What should the New York Yankees do with Bobby Abreu? That is, quite possibly, the most agonizing in an off-season sure to be filled with difficult decisions.
Considering that he had what might be his best night as a Yankee Thursday, homering twice and driving in six runs, now is as good a time as any to discuss it.
Abreu is a free agent at the end of this season, and the decision on whether or not to bring Abreu back will go a long way toward shaping what the Yankee lineup looks like in 2009.
Let’s lay out the pros and cons.
The guy can still hit. He has 95 RBIs and likely will end the season with at least 100 RBI for the sixth consecutive season. He is a guy who produces runs without the home run. He runs decently — one more stolen base will give him 11 years of 20 or more stolen bases. He still works counts as well as anybody and draws walks, even though his on-base percentage has been below his career average in each of the last two seasons.
Offense has been an issue for the Yankees this season, and it seems counter-productive to let a terrific offensive player leave.
Who would replace him? There won’t be any young, athletic outfielders on the free-agent market who can match his offensive production. Manny Ramirez could, but that’s another discussion.
Abreu will be 35 next season. He is still good, but his declining OBP (.370 before last night vs. a .405 career mark) indicates that he isn’t quite what he used to be. The Yankees need to find players with futures, instead of those trying to hold on to their pasts.
Abreu is a terrible defensive outfielder. The only regular right fielders with worse Revised Zone Ratings are Magglio Ordonez of Detroit, and the Yankees own Xavier Nady. Plus, he doesn’t throw nearly as well as his reputation would have you believe.
The Yankees need to get better defensively, and an outfield with both Nady and Abreu in it will be awful, no matter who is in center field. The Yanks are committed to Nady for next season, and will still also have Johnny Damon, whose defensive skills are also abominable.
Their only hope for getting more athletic and better defensively is to let Abreu go.
I think the Yankees have to let Abreu go. They have to get a little younger, a little more athletic, a little more flexible and a lot better defensively. They can’t do that with an outfield of Abreu, Nady and Damon. They have been about offense for too many years, and that hasn’t worked. So, to me it has to be bye-bye, Bobby.
Peter Abraham Fact of the Day
Did you really have to go here, Pete, pointing out that Joe Torre’s Dodgers have won 15 of 18 (the kind of streak the Yankees needed weeks ago) and are headed to the playoffs?
I will most likely live blog the final game at Yankee Stadium Sunday night, so be sure to stop by.