2011 Phillies Offensive Preview, Part 3: Left Field

Posted by Michael Baumann, Fri, March 25, 2011 05:00 PM | Comments: 13
2011 Spring Training, Analysis, Opinion, Posts

In the week before Opening Day, we’re looking at each of the five offensive positions that are not known quantities.

Part 1: Intro and First Base
Part 2: Right Field
Part 3: Left Field
Part 4: Shortstop (Saturday morning)
Part 5: Second Base (Saturday afternoon)

Left Field: Raul Ibanez, Opening Day Age: 38
2010: 636 PA, .275/.349/.444, 16 HR, 37 2B
2011 (Bill James-projected): 596 PA, .270/.343/.446, 20 HR

I think the majority of Phillies fans went into the Raul Ibanez experiment with unrealistic expectations for three reasons. First, he was being billed as a like-for-like replacement for longtime Phillies stalwart Pat Burrell in left field. Second, he was being paid like an all-star (three years, $31.5 million; Burrell, who was younger, better, and more right-handed, went to Tampa for 2/3 the contract length and half the total value of the contract). Third, for the first three months or so of his tenure in Philadelphia, Raul was under the mistaken impression that he was Stan Musial. Since then, he’s returned to being what he should have been all along: an aging outfielder who, on offense, is at least average at everything, but great at nothing. His bat speed is dropping with age, as expected, and what he could use more than anything else is a platoon partner–his OPS was nearly 100 points higher against righties than lefties in 2010. Put him and Ben Francisco in a platoon, and you’ve got, very nearly, an all-star corner outfielder. Plus, moving Francisco to left would free up space for Domonic Brown to get….oh, yeah, we’ve covered this. Anyway, a repeat of 2010, give or take a couple dozen points on each of the slash stats, is probably in the cards for Raul. He’s been, more or less, a two-to-three-win player for most of his career, and if he can keep that up, the Phillies should be happy with that.

I won’t gripe about Ibanez’s defense, which is bad, because, as far as I can tell, he’s as good an outfielder as he can be. He’s old, and he was primarily a catcher, first baseman, and DH throughout his youth. He’s got a decent arm, and he catches more or less everything that he gets to.

One last point about the outfield. There is no shortage of teams with designs on contending this season, a lack of starting pitching depth, and a surfeit of outfielders who are better than anyone the Phillies have. So what harm would it do for Ruben to call Brian Cashman and say,”What kind of a prospect would it take to even out a Joe Blanton-for-Nick Swisher or Brett Gardner trade?” Or to call up Texas and ask for David Murphy? Or Jon Jay of the Cardinals? Or maybe, if we’re looking for youth and speed over a power bat, Dexter Fowler of the Rockies? The worst any of those guys can say is no, right?

Avatar of Michael Baumann

About Michael Baumann

Michael Baumann has written 229 articles on Phillies Nation.

Michael is a graduate student at Temple University who lost his childlike innocence when, at the age of 6, his dad let him stay up for the end of Game 6 of the 1993 World Series. Unsettled by the Phillies' recent success, he has threatened over the years to leave the team he loves if they don't start losing again, but has so far been unable to follow through. Michael spent 4 years as an undercover agent in Braves territory at the University of South Carolina, where he covered football and soccer for The Daily Gamecock before moving back up north. He began writing for The Phrontiersman in June 2009 before moving to Phillies Nation in January 2010.

  • Posts: 209 tavian

    Avatar of tavian

    Fine analysis, Mr. Baumann I especially agree with your conclusion in that Ruben Amaro Jr, should get off his fat buttocks and make a trade for a decent outfielder. They are out there and he is wasting the potential of this team by trying to play cat-and-mouse. We have the chips to make a very important trade and we need to get off to a solid start to the season. This team has two years to make an historical impact. Let’s not procrastinate, let’s get ‘er done !!!!

  • Posts: 1148 betasigmadeltashag

    Avatar of betasigmadeltashag

    Tavian, I think you have taking over for the Dipsy for pessimism, you truly bring to an art form. As for analysis on Raul, he is an average RFer not a bad one, he does not miss play many balls and is better and faster by a small margin over Pat the Bat. His offensive numbers when healthy have been better than good. First half of 2009, and second half of 2010. The guy played with a hyrenia for 3 months had an off season operation and came on strong when he was back to 100%. Especially if he bats third in this line up. Would I mind him getting a couple of days off against a good left handed pitcher, not at all. But do not think he is going to be a straight up platoon guy he is better then that. Like I stated before when Ben Fran steps up this year with a more full time roll on this team he is going to impress. Then opening day 2012 Ben goes to LF Brown in RF you get a little younger and a little cheaper Brighten up this is going to be a great year

  • Posts: 206 The Dipsy

    Avatar of The Dipsy

    Thanks Beta. Raul is a poor LFer. He has no range. None. But he is not the Phils biggest worry by a long shot. I actually think Raul will be OK offensively this year. I got him for 23/90/.270, which is fine…all things being relative. I think his OBP will be higher also. As far as trading Blanton (or Oswalt), why not wait till the natives get restless and other teams are DYING for pitching, not merely wanting it? After all, its not like we’re going to be wasting away in last place for the first month or two of the season. Should have signed Manny.

    The Dipsy

  • Avatar of Dropped Strike Three

    Maybe the saddest part about the whole thing is that if Raul performs up to predictions, he’s actually worth the amount of money we are paying him. Guys who his 20 HRs and 80 RBI aren’t as cheap as you might think.

    • Posts: 79 Ted Bell

      Avatar of Ted Bell

      Guys who hit 20 HRs with 80 RBIs ARE fairly inexpensive for the first six years of their career (and ridiculously cheap for their first three). Gaby Sanchez (19/85), Buster Posey (18/67 in 108 games), Jason Heyward (18/72), and Michael Stanton (22/59 in 100 games) all made the MLB minimum last year and will be inexpensive for the next few seasons.

      Unfortunately, for various reasons, the Phillies minor league pipeline hasn’t been supplying the big club with cheap young talent. RAJ has taken to the Brian Cashman method of running the team – trading prospects for older established players and signing free agents. He’s ended up with an older team (like the Yankees), and older teams are more expensive.

      There’s really no reason to think that 20 HRs and 80 RBIs equates to a $10 million player.

      BTW, Michael Baumann is doing a great job with these previews.

      I’m Ted Bell.

    • Posts: 2897 Chuck A.

      Avatar of Chuck A.


      What have I been saying all along??!! That that’s what it took to get Raul in the first place. The 3/30+ contract. Again…..who else was available?? A less than effective Pat Burrell, a total ass in Milton Bradley, and a whole lot of other options that weren’t as good a Raul.

      I’ve also been saying this all along….that if Raul STAYS HEALTHY…..he will have a major impact on this offense this year. When he wasn’t hurt and recovering from off-season hernia surgery, Raul’s numbers were damn good. First half 2009 and second half 2010.

      The splits again: 2009:

      And 2010:

      Dipsy, I’ll certainly take 23/90/.270 from Mr. Ibanez.

      • Posts: 5434 Lefty

        Avatar of Lefty

        Chuck, I swear I didn’t see your post before I posted! Well stated sir.

      • Posts: 385 Publius

        Avatar of Publius

        What the heck kind of slash line is 23/90/.270? Dingers, context-driven RBIs and batting average which is a poor measure of actual on base skills? Yeesh.

        Also, Raul was definitely NOT the only answer, and was certainly not the cheapest answer in the OF. Rube splurged early on an aging Ibanez who overproduced in 2008 and now we’re paying the price. Here are other members of the 2009 FA class who could have been patrolling LF for significantly less cost: (BBRef #’s)

        Raul’s line since 2009: .273/.348/.495 3.5 WAR, $30 mil/3 years
        Bobby Abreu: .274/.371/.435 4.0 WAR, $5 mil 2009, $9 mil each in 2010+11
        Mike Cameron: .252/.339/.441 4.4 WAR, $10mil 2009, $7.5 mil 2010+11

        So not only is Raul a) the oldest b) the most paid, but he is also c) the least valuable. Hated the Raul signing then, still hate it now. Had Rube had waited, the Phils would have a better, cheaper, young player playing in his stead. Now, the Phils have a 39 year old OF whose defense is atrocious and whose bat is slowing down. Cannot wait for this contract to be over. Hopefully the next go-round will be better and Rube displays some patience and diligence before signing quickly.


  • Posts: 2005 Brooks

    Avatar of Brooks

    A question and a point or 2 Michael.
    You said ” Burrell, who was younger, better, and more right-handed,” – I dont know what that means.

    Another thing you said – “Raul was under the mistaken impression that he was Stan Musial”
    I think the phans started to mistake Raul as the second coming of Stan the Man, he (almost alone) kept the Phillies close for the first 1/2 of the 09 season with his heroics.

    In my predictions for this year, contributions from Raul or his counter, Ben will not weigh heavily in deciding the East Division Champs this year. Between the 2, perhaps 25 hrs, .270 BA and 80 rbi – not bad production from LF but niether Ben or Raul (except in spurts) will really make that much of an impact.

    Dipsy and I both have the same idea here, there are teams already scrambling for a 3rd or even 2nd starter and that would be JB. Grienke is down for the season, Garland is down for the season hell, the Yanks even just signed Milwood to a Minor League contract, that is how desparate these teams are getting.

    • Posts: 3 machorow93

      Avatar of machorow93

      Brooks Greinke is only out for the first 2 weeks of the season not the whole season.He has a rib injury from playing pick-up basketball.

  • Posts: 5434 Lefty

    Avatar of Lefty

    I’m a big fan of Raul. you can argue about how much he got paid, but all that matters is that it didn’t hamstring us from getting Halladay, Oswalt and Lee, or signing Howard to an extension. Like Michael said, he is not a great defensive player, but he does catch every ball he gets to, and that’s why he’s in the corner. Vic’s speed helps him. (when Raul doesn’t lower the boom on him) Offensively I think the guy has been very important to this team. The old saying was “As Jimmy goes the the team does” Since Jimmy has had 2 down years in a row, that has changed. Now, IMO this team rocks when Raul is playing well. If you think about it, this team in general played it’s best offense in the first half of 09 (five all-stars) and best baseball in general the second half of 10. It corresponds with Raul being healthy and playing well. Is it a coincidence?, I guess it could be, but it’s not likely

  • Posts: 3 machorow93

    Avatar of machorow93

    I would love it if we could get Brett Gardner for JB…Give us another speed guy at the top of the order,can play all 3 OF posittions,and if he can hit .277 last yr. in the AL East imagine what he would do hitting Mets and Nats pitching..Only thing about Gardner is that he is another LH bat in the lineup,but he is younger then Cameron and ALOT more consistant then Fowler.

  • Posts: 0 Sportsfan20011

    Good article. There is also a great video about Philadelphia Phillies Baseball team posted on UnifySports.tv here http://unifysports.tv/watch_video.php?repeat=yes&id=1092.

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