When the New York Yankees signed Raul Ibanez and resigned Andruw Jones, the plan was they would platoon in the DH spot. Both are prototypical DH’s for this era; former all-stars that have lost a step defensively, but still have pop left in their bats.
Not only would they be sharing time with each other, but we’ve also seen Joe Girardi use the DH spot a lot to give Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez a half-day rest. Girardi also needed to find time to play Eric Chavez at DH or third base.
Brett Gardner went on the 15-day disabled list on April 19, and Girardi planned to use Ibanez and Jones in left field until Gardner returned. What Girardi didn’t plan on was Gardner’s return likely being next season. Set back after set back has forced Ibanez and Jones to platoon full time in left and they have exceeded all expectations.
Defensively, neither has been a liability in left field. There might have been a few pop-ups Gardner could have ran down that one of them didn’t, but not many players have Gardner’s speed to begin with. Their play in left has allowed Girardi to use the DH spot to give one of his aging infielders a partial day off. When October comes around, a fresher Rodriguez and Jeter will be huge for the Yankees making a playoff run.
At the plate, the two former All-Stars have a combined 24 home runs and 66 RBIs. If they were one player, that would lead the team. As bad as Rodriguez has been this season driving in runs (41), the production from left field has led the Yankees to the best record in baseball.
Not only have Ibanez and Jones produced, but they’ve done it in the clutch. Ibanez carried the Yankees for the first two months. By the end of May, he already had 28 runs batted in. A couple of big moments for Ibanez this season include the game-tying home run against the Mets off of Chris Young, and the game-winning grand slam on Monday against the Blue Jays.
If Andruw Jones does nothing but hit home runs against the Red Sox, Yankee fans would be delighted. After watching Rodriguez’s defense yesterday, he might have to play more as the DH and play Chavez at third. Having Gardner out the rest of the season might be what the Yankees need. Ibanez and Jones have been too important to the Yankee lineup to take them out of left field.