The Return Of Bobby Abreu

Tonight’s game against the Angels marks the return of Bobby Abreu to the Bronx, as he makes his first appearance in NY since the final home game against the O’s last September. Most Yankees fans that I speak to do not seem to have strong feelings about Bobby in either direction. They weren’t happy to see him go, but they were not devastated by his loss either. Personally, I liked him and hope that he gets a nice reception this evening.

The Yankees replaced Bobby with Nick Swisher, a move that looks great right now, while Bobby took the bargain basement deal of the year to sign with Anaheim. Abreu has started the season off well (courtesy of ESPN):

Bobby Abreu’s move to the Angels seems to agree with him. At 35, he already has eight stolen bases in as many attempts, the most he’s had during any April of his career. He’s also creating havoc at the plate with his .375 batting average, and leads the Angels with 27 hits. Abreu hit .289 over the past two years, and all his improvement this season has been on early counts……He hasn’t hit the ball harder on early counts, just more often. Abreu has finished 41 percent of plate appearances on early counts this season compared to 24 percent last year. Consequently, his strikeouts have dropped from 18 percent to 15 percent of plate appearances even though his strikeout rate is slightly higher once he reaches two strikes. With fewer than two outs, Abreu has seen an average of 2.9 pitches per plate appearance compared to 4.3 during the past two years.

With Bobby mashing and the Yankees hurting for outfield depth, would it have made sense for the Yankees to retain Abreu as a member of the outfield mix? I do not think so. He likely would have relegated Swisher and Nady to the bench, with those players only getting time in some sort of rotation at LF, RF, and DH. Furthermore, however well Abreu does with the stick, his glove has reached epically bad levels. Abreu had a solid offensive season last year, yet was worth just 5.6 million dollars (against a 16M dollar salary) due to his incredibly weak fielding (-25.3 UZR/150). It was time to let Bobby go and get a bit younger in the outfield.