Raul Ibanez’s one-year contract with the Yankees is worth just $1 million in guaranteed money, but the bigger issue is that he’s 40 years old and coming off a terrible season in which he hit .245 with a .289 on-base percentage and .419 slugging percentage in 144 games.
Within that awful overall performance was some decent work versus right-handed pitching, against whom Ibanez hit .256 with a .307 on-base percentage and .440 slugging percentage. Of course, that’s hardly good for someone who is now a designated hitter and Ibanez also batted just .211 with a .232 OBP and .353 SLG off lefties.
So–as our own D.J. Short just asked on Twitter–if the Yankees were willing to hand the DH spot over to an old, rapidly declining hitter who posted decent numbers versus righties and terrible numbers versus lefties last season, why not just re-sign Jorge Posada (who retired because the Yankees weren’t interested)?
Because for as much criticism as Posada took in what turned out to be his final season, he dramatically out-hit Ibanez against right-handed pitching and the Yankees are going to use Andruw Jones as their DH versus left-handed pitching anyway. Last season Posada hit .269 with an .814 OPS off righties, compared to .256 with a .747 OPS for Ibanez.
Ibanez may be a slightly better fit for the roster because he can play the outfield, but he certainly can’t play it anything but very poorly and, if playing a position very badly counts as versatility then Posada’s catching has similar value. Whatever the case, the Yankees said goodbye to a 41-year-old, mediocre designated hitter who played his entire 17-year career in New York and signed a 40-year-old, mediocre designated hitter who might actually be worse for the role.
MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that Cardinals’ shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been sporting a new look around Busch Stadium with a pair of “strobe glasses,” technology-enhanced specs designed to help athletes focus on the ball. Like a strobe light, the lenses of these glasses affect a player’s vision by rapidly changing opacity, giving its wearers the illusion that the objects they see are moving more slowly than normal. Once a player adjusts to the new speed of play, they gain a greater sense of control and are able to time their actions with more precision.
Diaz isn’t the first MLB player to utilize the technology, just the first Cardinals’ player to do so. It’s been tested by Bryce Harper, Corey Brown, Tommy Joseph, Austin Hedges and Joe Mauer, among others around the league, and has been used for everything from refining a catcher’s reflexes behind the plate to tweaking a hitter’s ability to track a pitch. Per Langosch, Diaz has been using the glasses to hone in on the ball during pregame drills, increasing both his confidence and response time on the field and improving his defense at short.
The shortstop has been the focus of some concern this season after seeing a sizable dip in his production at the plate, and his five fielding errors, 0.6 UZR and 0.6 fWAR haven’t helped matters, either. He sustained a minor thumb injury during an at-bat on Friday night, and was left off of the Cardinals’ starting lineup on Saturday, though manager Mike Matheny didn’t rule out his ability to pinch-hit during the series. While the strobe glasses are a good start, Diaz will need more than a pair of specs to match the spotlight-worthy performance he turned out during his rookie season in 2016.
Red Sox’ left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez may finally get a chance at cracking the rotation again, assuming all goes well in Double-A Portland first. Rodriguez took the field prior to the club’s afternoon session with the Angels, firing 68 pitches in a simulated game as he prepared for an upcoming rehab assignment in Portland on Thursday.
The 24-year-old southpaw suffered a right knee subluxation during pregame warmups on June 1, and it’s been a slow path to recovery ever since. It’s not the first time Rodriguez has had issues with his right knee — he sustained a similar injury during spring training last year — and this time around, the Red Sox weren’t about to gamble with their starter’s health. Ian Browne of MLB.com reports that Rodriguez was put in a knee brace and underwent exercises designed to help him regain some mobility and stability while he worked back up to full strength on the mound.
He’ll still need to prove he can throw a 75- to 80-pitch outing in Double-A, and barring any significant setbacks, will likely rejoin the Red Sox’ pitching staff when they visit the Rangers next month. In the meantime, the club will continue to cycle starters through the No. 5 spot, which has seen no fewer than three different pitchers since Rodriguez hit the disabled list. The lefty is 4-2 in 10 starts this season after logging a 3.54 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and career-high 9.6 SO/9 through his first 61 innings.