The Twilight Zone: Bobby Abreu Signs With Phillies

Posted: January 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

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Heading into the offseason, the Philadelphia Phillies had plenty of holes to fill. Coming off of their worst season since 2000, Philadelphia needed to trigger a spark in their once powerful but now dilapidated offense. They also needed to find a way to get younger, having tipped the scales on the issuing of AARP cards in the clubhouse over the last few years. Instead, Ruben Amaro Jr and the Phillies got older, signing former Phillie Marlon Byrd to a two-year contract. On Tuesday, the effort to acquire elderly former Phillies continued as the team announced that they have signed OF Bobby Abreu to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Abreu, 39, has not played in the major leagues since 2012, when he hit .242/3/24 in 100 games combined between both Los Angeles franchises. The two-time All Star has not played more than 54 games in the field since 2010, and was not very rangy even at that point in his career. Obviously, a minor-league contract doesn’t guarantee anything to the Venezuelan veteran. But, the decision to even approach Abreu is curious for multiple reasons.

First, and most conspicuous, is the fact that Abreu will turn 40 before the regular season even begins. His noticeable lack of defensive prowess notwithstanding (he wasn’t exactly Mike Trout during his prime in Philadelphia), Abreu hasn’t hit above .255 since 2009. The veteran never regained significant power after his 2005 Home Run Derby onslaught, so it’s not as though he presents a Jason Giambi’esque power threat off the pine.

Beyond the boxscore statistics are the apparent issues with regards to fit. Yes, the Phillies are an aging team and Abreu probably still has friendships with those that he played with prior to his July, 2006 trade to New York. But, how exactly does a left-handed hitting bench bat with little power, no fielding ability, and a lackadaisical attitude help this team improve on their 73-89 finish from a year ago? Don’t the Phillies have enough left handed hitters currently on their roster? Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Domonic Brown, Ben Revere, Cody Asche, and now Bobby Abreu all hit from the left side of the plate. This was clearly an issue dating back to 2011, when Jayson Werth left for Washington. But, nonetheless, Amaro continues to recycle the same methods and mentalities when building a team.

When discussing Abreu, one cannot forget the attitude. While being laid back is not necessarily a poor personality trait, it doesn’t help that Abreu brings that apathetic personality with him onto the field; something that always drew the ire of knowledgeable fans and media members in Philadelphia. It’s no coincidence that the Phillies fell just short of the postseason with Abreu from 2003-2005, then soared to new elevations immediately upon his exit in 2007. The man is no leader, something that you’d expect out of a 40-year old veteran signing.

Of course, Amaro doesn’t care about any of that. All he sees is another left handed “professional” hitter. Meanwhile, the rest of us continue to sit and wait. We wonder when the Phillies will return to their former glory. We ponder when the bad contracts will cease. We question the motives of a front office hellbent on driving this once proud franchise into the ground, and we wait with bated breath for the day when Amaro is relieved of his duties as General Manager; a position that he has used to drive the Phillies further from a title year after year.

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