Just when we had all kind of forgotten that Ruben Amaro had, in fact, signed Raul Ibanez to a three-year deal, this news broke not too long ago:
Pat Burrell is leaving the World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies for the runner-up Tampa Bay Rays.
Burrell has agreed in principle to a two-year, $16 million contract with the Rays, sources told ESPN The Magazine’s Buster Olney on Monday. The deal is pending a physical.
That’s right, we assume there’s no typo there and the Rays have, in fact, signed Pat Burrell to be their DH at $8M per year for two years.
Just to put that straight in everyone’s mind, here’s what that essentially boils down to: the Phillies signed a left fielder to replace their departing one. The new one is four years older than the old one, plays arguably worse defense than the maligned old one, is yet another left-handed bat, is terrible against lefties, and now costs $3M more per year than the one that just walked out the door.
Can somebody – anybody – please explain this to me from the Philly perspective? Was Ruben Amaro so incredibly overanxious to get rid of Pat Burrell that it came to this?
Moreover, this raises a couple other interesting questions. Ponder this: rumor had surfaced some weeks ago about an offer of 2/$22M from Philadelphia to Burrell, and he reportedly turned it down. Word later came out that there was no such offer, and talks between the Phils and Burrell were almost nonexistent.
Given the fact that Burrell just signed for the same length at a $6M total discount, I’m inclined to believe Burrell’s side of this story. It seems readily apparent that Amaro wanted to bring in the guy he liked – and only him – without giving Pat Burrell a second look.
Did Amaro cave to the small contingent of fans who don’t know their baseball, the ones who readily booed Burrell despite his career line of .257/.367/.485 with a 119 OPS+? It would seem so. If defense is the argument, consider me even more confused; Ibanez’s defense, by all measures, is worse than Burrell’s. Burrell has mobility issues, for certain, but an above average arm and excellent awareness in playing the field. Ibanez, while slightly more mobile, exhibits terrible fielding instincts and a below average arm, two things that will cost the Phillies more in the long run than a bit of leadfootedness.
Meanwhile, the Rays just added a great bat for an incredible discount, and won’t even have to worry about Burrell’s fielding. Matt Joyce, another recent acquisition via trade, will likely be the full-time left fielder for Tampa to start the year.
Let us not forget, too, that Ibanez’s contract is backloaded. He’ll make $6.5M this season, but $11.5M in both 2010 and 2011. An almost 40-year-old left fielder not named Manny Ramirez making $11.5M likely won’t draw many suitors in the trade market, especially if he’s underperforming.
I guess what I’m getting at here is that the Raul Ibanez deal makes less and less sense every day, every hour, every minute.