Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Fire Bad!

The early returns are in on the Amaro Era in Philly, and they are not promising. Leaving aside the Jamie Moyer re-signing, which seemed unnecessarily complicated but which is, ultimately, a wash, we have:

  • The acquisition of a backup catcher in Ronny Paulino, which cost a cheaper backup catcher
  • Some minor, expensive bullpen moves
  • The signing of Raul Ibanez for 3 years at $30M to lumber around left field like he's a refugee from Jurassic Fight Club

It's the Ibanez deal that particularly irritates me. The sequence here has been mapped out elsewhere; the Phils didn't offer arbitration to Pat Burrell, thereby forefeiting draft picks when he signs with someone else, and then gave up draft picks to sign the 37-year old Ibanez to a 3 year deal.

Now, I've seen Raul Ibanez play. This May, my wife and I were lucky enough to catch a game at Safeco with the inimitable Derek Zumsteg and his wife, and there we got to see Mr. Ibanez lurching around left field like he had waffle irons on the ends of his arms and legs. One play in particular stood out: A grounder down the left-field line that Ibanez completely missed as he chugged after it. Instead, he face-planted into the wall. On a grounder. I'm not sure he actually blamed the mishap on losing the ball in the turf, or perhaps in the blinding glare of the foul line, but...yeah. Whapow, right into the architecture.

And this is the big-ticket item, an inferior, older, worse-fielding version of Pat Burrell. Nothing against Ibanez, who for all I know is a nice guy who gives loving homes to stray rabbits and donates kidneys on a regular basis, but there is no argument to be made for replacing a player with a worse, older version of the same ballplayer. There's absolutely no argument for giving him an extended contract. He's not going to get any better as he heads toward 40, and the stuff he's bad at already - like running and fielding - is in line to get quite a bit worse. Phillies fans are natural born pessimists, but it's moves like this that nurture that pessimism.

At least the walls at CBP are padded. That's going to be helpful. Trust me on this one.
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