Mailbag: Bobby Abreu

Rosenthal: Pirates one of four teams in on Burnett
Open Thread: Scott Pose
(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

George asks: Would Bobby Abreu be a trade candidate for LH DH? Looks as though the Angels are shopping him and he’s signed for a year at $9 million. I’m not sure as to whether the Angels would take on A.J. Burnett‘s contract or not, but something may be worked out if it makes sense.

This was emailed in on Thursday night, before we learned that the ten teams included in Burnett’s no-trade clause are all on the West Coast. So right away we can forget about the Yankees trading him to Anaheim for anyone even though they could really use some rotation depth beyond that stellar top four.

As for Abreu, he definitely makes some sense as a left-handed DH. Putting aside the money and logistics for a second, Bobby still does three things exceptionally well: he draws a ton of walks, steals bases, and stay in the lineup (140+ games in each of the last 14 seasons). His batting eye remains one of the very best in the game, with a 14.7% career walk rate and 13.3% in 2011. He also stole 20 bases (21 to be exact) in 2011 for the 13th consecutive season. You have to figure he’ll slow down at some point — he likely already has, but his instincts have kept him productive on the bases — but if nothing else, he still fits into that Yankee mold of working the count and grinding away at-bats. That style fits perfectly into that seventh hole of the lineup.

On the downside, Abreu’s batting average has sunk into the .250s over the last two seasons (.254 to be exact) after sitting at .285+ for more than a decade. All those walks have resulted in a .353 OBP over the last two years rather than one that’s approaching or above .400. Don’t get me wrong, a .350-ish OBP is still pretty good, but it’s not what we’re used to seeing out of Bobby. Furthermore, his power has started to dry up at age 37 (38 in March), as he hit just eight homers in 585 plate appearances last season (two came in one game against the Yankees, if you remember). Part of that is the pitcher friendly ballpark in SoCal, but not all of it. It’s also worth noting that his performance against left-handed batters has completely tanked the last few years (like, sub-.290 wOBA bad), so you’ve got to consider him a strict platoon bat these days. Obviously, he can’t play defense either.

The Angels owe Bobby $9M in 2012, and he can become a free agent after the season. He’s reportedly open to a trade given the club’s crowded outfield/DH picture, but there’s a sense that they may hold onto him for the time because they don’t have another reliable left-handed bat with Kendrys Morales still on the mend. That said, Jayson Stark recently heard “they’d [trade him] for a middling prospect, just to move the money.” Ideally, they’d get a right-handed bullpen arm in return, he added Stark. The Yankees have middling prospects and a right-handed bullpen arm or two (George Kontos?) to spare, so matching up for a swap doesn’t figure to be difficult.

I don’t necessarily endorse it, but if the Yankees can free up some cash by trading Burnett, Abreu would be a viable DH option. The Halos would have to eat some money and take a lesser prospect in return, but it’s not the craziest thing ever. Someone from the Johnny Damon, Raul Ibanez, Russell Branyan group might be more logical and affordable however, especially since Bobby isn’t guaranteed to outproduce any of them. In situations like this, oftentimes the easiest way to go (sign a free agent) is the best.

Rosenthal: Pirates one of four teams in on Burnett
Open Thread: Scott Pose
  • William

    He has a gold glove in his career. That shocks me the most.

    • RetroRob

      He was a much better fielder when he was younger, but hasn’t been for about eight years now. By UZR, he even had one spectacular year defensively back in ’98, but that was along time ago by athlectic years.

    • vin

      Why does it surprise you? He IS a good hitter, and that is a pretty big component of the award.

  • ThatstheMelkyMesaWaysa

    I’d like another appearance by Abreu. Seemed to me like he didn’t play as hard towards the end of his stay though

  • j6takish

    Bobby Abreru shows us just how much of base stealing relies on instincts rather than speed. 38 year old Bobby can still steal 20 bags no problem with his big gut hanging out, to where speedy guys like Nyjer Morgan get thrown out left and right due to awful jumps

    • radnom

      Hate to say it, but this applies to Gardner as well. Thankfully he is pretty conservative, but he would be a much better base stealer if he could do it earlier in the count.

      • RetroRob

        Gardner is a good baserunner, who also led the AL SBs and has an 83% success rate. It’s not gonna get much better. Not everyone is Tim Raines.

        He utilizes his speed to much higher level than Morgan.

        • radnom

          Yeah, because he is crazy fast. That doesn’t me he is reaching the full potential of that speed though. And that isn’t limited to base stealing, but his running game in general. There are several good RAB articles that have analyzed his baserunning throughout his career, but my google-fu is failing me.

          • RetroRob

            I remember the articles, or at least one of them. I don’t disagree that he can do things even better, but I also think some people believe he’s a poor basestealer, or baserunner, and that’s not correct.

            He totally went through a phase toward the end of 2010 where he became too passive, perhaps just tired. Don’t know. It carried over into the early part of 2011, and it appeared it got into his head as the general media was writing about Gardner. Yet that passed and pretty much from late-May on as his stole 43 bases in 50 attempts, and it’s not going to get better than that.

            I think there’s a segement of fans who think he should steal on the first pitch or two, and never get thrown out.

  • Mike Myers

    I know Clutch is a hard to prove stat…but I cant take another year of bobby watching strike 3 go by late in a game. at least he wouldnt be in the field.

  • CJ

    I’m not into the pinstripe retreads abreu Damon Matsui or Giambi. I want a new younger player. I liked all those players as Yanks, especially Matsui but they’ve moved on.

    • radnom

      I’m for the best available guy, and if that happens to be a former fan-favorite then that is great. I think you would have to be pretty bitter to feel otherwise. Just because some fans clamor for them for the wrong reasons, doesn’t mean they are never the right choice.
      Damon, at the very least, belongs in the discussion for potential FA pickups for the LH DH.

      • CJ

        Not bitter at all looking for 30 and under versatility and/or athleticism.

        • random

          Then you just don’t understand the current roster construction. You’re not going to find someone like that available in the Yankee’s price-ranger who can also hit. That person isn’t out there. The Yankees need a DH.

  • http://yes jim

    I agree about the no field. Anything close to the wall was in the ‘no try zone’. I also feel that when the Yanks got rid of Bobby and the Melk Man, Cano’s performance improved.m Also I must be the only Kontos fan because I think he has a chance in the Yankee bullpen.

    • Steve (different one)

      You do realize Melky was on the team in 2009, right? The year Cano hit .320/.352/.520?

  • RobertGKramer@AOL.Com

    Too expensive! And I’m a big fan of Bobby’s. I’d rather sweeten the deal for Pittsburgh’s Jones with a middling prospect and a bullpen arm.

  • Jesse

    I’ve always been a fan of Abreu, although sometimes he may be too patient at the plate to go along with his brutal fielding, even though that doesn’t matter because he’ll be the DH vs righties. Either way, his contract is too expensive and the Angels would have to eat a fraction of it like Mike noted.

  • Rainbow Connection

    Get him, them trade him right away. Every time he leaves a team, they win it all.

    • tyrone sharpton

      The Phillies won it all right after trading him? What you smoking boy i want dat shit

      • Rainbow connection

        2008 you dummy.

        • JohnnyC

          He left the Phillies at the end of 2006, you dummy.

          • Jesse

            It was actually right before the trade deadline in 2006 when he got traded to the Yankees, you dummy.