Ibanez to 1B

Dave · September 14, 2004 at 10:12 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Good news from the Times.

After making his 2004 debut at first base Sunday, Raul Ibanez was back in left field last night, but he will see more playing at first in the final three weeks of the season.

Really, this is the right move. This opens up more playing time for Jeremy Reed and should mean less time for Spiezio and Bloomquist. I’m of the opinion that Ibanez should play first base for the remainder of his contract (assuming the M’s couldn’t unload him), and I’d prefer this to be a permanent move.


32 Responses to “Ibanez to 1B”

  1. johnb on September 14th, 2004 11:11 am

    Raul is not who we need at first base.
    We need some left handed power and average at that position, plus some nifty defense. Raul isn’t the guy…next!

  2. Evan on September 14th, 2004 11:17 am

    But since we can’t move Raul’s contract, 1B is the best place to put him. He needs to play somewhere.

  3. tyler on September 14th, 2004 11:24 am

    great move m’s… the best of a bad situation.

    this move isn’t about Ibanez. it is about the future, i.e. Jeremy Reed and his readiness. And also Bloomquist and his lack of a future!

  4. Bob Milquetoast on September 14th, 2004 11:24 am

    As long as Randy is still playing center field.

  5. tede on September 14th, 2004 11:29 am

    In their first start as a tandem 1B/CF combo on Sunday, Ibanez allowed a double by Manny Ramirez to go between his legs at 1B and Jeremy Reed loafed after Trot Nixon’s double thinking it was leaving yard. Last year’s 1B/CF combo catches one or both of those balls.

    At the plate, Jeremy has yet to impress with only a couple weak infield hits.

  6. Paul Weaver on September 14th, 2004 11:36 am

    When I saw Reed in Tacoma, I felt that he was 75% ready. A AAAA player as they’re called here, who will one day be a major leaguer. He’ll get comfortable at the plate eventually.
    Olerud and Cameron were professionals at their positions. Reed is an aspiring professional, still getting used to Safeco field. Ibanez is basically being paid for his bat. I can see him as a DH.

  7. Ron on September 14th, 2004 11:36 am

    it certainly gives the M’s more flexibility in who they can go after in the offseason. they can go after a corner OF or a 1b, and plug Ibanez into the hole they don’t fill.

    this may not be a popular opinion, but I think that they should also explore the trade market for Winn in the offseason. he’s got an attractive contract and is a decent offensive force [as long as you don’t look at him in April or May]. why not see if trading him can fill another hole in the offense?

  8. Troy Sowden on September 14th, 2004 11:37 am

    Question for Dave re: Reed/Winn
    I know you aren’t a big believer in Reed’s ability to play CF. Which or the two do you like there better, Reed or Winn? I’m thinking Reed’s superior instincts and arm will make him a better CF than Winn, if not a good CF, but you’ve seen him play much more than I have. Any thoughts you can share?

  9. big chef terry on September 14th, 2004 11:44 am

    Raul Ibanez could not start at first for a single contending team in either league. A similar but not so all encompassing statement could be made about him in left field too.

    Amongst all playoff contending teams if he’s the worst first baseman, how does this make the Mariners able to improve? Vault the Rangers for another 3rd place finish?

    Everyone is trying to make chicken and dumplings out of gizzards, by looking at the 40 man roster, shuffling it and then suggesting that signing Carlos Beltran that everything will be fine. The biggest problem for the Ms is that their 40 man roster probably does not have the component parts when combined with a couple of free agents to be playoff competitive. Beyond Ichiro, the existing group of players are very soft defensively up the middle. Reed has not shown ballhawking run all over the yard type of cf play that we’ve grown to expect since Junior arrived and was carried on by Cameron. That has more to do with the collapse of the pitching staff than anything, including BoMel’s bullpen management. Boone is fading as a defensive second baseman and Lopez needs a few seasons.

    In this group of players they also have to find a number 3 hitter and a number 4 hitter. They’re not in that group of 40 players.

    Do an exercise and put down every position including dh and put down the yankees, red sox, twins, white sox, indians, As, Angels, Rangers and M’s. In other words create a matrix. Nine teams. In fact do two matrices. In the first matrix rank each player from each team at their position from 1-9 in terms of who’s best, using OPS or your own offensive measure. Do the same thing for defense. Use the kids if you want and project their performance.

    Without looking at the pitching, I think you will get a look at how dismal things are with the good ship mariner. With a couple of exceptions very few of their players if any rank first in either list…Ichiro may be the best defensive right fielder, its close with Guererro, but that’s about it…offensively its pretty much near the bottom of the pack and up the middle its the same now…

    They need to sign some young key free agents to longer term deals and build around that…which is a financial concept that Howard Lincoln regards as poison.

  10. Paul Weaver on September 14th, 2004 11:48 am

    Actually Ron,

    I think that is the popular opinion. People like Winn’s batt, but criticize his arm. If the Mariners sign a CF, Winn would become good trade bait. I would love to see the M’s get a solid reliever and a decent prospect in exchange, (or any other combination of desirables). Worst case scenario, no trade/free agents: we have too many LFers.

  11. Dave on September 14th, 2004 12:06 pm

    I think Reed and Winn are both left fielders, though if forced at gun point to stick one there permanently, I’d go with Reed. I don’t actually agree that Reed has superior instincts to Winn, who has gotten quite a bit better as the year has gone on, I believe. Winn has gone from something like the worst CF ever to merely not good, and his reactions/routes are improving. He still doesn’t have the range necessary to cover CF, and Reed is able to cover a bit more ground at this point in their careers, which gives him a slight edge. Reed’s arm is also less-girly, though certainly not strong.

    I expect Winn to be dealt in the offseason, honestly. There’s a market for his services, and the M’s are going to make a run at a slugger or two. I think Winn is the odd man out.

  12. DMZ on September 14th, 2004 12:18 pm

    I agree with Dave — I think Winn’s play in CF has improved a lot over the course of this year. Taking better routes means he’s getting to balls faster, covering more ground. Unfortunately for all the work that’s been done on defensive stats, something this fine isn’t quantifiable.

  13. eponymous coward on September 14th, 2004 12:38 pm

    Yep. I know Ibanez at 1B isn’t great, but teams have won with unimpressive players there (see: Sid Bream, Scott Hatteberg. Yeah, I know Moneyball and Beane love him. I don’t see it beyond “cheap mediocre bat who works the count but still doesn’t hit like a good 1B”).

    And yeah, the roster has issues- the bullpen needs a complete overhaul it’s unlikely to get (thus we’re reduced to hoping Shiggy/Mateo return to form, that Villone stays effective, and so on), the rotation has serious weak spots in the forms of how Moyer and Franklin have pitched this year and Meche and Piniero’s injury history, the M’s inclination to fill out their bench with Willie Bloomquist clones means there’s little margin for error when injury strikes or PH options, Boone, Spiezio, Wilson and Ibanez are likely to be serious drags on the offense, and so on.

    Contention in 2005 is not likely, unless the M’s do a 180 from a lot of organizational trends AND get lucky with FA’s, rookies, and injuries (if Reed hit like Winn, Lopez hit like Guillen and played creditable SS, whoever the FA’s the M’s got contributed, Boone and Moyer bounced back some, Franklin was banished from the rotation in favor of a FA starter and contributed in the bullpen, the bullpen bounced back some and got some new blood, the M’s got some decent hitting on their bench and got over their obsession with the Wilsons and Bloomquists of the world). It’s unlikely all of this happens, however, and I think most people know it.

  14. Jimmie on September 14th, 2004 3:21 pm

    Re: Scott Hatteberg — This is a stupid question, but why do people bust on Hatteberg? Neyer does all the time, and I’ve seen it elsewhwere, too. He’s got the third-best VORP for a first baseman in the AL, that’s gotta account for something, right? I personally don’t care one way or the other, just one of those things I think about from time to time when avoiding actual work. 😉


  15. Paul Mocker on September 14th, 2004 3:37 pm

    Jose Lope has 5 home runs. Dave and DMZ – how does this compare to his PECOTA baseline projection? Is it indicative of a new skill and does it bode well for the future?

  16. Jon on September 14th, 2004 3:37 pm

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The proof of Howard Lincoln’s sincerity in his recent letter will be whether the M’s continue to use their past mistakes as excuses for not doing something going forward. For example, if the M’s continue to count Cirillo (or the crapfest we got for him) in their payroll, then we know Lincoln is stinkin’. Also, if the M’s insist on playing players out of position or retaining them on their roster because of their contracts, then we know Howard is a coward. I’m not suggesting the M’s shouldn’t try Ibanez at 1b and see how he does. That’s fine. But if they force him to play there next year and that prevents the team from getting the power hitting lefty 1b they really need, then the M’s haven’t changed their spots. And if they insist on playing Winn at CF because he’s under contract and that means the M’s can’t bring in a true CF, then the M’s are beyond delusional. I could go on and on. The M’s shouldn’t use the contracts with Spiezio, Winn and Ibanez as reasons for not acquiring better players. At worst, those guys could platoon and help address the M’s chronic bench problem.

  17. Evan on September 14th, 2004 3:38 pm

    This year Hatteberg is good. At age 34. I don’t know what Billy Beane saw that the rest of us didn’t, but this year the guy makes us all look silly by hitting like a first baseman.

    Then I look at the list, and I realise it’s a pretty weak year for first basemen. Wow.

  18. Evan on September 14th, 2004 3:45 pm

    Jose Lopez’s 50th percentile PECOTA projection is right in line with his major-league performance this year. He’s maybe showing a bit more power than expected.

  19. Sergey on September 14th, 2004 3:52 pm

    What happened to JMB? So far, he has a single post in Sept 2004.

  20. Evan on September 14th, 2004 4:02 pm

    New baby.

  21. Dave on September 14th, 2004 4:07 pm


    Jason actually posted on the 9th. He’s just remarkably busy being a new father, plus all the other responsibilities in his life.

    I’ve never quite understood the idea that a team “needs” certain production from specific positions. The M’s need improvement in all areas, but to suggest that it has to come at first base or left field seems to pointlessly limit yourself. Make your team better every chance you have. If you can get a left fielder clearly better than every first baseman available, and that causes you to move Ibanez to the infield, this doesn’t show a lack of commitment or a failure to recognize the need for a first baseman.

    Jon, I know you have a man crush on Carlos Delgado and want a 260 pound masher at first base. But runs are runs, and if the M’s can get a guy who produces runs at another position, please don’t complain that they didn’t get the lefty mashing first basemen they “desperately need”.

  22. Rob Salkowitz on September 14th, 2004 4:13 pm

    Seems to me that if the Ms don’t get Beltran (and who really thinks they will do what’s necessary to get him?), the answer is for the post-Melvin manager to tell Ichiro to play CF for the good of the team, like it or not, and let Winn, Ibanez, Reed and whatever other spare parts and rookies they bring in fight over the corner slots, where they belong. Winn in CF is a disaster, not just because of his rag-arm, but because he frequently misjudges balls and plays outs into extrabase hits.

  23. G-Man on September 14th, 2004 4:21 pm

    I keep saying that this team has to sign a big bat, then figure out how to shuffle defensive positions to get him in. It’s OK to target a Beltre or whoever, but sign him or JD Drew or whoever, then set the defense.

    I will now add that this philiosophy applies to trades as well. Winn and ibanez have both been mentioned as guys we should move, but we know they aren’t going to be prime targets for anyone. So get the best deal you can for either one of them, perhaps for a bullpen arm or some sort of starter, then put together what’s left on defense.

    This flexibility with positions is one of the team’s assets this winter. It ain’t much, but it’s useful. It’s a lot better than last offseason, when they couldn’t sign a big bat for 1B or DH because those positions were set in stone.

  24. Dave on September 14th, 2004 5:05 pm


    PECOTA’s weighted mean projected a major league equivalent line for Lopez of .254/.296/.379. Lopez is hitting .241/.272/.393, so it’s within the normal range of variation. He’s basically playing at exactly replacement level with a VORP of 0.8.

  25. Jim Thomsen on September 14th, 2004 5:22 pm

    I don’t think anybody can equate the A’s use of Hatteberg with the M’s possible plans for Ibanez at first. First, they only bear the most superficial of similarities, in that they’re medium-power guys in their thirties. Ibanez is two years younger, which is significant, and Hatteberg has exceptional plate discipline, which is even more significant.

    Second, the A’s put Hatteberg at first expressly to take advantage of his on-base skills (though even I think batting him leadoff as much as they did in past years was a pointless paper strategy doomed to fail in reality). Ibanez is a comparative hack with far less ability to put the bat on the ball, let alone drive it to where it needs to go.

    Third, and most important, the A’s use of Hatteberg at first was part of a well-crafted organizational strategy which worked only because they were smart enough to find all the right pieces at other positions to make the plan work. Ibanez’s use at first is part of a “make the best of a bad situation while ignoring how we created the bad situation in the first place” strategy that has no net benefits unless other bad-situation players are discarded to or their roles altered in such a way to minimize their weaknesses and spotlight their strengtrhs.

    Third, Hatteberg has a classic old player’s skills, and is likely to retain them longer at a plus-VORP level (though I don’t think anybody thought he’d have this big a year, let alone a career year, at 34). Ibanez doesn’t have those skills, and they’re much more likely to atrophy in his age 33 and 34 contract years. My guess is that he’ll hit so poorly by the second half of 2005 that he’ll need to be replaced in the daily lineup on the Spiezio/Cirillo career curve, and that he’ll either be released or deeply mired on the 2006 Mariner bench. I think PECOTA will support this, and I’ll be interested to see what Nate Silver comes up with by next spring.

    In short, I think Ibanez at first represents no kind of long-term solution, and probably not even a short-term one. I think we’re seeing now that his short run as a quality player is through. He, along with Jamie Moyer, Scott Spiezio, Shigetoshi Hasegawa and Ryan Franklin, could be the players that most doom anything the Mariners attempt in 2005 — even if the M’s score Matt Clement, Carlos Beltran, J.D. Drew and Adrian Beltre.

    They are:
    a) no longer good players
    b) have guaranteed, overpriced 2005 contracts
    and c) have no real or perceived trade value, even for Tampa Bay.

    Because of that, it almost doesn’t matter that the M’s might squeeze some trade value out of Randy Winn, that Jeremy Reed may or may not develop, that Bucky can sustain his 2004 accomplishments, that Bobby Madritsch may be a quality 220-inning-a-year starter, that Chris Snelling and Rett Johnson may shock the hell out of everybody and come back in the second half, or any of a dozen other questions for which we hope and scratch for positive answers.

    Raul Ibanez is a nice, pleasant, cheerful, hardworking tumor.

  26. Matt on September 14th, 2004 7:30 pm

    And so after that article in todays paper what are we presented with? Willie Bloomquist at first, Ibanez in Left and Bocachica in center. Good times.

  27. Jerry on September 14th, 2004 7:34 pm


    I think that you are way overstating how bad Ibanez, Moyer, Hasegawa, Spiezio and Franklin are for the team. They have been disappointing, but they are not “the players that most doom anything the Mariners attempt in 2005”

    Those 5 players make a combined 15 million next year. That is about 15% of the payroll. It is unfortunate, but it is by no means going to destroy the team. It is a good bet that at least a few of those guys are going to be useful players next year. And three of the five of them are coming off the books after 2005, which makes them much easier to trade. Out of those guys, I think that all will be better in 2005.

    I think that out of those players, the ones that are most likely to bounce back are Shiggy, Ibanez, and Moyer. I don’t think that any of these guys will have career years, but I think that Moyer could still be a 12-15 game winner next year, and Shiggy could pitch to his career averages. With Ibanez, he was hitting well until his hamstring injury, and I think that this definitely limited his power when he came back.

    Big Chief Terry and others need to realize how much payroll flexibility the M’s have. They can spend 37 million in free agency next year to have the 95 million payroll that Lincoln announced in the press around that all-star break. That is almost half of the 88 million that will be on the openning day roster. You can get a lot of things for that much. Terry is right that the M’s have a lot of holes, but they can also fill a lot of holes.

    That kind of cash could break down to:

    -14 million for an elite position player
    -12 million for a slightly less elite position player
    -9 million for a #1 starter
    -2 million for a reliever

    Adjust those numbers slightly, and the team could add in a third position player.

    The M’s can add 4-5 very good players next year. Everyone knows that absolutely everything that could possibly go wrong this year has, and several players have had the worst seasons of their careers. Maybe it is payback for 2001, when almost everyone on the team played to their maximum potentials. If you just play the probability, it is almost certain that at least a few of the players that everyone has written off as crap (Shiggy, Spiezio, Ibanez, Boone, Mateo, Moyer) bounce back and play to their career means.

    The M’s probably aren’t going to win the West in 2005, but there is no reason to start thinking that the team is hopeless. You guys need to lighten up.

  28. eponymous coward on September 14th, 2004 8:15 pm

    Um, not to belabor the point too much, but Hatteberg is 11th in MLB in VORP…it’s a career year for him, and he’s STILL not in the top 10 at his position. If that’s not mediocre, I don’t know what is.

    Jerry, your point’s well taken- but that counters are that:

    – the Mariners still have a fondness for guys like Franklin, Spiezio, Shiggy, Ibanez, Bloomquist and Wilson that far exceeds their actual value. The official PR about Franklin has been “aw, too bad he hasn’t gotten run support, better luck next year”, for instance, not “maybe 2003 was a fluke and he’s really an Elmer Dessens type who is a marginal starter”. Wilson’s defense is applauded and the fact he hasn’t hit since April is ignored. Willie is applauded as “gritty”. And so on.

    – Go look at some starting pitchers in their 40’s like Niekro, Carlton, and Spahn and note what happens when their ERA’s and HR rates start to balloon like Jamie’s have this year- they retire pretty quickly, because the league is letting them know “time to go now”. They generally don’t bounce back to their previous level of performance. We’ll be doing well if Jamie has a league-average ERA next year (adjusted for park) and 12-15 wins, and we might get 2004 all over again.

    – Second basemen don’t age well- Jeff Kent is one of the few that has. Roberto Alomar is only a year older than Bret, and he’s almost out of the league. Joe Morgan fell off a lot in his mid-30’s; so did Ryne Sandberg. Bret’s year this year is out of context for 2001-2003, but it’s NOT out of context for his career overall. I’m not sure you can count on him to bounce back.

    – The M’s generally use weird accounting, where they add money for benefits, reserve funds, and so on, so when they say “$95 million”, they probably mean something between 85-90 million in actual salaries with the rest being padding.

    I’m not saying it’s hopeless at all- but 2005 is much more likely to be a season where progress is made by adding some pieces that will be of value in 2006 and beyond, and the mistakes of the past come off at the end of the year, and we end up at .500.

  29. Dave on September 14th, 2004 8:28 pm


    I realize it’s fun being an optimist, but I think it’s rather apparent that Ibanez and Hasegawa have “bounced back”. They played way over their heads in the recent past, but their current performances are what we would expect considering their skillsets. Moyer is showing all the classic signs of normal decline, losing the fringes of his command that is leading to a ridiculously high HR rate. He’s not getting that back down to the levels he needs it to be.

    You’re right that those guys won’t sink the M’s; they can contend next year if they have a bonanza offseason, landing Beltran, Beltre, and a solid starting pitcher while making some good down-roster acquisitions of cheap role players. Realistically, though, the Mariners are going into the ’05 offseason carrying more dead-weight salary wise than any team in baseball, and Moyer-Ibanez-Hasegawa are guys who have negative value thanks to their contracts.

  30. Jim Thomsen on September 14th, 2004 8:55 pm

    Not only do they have negative value thanks to their contracts, but they have additional negative value because they’ll likely see a lot of playing time than their abilities will warrant due precisely due to those contracts and the Mariners’ ongoing need to justify them by eternally hoping for comebacks to competency that, given their ages, decline rates and other indicators, are excruciatingly unlikely to happen. Unless, that is, the organization replaces Melvin with a manager who actually shows some nutsack. Too bad Lou Piniella isn’t available, though.

  31. Alex on September 14th, 2004 8:59 pm

    “Bret’s year this year is out of context for 2001-2003, but it’s NOT out of context for his career overall. I’m not sure you can count on him to bounce back.”

    This is a good observation. I’ve been very curious about Boone’s 3 year aberration myself. Prior to ’01, he was basically a .250, 15-20 HR, 60-75 RBI kind of guy. It seems as though he has reverted back to that player in ’04. I don’t think that we can count on him giving us the ’01-’03 type numbers next year based on his age, if nothing else. I personally think that the M’s have too many holes to fill this offseason and that they can’t reasonably expect to contend in ’05. ’06? Perhaps, but think of the front office that we’re talking about here.

    Regarding Ibanez, I feel that he’s a waste of time. I felt that way when he was here the first time and felt that way when we resigned him. He’s simply not enough of an offensive threat to justify his playing 1B. He might have average-at-best numbers for a LF. Ibanez, like many of the Mariners, is mediocre at best. On defense, he’s below average and is almost to the point where one could consider him a liability in the field. As a player, I’d give him an overall grade of C-

  32. Paul Weaver on September 15th, 2004 2:14 pm

    Boone’s unusual breakout in ’01-’03 were largely due to a more rigorous workout routine, and that funny two strike stance he started using. The fact that he is returning to his previous form, I think is probably just a result of decline – meaning he will do, at best, the same next year. It’s hard to say that with 100% certainty, because he is also a streaky hitter who goes through 2-3 month long cold streaks – like the beginning of this year and ’02. But, the numbers are against Boone.