• Big Stein Likes Abreu

    Posted by on July 15th, 2006 · Comments (12)

    Via the New York Times:

    As the trading deadline approaches, the object of the Yankees’ affection is becoming more and more obvious. As he left Yankee Stadium after yesterday’s game, in fact, the principal owner George Steinbrenner even said a player’s name.

    “There is a guy I prefer but I am not going to talk about it now,” Steinbrenner said as he left with team officials after a 14-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox.

    When asked if that player was Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Bobby Abreu, Steinbrenner said: “I like Bobby Abreu. Everybody likes Bobby Abreu.”

    While there’s always the chance that Big Stein might be confused here and is thinking that “Bobby Abreu” is “Baba Booey” – after all, this is the man who thinks the top of the house is “the ruff” – I have to take this news as a signal that Abreu is beeping pretty hard on the Yankees radar.

    Contrary to some who think that I don’t like Abreu’s skills, I do believe that Abreu is a strong offensive player. I even said, two weeks ago, that:

    You could bat Abreu second in New York, and just let him take his walks, and then bat Jeter in the 3rd slot.

    Of course, there have always been less than great reports on Abreu’s attitude, like this one in the Boston Globe a couple of years ago:

    Francona’s message to his players was succinct: I’ll fight for you, as long as you follow my rules. Abreu, an outfielder with a sweet swing, tested Francona’s patience by arriving late to the park. The first time, the manager ushered him into his office and calmly explained tardiness was unacceptable. The second time, the player was fined. The third time, Francona threw Abreu out of the clubhouse.

    “Terry wanted to send Bobby home, but the ball club wouldn’t let him,” Mills said. “Even though the front office wouldn’t stand behind him, Terry still found a way to make it work. He stayed on Bobby. He made him a better player.”

    Further, I remember a feature in Baseball America during the summer of 2004 that said Abreu, while he has a great all-around game, does not apply himself 100% at all times – according to many teammates (current and former) and opponents.

    Then again, in Baseball America’s 2005 “Best Tools” survey, Abreu was voted, by league managers, as the following in the N.L. -

    3rd BEST HITTER,
    Overall BEST STRIKE-ZONE JUDGMENT, and
    3rd BEST BASERUNNER

    Big Stein is right. That’s a lot to like there – in terms of an offensive player.

    Now, defensively, I’ll defer to the Fielding Bible. There, about Abreu, it says:

    …he is a very conservative defender. He has been accused of having lapses in concentration, fear of diving for balls or running into walls on the warning track, and just not giving a maximum effort in the field. He often gets bad jumps on the ball and in the past has let a lot of balls fall in front of him. Great batter? Yup. Great defender? Nope.

    According the Bible’s Plus/Minus rankings for 2005, Abreu was Matt Lawton like in right-field last year. But, that was still many points better than Gary Sheffield.

    Bottom line, you have to look at who the Yankees have been playing in RF this season since Sheffield went down, what the odds are of Sheffield helping the team if and when he can come back this season, and who the Yankees have to play RF after this season. When you roll that all up, having Bobby Abreu for this season and the two after it may not be the worst thing that can happen to the Yankees.

    But, it all comes down to the cost. How many prospects? Who are they? Does a deal for Abreu mean that Melky Cabrera is traded too? Until I know those answers, I cannot say for sure that getting Abreu is the right thing to do this season.

    Comments on Big Stein Likes Abreu

    1. bloodyank78
      July 16th, 2006 | 12:13 am

      On the issue of Abreu’s attitude I believe it would be a complete non-issue if he arrived in NY. First, Abreu and Bowa were very close when Bowa was the Phil’s skipper. Bowa does not tolerate half-ass effort and it wasn’t an issue w/Bobby during Bowa’s tenure as the Philadelphia manager. Second, the Yankee clubhouse atmosphere and that of the Phils and Boston circa 2004 are night and day. Abreu seems to be the type of player who would respond well to a culture of professionalism and serious dedication.
      As for his defense, I love the fact that he has a hose. His bad jumps on balls or his conservative nature aside; I’ve seen him gun down Jose Reyes trying to go 1st to 3rd on single to RF before. The arm is strong and he is decently accurate w/it. Needless to say I would love to have Abreu, as long as it does not involve Hughes.

    2. Yu Hsing Chen
      July 16th, 2006 | 12:33 am

      Abreu’s “conservative approach” also meant he played 150 + games in every season over the last 8 years. he doesn’t make web gem catches, but he’s got the tools, and he knows what he’s doing, he is at the very least a serivicable outfielder and would be a major upgrade over Bernie in right.

      I doubt they would trade Melky for Abreu, because the Phillies are stocked with OFs anyway. and the Yankees don’t want to trade away a contributing youngster. they are looking for pitchers and/or 3B and Catchers, I’m guessing some combo of White/Henn/Clippard/ Beam / Smith /Delsavo / Rasner / Duncan is most likely if this deal falls through.

      Remember, it’s not just about Abreu’s caliber, it’s also about his contract, which is huge, complete with no trade clause and a 08 option that he’ll most likely demand exercised to waive his clause, that REALLY limits the potential buyers to a couple of teams. which also lowers the leverage of bargining for Pat Gillick significantly.

    3. baileywalk
      July 16th, 2006 | 11:25 am

      You have all the names right for a potential trade — except for Clippard. There’s no way in hell he’s traded for Abreu (unless the Phillies decide to pick up some cash). Clippard is only 21 years old, and the only reason he’s not really that well known is that he’s overshadowed by Philip Hughes.

    4. rbj
      July 16th, 2006 | 11:32 am

      I’d trade Melky for Abreu. Significant upgrade offensively, probably a minor downgrade defensively. Plus Matsui should be back in August (any time table?) If the Yanks do that, it probably means Shef won’t be back in pinstripes this year, unless he DHs, at which point Giambi pushes Andy Philips to the bench. So it could come down to either Melky then Shef RF Philips 1B Giambi DH or Abreu RF Giambi 1B Shef DH.

    5. July 16th, 2006 | 11:52 am

      I think the total thing is a complete twisting of Steinbrenner’s words. He is real close to tampering here, so all speculation is exactly that, just more speculation. The Newsday version of the article had that kind of perspective and it is appropriate. The other NY papers are off base, this time.

    6. MJ
      July 16th, 2006 | 2:30 pm

      “…NY papers are off base…” That never happens in this town where sports media is infallible. If you don’t believe me, ask The New York Times or WFAN, they’ll tell you!

    7. July 16th, 2006 | 2:31 pm

      It looks to me, from this article, that he was specifically asked about Abreu.

      Of course he is going to say he likes him when he is specifically asked about him.

    8. MJ
      July 16th, 2006 | 3:51 pm

      Not related to this thread but I feel like I have to say it…

      …Kyle Farnsworth giving up a homer to AJ Pierzynski makes me want to puke. Giving up a single to Crede makes me want to puke some more. I don’t care what Ortiz’s record againt Farnsworth is so far this year, I’m seeing everying I need to know about who Farnsworth is. He’s an average middle reliever who’s going to end up hurting us a lot more than Tom Gordon. At least TG would get us into the playoffs…I see Farns keeping us out…

    9. baileywalk
      July 16th, 2006 | 4:18 pm

      MJ, I like your comments on here, but on this subject you’re just too personally biased. You don’t like Farnsworth and now your hate is blinding you. Yeah, he didn’t come through in the eighth, but did you see the seventh? Two on and one out and he got two really tough hitters — Konerko and Dye — out. THAT’S his hold right there. The home run to A.J. was him throwing a guy a strike because he didn’t want to walk him.

      After a guy saves the game in the seventh inning, it’s hard to talk about wanting to puke because he then didn’t get it done in the next inning.

    10. MJ
      July 16th, 2006 | 6:37 pm

      Bailey, you’re probably right that I’m being too hard on Farns. I agree, the 7th inning was very clutch and saved the game at that point. But I just want more consistency out of him. I want him to blow Konerko away and then not struggle with lesser hitters.

      I’ll cop to my biases but I still get queasy when he’s out there.

      I think we can agree on one thing though – Mo Rivera bailed him out big time and then locked it down in the 9th. Truly the best closer in the history of the game earned save #400 in typical Mo fashion.

      Bottom line – an AWESOME weekend series. The Yanks still have a long way to go but this series shows me that they are still capable of beating the best when they focus and play hard.

    11. baileywalk
      July 16th, 2006 | 7:56 pm

      We agree on that, MJ. Mo bailed him out big time. And it couldn’t have been more fitting for Mo to get his 400th save today — having to save the team with two innings of work.

      This was an awesome series for the Yanks. Just as everyone was writing them off, they turn around and sweep the White Sox and pull within a half-game.

      It’s amazing that people still say our pitching sucks and say the White Sox have pitching galore. I don’t think so. Mark Buehrle is a left-handed Jon Lieber (quick worker, throws strikes, gives up hits), Garland had a fluke year last year, Garcia is lost, Vazquez stinks in my opinion (and hasn’t been good this year) and Jose Contreras is the only solid guy in the rotation. Unless the Sox add to their pitching, they could be in trouble. They have a nice offense, but they’re carrying some light bats in it.

      Possibly the funniest moment of the game: Kay sees Tanyon Sturtze in the dugout and says: “Tanyon Sturtze!… The bullpen really misses him.” I hope he meant that as “the guys in the bullpen miss him” and not “the bullpen needs him.” Tanyon better soak up the atmosphere while he can, because he won’t be here next year.

    12. MJ
      July 16th, 2006 | 8:24 pm

      I was thinking the same thing the whole time. I don’t want to say that this was an easy series because it really wasn’t (Iguchi-Dye is a solid 2-5), but their pitching just didn’t impress me. I’ll give Garcia credit that he was able to last 110+ pitches without his best stuff (Jaret Wright could use a lesson or two in that department) but on the overall the Sox do need to figure out some things about their staff.

      Hopefully we follow up this nice weekend by taking at least two out of three from Seattle. If Wang and RJ can do their jobs, we can survive Ponson’s likely crap start…

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