Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Guy Can Dream, Can't He?

Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated says the Pirates are one of the teams in on Bobby Abreu here, along with the Angels, Braves, Reds and Mets.

Now GW doesn't think the Bucs are front runners; heck, they may never get to the point where they even offer him a deal. Three of the other clubs are contenders, and Pittsburgh would have to top their bids to get him. And in fact, the Angels may be close to inking him.

But hey, what would it mean to the Bucco faithful, and the team, if the local rags sported the headline "Abreu signs with Pirates for 2 years, $11M" the week they headed into camp? (Two years because he'll be 35 in March, and Tabata should be up after that.)

First, it'd cause quite a shuffle in the Pirate outfield. Brandon Moss would have to fight Nyjer Morgan for left, Nate McLouth would stay in center, and Abreu would patrol right.

The suits would have more options concerning wunderkind Andrew McCutchen's inevitable call-up. Morgan would be thrown into the fire with Moss, and competition for jobs, never a bad thing, would finally become more than lip service.

Bat him third, and you can keep McLouth at the top of the order and you can bet Ryan Doumit will see more runners at cleanup than ever before. Abreu's lifetime OBP is .405, and starting from 1999, he's never taken fewer than 73 walks, at one point drawing 100+ for eight straight seasons.

The OBP is why GW likes him batting third, in case you're wondering, plus he's not that much of an HR hitter. Abreu has also stolen 20 sacks or more for 10 years straight. The down side is he's an automatic 100+ strikeout guy.

Another lefty? Abreu has had great splits throughout his career, batting .308 against righties and .280 against lefties, although he does have more power facing RHP. His split last year was .315/.287 with a line of .296/20/100.

Abreu hasn't hit lower than .277 since he played full-time in 1998, has driven in 100 runs or more seven of the past eight seasons (the last six in a row), and been an iron man, never playing in fewer than 151 games since becoming a regular.

As far as his fielding, well, we wouldn't put him in center, but he's league average or better in right, and still has that cannon. Abreu has never thrown out fewer then six runners since becoming a starting OF'er, and gunned down 10 guys last season.

And he'd be a salesman off the field, too. In Philly and New York both, he lent his name to many charitable and youth endeavors.

Now Abreu isn't Jason Bay or Xavier Nady at the plate; he doesn't have their power. But he'd sure help fill in the gap while the Pirates are scrambling to develop the players who will one day take their places in the lineup.

More importantly, signing a guy like Bobby Abreu would deliver a message to the fans and the team that the suits are playing for today, not a couple seasons down the road. And that would be be a powerful message for a skeptical City.

We know the chances of bringing him to Pittsburgh are as slim as Ed Creech's draft record, but a guy can dream, can't he...?


WilliamJPellas said...

Abreu is another good idea. I didn't realize his splits were that good vs lefthanders, which definitely calms my "he's good but he's another lefthanded batter" anxieties.

I think a 2 year deal for him would be excellent. As you say, by that time, Tabata should be hitting The Show, and oh by the way, if Nate McLouth goes from balky to unreasonable with his contract stance, Abreu is excellent insurance for 2010 and maybe 2011, too. (Maybe we offer him 2 years plus an option?) Maybe at that point it's Moss-McCutchen-Abreu left to right, with McLouth dealt for some good young talent. If McLouth stays here---which looks unlikely, but---well, Abreu would make a great fourth OF and pinch hitter when we're contenders in 2011, right?

Although he's no longer young at 35, if ever there was a guy who figures to still be productive late in his career, surely Abreu is it.

I'd love to have him in Pittsburgh.

Ron Ieraci said...

Hey Will - Abreu is one golden oldie I like, and if you can get him for a couple of years at $5-6M per (he made $16M in 2008) with or without an option, he does give you a professional presence at the plate and some flexibility.
Still, I don't know what he's looking for or what the market will yield. But there ain't much out there that's in Pittsburgh's price range that could improve the club, and he's a guy that would.

Jim Rosati said...

Bobby Abreu > Xavier Nady

Ron Ieraci said...

Jim, you're right. I looked up Nady's stats, and there's no area where he's better than Abreu. I thought he had a little more power, but it's about the same, and in every other production number, he's well behind. Good catch.