Should the Phillies release Raul Ibanez?


Raul Ibanez headshot.jpgThat’s what Corey Seidman at Phillies Nation thinks:

From a baseball standpoint – and from a logical standpoint –  there is
no reason Raul Ibanez deserves to play everyday on a contending team. He
has been awful at the plate and terrible in the field. Yet he continues
to bat sixth everyday while the Phillies top prospect, who also happens
to be a corner outfielder, is putting on a clinic in the
pitcher-friendly Eastern League.

That prospect is Domonic Brown, the fellow who I said had his nose pressed up against the glass a couple of posts ago.  He’s raking in AA: 313/.382/.587 with 10 homers and 33 RBI.  Meanwhile Ibanez cruises on the strength of his April and May of 2009. As Seidman demonstrates, he’s done nothing since. Certainly nothing to justify his job.

Which was easy to hide when Chase Utley and Jayson Werth were hitting and Jimmy Rollins was healthy and productive at shortstop.  With those things not happening, Ibanez has been exposed as the weak link on the defending NL champs.

As of tomorrow evening, the Braves, Mets, Marlins and Nationals will all have called up and played their phenoms.  Perhaps its time for the Phillies to do the same.

Shohei Ohtani is having a brutal spring training

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Spring training is tough for players under the best of circumstances. Even in an age when players work out all year, getting back into the swing of baseball-at-full-speed is tough. Many players spend the bulk of February and March knocking off the rust and getting their timing back. Because of this — and because the games have no real stakes — it is not wise to take spring training statistics super seriously. Especially if the player in question is assured of a spot on the roster and is trying to avoid injury before the regular season arrives.

Spring training for Shohei Ohtani is doubly difficult. Not only does he have to knock the rust off from the offseason, but he (a) has to get used to a new country and language; (b) has to get to know all new teammates, coaches and, really, an entirely new baseball culture; and (c) do all of that while dealing with a media crush that hasn’t been seen in baseball since Ichiro first arrived 17 years ago. In short, Ohtani is under massive pressure and has to make massive adjustments in a short time.

With that said, neither the Angels nor Ohtani can be all that pleased with how his spring training has gone. In two actual major league exhibition games he’s allowed eight runs in two and two-thirds innings. Seven of those came on Friday when he was shelled by the Rockies in an inning and a third. If you include B-games against minor leaguers, he has allowed 17 runs on 18 hits, four of which were homers, in four games. As a hitter he’s 2-for-20.

As Jeff Fletcher of the OC Register notes, Ohtani’s peripherals are not bad, as he has struck out a lot of guys and walked very few and the average on balls in play against him has been brutal, which is not super sustainable. Bad luck and some fat pitches at a time of the year when luck doesn’t really matter and the pitches, because of the rust, are likely to be fatter than normal.

As Fletcher also notes, Nolan Arenado, who faced Ohtani on Friday, said that his stuff looked good and that he’s going to be a good big league pitcher. Ohtani and Angels officials are all striking the right notes about bad luck and adjustments, saying that they’re not worried.

I imagine they’d be worrying even less if things had gone well this spring. Unless of course this is just a professional wrestling-style work aimed at getting more of us to watch his regular season debut, in which he’ll reveal that he was sandbaggin’ all along.