Ibanez in Town
The new left fielder arrived in town today.
Raul Ibanez was a hot free agent item this off-season with the Angels, Cubs, Mets and Braves in pursuit. ESPN.com reported he sent signals through friends that the Phillies were his first choice.
Last Friday, Ruben Amaro Jr. and his staff agreed to terms with the lefty hitter. A physical exam this morning finalized the deal.
For the last four seasons, Raul averaged .288, 90 runs, 176.5 hits, 35.7 doubles, 24.2 homers and 106.7 RBI. And, he’s durable, playing in 632 of the Mariners’ last 648 games.
Media and bloggers are quick to point out the Phillies are now over-loaded with left-handed bats. Well, there are three: Raul, Chase and Ryan. Shane and J-Roll are switch-hitters. Last time I looked, the Mets had Schneider, Delgado, Church and three-to-four switch-hitters. So much for over-load.
Plus, the majority of starting pitchers are right-handers. In our division right now, the Nationals have the most lefty starters, three.
Lee Elia has spent 47 of his 71 years in the game of professional baseball. He’s seen Raul from his rookie days through last season when Elia served as a special assistant to the Seattle manager. Elia’s scouting report:
“Quiet guy, but a real gamer and a true professional. Made himself into a top-of-the-line ballplayer. Very accomplished hitter, tremendous worker, so much so that sometimes you need to back him off. He has power and hit a lot of balls at Safeco Field that would have been out of many other parks.
“Lefties? He hits them well. A Very smart defensive player with an accurate arm, not a cannon, but accurate. You won’t have to lift him for defense late in the game.
“Simply, he was the heart and soul of our club,” concluded Elia.
Can’t wait for PA announcer Dan Baker to bark, “Now batting, # 29, left-fielder Raul (rah-OOL) Ibanez (ee-BAHN-yez).”