What Does the Future Hold for Raul Ibanez?

Last week Mark kind of stole my thunder with his remarks about Raul Ibanez who is a Special Assistant now to Andrew Friedman. He had signed with the Dodgers in February of 2016 along with Greg Maddux.

The reasons for my interest in Raul Ibanez was that first, it was recently rumored he had an opportunity to move to another organization and didn’t. Secondly, suggestions were made that others were deserting a sinking ship when Farhan Zaidi, Turner Ward and Chris Woodward, among others, moved on to other positions. I think the exodus is not a sign of a sinking ship but a sign that the ship is full steam ahead and those moving on have not only been a factor in that progression but have also been the beneficiaries  of being in the Dodgers organization. They were signed by other teams as valued assets gaining promotions due in part to their Dodger experiences. We can only wish them more success in their careers, just not when they play the Dodgers.

Back to Raul Ibanez who might just have slipped through his career almost as an invisible man. He was born in New York, to Cuban parents, but grew up in Miami attending Miami Sunset Senior High School. He was not drafted out of high school but was selected by the Seattle Mariners in the 36th round of the 1992 First-Year Player Draft out of Miami-Dade Community College.

He made his MLB debut with the Mariners on August 1, 1996 and had five part seasons with Seattle before moving on to Kansas City in 2001 as a free agent. His first stint with the Mariners was not a portend of what was to come. After three seasons with the Royals he returned to Settle as a free agent and had perhaps the best five years of his career, three times driving in at least 105 runs with a career high of 123 in 2006. Another free agent signing directed him to the Phillies for three seasons and still another to the Yankees for the 2012 season. He returned to Seattle for a third time in 2013 as a 41-year-old. Ibanez ended his career in 2014 with part seasons with both the Angels and Royals.

Over 19 seasons Raul Ibanez played in 2161 MLB games compiling a triple slash of .272/.335/.465 along with 305 home runs and 1207 runs batted in. He made one All-Star appearance in 2009 as the starting left-fielder for the National League as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies. He was awarded the Hutch Award in 2013 which is given annually to an active Major League Baseball player who best exemplifies the fighting spirit and competitive desire of Fred Hutchinson.

Along the way, Ibanez had at least two memorable achievements. As a member of the New York Yankees, on October 10, 2012 he became the only player in MLB history to tie a play-off game in the ninth inning with a home run and win it in his next at bat with yet another home run. His home run in the ninth inning was of the pinch-hit nature as a 40-year-old. while replacing Alex Rodriguez.  The next eight Yankees went down without a protest until the left-handed hitting Ibanez came up in the 12th inning. He crushed the second pitch from left-hander Brian Matusz deep over the right field fence.

During the 2013 season Ibanez helped rewrite the record books again. With the Mariners he hit 29 home runs tying him with Ted Williams for the most MLB home runs hit in a season by a 41-year-old. Barry Bonds did hit 28 as a 42-year-old.

Just one more stat for consideration to put his 2013 season in perspective. Only nine MLB players have ever had an OPS+ of 100 or more as a 41-year-old. Raul Ibanez ranks fourth on that list at 129 topped only by Carlton Fisk (136), Stan Musial (137) and Barry Bonds (156).

In reading about Raul Ibanez there was much more written about the man than his baseball achievements, although his achievement were indeed notable.

His name has come up in managerial positions that have opened up with other teams in the past few years. Back in 2014 he was included among eight candidates that were being considered for the Tampa Bay Ray’s field manager position. He was named one of the three finalists even though he had not yet officially retired. Former catcher Kevin Cash was hired by the Rays. In January his name was mentioned as a possible bench coach hiring by the Chicago Cubs. It was thought that former Dodger catcher David Ross had the inside track if interested in the position. Former infielder Mark Loretta was hired indicating that Ross may not have been interested. It is not clear if Raul Ibanez was interested in a bench coach position.

One expects, as a layman, that Ibanez is a manager in waiting or may have general manager aspirations, perhaps qualified for both positions. At present he may well be happy in his present position with the Dodgers and sees it as a learning preparatory experience being involved in scouting for the amateur draft, trade discussions and probably much more with the Dodgers. Ibanez has reportedly turned down offers for managerial openings for 2019. 

Ibanez is a graduate of the school of hard knocks. He was a 36th round selection out of community college and went through free agency on seven different occasions. His father, whom he says never took shortcuts, died in 1992 never to even see his son get selected in that draft. Ibanez and his brother were in route to the hospital when their father died.

Noted for his work ethic and dedication, he was/is willing to try new things. He was influenced by, “The Science of Hitting”, the Ted Williams version of hitting which Williams co-authored with John Underwood. The book was given to him by Greg Tekerman who was the security guard at Miami Sunset Senior High School and also served  as a coaching assistant on Ibanez’s baseball team.

Underwood commented:

“He was very open-minded, and he liked to try different things,’’ Underwood said. “He was always trying to soak up everybody’s information.”

Ibanez and Tekerman kept in touch over the years and during the 2012 season when the player was struggling the coach visited him with something unusual. It was paddle-like bat with an ultra-thick handle and flat-sided barrel. It looked more like a cricket paddle than a bat but had a definite purpose. The heavy black bat is designed to keep a hitter from rolling his wrists as he makes contact. It forces the back elbow to stay down and tight to the body, so a hitter can swing with his upper and lower halves combining forces. Ibanez used it in the indoor cage and the next season (2013) asked Mariners hitting coach, former Dodger Dave Hansen, to help him tweak it a bit. His historic age-41 season followed.

“You’ve got to give him credit for trying something like that so late in his career,’’ Hansen said. “I wish I’d had it in me to do something like that. But that’s just Raul. He’ll be open to anything if he thinks it might help.

Just a couple more anecdotes about the man. He began the 2014 season as a possible designated hitter for the Angels. A 24-year-old rookie – C.J. Cron – was also vying for the spot. Ibanez took the young man under his wing doing all he could to help him adjust to MLB. He explained why he not only helped Cron but why he needed to as the rookie took at bats from his mentor.

“As human beings, we have a need and a longing to help others, it’s how God created us. And C.J. is a great kid, a great hitter. I’m a big fan of his as a player and person.”

Cronresponded:

“I’ve picked his brain, and he’s helped by showing me what he does to stay focused, to be prepared for every at-bat,” Cron said. “Ever since spring training, Raul has been awesome.You can talk to him about anything, and he’ll help you no matter what.”

My interest in Raul Ibanez also peaked last fall when I read a report from the Arizona Fall League regarding Dodger prospect Jared Walker and his encounter with Ibanez. Walker indicated that Ibanez helped him with the game in his head and felt over time it will help him become a more complete hitter.

“He (Ibanez) spoke on ‘when you’re out on this field, I know it is just the Fall League, but not anybody goes to the Arizona Fall League and not just anybody goes to the big leagues. You are a different player,’” Walker said. “He basically told me that I am a different player, and told me that when I am on this field, know that you are the best player on this field, no matter who the heck is out here, even if it is the number-one prospect. You are the best    player on this day, on this pitch and on this out.”

To add to his resume, Raul Ibanez has had broadcasting experience with Fox and ESPN. He was hired as a studio analyst with Fox in 2015, along with current Dodger play-by-play announcer Joe Davis.

“Raul is a guy who has great credibility, is really smart and is well-respected by those in and out of the game of baseball,” Fox Sports executive producer John Entz said of Ibanez after the network hired him in March 2015, per Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated. “As an analyst, we think he has an incredibly high ceiling.”

David Freese, acquired by the Dodgers last August, was recommended to the Dodgers by Ibanez.  Will Raul Ibanez be acquiring the David Freese’s in the near future or managing them in the dugout?

This article has 38 Comments

  1. I didn’t “steal your thunder” – You had your own thunder!

    Big Thunder!

    I am a huge RI fan. I would like to see him as the Dodgers GM, but that is not likely to happen. He is in his perfect FO position… now, he could be a great manager.

  2. I wonder if the Dodgers and Raul have some kind of agreement that kept him with the Dodgers. That is, the GM position, etc. It may also be that family matters help make him stay put, perhaps until children graduate from high school. It might be that he simply likes it where he is and finds his work rewarding.

  3. Wonderful story about a big time asset for the Dodgers. Every time I hear a story about a player who so many think is on his way out after 30, I will continue to visualize a player like Raul Ibanez who was tremendous at the age of 36. At 36, he played in 162 games (153 OF and 9 as DH), accumulated 707 PA, hit 23 HR with 110 RBI, and slashed .293/.358/.479/.837. Then as a 38 year old he played in 155 games (145 OF, 1 DH, and 9 PH), accumulated 636 PA, hit 16 HR with 83 RBI, and slashed .275/.349/.444/.793. It isn’t such a surprise that it was Ibanez who recommended David Freese, who exemplifies today’s Ibanez. These type of players remind us all that it takes a team of players to succeed and not just the stars.
    .
    I hope Raul’s story is told to every player drafted late in the process as to what hard work and a willingness to learn can do. Kudos DC on a great article about a favorite.

  4. The surprise for me was – one All-Star selection.
    .
    How could 2006 not be an All-Star year? 103 runs, 181 hits, 33 doubles, 33 home runs, 123 RBI, .289/.353/.516, OPS .869, OPS+ 125

      1. 1st half – .285/.352/.538/.890 – 20 HR – 70 RBI
        2nd half – .294/.355/.489/.844 – 13 HR – 53 RBI
        .
        Fairly consistent, with maybe a little more power in the 1st half.

        1. Back then, the AL also had a ton of stud 1b, so Ibanez could’ve simply been left off the roster because of a numbers game. Or perhaps since every team had to have an all star, the 1b who was having a solid year for a crappy team got in over Ibanez.

          Either way, Ibanez was what I hoped Loney would become; I was a tad off on that one!

  5. Great job DC! Insightful post about a special man. My hope is that he stays with the organization in some capacity. When Farhan moved on, I thought Ibanez would, perhaps, become GM. He might yet, as the position is not filled. One thing I suspect remains true, he is still soaking up all the information he can to become better at what he does. If he continues to help mentor Dodger prospects, those young men are blessed to have learned from him!

  6. Credit to the Friedman front office for having such quality guys in key positions. Ibanez was fun to watch. I always thought of him as a guy that did more with less. What a great hitter!

    As far as a mass exodus goes, I still think Farhan and Ward weren’t necessarily shown the door, but maybe encouraged to take other positions. Some subtle things make me think this. The fact that Roberts was extended after Farhan left makes me think that some of Robert’s decisions were heavily influenced by Farhan. The talk about less platoons. The talk about a change in hitting philosophy. The trade of Puig to follow Ward. The change in their game planning coach. The fact that Farhan hasn’t done anything at all for the Giants. It sure doesn’t sound like a dream job to pick up players on the edge of the 40 man. I think Woodward was a genuine loss and we got really lucky to back fill him with yet another quality guy in Dino Ebel. Tim Hyers was a loss the year before, but landed in a better position with a historic franchise, and his loss exposed Turner Ward. Regardless, it shows what quality we have in Friedman that he’s able to back fill these losses with such quality candidates.

    1. Are you saying you think it was Roberts that was delaying his contract extension because he wanted to keep his options open if Zaidi was returning? I won’t argue with that.

      1. Well, I must say I didn’t think that at all. But, I like it! I was implying and hoping maybe a lot that Roberts wasn’t going to be extended because of all the stupid Sh!7 he’s done for the last TWO years. But, since he was extended after Farhan was gone, that maybe they are placing the blame on Farhan and his game management coach for Robert’s in game management. Everything else Roberts does is plus. He’s a good communicator and he’s very likable. The clubhouse is just about as harmonious as it could be. I give him credit for this. But, his in game management isn’t great.

        I complained about Mattingly’s in game management as well. Pretty close to the same bone head moves that Roberts makes. Maybe it wasn’t Mattingly either. I only watched the Marlins when they played the Dodgers of course, but I didn’t recall anything overly stupid on Mattingly during those games.

        I also hated Mattingly’s condescending post game interviews. Roberts is bad in another way. Too much baseball jargon and not enough substance. He uses too many acronyms and sounds like he’s trying to be too much of a bro.

  7. Wow! It’s obvious you take everything personally, all nooks and crannies seem dug up and dealt. So…thanks DC!

    1. I couldn’t even bring myself to read it. Dustin is captain obvious, is more condescending than Mattingly and is very wrong most of the time. I stopped going to his sight right after he proclaimed that Bellinger is nowhere near the prospect that Corey Seager was and that there was no way he would be called up before September. Then Bellinger proceeded to set the NL rookie home run record. Talk about foot in mouth. It was shoved so far in there it came out the other end!

    1. Thank you! It was a great listen. Those guys are really high on our farm. I love the excitement and positive reviews! I’m going to have to re-listen as I was multitasking the first time.

  8. At the end of the last thread, I suggested that if the DH came to the NL, that Harper would make more sense for the Dodgers. I didn’t mention Machado, but that might make sense also. So in those respects I also agree with Dustin Nosler.

    That said, I find it highly unlikely that it will be adopted in 2019, given that ST gets underway next week, and teams were not given the opportunity to prepare for the DH during the off-season. Clearly, different decisions regarding trades, free agent signings, etc. would have been made if teams knew there was going to be a DH. That said, decisions on player acquisitions made now may well take into account a change set to take effect in 2020.

  9. Brad Boxberger is about to sign a $2.2MM guaranteed one year contract with the KC Royals. It looks like Boxberger is going to be a trade deadline RP available.
    .
    Realmuto is now favored to go the Phillies. But the Marlins are insisting on RHSP 20 year old Sixto Sanchez, the Phils #1 prospect. He is rated from #13 to #27 prospect in the top three baseball publications. That is a steep price for two years of JTR when they have a more than serviceable Jorge Alfaro.
    .
    Phillies favored for JTR this hour. Next hour? Who knows.

  10. Great article from ESPN.com on how the changing market has influenced free agency – and how it benefits large market teams:
    http://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/25891797/welcome-small-market-team-worst-nightmare

    A quote: “Imagine you’re the Tampa Bay Rays, and there’s a young superstar free agent like Bryce Harper — let’s call him “Bryce Harper” — available. You gather in a conference room and decide that, as a low-revenue team, you could comfortably afford to pay him $125 million for some number of years. Meanwhile, somebody in the front office has been assigned to study the Yankees’ operation, and the best estimate is that they can comfortably afford to pay him up to $250 million for those same years.

    The best outcome, extremely unlikely as it is, would be that Bryce Harper accepts your $125 million offer. Big news conference, MVP candidate in the heart of the order, what an exciting new era for Tampa Bay baseball! But the second-best outcome would be the Yankees signing him for $500 million. At that price, for those years, it could come back to bite them, and eat up some of their financial advantage over you. You’re in something close to a zero-sum contest with the Yankees. Bad for them is almost as good for you as good for you is.

    The worst outcome is the Yankees signing him for $250 million.

    Except, actually, the worst outcome is the Yankees signing him for $126 million.

    This offseason has been bad for veteran players, who’ve found themselves — for the second year in a row, but even worse than last year — unable to shake loose owners’ record revenue. It has been bad for obsessed baseball consumers who don’t particularly like to see the sport shut itself down for four months of the year. And it might end up being very, very bad for small-market teams.

    They might not be doomed. But they might be.”

    So – if large market teams are no longer willing to pay crazy money for top free agents (which seems to be the case) , not only do they not hamstring themselves for years, they are still going to out-compete the small market teams in most cases.

    A really interesting read.

  11. I like everything being talked about between MLB and Players Association.

    Pitchers have to pitch to a mimimum of 3 hitters. I assume that is limited to one inning.

    20 seconds between pitches when bases are empty.

    Start extra innings with a runner on second.

    We don’t have to watch pitchers wave their bats.

    26 players up from 25.

    28 players instead of 40 in September

    Too bad no mention was made to electronically called balls and strikes.

    I think I would like to see the minimum pay at $500K plus $2M X WAR earned with the factor increasing by $1M each year of team control if a player gets a minimum of 250 PA.

  12. Most baseball players don’t hit as well, if they are not playing on both sides of the field.

    And even as much as it seems that DH would be the perfect position for Muncy, we wouldn’t know that Muncy would hit as well, if he was only a DH.

    Most of the teams in the American League, don’t have full time DHs, even now.

    And I think that goes back to most baseball players don’t tend to hit as well, if they are not playing on the field too.

    And the average age of major league base players is getting younger every year, because of the break down on steroids.

    And because of that, I don’t think the DH is getting even more appealing, because who wants to watch a young player only hit?

    Bottom line, being a DH isn’t easy, and that is why not every American League team has a full time DH in their line up, on an everyday basis.

    It takes a rare breed to be a good DH, in baseball today.

    1. Perhaps then the DH role would be taken up, not by young players, but by veteran professional hitters who still have good bats but clearly suck in the field?

      1. As long as someone can proform well as a DH, that won’t be an issue.

        I guess my point was more, that there are not a lot of Papi’s.

        And because of that, I don’t think it is worth taking the away some of the moves, that makes Baseball the game for thinkers.

        But your right, it always depends on the hitter.

        1. MJ, you have stated that hitters that don’t play much have more trouble hitting when they do get to hit. I agree with that. Roberts tries to play players for the sake of keeping them sharp. Sometimes that irks fans because the lineup is always changing. Adding the DH would allow more hitters to stay sharp through more at bats and that would reduce the number of lineups Doc would have to use to accomplish the same thing.

      2. That was the intention, but it has since turned into a spot to rest regulars. There’s only a few pure DH’s these days.

  13. Man, I don’t like any of the proposed rule changes. Here’s what I think they should do.

    Leave the DH alone or get rid of it entirely. The only thing more ridiculous than making a pitcher hit, is having some fat guy who can’t field only hit. This would force guys like JD or Nelson Cruz to play the field. Maybe we start seeing guys hit 400 again with less athletic defenses. I don’t need to see a shell of a former player linger on because he can still hit.

    12 man pitching staffs. You declare the 12 guys that can pitch on your 25 man, and no one else can pitch. 13 man staffs means more pitching changes and we all hate those. It’s nice that the Dodgers have the depth for that, but I hate seeing all those pitchers and all those pitching changes. But, forcing a pitcher to toss to 3 hitters is lame. Maybe once an innings starts, you can only have 1 pitching change before the inning ends?

    Limit instant replay. I’m sick of it already. It totally slows down the game. What if you only get a few seconds to appeal the replay? And you have to do it before reviewing the play on the TV, you don’t get a TV in the dugout to review it either. In other words, if your naked eye cant tell if you’re safe or out, just let the umps call stand. I dislike that replay changed the game so much. No more neighborhood play at second. Now the infielders turning two are in more danger because they can’t move around the bag as easily, hence the need for the Chase Utley rule. No more swipe tags, also adding to the propensity for injury because fielders have to hang in there longer because of the slight chance that a runner comes off the bag for a split second. All of this because of replay. My brother calls this the Law of Unintended Consequences.

    Just stop it MLB! Look no further than the NFL and all their rule changes screwing up the sport. Did you not see the horrible Superbowl call on the Rams for tackling a running back in the backfield? The announcers cant even tell what’s a catch anymore. It’s getting stupid. And you’re trying to do it to baseball. So sad.

    Here’s my favorite rule change proposal for 2019. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Baseball will adapt without your meddling!

    1. Instant replay is one of the best things that’s happened for baseball. I’d like more power taken away from the umpire brethren. The whole point is to get it right and instant replay works. A good portion of rulings are overturned and I find it exciting seeing. When robo balls and strikes enter the games they’ll prove essential as well. I get far sicker of wrong history recorded.
      .
      With pitcher facing a minimum of three batters we’ll likely start seeing a lot of fake injuries taking up even more time. I don’t believe the pitching has improved so much more than the batters are more of all or nothing.
      .
      I don’t know why every game has to be win and lose when tiebreakers can and even do play anyways in later games. What’s wrong with a tie in nine innings? Off the top of my head I can’t guess why this can’t be. I’ll have to think more on it.
      .
      I do agree that less is broke than many feel and to me the DH in the NL is fixing something that isn’t broke. Hope it never comes to being. All positions have a offensive and defensive value.

  14. Giants Reportedly Enter Mix For Bryce Harper
    By Jeff Todd | February 6, 2019 at 10:33am CDT

    The Giants have reportedly entered the mix for star free agent Bryce Harper. Randy Miller of NJ.com tweeted the connection, with Jon Heyman of MLB Network adding on Twitter that the club has recently met with Harper.

    It is not yet clear how serious the interest is on behalf of the San Francisco organization, which is already dealing with quite a few large contract entanglements and recently turned over its baseball operations to Farhan Zaidi. Still, it’s intriguing to hear the connection. Zaidi was joined by owner Larry Baer and skipper Bruce Bochy in the sit-down, Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports notes in a tweet.

    Harper was already known to have met recently with the NL West rival Padres. Heyman suggests that multiple new organizations have entered the picture of late, which certainly could suggest that agent Scott Boras has sought to expand the pool of possibilities. Just what that suggests about Harper’s market and asking price isn’t clear.

    It had long seemed that the Giants would be a leading potential landing spot for Harper, due to the team’s obvious need for youthful stars — particularly in the outfield — and history of maintaining high payrolls. But with the organization engineering a baseball ops shake-up after a pair of disappointing seasons, the match became much less certain.

    Zaidi made his name finding value for the A’s and then scaling that process up as GM of the Dodgers. Plunking down huge dollars over long terms has not been a signature tenet of his approach as an executive. And the Giants are already loaded with underperforming contracts, some worse than others, that have left the organization with relatively little wiggle room beneath the competitive balance tax threshold.

    That’s not to say that the San Francisco organization doesn’t make any sense as a Harper suitor. Even if immediate contention isn’t completely reasonable, the club has plenty of high-quality veteran players. With some creativity, the luxury tax barrier could also be dealt with. Zaidi noted at the outset of his tenure that he expects the organization’s decisions on premium talent to be “driven more by baseball need and opportunity than kind of working backwards from a payroll.” He cast doubt then on pursuit of a star free agent, but did not rule out the concept entirely.

  15. So, why the heck would the Giants and Padres get into the Harper conversation in February? Do you think either team will sign him? Oh, by the way, neither have any hopes of contending this year. The Giants have no future, at least the Padres have a ton of prospects. Sorry Bryce, but your approach to free agency is embarrassing. It’s like trying the win the jackpot at the Four Queens after you got tossed from the Bellagio.

Comments are closed.