Monday, December 3, 2007

Raul Ibanez Rumors

This offseason there has been three teams interested in the services of Raul Ibanez. The Detroit Tigers are no longer in the hunt, as Jacque Jones fills their outfield void. The Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians continue to show interest during the Winter Meetings. There has been no word on what the Mariners would demand for Ibanez, but it's always fun to speculate.

The Indians could offer either of lefty starters Cliff Lee or Aaron Laffey. Lee has had a pair of very nice seasons with the Tribe in 2005 and 2006, posting ERAs of 3.79 and 4.40 and working over 200 innings in each. Lee struggled a bit in 2007, but some of that can be attributed to an abdominal injury that caused him to miss all of August. Laffey is just 22 years old and only has nine major league starts under his belt (4.56 ERA). Laffey in a groundball pitcher, throwing a high 80s fastball to go along with a sinker and above average slider and changeup. Laffey could benefit from Seattle's stellar infield defense, especially on the left side, and at 22 has huge upside.

It's unclear what the Cubs could offer. Mark Prior is reportedly on the block, but he is extremely injury prone, probably overpriced and a free agent after 2008. Perhaps the Mariners could get Rich Hill in return. Hill had a 3.92 ERA in 195 innings for the Cubs in 2007. If Hill is too much (most likely) Sean Marshall could be a possibility. Marshall posted a 3.92 ERA in just over 100 innings pitched this past season to go along with some stellar minor league numbers.

It has also been reported that Seattle is "desperate" to trade Richie Sexson during the Winter Meetings, contrary to the believe that Bavasi would like to keep him. How does this pertain to Raul Ibanez? The way I see it, Sexson gets dealt it gives the Mariners an opportunity to get some left-handed pop in the lineup besides Ibanez, either by giving the starting first base job to Ben Broussard, or moving Jose Vidro from DH to first and giving rookie Jeff Clement the DH spot. The bottom line is as the only left-handed power hitter in the current Mariner lineup, Raul cannot be traded unless the Mariners find a way to add another one. Another option would be free agent Geoff Jenkins. Jenkins has pop from the left side and has superior outfield defense to Raul, although he is a much more expensive option.

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