Raul Ibanez: Pat Who?

John GehanCorrespondent IMay 23, 2009

NEW YORK - MAY 06:  Raul Ibanez #29 of the Philadelphia Phillies at bat against the New York Mets at Citi Field on May 6, 2009 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

When Pat Burrell left the Phillies for the Rays, I thought we were in trouble. Get rid of the right batting Burrell to had the left batting Ibanez? I didn't understand considering Burrell was an above average fielder and his bat was always a great addition—when he wanted to hit.

When I saw the Phillies sign Raul Ibanez to a three-year deal worth $30 million, I was baffled. I mean, sure, he was an average left fielder with slightly above average numbers, but Burrell was the longest tenured Phillie. Pat Burrell is three years younger and equal or better in all categories—besides speed.

Boy, was I wrong.

This guy is a stud. As of today Ibanez leads the NL in RBI with 41. He is tied for the HR lead with San Diego's Adrian Gonzalez, at 16. He is first in the league in OPS over second place Albert Pujols. He is first in the NL in SLG percentage at .737. At a .353, he is fifth in the league in batting average.

When I started to see Ibanez shine, I shrugged it off. I said, "eh he'll come back to earth." But the 36 year New York native just keeps proving me wrong. Maybe the organization knew something the rest of us didn't when they signed him.

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Maybe I should have seen it earlier. He is an upgrade on the base paths—being much speedier than Pat Burrell. He is a formidable fielder and his bat has been nothing short of amazing.

At first, I was sad to see "Pat the Bat" go, but now I wish him luck because we have added a new star to an already stacked line up—"I-bat-nez."

If Ibanez continues his brilliance at the plate, and everyone else plays the way we know they can, we are going to be tough to beat—even with one of the worst average ERA in baseball.

By the way, congrats to Brett Myers for pitching a strong eight innings against the Yankees last night. It is nice to finally see someone other than Cole Hamels have success like that.

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