Raul Ibanez was just signed to a $1.1M MLB contract to be the Yankees DH against Righties. This seemed like an unnecessary way to spend the money we just got back for AJ because we already had a more than serviceable candidate for the job: Russell Branyan.
On a $750K MiLB contract, he would have been cheaper to have and easier to hold onto if someone else (El Chato!!) beat him out, now that Ibanez has an MLB contract he's locked in until he sucks enough to be thrown away.
Raul Ibanez is going to be 40-freaking-years old. 40. I'm not saying all players age the same, but we just got rid of a 40 year old ineffective DH in Posada, so why do we need Old Man Raul? Yes, he had a down year in every offensive category in 2011, but when you're 40 years old you have to start wondering if he will revert to his career norms or if this will be it. Russell Branyan just turned 36 so he's still at the tail end of his prime and it is much more believable that he can turn his career around.
Russell Branyan is a much better pull hitter (237 wRC+ vs. 159 wRC+) and as a lefty in Yankee Stadium, pulling the ball into that right field jet stream is important for home run mashing. As just a DH against Right handed pitchers, adding the most offense in a limited role is very important and being able to hit as many home runs as possible will make that role even more successful in such limited at bats.
In the event that your DH can't bash his way on, you want your players to get on base however they can. Russell Branyan can walk at a much higher rate than Raul Ibanez can (13.3 vs Righties/9.5 vs Righties), giving the Yankee lineup more chances to score more runs. Russell Branyan also brings more raw power to the DH spot than Raul Ibanez does. Branyan has a career .259 ISO against Righties while Ibanez has a .207 ISO against Righties.
A much less important factor is defense, but it can be still useful to have. As a left fielder Raul Ibanez is awful. He has a -4.5 UZR/150 to his name. If Ibanez is on the team Girardi might get the idea that he can fill in every once in a while and that line of thinking can get us into trouble. It's nice to have a 5th outfielder if our 4th outfielder is also going to be DHing so that if Gardner is unable to play we have someone to fill in, but Ibanez is not that guy. I would much rather have Russell Branyan on the bench and then carry someone like Justin Maxwell for emergencies. Branyan on the other hand offers a 4.1 UZR/150 first baseman, and while we have Swisher as the primary backup, having an emergency backup that can actually field the position is a lot more comforting.
At the end of the day this role doesn't matter that much, however if we want the best possible player for the position I think we already had him before we went out and got Ibanez. I still hope there's an open competition for the role this spring and even if Raul wins, Russell can be kept in the minors waiting for his chance to hit more bombs in Yankee Stadium.