Monday, August 01, 2011

Defying Expectations

Raul Ibanez continues to confound most of us, me perhaps most of all. I've buried and resurrected him several times already this season and that was before yesterday's phoenix-like performance. Two home runs, the first to give them a lead, the second to tie the game late and a game-winning double. Man, he just won't go quietly.

Truth is, Raul is just as likely to botch a makeable catch in left field that would cost the Phils a win as he is to put up half the total bases he did yesterday. In the end, the problem isn't with Raul. He is, at age 39, what he is only streakier and more unpredictable.

No, the problem is with his manager, whose devotion to veterans and nice guys clouds his judgment. Raul Ibanez should have been platooning with John Mayberry for at least the last month if not more. Charlie isn't going to do that because he gets hunches to go along with his blind devotion and right now he's thinking Raul has turned things around and will hit the remainder of the season. Who knows? Charlie may be right. What we do know is Raul will make every play except the routine ones an adventure in left field.

Meanwhile, Hunter Pence has already paid at least one dividend, doubling in the tenth inning yesterday and scoring the winning run on Ibanez' walk-off hit to right field. A lot of people seem intent on making sure the fans understand Pence isn't a superstar. Pence could care less. He's thrilled to be on a winning team and likely to contribute in an atmosphere in which the pressure isn't on him every night to produce. I'll take a garden-variety double in the bottom of the tenth any time. Maybe it wasn't the work of a superstar but it sure counted in the win column!

No comments: