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.
The Astros avoided arbitration with pitcher Mike Fiers, agreeing on a $3.45 million salary for the 2017 season, per Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle. The right-hander was in his first of three years of arbitration eligibility.
Fiers, 31, made 30 starts and one relief appearance for the Astros in 2016. He finished the year with a 4.48 ERA and a 134/42 K/BB ratio in 168 2/3 innings.
Fiers had a much better showing in 2015 as well as in limited action in 2014, so the Astros are hoping he rediscovers that effectiveness going forward. He’ll slot into the back of the starting rotation.
There is little if any controversy to be had about the caps this year’s inductees will wear on their Hall of Fame plaques, but in case there was any doubt at all, it was put to rest this afternoon at the Hall of Fame press conference: Tim Raines will wear a Montreal Expos cap and Ivan Rodriguez will wear a Rangers cap. Jeff Bagwell, of course, never played for a team other than the Houston Astros at the big league level.
Though Raines had some good seasons with the Chicago White Sox and though he helped provide a nice kick start to the Yankees dynasty in the mid-1990s, his best seasons, by far, took place while he was an Expo. It’s also the case that the bulk of his Hall of Fame push came from Expos fans. He was particularly boosted by Jonah Keri, who recently wrote a book detailing the history of the Expos. So, yeah, that’s easy.
Rodriguez played 13 of his 21 years with the Texas Rangers, including his MVP 1999 season. He did have some notable years elsewhere, particularly in Detroit where he remains a fan favorite, but it was always going to be the Rangers for him, one would think. Maybe a slight, slight chance that he’d do the blank cap thing, Greg Maddux-style, but smart money was on the Rangers.
With Bagwell, the only question is which Astros cap he’ll wear. There are a couple of applicable ones: the brick red star, which he wore to the World Series in 2005. There’s also the shooting star cap he wore during his best seasons and which Craig Biggio’s plaque displays. He was around for the classic “H” over the star look, but he was just a kid then, so I doubt he’d wear it.
Anyway, sorry to the Marlins fans who wished that Raines and Pudge would wear the fishy-F.