Of course, the delay had less to do with the ambition of the project (or delusions of the project manager, if you prefer) and much more to do with the Yankees finding payroll room by moving A.J. Burnett off their roster, but the two sides have agreed on a base salary of $1.1 million that could pay Ibanez as much as $4 million if he attains a certain amount of plate appearances in 2012.
At first glance, it’s easy to wonder why the Yankees would be interested in offering anything resembling guaranteed money to a player whose on base percentage declined faster than the intentions of an ex-convict who wants to stay clean, but gets lured back into a life of crime by his circle of friends. Even with the team’s new found need of a left handed bat, Ibanez is far from the obvious choice.
Jack Moore of FanGraphs provides justification for the signing by suggesting that while his overall numbers may be in decline, the 39 year old has been able to maintain his power against right handed pitching.
Still, Ibanez showed he can still take righties deep. Sixteen of his 20 home runs came off of right-handed pitching and he finished with a very solid .440 slugging percentage.
Ibanez is not an ideal player by any means, but as long as the Yankees understand his weaknesses and strengths, he should serve as a fine left-handed specialty bat off the bench. And looking at the rest of New York’s stable of position players, that’s about all they need out of him.
Ibanez will platoon with Andruw Jones as the team’s designated hitter, most likely making way for the myriad of veterans who will without a doubt spend time at DH as they recover from the effects of early onset osteoporosis.