New Hire Orientation: Raul Ibanez

Excuse me, sir. You just can't come in here.

Oh, I see. Sir, I think you might be lost. Shady Acres Retirement Home is on 3rd Avenue North, this is 3rd Avenue South. Don't worry, old-timer, this kind of thing happens all the time. Now don't be embarrassed. We'll call the folks at Shady Acres and they'll send a van for you. Would you like a pudding while you wait? Pudding is good. You'll like pudding. Let me just talk to my assistant.

Ms. Parker, would you get the old folks home on the phone, please. It happened again. What? Raul Ibanez? You mean the guy in my office? Are you sure? Well, why didn't you-  Fine, fine. Just give me a heads up next time.

Well, Mr. Ibanez. You'll have to forgive my confusion… there was a… mix-up with my calendar and I didn't realize you were coming in today. If we could just pretend that never happened and get to the matter at hand, that would be terrific, ok? Great, let's talk about your new job a bit.

It says here that you've been hired to serve as our new designated hitter. I think that needs to be made perfectly clear, you are only supposed to be the designated hitter and nothing more. We checked your references at your last employer and it seems that for some reason they had you in a bigger role, doing a lot of field work. That… I mean, that is just not going to happen here. Your reputation for physical fitness precedes you, but field work has just never been a strength of yours and there is no way you're going to be useful in that role at your advanced age. We want to play to your strengths and fielding isn't one of them. Besides, it really wouldn't hut to try to keep your fresh.

Again, I know you are a fitness freak. People keep telling me that, so trust me, I get it. Fit or not, you really slowed down in the second half of last year. You also in the field quite a bit then and that seems like it isn't a coincidence.

Of course, the other explanation is that you just aren't that good anymore. I don't want to believe that, but there is some evidence in your work record that you actually might be slipping. Your swing rates last season were right in line with your career norms, both in the zone and out of the zone, so your plate discipline isn't deteriorating. That's great, it really is. The problem is that your contact rate fell to nearly six percentage points below your career average while your swinging strike percentage spiked by three percentage points. That would certainly explain why you set a career-high for total strikeouts and strikeout rate.

I'm not going to lie, that is deeply concerning to me. At the same time, you somehow managed to hit 29 homers in just 124 games while working at Safeco Field. Now that's deeply confusing.

That kind of power output is nearly unprecedented for a man of your age. I mean that literally, there has been almost nobody who was that productive at your age in the past. That seems almost impossible given the hostile working environment of Safeco, but who am I to argue with the facts? Of course, your 20.7 HR/FB% is well above your and the industry's typical rate, so it is probably an unrepeatable feat. That explains why your contract with us is heavily incentive-laden. If you can somehow repeat that little magic trick, you'll be paid handsomely. If not, well, hopefully you'll still perform well enough to merit your base salary.

The final point on my little agenda here actually relates to those incentives too. As you know, those incentives are largely based on the amount of time you log for us. I'm not quite sure what the higher ups have planned, but I want you to be prepared for the fact that you might find yourself in a job share situation. I know your slash line splits were nearly identical versus both lefties and righties last season, but the few years before that, your numbers against southpaws were positively dreadful. Now, you did face a lot more lefties last season, which might at least partially explain your declining contact rate, but counting on you to repeat that same left-handed success is probably just as foolish as counting on you to crank out 29 dingers again. As such, we might pair you up with an in-house option to handle the job duties against lefties, but we might go out and make another hire as well. That's my guess anyway. I really don't know what Jerry and Mike have planned but splitting up your duties would make a lot of sense for the organization.

We will try and keep you posted on that front, but until then, just prepare like you'll be working everyday. Oh, and don't mention the name Trumbo around here. He's the guy your replacing and people aren't super happy about it. Other than that, good luck!

Garrett Wilson

About Garrett Wilson

Garrett Wilson is the founder and Supreme Overlord of and editor at The Outside Corner. He's an Ivy League graduate, but not from one of the impressive ones. You shouldn't make him angry. You wouldn't like him when he is angry.