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Ibanez Signs With Phillies

Raul IbanezWord broke this morning that the Philadelphia Phillies have signed Raul Ibanez to a 3 year, $30 million deal. It never looked all that likely that Raul was going to return to the Mariners, but there is still something about him officially signing elsewhere that is significant. He remains one of the classiest players in all of baseball, and it is not fun saying good bye. However, he wants a chance to win a championship, and that's an opportunity the Mariners cannot provide him right now, even as they move in a positive direction.

It is clear that Jack Zduriencik had discussions with Raul and his representatives, but how serious they were is anyone's guess. At first glance, this appears to be a huge blow the team, given the M's just lost one of the few bona fide good hitters they had. However, consider the entire player that Raul Ibanez is at this point:
  1. He is a good hitter, with a good stroke and good power. Neither is great, but both are quite good. The Mariners will miss his bat.
  2. He is 36, and will be making $10 million a year until he is 39. It is fair to speculate that Raul's offensive production may begin to decline at some point during the contract he just signed.
  3. He has never been a good fielder. In fact, he's really bad. He does not make a ton of errors, and his arm is respectable, but he has zero range. This is not as big of a deal in his new home, Citizens Bank Park (where he replaces Pat Burrell, a similarly bad fielder), but Safeco has a spacious left field. Defensively, he was always a terrible fit for the Mariners.
So while it is true that the Mariners offense took a hit today, it is important to look at the whole picture. This is a team rebuilding, so it does not make much sense to lock up players in the twilight of their primes for more than one year. This is especially true with all the money that Bill Bavasi sunk into mediocre starting pitching the last couple years that the M's still have to pay. However, even from a personnel standpoint, Jack Zduriencik has already creatively gone about replacing Raul Ibanez with the anti-Raul, Endy Chavez. Chavez can't hit worth a lick, but he is the perfect defensive fit for Safeco's left field. That's not enough to make Chavez a better player than Ibanez, but he's also $8 million cheaper.

Raul was no longer a great fit for the Mariners, and the Mariners were not a great fit for Raul at this point either. I wish him well, and hope that he does wins some championships until the M's are a force to be reckoned with again. Much like with J.J., I can't say that I am happy to see Raul leave, but I'm not mad either. More than anything, I'm relieved that he didn't sign with the Angels.