Baseball: The NY Yankees: a down year, part 1: Bobby Abreu

Baseball’s spring training has begun, and the story of the year will be the demise of the NY Yankees. In case you hadn’t noticed, the Yanks were not nearly as good as the Red Sox last year, and are an aging and creaking club that, strangely, failed to address its problems. Will Joe Girardi’s style be compatible with this veteran club? One wonders what is going on in the front office; has the departure of Joe Torre somehow incapacitated the organization? Methinks there is a meltdown coming.

Let’s start with the players.

Bobby Abreu has been a nice player for a long time. Durable. High on-base percentage. Occasional power, often in key spots. A nice player, right? but look closely at his batting numbers….he is basically sliding….in every almost every category he was at career lows. He will be 34 this year, and that is not the time in a career where things turn around. Sometimes injuries take a sudden bite out of performance, but the inevitable decays in speed, reflexes and skills will accomplish the same effect, even without pulled hamstrings, back spasms, or more catastrophic problems. A tipoff that his reflexes are going: his strikeouts, never real great, are up. His basestealing has slipped to the point where his chances of being thrown out are too high to make the risks worth taking, both in terms of tactics and the risk of injury.

Abreu has always been an above average right fielder, but, he’s slipping in the field. His assists and errors are almost equal now. Look for Abreu to take a more pronounced slide this year. He will be no more than an average player in all respects. Pitchers will not fear him, and his OBP/BB will suffer.

I would guess he’ll miss at least 15 games this year , hit .270, with 12 home runs, 85 RBI, 15 steals, 8 caught stealing, OBP .340 with over a hundred strike outs.

Other years, the Yanks would have unloaded an Abreu to Kansas City or Texas for prospects. What’s up?

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