M’s Opt For Ibanez as Swisher Signs With Cleveland

marc w · December 26, 2012 at 2:18 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

I know, I know, the M’s re-re-acquiring Raul Ibanez isn’t causally linked to Nick Swisher signing a relatively cheap contract in Cleveland. The timing wasn’t great for frustrated M’s fans (or for Jack Zduriencik, I’d assume), but it’s just a coincidence.

It’s easier to make that claim because the M’s never really seemed interested in Swisher. The M’s had a need, and Swisher’s positional flexibility seemed tailor-made for the 2013 ball club, but Zduriencik had his sights elsewhere. That’s not to suggest that the M’s think a 41 year old Ibanez can match Swisher’s production, just that Zduriencik wasn’t interested in a big-dollar free agent offensive upgrade once Josh Hamilton spurned his offer.

So that brings us to Ibanez, the veteran OF/DH who had a power surge last year playing in new Yankee Stadium. The park and positive defensive numbers (???) pushed his WAR over 1, but in more limited time, in Safeco, I’d have a hard time seeing him come all that close to 1 WAR next year.

What’s sort of interesting is that Zduriencik hasn’t suggested that he expects Ibanez to produce much. The public statements about the pick-up all focus on Raul’s leadership, experience and class. I’ve no reason to doubt that Ibanez possesses these qualities, but I have a few to doubt the M’s offensive production in 2013 will rival the late 90s M’s. it’s just one move, and its still December, but it appears Zduriencik is trying to get more out of the talent already on the roster instead of adding talent to the roster.

I’m all for squeezing the most out of the young players on the team. Great coaching can help do that, and competition can often help too, but getting benched so a player-coach hybrid can play probably isn’t a great way to make Eric Thames a better player. Mike Carp faced long odds before, and you’d figure this seals his fate. I can see an argument that Ibanez is a better bet to outhit both next year, but slotting Ibanez in shows very little confidence in the in-house options.# None of the myriad corner OF’s the M’s have acquired in recent years was a Wil-Myers-esque prospect, but the trade of Trayvon Robinson and freezing out Thames suggests the M’s were just as underwhelmed by the pick-ups as Dave Cameron, and if you’ve heard Dave talk about Robinson, that’s saying something.

Essentially, the Ibanez pick-up is great if you agree that the M’s really got zero near-MLB talent for the flurry of minor moves over the past two years, and that patching together a LF/1B/DH job share will somehow have all sorts of leadership externalities that inspire Dustin Ackley to line outside fastballs down the LF line. I like Raul a lot, and think he could be a useful bench bat somewhere, but I don’t like the sense that this front office values leadership over development.*

# I’d seen some comments suggesting that if the M’s replaced Carlos Peguero with Ibanez, it’d all be worth it. Well, the M’s DFA’d DJ Mitchell instead. Mitchell’s an undersized, low-velo righty who’s out pitched his raw stuff in AAA. He’s decent depth in a system that has tons of decent depth, so it’s not a travesty or anything, but it doesn’t help clarify the OF situation

* For all his avuncular charm and experience, Eduardo Perez was unable to help Jeff Clement hit a curveball. The idea that leadership can inspire others is a testable hypothesis that has been tested again and again and again. No, none of these tests is dispositive, but I’d love to see a scrap of evidence from the ‘leadership is magic’ crowd.


54 Responses to “M’s Opt For Ibanez as Swisher Signs With Cleveland”

  1. MrZDevotee on December 28th, 2012 12:53 pm

    Normally I agree with you, but the Ibanez/post-season thing, maybe it’s the two sides spinning things as they see fit.

    Beyond any “clutch=iness” my only point was to say to the “Ibanez SUCKS” people– “really, ’cause he was one of the best players on the NEW YORK-freakin’ YANKEES during the 2012 playoffs” and also “He stared in LF for the NEW YORK freakin’ YANKEES for 79 games (pretty sure they can find someone else to do that if they wanted to)…”

    [Although I’m sure the point doesn’t work on Mariners fans, since Ichiro also started for the NEW YORK-freakin’ YANKEES for much of the 2nd half of the season last year… But wasn’t good enough to play for the Mariners either. Too selfish.]

    And again, wouldn’t have been my choice of someone to sign (Ibanez)… A head scratcher sure, but he’s not awful. Although, if I’m honest, what worries me most about the entire situation is that Geoff Baker took the same position as me in a Times article yesterday (ouch).

  2. MrZDevotee on December 28th, 2012 12:54 pm

    Also, Westy, this part…

    “his numbers have been down in the playoffs…”

    What is this “playoffs” thing you talk of? Is that Latin? Is that what makes Ibanez “Latin American”?

    “Playoffs”… It’s a cool word.

  3. djw on December 28th, 2012 1:13 pm

    Not particularly defending the signing, but if you want to post some relevant stats you should compare Ibanez’s post season OPS to his regular season OPS against the same teams.

    No, you should do neither, and stop pretending past playoff performance is meaningful indication of future playoff performance (or “clutch situation” performance more generally).

    He’s the player his age and declining skill set say he is, which is alarmingly similar to another 40-ish fellow who came here a few years ago–negative defensive value and a bat that one can hope might still be vaguely league-average. Whether he’ll be slightly better or slightly worse in “clutch” situations (or, rather improbably, in the playoffs) is not something we have the metrics to predict, because it’s essentially random.

  4. NorthofWrigleyField on December 28th, 2012 2:01 pm

    I’d pay Ibanez $3m and play him 79 games in LF too if my team had a $190m payroll like the NEW YORK-freakin’ YANKEES and played half their games in YANKEES-freakin’ STADIUM.

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