Could the Yankees again turn to Abreu at DH?

Justin Maxwell's Big & Meaningless Spring
Ravel Santana returns to game action following ankle injury
(Via Reuters Photos)

Before the Yankees agreed to terms with Raul Ibanez, they explored the trade market for DH options. The thinking was that they might be able to offload A.J. Burnett in exchange for a left-handed hitter, fulfilling two organizational needs at once. While that never materialized, there were a few whispers about possible targets. Among them was former Yankee right fielder Bobby Abreu, who seemingly has been squeezed out of Anaheim’s lineup. But since Burnett could and did refuse a trade to the Angels, the situation never developed.

A month later, the situation has changed. While Angels’ manager Mike Scioscia spoke of giving Abreu 400 at-bats, that might no longer be the case. Kendrys Morales has come back strong, and the indication is that he’ll be the regular DH. With all three outfield spots spoken for, and with Mike Trout looming, there doesn’t appear to be any regular at-bats for Abreu. The Angels will almost certainly look to trade him before the start of the season. Might the Yankees match up?

The Yankees signed Ibanez to fill the DH spot against right-handed pitching, but the 39-year-old has done little to impress this spring. He has gone 3 for 40 with just two walks, though he did homer on Saturday. His bat looks slow, and there appear to be few redeeming qualities in his spring. We’ve received many emails to RAB lamenting Ibanez’s struggles and suggesting alternatives should he continue to flail. Since he earns just $1 million, he is expendable under the right circumstances. Unfortunately, Abreu’s situation is quite similar to Ibanez’s.

Abreu has 37 at-bats this spring and has just four hits. He has walked just three times, though chances are he’s not honing his discipline. Instead, according to Scioscia, he’s just working on his timing. Abreu, too, is writing off his poor spring performance, saying that he’s focused on getting himself ready for the season and not with his actual production. Still, it’s difficult to see how he’s in a better position than Ibanez. In fact, he might be in a worse position.

After a terrible season in 2011, Ibanez has worked to get himself back into playing shape. There have been no concerns about his weight, his preparedness, or his work ethic this spring. Abreu, on the other hand, has constantly chirped about his dissatisfaction with his role. He also gained weight, another concern for a player his age. Essentially, his words this spring have brought into question his attitude. Ibanez has never come under fire for such character issues. In fact, he is often lauded for his clubhouse personality.

Abreu can turn to his recent performances, but even those fall short. For the last two years he’s seen his average drop to .250, which has in turn dropped his OBP into the .350 range. His power dropped off considerably last year as well, further damning his case. Indeed, he might have a point about his treatment by the Angels; there’s little doubt that Abreu is a better offensive player than Vernon Wells, who will continue to start in left field. But his diminishing performance, combined with his spring numbers and his combative attitude, all work against him.

Perhaps a change of scenery would brighten things for Abreu. Maybe that would spur him to a season that resembles his 2009 and 2010 campaigns. Unfortunately, a match just doesn’t seem to be there with the Yankees. They already have someone like that in camp, and he didn’t show up overweight while throwing jabs at the organization. If Abreu were performing well this spring, maybe the Yankees would consider it. Even then, the Angels would probably have to release Abreu, since the Yankees won’t want to trade useful players for him or pay part of his $9 million salary. But with Abreu struggling similarly to Ibanez, there seems to be no point. The Yanks will just stuck with who they have and monitor the market for upgrades if they feel they need one.

Justin Maxwell's Big & Meaningless Spring
Ravel Santana returns to game action following ankle injury
  • Monterowasdinero

    Can we just stop being so darn cheap and sign Damon for 2-3M?

    • Joe Pawlikowski

      It’s not about the money. Damon said he’d play for what Ibanez was going to sign for, and they said no. It’s also curious that each of the last 3 teams Damon played on could have used him — hell, the Tigers could still use him — and all have declined.

      • jsbrendog

        so allow me to wally matthews this one:

        “Pawlikowski calls damon giant douchebag, unrosterable!!!”

        •!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

          Hah, that was nicely done.

      • vin

        Not sure the Tigers need another DH candidate.

      • DM

        You’re right. He never manages to re-sign with the same team. Could just be Boras — but who knows.

  • Greg

    Gosh no. Why do we believe that an old Abreu is any better than an old Ibanez? What about either of their springs would lead one to believe that either is all of a sudden going to become really good? We already have one old guy. Leave it alone. If this old guy can’t hit, cut him and either trade for a younger guy or (gosh) bring up someone from AAA.

    • The Guns of Navarone

      Why do we believe that an old Abreu is any better than an old Ibanez?

      Because he is. Plain and simple.

      Abreu was bad last season but he still had a 13.3 BB% and a .325 wOBA. And if Abreu was bad… Ibanez was downright atrocious.

      I’ll take the guy who can still get on base any day of the week. Abreu is an upgrade over Ibanez even if it’s a small upgrade.

      • jsbrendog

        greg don’t care bout no facts.

        • Greg

          first, we’ve already paid for Ibanez. So there should be a compelling reason to dump him (more than 30 AB’s in ST). Second, Abreu has a $9M freaking contract. So unless the Angels cut him, you’d have to trade for him. Third, if you trade for him, you have to give up something to get him. Fourth, as much as you hate the way Ibanez has performed this ST, Abreu has been just as bad. So why not just wait and see how Ibanez does going forward?

          • jsbrendog

            revisionist history. say this now, fine.

            before, and i quote:

            “Why do we believe that an old Abreu is any better than an old Ibanez?”

            to which he rpelied, because he is, factually. and statistically. then you made a dumb ocmment about old ppl or something i dont know i stopped reading.

            what this is right here, that you just wrote, is correct and i agree. what you said before is just drivel.

      • Ted Nelson

        2011 stats aren’t conclusive proof over who will be better in 2012, especially when the two seasons before that were pretty much a wash. I’d take Abreu if the money was the same, but it’s not like he’s light-years ahead.

        • The Guns of Navarone

          “Abreu is an upgrade over Ibanez even if it’s a small upgrade.”

          • Ted Nelson

            He was an upgrade in 2011… but it’s not 2011 anymore.

  • Claudell

    I never loved Abreu. Just never seemed to have that fire in his belly. Maybe I misread this demeanor, but he just didn’t do it for me. His current antics with the Angels seem consistent with how I viewed him in pinstripes.

    • Steve (different one)

      So, being upset that he isn’t playing indicates a lack of fire?

  • split-finger

    maybe im wrong i always saw abreu as being lazy and unmotivated. are people really even worried about the lineup and dh. good pitching always beats good hitting.

    • gc

      …except when it doesn’t.

      • Mike Axisa

        Well if it beats it, it obviously wasn’t good pitching!

        /my favorite cliche

  • jsbrendog

    if he gets cut and is willing to take a minor league deal with an opt out then sure. otherwise, pass, no thanks, hot potato

    • A.D.

      Agreed. love Abreu if it’s effectively for free

    • Thomas

      Maybe that is his plan. Play poorly, show up out of shape, and criticize the team until they finally cut him, so he can sign with the Yankees.

  • fin

    Good write up Joe. Once the Yankees committed resources to Ibanez, I cant see them committing more resources to another old, possibly washed up DH candidate. Have to figure if Ibanez doesnt work out they will make do with a rotating DH or possibly give A.Jones a shot against righties, until a trade presents itself for more of a sure thing. Who knows, with the fact that Branyan couldnt play at all this spring and the state of the Yankees DH situation maybe agrees to play for the AAA team for a couple months and becomes a viable candidate. THe non stop traveling though, really works against the Yankees here, but he may not have any other options.

    • Preston

      Yeah if I was Branyan I’d stick around. He’d probably get his shot at some point, if he can get healthy and start hitting.

  • LiterallyFigurative

    If Abreu is added for the minimum, sure. But to pay half or more of his salary is a bad idea.

    I’m cool with letting Ibanez be the DH and get the primary AB’s vs. righties, at least for 2 months. If it doesn’t work out, you could use the rotating DH and let Chavez, Nunez and Jones get the playing time of the DH/unmanned position on that particular day.

  • http://yes jim

    No mas!!! Abreau didn’t try in the OF. Was allergic to walls….heck had an attack of warning track-itis. Gained weight, and complained about his role instead of proving them wrong. Would rather keep Ibanez or keep Maxwell on the roster. Also the main reason for keeping him gone, even with the melk man around, Cano’s attitude and hustle improved ten fold with him gone.

    • jsbrendog

      none of this is of any use in mature discourse

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Good. I don’t have the visit the LoHud comment section today. Thanks for the summary.

  • Monterowasdinero

    Sign Damon for 1-3M. Play him every day essentially at the bottom of the order or wherever Ibanez will bat.
    Against lefties, start Andruw in left and bring Gardy and his .233 avg against lefties in as a pinch runner or defensive replacement in the late innings as needed. You can also occasionally play Gardner in center and give Curtis a day off.

    Damon-fast, durable, hits lefties, hits for power at YS and wants to get 3K. Good for the Yanks.

    • pistol pete

      Good analysis, I have no problem with your suggestion.

  • Dan 2

    Is there an unwritten law that the 2012 DH must be over the hill? Is there something required by the ADA?
    Dickerson or similar young player would outperform Ibanez, Damon, and/or Abreu. Plus you get the extra benefit of a late inning defensive replacement on non-DH days and a pinch runner. The biggest benefit is you woud not have to put up with Johnny me-me-me Damon and his attraction to any microphone.

    • Monterowasdinero

      Why does Damon’s me-me-me bother you so much? He will outhit Dickerson who is barely a AAA hitter. Damon has played >140 games a year in the majors for >15 years and has been a central piece on WS winners. He is still healthy and skilled. Lots of players have huge egos. Damon is liked by his teammates and is light years better than Dickerson with the bat and in high pressure situations especially.

    • Ted Nelson

      Dickerson didn’t outperform Abreu or Damon’s MLB offensive output in AAA last season… I think Dickerson has a chance to earn time again, but I think you’re overrating him. He might be as good or better than those guys (at this age) in any given season, but I don’t think it’s a given by any means.

    • Mike Axisa

      Baseball’s dirty little secret is that young players play positions, not DH.

      • Dan 2

        Unless you’re named Montero.

      • Ted Nelson

        Baseball’s dirty little secret: teams assign positions based on performance and value to the team, not age.

  • STONE COLD Austin Romine

    Andre Either after July (to the Yankees) is a given.

  • RetroRob

    So the question is, what does Johnny Damon do? No team came a callin’. He still wants to play. His most recent play last season indicates he can still play, yet now he’s missed all of ST.

    Does it make sense for him to take minor league contract on a team that will likely call him up? (That could even be the Yankees.) Go play in an independent league, playing some OF?

    • Monterowasdinero

      No-he will be signed and play for a major league team without benefit of ST.

      In my opinion….

      • CS Yankee

        I think his goose is cooked.

        He has Boras as his agent, his ego as his compass, and has ran out “this is where I’ve always wanted to be” places, plus the fact that he hooked Cashman up with that loon. FACT!


      • Midland TX

        Agreed. I believe Boras will pull it off at the last minute, as usual.

    • jsbrendog

      like joe said above it has to say somthing that none of the teams he ha splayed on wanted him, even ones who have a need for a player like him. not saying it is true but it has to mean something…

      • RetroRob

        Well it is true that none of his recent teams took him back, but I wouldn’t read too much into that. What are people implying? That he’s a clubhouse cancer? That would be pretty shocking considering his reputation is just the opposite, and all indications are that his teammates like him, he works hard, durable, smart player.

        Remember, the Yankees wanted him back after 2009 and were willing to give him a two-year contract. If he was a clubhouse problem, the Yankees would have targetted Matsui as their man. They didn’t. They know Damon and they wanted him back.

        Perhaps there are some bad feelings caused by his relationship with Boras. I do think Cashman was annoyed at the negotiatons after 2009, and he does hold a grudge. Remember when they were looking around for a pitching coach last year and Leo Mazzone let it be known he’d like to interview for it, and Cashman’s response was something like, “he had his chance to join the Yankees.” The Tigers also might have been annoyed that Damon invoked his rights to block a trade. They also replaced him with a better hitter in Victor Martinez, and then when Martinez was injured, they replaced him with Fielder.

        So I’m not buying what’s being implied with the “none of his former teams want him back” line.

    • DM

      Although he was willing to come to the Yankees for Ibanez money, that doesn’t mean he offered himself that way to other teams. I think he blew it already. He and Vlad could easily disappear into the mist and follow the route of Dye, Washburn and Lofton. He might be waiting for the last ST cuts to see who needs what — but that’s a dangerous game, friendo. Pride goeth before the fall of his chance to reach 3000 hits.

  • mike

    Damon/Boras are playing chicken, knowing that the Yanks are going to have limited patience with Ibanez, especially since his bat looks pathetic…..Boras plants a story with Heyman about Damon wanting to be a Yankee on WFAN……

    Damon is a Yankee by Mid-May

  • Rainbow Connection

    Let Ibanez stink it up for 2 months, then cut him and bring back a rested Posada.
    Jorge will be good and tired of his family by then.

    • Jesse

      That or his wife may kick him out by then.

      • fin

        I had a good friend that traveled almsot non stop for 10yrs, had a wife and 3 kids. He decided to take a managment job so he wouldnt have to travel anymore. His marrige was over in a year.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    Sign Damon. Trade him to Philadelphia for Dom Brown. Cut Ibanez. Watch forum explode.

    • CS Yankee

      Phils seem to just need a decent MIF…a Nunez for Brown would be a steal to most, however I might be hesitant to trade Nuney if I was Cashman.

      Were set, even if were not. Roll forward a couple of months and we could likely pick up a Beltran-type player for a Warren or Mitchell while eating some $.

      • sevrox

        Nunez will be replacing Swisher in RF after this season.

        go ahead and smack me.

  • bob imperato

    What does Brian Cashman have against Johnny Damom or Vdad Guerrero?

    Either one would be a major upgrade over our current DH>

    • CS Yankee

      Who are Damom and Vdad?

      Give Raul a few months (as it won’t mean much in the big picture)…if he doesn’t pull the wagon, cut&trade&sign as necessary.

    • Slugger27

      i didnt really understand picking ibanez over damon either. if moneys the same, then id certainly like an explanation.

      however, vlad is done. id take dickerson over him

      • Kiko Jones


      • Havok9120

        “If money is the same”

        Every report aside from what Damon said two months after the fact says that that was not the case. Sure, if he was willing to take a million bucks, sign me up. But that is not anywhere near what was reported until it had become clear no one wanted him.

        • fin

          Well Cashman didnt dispute Johnys claim that he offered to play for the Yankees for a million. Cashman said it was about Ibanez’s ability to play outfield for a couple weeks if need be. That reason didnt and still doesnt hold up in my opinion. Damon may not have played much outfield for the last year or 2, but I cant see where that means hes any less capable of standing out there for a couple weeks than Ibanez, hes still alot faster than Ibanez. I think Cashman is holding some sort of grudge against Damon, and I dont see him playing for the Yankees.

    • Steve (different one)

      Damon maybe, but what’s the case for Vlad? Sucked just as bad as Ibanez last year and hits from the wrong side of the plate.

  • Jamey

    Yankees: Hey so would you consider moving Abreu? He doesn’t seem much in your plans.

    Angels: Nonsense! We’re giving him so many at bats this season. You don’t just give up on a quality player like Bobby Abreu, we’d need a good retu…..

    Yankees: *click*

  • David in Cal

    Abreu has a better OPS+ than Ibanez for last year and for entire career. Abreu is also 2 years younger. He’s a better player.

    • pistol pete

      Everybody had a better ops+ than Ibanez.

  • Fernando

    Pass on Abreu.

  • cranky

    I’d take Abreu over Ibanez (or Damon) in a second.

  • Monterowasdinero

    It will soon be time to for “Eating Raul’s Contract”

    Ibanez: Looks like Gandhi, runs like Jorge, swings like Tino, hits like Tino would…….


    Drop the vendetta Cash and sign Johnny. I much prefer Abreu to Ibanez but not at the price.

  • the big dumbo

    shutup damon, you suck. it’s over, buddy.

  • Duh Innings

    How did Ibanez have a “terrible” 2011? He posted 20 HR and 84 RBI at age 39 (38-39 if he was 38 at season’s beginning.) Terrible slashline but he still smacked ’em out and drove ’em in. 20 and 84 from him for the $1.1M he’s being paid would be one of the biggest bargains if not the biggest bargain in 2012 MLB regardless of his slashline and considering his age and expectations of him. I’d be thrilled if he posted 20 and 84 regardless of his slashline. He’d basically be a healthy good year Jason Giambi minus the OBP but you can’t tell me he’d be a detriment to the Yanks with those basic power and run production numbers. Even if Ibanez drives in as little as 60 runs, get back to me with a player over say 30 who’ll drive in more for $1.1M or less. It certainly won’t be Damon who should swallow his pride and take the year and less than a mil he’s worth now.

    If Ibanez is bad and Abreu is released through mid-May, the Yanks should release Ibanez, sign Abreu for peanuts (since the Angels would eat the remainder of his $9M the Yanks would never take on), and give Abreu a shot. One thing Abreu has over Ibanez is OBP. Like Ibanez, he’s a #8 hitter at best at this point. Depth-wise he’s #9 and only Martin’s speed and the need for it in the #9 is what keeps Ibanez from batting ninth. Maybe the Yanks could go with a DH Of The Month Club April through June – Ibanez in April, Abreu in May, Jones in June – before a trade for one in July or they move Swisher to DH and get a RF or start Jones in RF (upgrade at DH, defensive upgrade in RF and upgrade offensively from Ibanez/Abreu.)

  • Duh Innings

    Also, if Ibanez had one less hit exactly 40% of his hits would’ve been for extra bases as 52 of his 131 hits were for extra bases (31 doubles + 20 homeruns + a triple = 52 extra-base hits / 130 hits.)

    New stat I created:

    Extra-Base Hit Percentage (XBHP.)

    XBHP = HR + 3B + 2B / H

    The higher the XBHP, the more total bases collected with hits.

    Also the first stat with four letters :)

    • Tom

      Or you could just look at ISO…. (SLG-AVG)

      which is the same thing on a different scale, doesn’t need to be invented and doesn’t need a 4th letter (though some call it ISOP)

  • Duh Innings

    Oops, I mean second one after WHIP.

    • Jesse

      Third after wOBA

  • AC

    If you guys actually think Damon will play for 1 mill your nuts. This is same guy who turfed down 2 at 14 a couple of years ago. It’s just PR stuff now from him. Not wanting to sound as if $$$$ is the reason he’s holding out for a job. Would rather have Abreu to be honest. Personally I think Ibanez has lost his bat speed. If he has a terrible April they will look at other options trust me.