When Bobby Abreu officially made enough plate appearances to vest his $9 million contract option for 2012, you'd have thought drowned a sack of puppies based on the vitriol aimed in his direction by certain segments of the Angel fan base. I guess that is what happens when you are they guy who now could stand in the way of Mike Trout ascension to the majors.
Gosh, you'd think the Angel fans would be used to having old, overpaid outfielders on their roster by now?
Anyway, the instant his option kicked in (and even before it did, really), Angel fans have been racking their brains to find a way to unload Bobby to alleviate the impending logjam in the OF/DH spots. Some of these schemes seem rather practical, others, well, let's just say they score points for creativity but the German judge really screwed them on the plausibility score.
Somehow ridding the roster of Abreu and his entire salary is obviously the clear preference, but given the lack of a market for an overpaid DH with no power, I'm going to go ahead and guess that trading Abreu this off-season may not come to pass. Contrary to popular belief, this does not mean the sky is falling. Actually, it might be a good thing for the Angels... if they are smart about it.
The fallacy in the "Abreu is blocking Trout" argument is that the team is somehow legally obligated to keep Abreu in the lineup everyday. Obviously, his bloated salary is going to create some sort of incentive to Angel management to see Abreu play and "earn his money." I'll save you the Economics 101 lecture on sunk costs and just trust me when I say that it would be totally illogical for the Halos to do that, though they certainly wouldn't be the first team to fall into that logical trap. However, I think they will smartly avoid said trap.
We've seen Mike Scioscia show blind faith to decaying veterans like Garret Anderson and Vladimir Guerrero in the past, so there is a chance he could do the same with Abreu, but he has also been smart enough to bench guys who just aren't getting it done on the field, as he did with Gary Matthews Jr. and Juan Rivera most recently. Should Abreu's decline continue in 2012 (and it likely will), Scioscia will most likely phase him out like he did GMJ and the Human GIDP. Really, the only reason Abreu hasn't seen his playing time drop off this season is a lack of depth. Really, who would the Angels have DH instead of Bobby? Russell Branyan? Bah! Next year though, the arrival of Mike Trout and (hopefully) the long-awaited return of Kendrys Morales should make it much easier for Sosh to start putting Abreu out to pasture since he will actually have depth for a change.
The other reason Abreu hasn't been replaced already is that he isn't totally useless. While his average is no longer anything special and his power has almost entirely abandoned him, Bobby still gets on base at a better clip (.376 OBP) than any other Angel. Unless Bobby's eyes start to go, there is no reason to think he won't still be able to draw a ton of walks next year as well, so should the Angels get stuck with him, at least he still brings something to the table. As a full-time player, that skill will only take him so far since there is so little else that goes with it, but as a part-time player, Abreu would be a welcome addition to an Angel bench that has been devoid of anything useful not named Izturis this season. Sure, he'll be collecting some very expensive butt splinters, but at least he isn't a third or fourth catcher for Scioscia to carry on the roster for no apparent reason.
Bench depth can be a luxury sometimes, but it can also be a necessity for a team like the Angels. Not to take a depressing turn here, but how do we know Kendrys Morales is even going play at all next season? And what if Torii Hunter and/or Vernon Wells continue their own declines? And, heaven forbid, if Mike Trout doesn't pan out, Abeu would make for a nice fallback option as the lineup's designated on-base guy. I hope like crazy that none of those scenarios come to pass, but if they do, at least the Angels have Abreu as a safety net.
Still not buying it? Let me remind you that the last time the Angels ignored bench depth, we were treated to the infamous Paul McAnulty era.
His $9 million salary will always be a bitter pill to swallow and Tony Reagins should do everything in his power to try and get that salary off the books for 2012 so that the Angels can be players in free agency, but if he fails to do so (insert obligatory Fire Reagins joke here), it isn't the end of the world.
Guerrero lead the team to 5 post-season births and did help beat Boston to put Angels within one of the WS late in his Angels career, just pointing it out...
Ok, what's the subject again? Is this the money Abreu's earning and going to earn next year? Is his offensive production lower than we would like? Or is this the benefit-cost ratio? Well, It doesn't matter, it all end just the same.
First of all, the names contending here today are Torii Hunter, Bobby Abreu and Vernon Wells. Trout and Morales are left away by now, but their names will come eventually.
Is Abreu doing it too bad? I'm not saying it's nice to see his SLG lower than his OBP, but ome on! You please check his RC/27. While Torii has created an average of 3.3 runs per game, Bobby has created 5.1 runs. Wells has created only 3.1 runs. If 2 runs per game don't drive your attention, it's about 60% (sixty percent) better! Not yet convinced?
Mark Trumbo has created 4.6 runs per game, Izzy, 4.7. In fact, I couldn't find any Angel who could do it better except by Kendrick, at least this year. Annoying? Pretty much, but he is, indeed, one of the best offensive player we have. Ok, he's now just batting, so he has to be better than anyone, right?
His lack of defense makes him a DH-type only, but still he can handle it on a pinch. Good Lord, we can even call for backup if someone has to go to DL. But we all know Hunter is not living up to expectantions. He can handle the ball -- when he reaches it. He's not running well anymore, and no one will catch a ball if not properly positioned to it. May be something related to his adjustment, but come on, no one will take Bourjos away.
I didn't even started to talk about Vernon Wells, for one capital reason: NO GLOVE IS WORTH 20M. Not even Petey's. As long as he's batting on the wrong side of .280, I won't even bother arguing he doesn't worth his 21M salary. God, that's a bitter one. But also Hunter's glove doesn't worth half his salary just because of his defensive skills. Maybe at the time he signed... OH WAIT! For instance, didn't Bobby worth a 27M/3Y contract when he signed it?
I reached this conclusion: Aren't we all complaining about this just because of that stupid vesting option? This option was created jus in case Bobby got injured, else it was a lock to vest at the very beginning, so there's nothing to complain about this that shouldn't be complaint before (hello Wells!).
Finally, we can reassess this if Morales comes back next year, as he is one big power that shouldn't be discarded that easy. When it comes down to Trumbo, though, it becomes harder to tell exactly because of your statement: "his bloated salary is going to create some sort of incentive to Angel management to see Abreu play and 'earn his money'." I can see Bobby platooning or coming from the bench next year, but I'll be pissed off if he lose his DH job to either Wells or Hunter. Really pissed off!
Well, THIS segment of Angels fandom isn't so much worried about blocking Trout (HA!) but that he will remove a usable spot on the bench for (as I refer to paragraph eight) someone who can actually play the outfield. Or even the infield. I'd hope that a Wells, Hunter, Trout and Bourjos rotation in the outfield wouldn't need any "help" from Abreu. Health permitting I'd like to see Morales in the DH slot. I would submit to you that to KEEP Abreu is to invite another Paul McAnulty era.
Fortunately, the Angels don't marry themselves to an aging player. And while they stick with homegrown vets maybe a little too long they certainly don't marry themselves to NPFA's. Witness GMJ and Justin Speier.
Now, how do we know Abreu's eyesight isn't already gone? It doesn't take much to stand there and let the ball go by but it DOES take vision to get hits and, sometimes, hit a home run. I just wish I could get this bitter taste out of my mouth. Damn pills!
@susan.e.a.c To be clear, Susan, I wasn't slamming Vlad. He was one of the best Angels ever, but his last season in Anaheim, his talent had fallen off quite a bit but Sosh kept batting him cleanup even though he was overmatched at that stage of his career, that is what I meant about his "blind faith." As @Rick K. noted, Scioscia usually only make such mistakes for a season or two, and I consider his over-reliance on Abreu this year that one season's worth of blind faith and partially prompted by the team's lack of alternatives.
I forget, yes, yes, and YES to the first four questions. I absolutely take your point that OBP may be worth quite a bit. But, in Bobby's case, it is dependent upon those guys behind him driving him (or the runner he advanced with his walk) in to cause that run to score. He can't drive himself in any more and is only as likely to drive a batter in as he is to be driven in. There must be some context dependency on that RC/27 stat because a quick look makes it look like it takes a lot of guys on this team to make a run appear on the scoreboard. Oh, it DOES take a lot of guys to crate an Angels run unless his name is Mark.
No, while I'm a little irked at a guy making that much money whose only talent at his advanced age is taking a walk, what worries me more is the ripple effect his mere presence on the roster may cause. For a while I'd like to see Trout in the field at least three days a week in outfield relief with Morales at DH. If Morales is unable to go I'd like to see Trout in another day or two at DH so he gets the necessary reps to continue his development. And no platoon DH! Trout needs to face righties, so as to not retard his progress. I guess in this situation it would be nice to have another guy to fill in at DH. I also don't really want to drag Wells or Hunter into this as a comparison. It's just that at their ages I'd have to think they have better bounce-back potential than Bobby.
OK, I don't want to sound overwrought here. I accept Alan's premise that Bobby still has value and it's not the end of the world if he is in the lineup once in a while but I just feel like it's better going forward for team development if Bobby rides the pine more than he plays. And watches the games from home by summer. How's that Alan? I'll split the difference with you. I seriously doubt we're all that far apart on this.
And, holy cow!, Reagins will have to go a ways to beat this:
@Rick K. Oh, m'boy, that's what I was looking for... Roster presence. I'm not talking about behaviour, as I can't help but remember GMJ and (my god WHY) Shea Hillenbrand. No. But I believe both Vernon Wells and Torii Hunter are more to blame due to playing time than him.
God, we got to use his glove, and we can't afford an OF rotation. No one has answered that for me, how are we supposed to fill Trout in the OF? Neither Wells nor Hunter are batting well enough to leave the OF and fill for the DH spot. And I don't believe we should fill Trout at DH.
Don't get me wrong, if (a big if so far) Kendrys returns well next year he's my first option to DH or even play 1B, I'm not afraid to say that. And I even think Mark Trumbo could possibly go to DH dismissing Abreu, or maybe platooning with him, which I like most. Unless we move Morales or Trumbo to 3B (very unlikely to say the least), there are no way we can free another spot.
I really understand the reason Abreu might ride the pine next year. I just don't agree he should be pretermitted. There are guys in the team playing worse, earning more money and no one is looking at them or at their contracts and saying "he gotta leave to make room for our brand new rookies" or "he's too much overpaid, why in the world did we give him this contract?". Abreu deserves to play more than some guys of our lineup, considering his numbers and even the fact he does not wear a glove -- and the others do.