COMMENTARY | The answer to the Texas Rangers' problems was just right under their noses.
Seattle Mariners outfielder Raúl Ibañez, who is 41, just blew through town and demolished the Rangers as the long-out-of-contention Mariners took 2 out of 3 from Texas. For a team that has been inconsistent with scoring runs all year and is looking to add a power hitter before the deadline, the Rangers should have taken note of Ibanez.
Ibañez has always been a quiet and a very respected player, and he will no doubt improve the clubhouse chemistry in Texas. He is in his 3rd tour of duty with the Mariners, and there is reason why they keep re-acquiring him. He simply goes out there and goes to work and is very good at his job. His career highlights include a pinch-hit homer (batting for A-Rod, no less) last year in the playoffs as a Yankee, and then a walkoff homer later in the same game.
He has always seemed to kill the Rangers no matter what team he has played with. He has 20 homers against them for his career, which is his 2nd highest total against any team (he has 21 against the Angels). When he came to Seattle this year, it was thought that he was going to be a part-time player, but he has emerged as a legitimate full-time outfielder who has hit 21 homers in 65 games (the most homers ever for a player over 40 before the All-Star break).
It is unfortunate that Ibañez did not play a full season until 2002, when he was 30 years old, as a member of the Kansas City Royals. No telling what he could have accomplished if he had played regularly since, say, age 22. And this is a guy who was drafted in the 36th round. As it is, he is 8 homers away from 300 and 54 hits away from 2,000 for his career.
The Rangers used the old "if you can't beat 'em, acquire 'em" philosophy once before and it worked like a charm. Before the 2010, season, they signed Vladimir Guerrero, who had been torturing them for many years as a member of the Angels. Guerrero continued to pound AL pitching as the Rangers' DH and the Rangers made it to the World Series for the first time ever that year.
Vlad the Impaler stayed in Texas for only one season, but what a season it was. The Rangers could have similar results if they bring Ibañez into the fold.
The Rangers need that power boost desperately with Nelson Cruz still possibly facing a long suspension and regular DH Lance Berkman having hit only 6 homers in the 1st half. LF David Murphy has 10 homers but has otherwise badly slumped all season long.
It's time to make a move, and the move to acquire Ibañez makes a lot of sense. He came to Seattle before the season on a 1-year contract worth $2.75 million, which would make him a relative bargain for the Rangers at this point in the season. The Mariners are looking to get younger and would probably be willing to listen to offers for their ageless slugger.
No doubt Ibañez would like to get that elusive ring before he retires (he played in the Series with the Phillies in 2009 but they lost to the Yankees). There is no telling how long Ibañez will play beyond this season, but if he helps the Rangers win the World Series this year, acquiring him will be well worth it.
Brian Honea is a Dallas, Texas-based freelance writer who is a lifelong Texas Rangers follower.
- Sports & Recreation
- Texas Rangers
- Raúl Ibañez
- Seattle Mariners