Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
January 7, 2009
BASEBALL: Burrell and Abreu and More
Joe Sheehan looks at the corner outfield options in the free agent market, comparing those who have signed (Pat Burrell with the Rays for 2 years at $8 million per, Milton Bradley with the Cubs and Raul Ibanez with the Phillies, each for 3 years at $10 million per) to the guys still unsigned (Manny Ramirez, Bobby Abreu, Adam Dunn). Pretty much none of these guys can play much defense at this stage of their careers - Sheehan notes the Bill James/Fielding Bible +/- ratings and UZR have them all deep in the negatives except Bradley, who is too brittle to play the field but will have to anyway with the Cubs. I was surprised that Burrell is actually a year older than Bradley.
As a Mets fan, I have to say I was thrilled to see Burrell sign with the Rays; it will be worth a win or two a year just for the Mets to have him out of their division. The deal looks like a bargain for the Rays, who get him much cheaper than the more fragile Bradley or than Ibanez, who is five years older; Burrell brings power and patience balance, although I should note that despite a reputation as an aggressive, athletic team, the Rays were second in the AL in walks last year and fourth in homers.
Burrell has benefitted a lot from Citizens Bank Park, but his road numbers are not shabby. Here are the three-year road totals for the corner OF/1B who are free agents, were traded or got renewed this offseason, ranked by road OPS:
*Manny remains the class of that field, although his age remains a risk factor.
*I'm still at a gut level convinced that re-signing Delgado was a bad idea, but he sure looks good in this company.
*The Phillies are going to end up regretting having Ibanez instead of Burrell, given Ibanez' age and the fact that Burrell was already a better hitter.
*I'm actually wondering if the Mets might be able to swoop in and sign Abreu on the cheap. I know the Mets are mostly focusing on the pitching, I know he's not the kind of gung-ho personality Omar seems to think they need, and I know he's not the offensive machine he was in his heyday, but (1) getting on base makes up for a multitude of sins, (2) the Mets really are not that well-stocked in the corners and (3) after watching Church wreck his season running into people last year and watching the Mike Cameron-Carlos Beltran collision, they could do much worse than a guy who doesn't run into people or things and shows up every day ready to suit up. A healthier Moises Alou type could be a great addition. Abreu has a reputation as a shrinking violet, but the man has driven in 100 runs six years running. I wouldn't rule out Manny either if he's desperate, but I hate to plunk down a huge amount of money on him at this stage.
UPDATE: Of course, Abreu will be 35 next year, and most of his historical comps didn't fare too well past that point.
Last note: Joy of Sox looks at how the Yankees wooed Teixeira by playing Twisted Sister for his wife. Or something like that.