Reaction to Ibanez Signing

I’m late in writing about the Phils’ recent signing of free agent outfielder Raul Ibanez to a three-year, $30 million contract, but I think most thinking human beings recognize that it was an illogical signing at best. The differences between Ibanez and Pat Burrell are few, but those few all point to Burrell being the better option.

The similarities: Both play poor defense; both are likely to OPS+ around 120 and probably higher; both are Type A free agents.

The differences: Ibanez is five years older and is left-handed.

I defended GM Ruben Amaro Jr. not offering arbitration to Burrell (and Jamie Moyer) at the time, but it was with the following caveat:

The subtraction of Burrell (-20) might offset any regression to the mean by the rest of the gang, but not if he’s replaced by someone like Ibanez, who is nearly as poor a defender.

Eric Seidman has elaborated on the signing at FanGraphs and no doubt many of the other popular baseball analysis websites have analyzed it as well.

To put a cap on Ibanez’s defense, check out these animated GIF’s courtesy a poster (#17 in the comments) at Baseball Think Factory:

- Lawn Dart!
Bad Angle!
He didn’t want to fumble or bobble the Fingal dopple!
Into The Wall!
Ichiro Just Can’t Believe This Sh*t
It’s A Trap!
The sad part about this one is that you can see it in his eyes – he knows it’s not going to end well.

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2 comments

  1. Bob

    December 15, 2008 06:36 PM

    “…I think most thinking human beings recognize that it was an illogical signing at best. The differences between Ibanez and Pat Burrell are few…”

    mmmmm…. No. Theres a big difference between Burrell and Ibanez. If you actually look at the stats you would know. I like Pat “the bat” Burrell but Ibanez is an upgrade. In the past 5 years Burrel hit .280 vs. lefties, .252 vs righties, 89 rbi’s per year, .258 with RISP, and .243 with RISP with 2 outs.

    Ibanez in the past 5 years hit .275 vs. liefties, .298 vs righties, 104 rbi’s per year, .301 with RISP, and .318 with RISP with 2 outs.

    the difference are few. i don’t think so. Again i like Pat but Ibanez is an upgrade. forget about the age. Ibanez is producing and that all that matters. he also did this while in the american league.

  2. Bill Baer

    December 16, 2008 12:11 PM

    Theres a big difference between Burrell and Ibanez. If you actually look at the stats you would know. I like Pat “the bat” Burrell but Ibanez is an upgrade.

    Sky Kalkman values Burrell at 2.1 Wins Above Replacement and Ibanez at 2.2. The .1 comes from Ibanez being a hair better defensively.

    They’re very similar players: above-average offensively, very poor defensively. The problem lies in Ibanez being old (35) and being given a three-year contract. And then there’s the fact that both are Type A free agents, but Burrell is leaving and Ibanez is coming in. Since the Phillies didn’t offer Burrell arbitration, it means they lose out on the first round draft pick from the team that signs Pat, and they give up a first rounder to the Mariners for Ibanez.

    L/R splits have some use, but not in wholly valuing a player. And especially when you consider that Ibanez makes the Phils’ lineup very LH-heavy in that they will no doubt face lefty specialist after lefty specialist if possible late in the game assuming Manuel goes with an Utley-Howard-Ibanez 3-4-5.

    Thanks for the comment. Feel free to clarify your claims or to rebut mine.

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