Raul Ibanez making impact with Yankees; should Phillies have kept him?

Remember this guy?

This is the so-called washed-up left fielder that the Phillies had on their roster for three seasons from 2009 to 2011. During his time with the Phillies, he hit for a .264 average, hit 70 home runs and drove in 260 RBIs.

For a lineup that "hasn't been hitting the ball hard enough," in the words of Charlie Manuel, could keeping Ibanez have helped?

In four games with the Yankees, Raul has stepped to the plate 12 times. He has just three hits, but his other offensive numbers are impressive considering the Phillies first four games.

Ibanez is hitting .250 with one home run and 6 RBIs. The Phillies are hitting .198 with one home run and 8 runs scored in their four games.

However, I contribute one huge difference to Ibanez now from last year. If the past two seasons wasn't evidence enough, the first four games this season are. Charlie Manuel like the longball. He pressures his team into thinking that's how they have to score. Why is Ibanez so productive so far this season? Perhaps it's because a manager like Joe Girardi isn't pressuring Ibanez to do any more than he can. If he homers, great. If it's singles, doubles, walks, strikeouts or whatever else happens, so be it.

Would Ibanez be playing this way if he were still with the Phillies? We'll never know. But the fact that Raul appears to have this relaxed mindset. He doesn't have the pressure of coming through both offensively and defensively anymore. And remember how Ibanez was in his first season with the Phillies. He was easily the team's most productive hitter in the first half of 2009 before injuries derailed the rest of his time with the Phillies.

Could the Phillies have used him strictly for hitting? Sure, but look at what they have had to do with Jim Thome and Juan Pierre. These guys were supposed to bring improved offense. Now, we're counting on them for their defense. And let's face it, putting a player like Laynce Nix in left field and Jim Thome at first base – he hasn't played there regularly in four seasons – is roughly the equivalent of Ibanez' defense in left last season, mediocre at best, and that's being generous.

The Phillies don't have bench players this year. The word reserves applies more to this team than any other. Four games, four different lineups, four different first basemen in the absence of Ryan Howard. The entire lineup is essentially a platoon system.

It's easy to look at Ibanez' offensive numbers, like RBIs, and think the Phillies could use him. But is another veteran what the Phillies need? Better yet, is another aging players past his prime what the Phillies need? You know the answer. The solution isn't to get young – in terms of Freddy Galvis – it's to get current.

Yesterday, three players were locked into contract extensions: Brandon Phillips of the Reds, Carlos Santana of the Indians and Ian Kinsler of the Rangers. Two of them are second basemen. Chase Utley was, at one point, that second baseman, the guy that had to be locked up. He is part of the past, this is the present. This is why the Phillies are off to this kind of start, and why this season will be the toughest to win a division title, let alone a championship. The Phillies are out of date at second base. They have a fading player at first base. They settled for a shortstop who will be out of date before his new contract is up. Before you know it, half of the rotation will be in that category as well. The only real currents they have – when it comes to the lineup – are in right field and center field. So to answer the question, no, the Phillies should not have kept Raul Ibanez.

I'm all for numbers like home runs and RBIs, but there's also the matter of batting average, slugging percentage, on base percentage and on base plus slugging. All of Ibanez' numbers there are better than the Phillies this season…for now. But remember, it's four games in to the season.

Kevin Durso is a contributor to Philliedelphia. You can follow him on twitter @KDursoPhilsNet.

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