From Peter Abraham -
The Yankees were off yesterday and many of his fellow high-salaried teammates used the time to take private jets to their homes in other states. But Bobby Abreu stayed in New York.
He honored a commitment to visit some sick children at a hospital in New Jersey in the afternoon, then spent some time “just hanging out” at his apartment in Manhattan. Abreu lives in a spot downtown where, he says, it’s a little less frenzied than in other parts of the city.
“New York is cool. I love it,” he said. “It fits my personality.”
It also fits his skills as a baseball player. As the Yankees climb to what could be a first-place finish, Abreu is hitting .285 with 111 runs scored and 98 RBI. After a rocky spring, he now walks into the clubhouse every day knowing he will hit third between Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez.
“The best spot in baseball,” Abreu said. “You have to be careful with Derek and nobody wants to pitch to Alex. So you have to pitch to me. I’m in a great position.”
But as this season comes to an end, there are no guarantees for 2008. When the Yankees traded for Abreu in 2006, he came with a $16 million team option for 2008. The deadline to pick up that option comes after the World Series. If the Yankees pass, Abreu would become a free agent.
“It’s not a decision I can make. Somebody else has to make it,” Abreu said. “But I want to play here. I really do like it. This has been perfect for me.”
General manager Brian Cashman has given no indication to Abreu or agent Peter Greenberg what his plans will be.
If you would have asked me in May, I would have said that the Yankees should let Abreu walk after this season. At that time, he was not hitting – and, he’s never been a good outfielder.
But, Abreu has turned it on since then with the bat. Look at his splits, below, with September being to date:
Month G PA BA OBP SLG OPS April 23 111 .253 .360 .308 .668 May 28 116 .208 .267 .274 .541 June 27 121 .287 .405 .465 .870 July 26 112 .353 .384 .588 .972 August 28 117 .324 .410 .559 .969 Sept. 17 73 .288 .356 .545 .902
Since June, Abreu has been a force with the bat for New York. That’s the reason why he’s their #3 hitter. Of course, if he left next year, you could bat Damon first, Melky second, and Jeter third…as all those guys could handle those spots.
However, if A-Rod opts out, and Giambi continues to regress, that leaves the Yankees short in terms of guys who should hit in the middle of the line-up. Posada, Matsui and Cano are all run-producers. But, they’re not in the level of A-Rod…or even Abreu when he’s going well.
At this stage, since the Yankees have no control on A-Rod, if he really wants to walk, I think you have to pick up that option on Abreu for 2008 – and just hope that he comes into camp in shape and ready to play. Since it will be a walk year for him, I think the incentive is there for him to put up a monster season next year.