As expectations for a mega deal to acquire a power-hitting corner outfield dwindle faster with every passing second, news erupted on Twitter last night that former Phillie leftfielder Raul Ibanez was in town taking in the local basketball team as they played the Lakers.
— Brendan Rhodes (@brendanRhodes23) December 16, 2012
Allow for a few seconds of hysteria, if you will.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN??? IS RAUL COMING BACK??? IT’S NOT POSSIBLE THAT HE CAN COME BACK INTO TOWN IF HE’S NOT GOING TO SIGN A CONTRACT, RIGHT??? RUBEN… NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!
Of course, it’s entirely possible Ibanez was back in Philadelphia simply to watch the Sixers play the Lakers.
Yeah, and it’s possible there really is a Bigfoot, too.
But with the presence of Ibanez and the lack of palatable everyday options for the Phils in the outfield, the chorus seems to grow ever-louder that the team may look to a platoon solution.
And the addition of players like Ibanez and Scott Hairston of the Mets would seem to make sense if that is the direction the Phillies are planning on going.
It’s pretty clear now Ruben Amaro has no interest in giving up the #16 pick in the draft for five years of Nick Swisher. And despite reports that the Phils have ramped up their pursuit of Cody Ross, it’s possible Amaro doesn’t really want to spend big dollars on a slightly above-average player when he can get close to Ross’ production from a series of cheap platoons.
The Phils already have John Mayberry, Jr., Darin Ruf, Laynce Nix, and Domonic Brown as corner outfield possibilities. While none of those names are particularly sexy, it does leave the Phillies with a lot of options should they decide to go the platoon route.
If the Phils were to sign Hairston and Ibanez, for example, the Phils could go with a Hairston/Brown platoon in right field, and a Ruf/Ibanez platoon in left. Or, the Phils could decide to let Mayberry platoon with Brown in right and have Ruf platoon with Ibanez or Nix in left.
Mixing and matching outfield lineups worked well for the Phils back in 1993, when they platooned Milt Thompson and Pete Incaviglia in left and Wes Chamberlain and Jim Eisenreich in right. The Oakland A’s did it with great success last year.
Signing Hariston and/or Ibanez wouldn’t be sexy, but it would be cost effective, giving the Phillies payroll flexibility at the trade deadline to upgrade if need be.
The preference, of course, would be for RAJ to find a powerful right-handed bat to take over right field, allowing the Phils to platoon Ruf and Brown in left. But that impact bat just may not be out there.
If the alternative is a four or five-year deal for Cody Ross at close to $10 million, platooning the corner outfield positions may not be the worst idea ever.
Even if it means bringing 52-year-old Raul Ibanez back into the fold.