Replacing Burrell With Ibanez?

One of the big decisions for first-year GM Ruben Amaro, Jr, is whether or not he will retain Pat Burrell. Burrell is a three true outcomes hitter who plays poor defense at a corner outfield position. There are plenty of those on the market this season, driving down the price. In many other off-seasons, players like Burrell and Adam Dunn would likely command $14 mil or so, while now it appears more likely that they will earn something in the $10-11 mil range. Regardless of the exactitudes, Burrell’s love for the city and the market surplus of like-players means he could be had for a lesser fee.

His defense stinks, though, and he would be better-suited to serve as a DH for an AL team. Though Burrell has been one of my favorite players for years, if he were to sign elsewhere and the Phillies could replace him, perhaps with a slightly less productive hitter but more solid defender, this Phightins phan would not be particularly upset. I would, however, be upset if Amaro let Burrell go elsewhere and signed one of the other good-hitting, no-defense corner outfielders to replace him.

According to Jayson Stark, this may come to fruition, as the defending champs and Raul Ibanez seemingly have strong mutual interest. As Peter Griffin would say, this really grinds my gears!

Before even looking at the numbers, let it be known that Burrell is 32 and Ibanez is 37. Players like these two do not age particularly well, and yet the Phillies seem more willing to give a multi-year deal to someone five years older than their “current” left-fielder. I’m sure Ibanez is a standup guy and a positive influence in the clubhouse, but it isn’t as if Burrell is Sidney Ponson/Milton Bradley attitude-wise. For this to even make sense, Ibanez would have to project much better offensively, and at least a little better defensively.

Burrell’s 2009 Marcel wOBA is .369 to the .344 of Ibanez. This translates to +19 runs offensively for Burrell and just +6 for Ibanez. Both are likely to play the whole season, so we dock 7.5 runs for an adjustment. Meanwhile, Burrell would get +17 runs to adjust to value above replacement while Ibanez would get +18 runs. Now, we move onto defense. Both of these guys have been either the worst, or among the worst, defensive left-fielders over the past two seasons.

A rough UZR projection has them both at around -12 or -13 runs defensively for 2009. If we consider them both to be -12, then Burrell is, all told, +16.5 runs above replacement. Ibanez… is +5.5 runs. Translated to wins, we’re talking about +1.65 wins vs. +0.55 wins.

I have nothing against Ruben Amaro, Jr. Heck, I played baseball with his nephew and his brother even donated bases and balls to a league my father and I used to run. He will have to forgive me, though, for failing to understand why he would pursue a player worth over a full win less and who is five years older than a player he could likely easily re-sign. If you do not want Burrell back, fine, but do not replace him with someone less productive than he and much older in baseball terms.

Even if this deal were just for one season, I still would not like it, because it isn’t as if the Phillies have a top-tiered prospect waiting in the wings to take over the position. If you do not plan on re-signing Burrell, it makes no sense to sign someone with similar skills that is less productive, older, and almost as, if not equally, costly.

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Eric is an accountant and statistical analyst from Philadelphia. He also covers the Phillies at Phillies Nation and can be found here on Twitter.

40 Responses to “Replacing Burrell With Ibanez?”

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  1. Jeff Tolin says:

    The premise is that Ibanez and Burrell will cost similar amounts, but is that really the case? I would have thought Burrell is looking for a multiyear deal at 8 figures per. Ibanez has been regularly signing extensions in the $5-6 million range over the last several years; and while he’s finally giving up the home-team discount and looking to get paid, he must understand that he’s not likely to get much more than that for two years, let alone three. Yes, if they signed for the same amount I’d definitely say Burrell is the far better value, but I just don’t see it happening. But what do I know.

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  2. Eric Seidman says:

    Jeff, I would tend to think Burrell will command $10-11 mil and Ibanez at around $7.5-9 mil. That is WAY too close for comfort for me, especially given the five-year age gap and the over one win worse production. If they want to upgrade defensively, they should go after someone who is, well, actually good defensively.

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  3. Jeff Tolin says:

    Would that make a difference? To me, a $3-4 million difference for a win to a win and a half sounds about right… or do you have updated info on that kind of thing?

    Also, do you think they’re asking for the same number of years? Putting Ibanez at the top of the range you mentioned ($9m) and Burrell at the bottom of his range ($10m), they’re definitely too close for comfort — but it might still be palatable if Burrell wants four years ($40m total) and Ibanez wants only two or even three years ($18m or $27m, depending). And, you know, stuff like vesting options can make all of this pretty complicated.

    And I agree that Ibanez is not a defensive upgrade over anyone not named Manny. (I say this as a Mariner fan optimistically hoping Franklin Gutierrez and Endy Chavez can make Carlos Silva look less pathetic in ’09.)

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  4. Jeff Tolin says:

    …sorry, as I took another look at my own message, I’m not even sure what that first question of mine meant. Bad editing. Just ignore that and starte with “To me, a $3-4 million….”

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  5. Eric Seidman says:

    Jeff, I’m with you on the 3-4 mil for 1.1 wins or whatever it is, but that isn’t the point. The point is that they want to upgrade defensively and are going after a guy equally as bad as the one they could sign for not much more money who is far superior offensively.

    Ibanez is equal defensively and over a win worse offensively, AND five years older. If this was a stopgap, 1-yr deal, and there was someone great in the farm system for next year, fine, but that just isn’t the case. Unless Ibanez signs for like 1-yr/6 mil, this is a poor deal in my eyes.

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  6. Jeff Tolin says:

    Well certainly, if defense is the goal, Ibanez is not your guy. Anyway, nice article Eric, I’m heading home now, but thanks for responding to me.

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  7. Geno Mack says:

    Also, Ibanez bats lefthanded and is a Type A free agent. Amaro would be getting off on the wrong foot with this deal.

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  8. Eric Seidman says:

    Geno, couldn’t agree more. However, the vast majority of Phillies fans will just see Ibanez HR/RBI and consider it a great signing. I just can’t imagine that there isn’t someone in the Phillies front office who can identify that Ibanez stinks defensively.

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  9. JWay says:

    Don’t forget the loss of a draft pick! Thanks signed Seattle.

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  10. MAS says:

    Really great site, Eric. I appreciate all of the Phillies analysis. I was discussing Ibanez over at Beerleaguer, but I think it’s better to just view the stats.

    interesting chart of phillies career ops+ v RHP and LHP:

    paulino – 81 RHP (822 PA), 156 LHP (288 PA)
    werth – 88 RHP (1114 PA), 126 LHP (497 PA)
    victorino – 97 RHP (1014 PA), 117 LHP (518 PA)
    feliz – 96 RHP (2533 PA), 112 LHP (428 PA)
    rollins – 98 RHP (4267 PA), 105 LHP (1520 PA)
    utley – 103 RHP (1915 PA), 93 LHP (970 PA)
    ruiz – 103 RHP (673 PA), 89 LHP (207 PA)
    howard – 119 RHP (1358 PA), 62 LHP (808 PA)

    burrell – 92 RHP (3998 PA), 123 LHP (1390 PA)
    wigginton – 92 RHP (2168 PA), 122 LHP (827 PA)
    derosa – 92 RHP (2113 PA), 120 LHP (867 PA)
    baldelli – 93 RHP (1368 PA), 118 LHP (508 PA).
    rivera – 99 RHP (1250 PA), 101 LHP (650 PA)
    dunn 107 RHP (3243 PA), 86 LHP (1506 PA)
    ibanez – 107 RHP (3913 PA), 80 LHP (1388 PA)

    After reviewing this comparison, I don’t see why the Phils can’t sign a productive full-time LH LF. Yes, Howard can’t hit LHP and Burrell is a dominant batter v. LHP, but 4 starters (Werth, Victorino, Rollins and Feliz) are good hitters against LHP. Plus, Paulino is a nice sub against LHP and makes that trade more intriguing. In addition, Utley isn’t awful v LHP. Moreover, more SP’s are RHP. Final point – Ibanez is not the hitter that Burrell is, but he is productive. Thoughts?

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  11. Eric Seidman says:

    MAS, thanks for the numbers. My point about not wanting Ibanez has nothing to do with the fact that he is a lefty. Nothing.

    Instead, I would be angry if this went down because he is equally as bad defensively as Burrell and 13 runs worse offensively, which translates to over one and a quarter wins on the year.

    If they do not want to bring back Burrell, fine. However, my sources say that Amaro’s comment is that he wants to get better defensively. Ibanez is not that upgrade.

    If they want to sign a full-time LH left-fielder, go for it. I wouldn’t, because they don’t have anything other than Werth from the right side, really, but to replace Burrell with Ibanez is, well, stupid. There is no other word for it. He is not a defensive upgrade, and if he is, it is the equivalent of going from an F- to an F.

    I like Ibanez as a player, but he is not the answer here. Even with some rather liberal aging curves for Burrell, by the time year three of his desired 3-yr deal ends, his wOBA would still likely be higher (or in the same vicinity as) than Ibanez’s projected .344 for 2009.

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  12. MAS says:

    Yes, I agree with your analysis (wOBA, defense, age) of Burrell versus Ibanez in terms of production. There would need to be significant contract savings. Obviously defense and their LF position hurts both players significantly and almost equally. Under my amateur spreadsheet, I had Ibanez at 2.3 WAR w/o position and defense adjustments, while Burrell was at 3.5 WAR w/o similar adjustments. At 4.5 mill/win for next year, my numbers required a savings of 5.4 mill in 09 to justify signing Ibanez over Burrell. I don’t see that happening, but there might be some savings. I think you’d have to view the acquisitions/subtractions in context. My main point was the unexpected strength against LHP. With a Paulino/Ruiz platoon, the current lineup, without a LF, would have 5 of 7 plus hitters v. LHP compared to 3 of 7 plus hitters v. RHP. A strong LF against RHP might be a solid acquisition and, thus, in the right context i.e. contract savings, Ibanez would bring this value. Therefore, while Ibanez as a direct swap for Burrell might not be the answer, Ibanez as an addition, under the right terms, might be part of the solution. Of course, I’d be more open to spending money on Lowe or Dunn, but they seem less likely in the Phils’ budget. As for LF defense, I’ve seen Amaro’s comment, but I’m not sure that there are many viable candidates aside from maybe Schumaker and it would seem that the Cards would require a bullpen piece in a trade. Anyway, thanks for the comments.

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  13. Eric Seidman says:


    I’d honestly be more interested, if they aren’t bringing Burrell back, in Jenkins platooning with, say, Juan Rivera. Jenkins is a plus-defender, believe it or not, and is a better hitter than 2008 indicated. Again, this isn’t the idea situation, but I’d much rather have a platoon like that than Ibanez.

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  14. Eric Seidman says:

    Just out of curiosity, how did you get Ibanez at 2.3 WAR and Burrell at 3.5 WAR. My calculations are below:

    1) Burrell -12 runs defense, Ibanez -12 runs defense
    2) Burrell +19 runs offense, Ibanez +6runs offense
    3) Prorating the adjustments with playing time,
    Burrell +17 above replacement, Ibanez +18 above replacement
    4) Positional Adjustment, Both -7.5

    Burrell = 19+17-7.5-12 = +16.5 runs above replacement, +1.65 wins
    Ibanez = 6+18-7.5-11 = +5.5 runs above replacement, +0.55 wins

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  15. MAS says:

    fyi, just realized my posted figures were in tOPS+

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  16. MAS says:

    I also like the idea of a Jenkins platoon. Rivera or Baldelli would work for me. The Phils actually have injury issues with 2B and 3B which concerns me. DeRosa would have been a really interesting fit in the first half and second half of ’09. I was surprised to see Feliz’s defensive PMR drop last year. DeRosa would’ve been intriguing at 3B when Utley came back. It’s another reason why I’d also inquire about Wigginton as a backup to DeRosa.

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  17. MAS says:

    My WAR calculations didn’t include defense or position adjustments. Also, I’m not entirely sure how to do this and I’ve been trying to figure out how to apply Tango’s formula. My initial calculations were used to obtain wins above average WAA and include the player’s Marcel wOBA, Tango’s league (i believe NL) wOBA of .338, relationship of wOBA to Runs as 1.15, a player’s Marcel plate appearances, Relationship of Runs to Wins of 10.5. I attempted what I thought was TangoTiger’s WAA formula as : (player wOBA – league wOBA) / 1.15 * plate appearances / 10.5 = WAA. I then added a replacement level adjustment for the NL of 2 to my WAA figure to get an offensive WAR. From this offensive WAR, i added/subtracted positional adjustments (+1.0 for C, +.5 for SS/CF, 0 for 2B/3B, -.5 for LF/RF, -1.0 for 1B and -1.5 for DH). Finally, my defensive adjustments have been between +1.0 and -1.0 depending on the player’s 2008 defensive PMR rating. So, for Burrell, w/ a Marcel wOBA of .369 and 582 plate appearances, I calculated an offensive WAR of 3.49. I would subtract -0.5 for LF and -1.0 for defense to arrive at 2.0 total WAR. In comparison, Ibanez w/ .344 wOBA and 617 PA equaled 2.31 offensive WAR. W/ position -0.5 for LF and -1.0 for defense equaled 0.8 total WAR. Interesting. It looks like I haven’t quite perfected it. If you see the problem or have a better method for calculating WAR, let me know. Thanks.

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  18. MAS says:

    here is the link to tangotiger’s site for how to calculate WAR and from which I attempted to duplicate his formula.

    Looking over your numbers, it seems my main discrepancy occurs in my defensive adjustment. of course, it also seems that you have a different 4 step formula.

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  19. Eric Seidman says:

    MAS, what we do is this:

    1) Look at wRAA here at Fangraphs – it turns the wOBA with that formula into offensive runs above average.

    2) Look at the UZR defense here. I usually like to average the last three years and/or weight it, and add some sort of aging curve.

    3) The replacement level is 2 wins, +20 runs, for 700 PA. I tend to prorate it based on PA. So, if Ibanez has 617 PA, I would do (617/700)*20, to get the runs. That’s why Ibanez would be +18, not +20.

    4) The adjustments are per 162 games, so again, I prorate them. Catchers are +12.5 runs, 1B -12.5, 2B/3B/CF +2.5, SS +7.5, LF/RF -7.5.

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  20. MAS says:

    Great, thanks.

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  21. alex says:

    the phillies have michael taylor waiting if you want

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  22. NadavT says:

    I just wanted to add that no discussion of Ibanez’s defense is complete without checking out the excellent collection of .gif files at

    Scroll down to the bottom of the left sidebar to a section called “Raul Ibanez Takes Pride In His Defense.”

    The “Lawn Dart” .gif is a classic for the ages.

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  23. David Foy says:

    NadavT, great link. Puts an some horrendous images to the horrendously bad defensive stats. So I thought I’d add that the Phillies look to have signed Ibanez to a 3-year 30 mil deal. In the end doesn’t even look like they got a discount. Probably could have gotten Pat for about equal money. As a Met fan i’m ecstatic.

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  24. Bill says:

    Well they signed Ibanez apparently. I agree that’s a really questionable move that makes little sense to an outsider.

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  25. Jeff Tolin says:

    Well, I just had to come back… 3 years, $30 million? I’ll just say it will be interesting to see what Burrell gets. This should have been a buyer’s market for good-bat, no-glove outfielders, but you never know what a GM will do. On the bright side, it makes little to focus on a specific skill set like defense (the old adage about focusing on what a player can’t do vs. what a player can do, etc. etc.), and Ibanez will be a contributor, albeit an overpriced one. Plus, I’m sure the Phils are now looking forward to interleague play in AL parks.

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  26. Alex says:

    Thanks Phillies for taking our overpriced player who cant play defense, and giving us draft picks in return! :)

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  27. David Foy says:

    On ESPN Tim Kurkjain (other than being brain dead) is reporting that he believes that Pat Burrell is unlikely to get “anything close” to Ibanez’s 3 years 30 mil.
    What are other GMs seeing? Tim called Ibanez “one of the premier outfielders on the market.” Are all these guys able to be wowed by RBI #s?

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  28. Conballs says:

    I’m very conflicted as a Phils fan. Stats aside, you’re losing a great clubhouse guy in Pat Burrell. You’re also losing a power right-handed bat. The thing is, I don’t think Pat is as bad of an outfielder as people think. The guy plays the ball off the wall tremendously and has a very accurate arm.

    I’m a Pat guy, but I understand the biz of the game. But if you were gonna get rid of Burrell, how do you pay Ibanez that kind of scratch? Because I think the move wouldn’t be half-bad if the contract was decent. Ibanez adds stability to a high-swing offense. There is security in knowing Ibanez won’t hit .180 for a month looking completely overmatched. Plus, you gotta understand the lineup in front of Raul and the park he played in. I think you can expect 25-27 homers in CB, with 115 RBIs (unless he’s slotted in the #2 hole).

    In summary, I like that Ibanez is in between a contact guy and a power guy – not being all or nothing. But I think the contract was pre-mature in a buyer’s market. And now we only have Bruntlett and Marson or Coste as RHs off the bench – terrible. I would have rather gone after Lowe and gotten a Rivera or Baldelli to platoon.

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  29. don says:

    I posted this on another site, so I’ll add the post here.

    Last year Burrell had
    377 PA with the bases empty
    164 PA with one man on
    86 PA with two on
    11 PA with the bases loaded.

    He came to bat with a total of 369 men on base, of which 182 were in scoring position.

    Ibanez last year:
    344 PA with the bases empty
    256 PA with one on
    86 PA with two on
    16 PA with the bases loaded

    He came to bat with a total of 476 men on, of which 225 were in scoring position.

    Assuming Howard continues to hit lots of home runs and make lots of outs with relatively little in between, which I think is pretty likely, I expect Ibanez’s RBI numbers to drop a fair amount next year.

    I’m not so worried about the left hand bat – the Phillies hit lefties a fair amount better than righties last year as a team, so while this could switch the trend it’s not like they’re totally one sided. I do think this is a bad signing. If you’re going to overpay for a guy who can’t field, why not stick with the better hitter and the guy who after years of being booed was finally able to win the fans back? Oh, well.

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  30. Philly-Fan says:

    Phillies needed to produce with Runners In Scoring Position and Pat killed them this past season in the 5th spot. Yes, they won the World Series, but how quickly we forget about the runners that were stranding. Play some fundamental ball fellows…. player on 3rd < 2outs… don’t strand him with a strikeout. I couldn’t stand watching this lack of baseball fundamentals anymore. I’m glad Pat is gone. Raul is a much better player in those situations which is proven with the RISP stat:

    Year – Player – RISP/RISP-2out average

    2008 – Raul .327/.324
    2008 – Pat .234/.183

    2007 – Raul .328/.324
    2007 – Pat .258/.255

    2006 – Raul .337/.377
    2006 – Pat .222/.167

    2005 – Raul .298/.279
    2005 – Pat .295/.291

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    • Joe R says:

      And if you did some digging…


      Pat Burrell — PA: 645 RBI: 86 Actual Runners on Base: 383 (193-120-70),
      ML Avg. Player with PA: 645 RBI: 74 Avg. Runners on Base: 407 (201-135-70)


      Raul Ibanez — PA: 707 RBI: 110 Actual Runners on Base: 484 (254-145-85),
      ML Avg. Player with PA: 707 RBI: 81 Avg. Runners on Base: 446 (221-148-77)

      So if we want to make a stat up (call it RBI+, formula 100(RBI/xRBI + xROB/ROB – 1):

      Burrell: 122
      Ibanez: 128

      So hey, way to cherry pick one stat to express your dislike of a player. Not to mention their 2 outs, RISP numbers practically mirror one another. And that in almost exactly the same number of career PA’s, Burrell and his striking out has a higher RE24 (which factors in “moving the runner over” and “productive outs”) than Ibanez.

      Ibanez had a much better 2009, but given that I’m the asshole that chews apart a statement 10 months later, I can say you get no hindsight credit.

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  31. pete says:

    glad the phillies don’t come here for advice.

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  32. Anitra says:


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  33. mattymatty says:

    We’re two months into a three year contract. It’s a bit early to be making declarative statements like that, pete.

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  34. sen-baldacci says:

    Its not too early to say you’re glad they didn’t analyze this trade the same way…Sure its early and it might pan out differently over the long haul, but you’ve got a guy in Ibanez who is showing he can do what he’s done the last 5 years which is hit with guys in scoring position and he’s got a nice OBP. The whole lefty/righty thing seemed strange, but the majority of pitchers are righties, so you would want the matchup more often, especially when he hits lefties so well, too. this isn’t to downplay what Burrell could do if he gets healthy, but it does say that Ibanez is continually underrated, and Pete is glad the Phillies overrated him (with that contract).

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  35. Lars says:

    Seattle gave up a lot when we let him go. Lack of offense kept us out of the playoffs even though our pitching was AL’s best. Those of you that thought it was a mistake, I assume you’ve seen the light.

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    • joser says:

      The Mariners did not have the AL’s best pitching, unless you’re looking at a bad stat like ERA. They might have been in AL top ten in pitching, barely, but in a 14 team league that makes them below average.

      Yes, it would’ve been nice to have Raul’s bat in the lineup, but every time an opposing team hit a ball to left field I was very happy we didn’t have to watch his “Family Circus” style wanderings finished by a feet-first slide to trap the ball on a bounce (or miss it altogether). Watching the best outfield in baseball (at least until Endy got hurt, and even Sauders was a major improvement over Ibanez) more than made up for any lost opportunities at the plate. A run saved is as good as a run earned.

      Seattle took the draft picks and kept the money. That was the right decision.

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      • Joe R says:

        Overall, the M’s are probably an 88-89 win team with Ibanez’s production out of LF. Their total UZR in LF was +18.4, but pretty much had replacement level hitting, if that.

        So works out to about +1.5. Ibanez was +4.1

        Would the M’s have been a better team? Definitely. Would it have been worth it to keep Ibanez? Meh, probably not. There’s decent long term LF fixes on the market this offseason if they want to nab one.

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  36. Dave says:

    The whole age argument was always ridiculous. Any Phillies fan knew that Burrell’s body was just as old, if not older than Ibanez’s body. When analyzing the situation last off-season, we figured Burrell had one, maybe two years left where he could play the field (a.k.a: be useful in the National League). Then possibly another one or two years left as a sole DH. At this point, it is heard to argue that Burrell would be nearly unplayable in the field.

    Also, before the year we had Dominic (now Domonic) Brown as a top tier prospect in the OF, so I’m not sure what prospect rankings he was looking at when he said we didn’t have a fill in in the outfield. Both Brown and the emerging Taylor should be ready for the big leagues at some point in 2010, though they will probably hold off on Brown until 2011.

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