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Raul Ibanez Will Prove to Be More Valuable This Season Than Jesus Montero

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 08:  Raul Ibanez #27 of the New York Yankees hits a two run homerun in the forth-inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium on May 8, 2012 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Mike Stobe/Getty Images
Kenny DeJohnAnalyst IIIMay 9, 2012

Raul Ibanez has been a pleasant surprise so far for the New York Yankees.

Many fans thought Ibanez would be an automatic out entering the regular season, as his spring training left much to be desired.

Those fans couldn't have been more wrong.

After Tuesday night's two home run performance against the Rays, Ibanez now has five home runs and 16 RBI on the season.

He has also put together a respectable line of .267/.317/.520.

When he was signed, the Yankees intended on using him as the primary designated hitter. He would occasionally play the outfield, they said.

Instead, Ibanez has seen significant time in the outfield with Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner both nursing injuries, and he hasn't played too poorly out there.

If the Yankees still had Jesus Montero, they would not be able to see the same versatility or production that Ibanez has offered.

Montero has provided similar offensive production to Ibanez; his line sits at .286/.294/.448. He has hit four home runs and has also driven in 16 runs.

The real difference, though, is in the field.

Ibanez has played 15 games in the outfield, whereas Montero has played just 11.

Montero is still considered a below-average catcher, so the Mariners have used him as their primary DH to keep his bat in the lineup.

With the Yankees, Montero rarely would have caught because of Russell Martin.

This would have created quite the dilemma for the Yankees.

Should we sit Montero and risk losing his bat to give half-days off to Derek Jeter or Alex Rodriguez?

Should we keep Montero in the lineup and lose the bats of Jeter and Rodriguez?

With Ibanez's versatility, the Yankees are given many more options and much less dilemmas. By season's end, Ibanez will prove to be one of the team's best offseason pickups. 

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