Phillies Sign Their Man, Raul Ibanez Takes Over in Left Field

The Philadelphia Phillies and Pat Burrell are parting ways. As we passed along yesterday, the champs coveted Mariners slugger Raul Ibanez as the replacement in left-field and the middle of the batting order.

Today they landed him, pending the all-important physical, of course.

Conventional wisdom would state that the Phils needed a right-handed hitter to break up Chase Utley and Ryan Howard -- both lefties -- but instead Ibanez will likely follow Howard in the order, meaning they'll have three straight lefties through the middle once Utley returns from his hip injury. Opposing managers can easily just insert a left-handed reliever to face all three in the late innings.

Howard is much, much worse against lefties historically, as is Ibanez. Utley's just a slight bit worse against lefties.

Here's the caveat, though. Ibanez made strides against left-handers last year. In fact, he had better numbers. He hit .305 against lefties and .288 against righties. His OPS splits were similar, but it was a touch higher against left-handers (.866 to .824).

Considering the league switch, the ballpark change, and the better lineup, you can expect an improvement in Ibanez's offense next season. This is a fine signing for the Phillies.

Phillies Sign Their Man, Raul Ibanez Takes Over in Left Field originally appeared on MLB FanHouse on Fri, 12 Dec 2008 09:55:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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