The list of players who are able to justify a roster spot at the age of 40 is relatively short. The list of 40-year-olds to bash 29 home runs is remarkably shorter. Maybe that’s why free agent Raul Ibanez, now 41, is still drawing interest. He finished 2013 with 29 dingers and an adjusted OPS 23 percent above average. It marked the 18th time in baseball history a player posted an adjusted OPS 20 percent higher than the league average (min. 450 plate appearances). The only other players to do it in this millennium were Barry Bonds (twice, 2006-07) and Edgar Martinez (2003).
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported on Twitter earlier that even National League teams are showing interest in Ibanez:
Ibanez will turn 42 years old on June 2, so 2014 will be viewed as his age-42 season (if he had been born on July 1 or later, it would have been his age-41 season). The last player to take enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title was Carlton Fisk in 1990. Only five other players, along with Fisk, have accomplished the feat since 1901: Pete Rose (1983), Carl Yazstrzemski (1982), Luke Appling (1949), Sam Rice (1932), and Honus Wagner (1916). With the exception of Rose, they are all Hall of Famers. Rose was also the only one of the six not to post an adjusted OPS above the league average.
Ibanez’s last home run — a solo shot against the Angels on September 21 — was the 300th of his career. Other career milestones he is likely to reach with another full, productive season:
- 8,000 plate appearances (currently at 7,998)
- 2,000 hits (currently at 1,993)
- 425 doubles (currently at 416)
- 50 triples (currently at 48)
- 1,250 RBI (currently at 1,181)
Despite the impressive performance with the bat, Ibanez is a defensive nightmare in the outfield, so a National League team’s best bet is to use him at first base or off the bench, or otherwise let an American League team snap him up. He earned $2.75 million on a one-year deal with the Mariners last season.
The Rockies announced on Wednesday night that the club acquired relief pitcher Pat Neshek from the Phillies in exchange for three minor leaguers: infielder Jose Gomez, pitcher J.D. Hammer, and pitcher Alejandro Requena.
Neshek, 36, made the National League All-Star roster and currently owns a 1.12 ERA with a 45/5 K/BB ratio over 40 1/3 innings. He’ll help bolster the 58-44 Rockies’ bullpen as they vie for one of the two Wild Card slots realistically, and hope to overcome the Dodgers’ 12-game lead in the NL West.
Gomez, 20, is the Rockies’ No. 21 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. He was signed out of Venezuela in July 2013. At Single-A Asheville this season, Gomez hit .324/.374/.437 in 351 plate appearances.
Hammer, 23, was selected by the Rockies in the 24th round of the 2016 draft. Between Asheville and High-A Lancaster this season, the right-hander owns a 2.36 ERA with a 65/14 K/BB r atio over 42 innings of relief.
Requena, 20, was signed as an international free agent by the Rockies in September 2013. With Asheville this season, the right-hander carries a 2.85 ERA with a 97/25 K/BB ratio in 117 innings across 19 starts.
Earlier, Craig wrote about the negative reaction within the Phillies’ clubhouse after outfielder Odubel Herrera A) flipped his bat on a fly out, and B) failing to run out a dropped third strike. Manager Pete Mackanin was one of Herrera’s critics, unsurprisingly, but so was catcher Cameron Rupp.
Via the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Matt Gelb, Rupp said that the Phillies’ frustration with Herrera is “not a secret.” He said, “Pete is the manager and what he asks us to do, we’re supposed to do. It’s a team thing and one guy can’t just not follow the rules. It’s not the first time. It has happened before and that’s something we don’t want to see. We want him in the game. He’s a good player. It’s hard for us. He’s a grown man. He has to learn on his own. We can only say so much.”
Though Rupp didn’t directly say his criticism of Herrera pertained to bat flips, we can logically deduce it as such. Herrera doesn’t commonly fail to run out dropped third strikes, but he does commonly flip his bat, particularly on non-homers.
Rupp had a good game against the Astros on Wednesday night, blasting a pair of two-run home runs. The problem? Rupp flipped his bat. In a 9-0 game.
The MLB.com video doesn’t really give a chance to see the full extent of Rupp’s flip, so here’s a .gif from Chris Jones:
And just in case anyone feels I’m interpreting the situation through a biased lens, Phillies beat writer Ryan Lawrence of The Philly Voice also saw it the same way.
We should probably expect Mackanin to bench Rupp for the next two games like he did Herrera, right? What’s that, you say? Certain players were more likely to be criticized for expressing emotion and perceived lack of hustle? Really makes you think.