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.
“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.”
“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.
Jered Weaver, a 12-year big league veteran and a three-time All-Star, has announced his retirement.
Weaver was struggling mightily with the Padres this year, going 0-5 in nine starts and posting a 7.44 ERA,, a 2.6 BB/9 and 4.9 K/9 ratio over 42.1 innings. He hadn’t posted a sub-4.00 ERA since 2014 and his velocity had, quite famously, sunk into the low 80s and even high 70s at times in recent seasons. A spate of physical setbacks contributed to that, with a hip inflammation ailing him this season and nerve issues in his neck and back afflicting him for the past few years.
But even if his recent seasons have been less-than-memorable, it’s worth remembering that he was, for a time, one of baseball’s best pitchers. He posted a record of 131-69 with a 3.28 ERA in his first 9 seasons, leading the American League in strikeouts in 2010 and leading the circuit in wins in 2012 and 2014. He likewise led the league in WHIP and hits allowed per nine innings in 2012.
He finishes his career with a record of 150-98, an ERA of 3.63 (ERA+ of 111) and a K/BB ratio of 1,621/551 in 2,067.1 innings. He pitched in four American League Division Series and the 2009 ALCS, posting a 2.67 ERA in seven playoff games pitched.
Happy trails, Jered. A first-ballot induction into the Hall of He Was Really Dang Good, Even if We Forgot About It For A While is in your future.
Last November it was reported that the Marlins planned to build a memorial for Jose Fernandez, likely including a statue. The effort was said to be a pet project of the Marlins owner, Jeff Loria, who was close with Fernandez.
Today the Miami Herald reports, however, that those plans are in limbo due to the sale of the team:
The planned statue to honor Jose Fernandez, which was departing owner Jeffrey Loria’s idea, is now very much in question because it will not be erected before Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter take over, and it will ultimately be the new owners’ call. That matter has not yet been discussed, with the sale agreed to only in the past few days.
There’s nothing in the report suggesting that they’re opposed to the statue — it’s possible this was placed in the Herald by people close to the new group in order to test the waters — but there always was the sense that the idea was something of a priority for Loria personally. One wonders how much momentum it will have once he’s gone.
Then, of course, there’s the fact that Fernandez was eventually found to have been under the influence of alcohol and cocaine and was behind the wheel of the boat at the time of the accident that claimed his life and the life of two others, making any memorial to him suspect in the eyes of some people.
Thankfully we don’t spend a lot of time and energy discussing the ethics of statues in this country, so I’m sure it’ll have no bearing on the matter.