Originally written on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 11/18/14
What’s up with this Jack? Okay, we all remember who Raul Ibanez is right? He was a superb left fielder for the Mariners for a few seasons, after they re-acquired him from the Kansas City Royals. Since then, he has gone on to play for, and win, a world series with Philadelphia, and then to the most hated team in all of the land, the New York Yankees. Well, he’s back. On Saturday it was reported that the Mariners signed Ibanez for a 1 year deal, estimated at $2.14 million dollars. To me this move makes about as much sense as if the M’s would have went after Ichiro this off season. Ibanez is a player past his prime, in an outfield that seems to be just fine as it is. Maybe if Ibanez was a gold glove winning center fielder I could see it, but an aging left fielder coming in, when we just traded for Eric Thames, and already have Michael Saunders, Mike Carp, and Casper Wells is just dumbfounding me. Plus, with the exception of Brett Boone, and Jeff Nelson, and possibly Miguel Olivo, acquiring former Mariners players has not been very helpful in the past. So here is my top 5 reasons, more like questions, why I think this was a bad signing by Jack Z. 5: Where’s the room? Veteran leadership is one thing, but honestly, where does Eric Wedge think he’s going to get time or room to play Ibanez? Left field would already be full with Carp, Saunders, and Wells, with the belief that all three would make the opening day roster, and with the reality that Saunders will actually be playing in center most of the year because Franklin Gutierrez will be injured again. So, that leaves playing time at 1st right? Wrong. The M’s just shipped out left handed ace Jason Vargas to the Angels for 1b Kendrys Morales. Plus, catcher John Jaso, and Mike Carp will most likely still see some action at 1st as well in 2013. So DH then? Could be, but if the M’s are serious about fast tracking C Mike Zunino, then DH will belong to switch hitting Jesus Montero. There’s no reason to pull him out of the lineup for left/right advantages when he’s a switch hitter. So what gives? That is my question too. Maybe Carp, or Wells is on the move, when in all actuality it should be Gutierrez who should be moving. And then there is the whole Jason Bay singing too. Raul Ibanez signed a 1 yr deal with the M’s (Photo: Seattle Times) 4: Where does he hit? According to the Seattle Times, the reason why Ibanez signed is because the M’s promised to give him a shot at both corner OF spots, and a “substantial” amount of plate appearances. So just where will he hit in the lineup? My guess right now is 6th, and that could be a good spot for him, being a lefty with good contact. With Dustin Ackley in the lead off spot, most likely, Jason Bay 2nd, Montero 3rd, Morales 4th, Kyle Seager 5th, Guti/Saunders 7th, and Brendan Ryan 9th, 6th is the only plausible spot for him. But will that work with the rest of the team is the problem. 3: Where is the youth movement? Here is who the M’s have acquired in OF the past two seasons. Eric Thames, Jason Bay, Casper Wells. Now the home grown talent; Michael Saunders, Mike Carp, Carlos Peguero. And, the veteran, Franklin Gutierrez. If I am Eric Wedge, I’m rolling out my opening day lineup of Bay, Saunders, and Wells. But, we all know that will never happen. The M’s already gave up on Trayvon Robinson this off season. This is the exact kind of move that sent us back 5 years on the rebuild when we dealt Adam Jones and a handful of prospects to Baltimore. Power numbers are already here in the OF, and with the walls coming in, they will only get better. Carp, Wells, and Peguero will probably start the year in Tacoma now, leaving Saunders as the roamer in the OF. Saunders was awesome last year and deserves a chance to start, as was Wells in his brief stops up with the big league club. They deserve a chance to start with this club. Ibanez is back with the Mariners (Photo: sfgate.com) 2: Power numbers? So as of right now, our outfield will have the lowest power numbers on the team. Ibanez is a career .278 hitter with 271 home runs. He does add the element of RBI’s though. Jason Bay is a career .269 hitter with 211 home runs, but he adds the Northwest flavor to this team like Saunders does. Franklin Gutierrez is a career .256 hitter with 57 home runs, and a dismal 255 RBI’s in 7 years of action. Where will the power numbers come from this year? I guess we will have to rely on Ackley getting back on track, Seager adding more punch, and the combined power numbers from Morales and Montero to get us by. Looks like another year of bottom of the pack offensive numbers. Thank God the Astros are coming over. 1: Baby sitting time is over With all the talk of the M’s farm system being one of the darlings of the baseball world, it’s time we see the plan start to take place. Forget Gutierrez. Trade him, cut him, DFA him, whatever it takes to get him out of town. Same with Carp and Justin Smoak, two projects that obviously aren’t working. But the biggest thing the M’s need to do is quit hiring these veteran baby sitters, and let the kids learn the game at this level. We gave up an awesome arm in Doug Fister to land Casper Wells, and he is an outstanding OF. Michael Saunders showed last year that he is capable of putting up numbers when given the shot to play every day. So why then, do we add a guy like Raul Ibanez, when he is taking playing time and at bats away from three promising OF’s already accustomed to Eric Wedge’s style of play? That is what is leaving me baffled with this news out of Mariners camp this weekend. CLICK HERE CHECK OUT THE SEATTLE MARINERS CLUBHOUSE AT NWSB!
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