the Yankees couldn’t ask for more out of their 40-year-old journeyman. It’s hard to believe that Ibanez has started 46 games in left field and only served as the DH 14 times. While Ibanez has clearly surpassed his pre-season expectations, Yankee fans will continue to expect more clutch hitting (and serviceable defensive play) from their left-handed masher. A few balls deposited in the right field stands won’t be too shabby, either.

After weeks of speculation, Raul Ibanez and the Yankees agreed to a one-year deal worth $1.1 MM plus incentives. Ibanez, who will turn 40 in June, mashed 20 HRs in 144 games for the Phillies last season. The Yankees plan only use Ibanez against RHPs and for good reason. Ibanez hit .256 and 16 of his 20 HRs came against RHPs. Ibanez did strike out in 17 percent of his at-bats, so the whiff factor will come into play.

The Yankees were also considering ex-friends, Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui. Matsui’s knees are no longer reliable and Damon appeared to price himself out of the Yankee budget. Overall, Damon had a better season than Ibanez is 2011. Damon has much more speed and can play the outfield, should the Yankees get into a pinch. However, it’s clear Cashman only wanted a righty masher and Ibanez is the right man for the job.