The Mariners are oozing veteran presence

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There’s a story about Raul Ibanez in the News-Tribune. The upshot: Ibanez brings veteran presence. By the truckload.

Here’s the story’s author, after noting that Ibanez is still supposed to contribute with his bat:

But, yes, Ibañez’s most substantial gift could be the gab he brings to a clubhouse craving for older players able and willing to share insights with those still learning the nuances of a frustrating game.

Michael Saunders:

“First thing that popped into my mind when we signed Raul was remembering when I was in the lower ranks of the minor leagues and he was still a Mariner. Every spring training he’d come over and talk to us for a few hours. The stories he told us … he’s been through it all. People told him he’d never play in the big leagues, and 17 years later, he’s proven all the doubters wrong. He brings a lot of life stories to our team and a phenomenal veteran presence.”

Jack Z, who noted that the team lacked veteran presence before:

“You’ve got a young kid sitting in the on-deck circle,” Zduriencik said, “and someone like Raul Ibañez gets up and puts his arm around the kid and says, ‘I’ve been in this situation before.’ That’s a whole lot different than coming from the hitting coach, or the manager.”

Eric Wedge:

“You can make an argument,” Wedge continued, “that Raul Ibañez is as good as anybody in the game in regard to performing and playing. That’s why you sign him, to be a baseball player.

Well, you could make that argument. It’d just be a bad one. He goes on:

But beyond that, there are the intangibles he brings as a guy who has been part of championship clubs and really done everything in the game.”

That’s all great. And yes, I appreciate that teams value this stuff way more than fans and analysts do. But Ibanez is either going to mash righties or he won’t. If he doesn’t, his veteran presence will be meaningless — maybe Jason Bay or Kendrys Morales can provide some in his stead — and his next job in baseball will be as a coach.

If you don’t believe me, ask the last guy who the Mariners brought in to be “veteran presence” after his productive years were over.

Former Yankees prospect Manny Banuelos signs a minor league deal with the Dodgers

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Remember Manny Banuelos? He was once a top pitching prospect for the Yankees and then, apparently disappeared from the face of the earth. Or at least it felt like it. Now he’s in the news, however, as the Dodgers have signed him to a minor league contract.

OK, Banuelos didn’t disappear. He was traded to the Braves in 2015, had a cup of coffee with them, pitching pretty ineffectively in seven big league games, was released by Atlanta in the middle of 2016 and then latched on with the Angels. This past season he posted a 4.93 ERA over 95 innings while being used mostly as a reliever at Triple-A Salt Lake.

Banuelos pitched in the Future’s Game in 2009 and was a star in the Arizona Fall League in 2010. He was a top-50 prospect heading into 2011 before falling to Tommy John surgery in 2012. With Atlanta he suffered some bone spur problems and then some elbow issues that never resulted in surgery but which never subsided enough for him to fulfill his potential either. He suffered injuries. A lot of pitchers do.

It’s unrealistic to think that Banuelos will fulfill the promise he had six years ago, but he’s worth a minor league deal to see if the 26-year-old can at least be a serviceable reliever.