He grumbled. He griped. He bitched. He moaned. He spouted off to the press. He had multiple sitdowns with management. Finally, he got what he wanted... sort of.
Yes, Bobby Abreu complained enough that he is finally got a promise of playing time, at least 400 plate appearances. He's still not all that happy with it, as he is still deluded enough to believe that he should be in the lineup at all times, but this olive branch delivered by Mike Scioscia seems to have placated him for the time being. Or at least we hope.
There is only one small problem: where exactly does Bobby Abreu think that Scioscia is going to find these extra 400 at-bats lying around?
This isn't a problem because Abreu isn't any good. He is clearly past his prime, but he definitely still has his uses. Where it is a problem is that 400 plate appearances is quite a bit. A player playing every inning at one defensive position is likely to get about 700 plate appearances over the course of the year. That would mean Abreu is going to be playing more often than he is not. That means finding 90 or starts for him over the course of the year. That one means one or two or even three or four more deserving players might have to sit a lot more than they probably should just to appease Bobby.
Mike Scioscia, you might have just made a promised yourself into a corner.
Sosh isn't totally without recourse. There are a few ways he can go about getting Abreu the necessary playing time. The question is which option is best? (SPOILER ALERT: not giving him 400 plate appearances is probably best, but also might not be an option)
OPTION #1 - The Shell Game
This is the solution that Mike Scioscia already alluded to. Giving Abreu a little bit of time all over the lineup. I imagine that Scioscia prefers this arrangement because he is an optimist as it means all of the regulars are meeting or exceeding expectations. This is what we call a good problem, but it is still an actual problem, a logistical one.
If everyone is healthy and performing, then it is going to be hard justifying sitting any of them and thus make it hard to find those 90 starts for Bobby. Let's say Torii Hunter sits out 15 games, which is a stretch since he has played in 150+ the last two seasons. Then Peter Bourjos sits for 20, even though he sat in just 15 last season. Vernon Wells missed 31 games last season, mostly due to injury, but he could probably stand to sit for 30 games again this year, although it might be more like 15 if he suddenly returns to All-Star form. The easiest playing time to find will be at DH. Kendrys Morales might be able to return to form, but given his health, he could probably stand to sit for 40 games. Add it all up and that is 90 starts for Abreu. Hooray! He wins.
Small problem, Mark Trumbo loses in a big, big way. Trumbo is not going to get any playing time at first base and he won't get any time in the outfield either with Abreu chewing up all of the spare playing time. Maybe he can sneak another 20 games in at DH (meaning Morales only makes 100 starts on the season) and then everything else would have to come at third base, assuming he can make that transition. Even with that, he is probably looking at no more than 250 plate appearances, which is a lot less than he deserves.
The other downside to this is that it means that the lineup is going to be in almost constant flux. Is it worth sacrificing offensive consistency just so Abreu can be happy?