Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Leave Raul Ibanez Alone

Listen, I know last night was all about Vance Worley continuing to be awesome and Chase Utley really truly being the man, and I'd be remiss without discussing the both of them.

I mean, what more can we say about Chase at this point? At times I get a little annoyed with how much people slobber over him while bashing some of the other players on the Phillies, but dammit if the guy doesn't deserve it. Not only did he have that absolutely insane, exhilarating inside-the-park home run, but he also got the scoring started with a two-out single in the first and then scoring from first to tie the game on a double down the rightfield line by Ryan Howard. As the late, great Harry Kalas — who you know was just making an absolutely majestic call on that homer — said, Chase Utley really is the man.

Then there is Vance Worley. I'm not afraid to admit that until very recently, I saw Vance as nothing more than a J.A. Happ at best and Kyle Kendrick at worst — a guy without amazing stats in the minors called up to the big club and pitching out of his mind in his first stint, but a guy that would eventually fall back down to earth. And while it is certainly a little too early to crown the guy a legitimate front-of-the-rotation guy in the making, Worley has done nothing but get better each and every start.

Last night was easily his most impressive outing of his career, pitching his first complete game and doing it by surrendering just three hits and two runs. At the same time, he walked just one, and that came with two outs in the 9th, while striking out 5. His comeback cut fastball was Halladay-like, and his composure against the defending World Series champs is what impressed me the most. After surrendering a run in the first inning, it would have been easy for him to unravel. Instead he came back and gave up just one more run the next 8 innings. Vance now has a 2.02 ERA and 1.09 WHIP and a 7-1 record. The man is just killing it right now.

I know that 7-2 victory was all about Chase and Vance. But now that that is out of the way, I'd like to take the opportunity to officially call for every Phillies fan alive to shut up already and leave Raul Ibanez alone.

All season long there's been a steady chorus of Raul hate. He's too old. He can't hit anymore. He's too slow. He's not a good fielder. His time is up. Nevermind that he's the consummate professional and a streaky hitter who can literally carry an offense at times. Nevermind that he's a standup guy and possibly the most respected everyday player in the locker room. And nevermind that lately Raul has been playing fantastic baseball.

A couple weeks ago, when Raul went 3-for-3 and accounted for every Phillies run in a victory over the Red Sox and then hit a walkoff against the Braves, I let my feelings on Raul be known. Given that I really like the guy, maybe it makes me a little more defensive of him. But at this point, I think it's safe to say it's time to leave Raul the hell alone.

Ibanez is not done. He's not washed up. Sure, he's old, and yes, he'll have his slumps … same as he's always had in his career. But the man knows how to play the game, and right now he's playing it damn well. Sure, Vance and Chase were the stars last night, but Raul played as integral a part in that victory as the both of them. He's the one who followed up Howard's first-inning RBI double and Shane Victorino's walk with a three-run blast to give the Phils the lead. He's the one who made a nice sliding catch and then one-upped that with an even better catch in the 9th. And he's the guy who is and should be manning left field for the Phillies the rest of this year.

Maybe you're tired of his streakiness and think he's too old. Maybe you hate that he's another left-handed bat. And maybe he isn't quite the player he was a few seasons ago. But Raul is still getting it done, and it's about time everyone got off his back and leaves him alone. Just enjoy him for what's sure to be his last season in Philadelphia and thank your lucky stars that you've been privileged to watch one of the classiest guys in baseball these past few years.


  1. I'm sorry but I EXTREMELY DISLIKE Raul Ibanez and cannot wait for the end of the season so he's off the team. Every time he gets to the plate with someone on 2nd, I expect him to pop up to the infield or to shallow outfield. He is the last person on the Phillies (including Ross Gload and Wilson Valdez) that I would want at the plate down a run with the game on the line.

    I could care less that he's a "consummate professional." That doesn't help us win games.

  2. I did not make that comment, but I could not agree more with that guy. Raul's a bum.

  3. Well, Raul did hit a home run in said game with a runner on 2nd to give the Phils the lead, but I do understand the sentiments. Good news now is Raul will be platooning with Dom until his contract is up now that Pence is in town.

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  5. Raul would like a word with both of you

  6. "He is the last person on the Phillies (including Ross Gload and Wilson Valdez) that I would want at the plate down a run with the game on the line."

    Raul accepts your apology preemptively

  7. @Reverend Paul Revere - you really like Raul? We signed him to a 3 year 30 mil contract (awful contract but I'll forgive Amaro because he's made up for it in other ways). He makes $11 million this season and is hitting .242. I don't care that he has 16 home runs. I really don't.

    When he strikes out he looks surprised like "man I really thought I had that one." The rest of us knew he would strike out.

    I mean when you need a key hit, he is one of the last hitters you wished were up. I'd rather have Ruiz, Mayberry or Dom Brown than Raul's corpse.

    By the way I found this article by typing "I hate Raul Ibanez" into google. Was hoping there was a website dedicated to his corpse but there is not unfortunately.

  8. @Anonymous
    I do like Raul. Never said I liked his contract, but I do like him, yes.

    As for needing a key hit, that's fine if he's one of the last hitters you want up personally, but the facts don't back up your feelings. Raul is second on the team in game-winning RBI this year with 11, trailing only Howard's 16. Those 11 gwrbi are also 3rd in the NL & 9th in MLB. So there's that.

    No, he isn't an all-star. No, he isn't the best player on the team. But contrary to your feelings, he does and has helped the Phils win this year. He just had a walkoff hit & a game-tying HR in the 8th last week.

    You don't like him, fine. But to say he doesn't help the team at all is inaccurate.

  9. Game winning RBI is a misleading stat. They are not walk-offs, they can happen at any time. He probably got a home run in the 2nd inning and the Phillies got like 2 hits the rest of the game (Raul of course going 1-4 in the game). So yes he did contribute in those games, but his average tells you what he's going to do the majority of the time. He LOVES to swing at those sliders going away from him. Him and Howard must talk about how they swing at those pitches no matter what. Happens every game. He's an easy out.

    I am so surprised to find someone who actually like's Raul Ibanez. I've never met someone to say such a thing. Props to you though, must to tough to like Raul when he's such a letdown.