Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Raul Ibanez Paying Dividends

Raul Ibanez hit a grand slam in the bottom of the eighth inning last night to cap a 6-run inning that turned an 11-7 deficit into a 13-11 win.

Nevermind that Nationals reliever Joel Hanrahan was absolutely awful and anyone could have smelled Ibanez's blast coming from about three batters before it happened. Ibanez is on fire, and he is already proving to be well worth the 3-year $30 million deal the Phils signed him to in December.

Ibanez is leading Phillies regulars in hits, runs, home runs, total bases and OPS through April 27.

He's also been clutch. In addition to last night's bomb, he hit a walk-off home run to give the Phils a come-from-behind 5-4 win against San Diego on April 19.

Many so-called experts, most notably ESPN's Keith Law, were extremely critical when the Phillies' signed Ibanez to replace Pat Burrell, pointing out his advanced age of 36 and that he would make the Phillies' lineup too left-handed.

But Jayson Werth has hit well enough to stay in the five hole and create a right-handed buffer between Chase Utley and Ryan Howard and Ibanez, and the lineup has been producing all season.

Ibanez has hit just .182 so far against lefties, but he's still been able to produce and the left-handed tilt to the lineup hasn't really had much effect on the offense.

The Phils lead the major leagues in runs scored per game, and Burrell has worse numbers than Ibanez is virtually every statistical category.

As the immortal Scott Graham used to say, "Put this one in the win column for the Fightin' Phils."

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