Monday, March 24, 2008

A good look in back at the Abreu trade

This is one of those things that I wish I had the time for (as well as other things, I guess), but The Hardball Times took a look back at the trade/fleecing that delivered Abreu to the Yanks back in mid-06.

The Phillies had been shopping Abreu for some months, and according to reports, they were initially after a front-line starter in return. The eventual deal saw the Yankees snap up Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle for four minor league prospects. The Phils got the 2005 number one draft pick C.J Henry, hurler Matt Smith, catcher Jesus Sanchez and right-hander Carlos Monasterios.
It was a bit startling to see Lidle's name there. I forgot he was part of the deal that brought Abreu over. That his airplane crashed into the building next to my old building when I lived in NYC for 8 years will not be forgotten, however.

To blockquote THT's blockquoting of Jayson Stark's comments on the deal:

Now presenting the most lopsided deadline deal of this millennium: Abreu and Lidle for four guys the Yankees already have forgotten they ever employed ...

..."I keep asking myself, 'Is there something I don't know about Bobby Abreu that they know?' " said a high-ranking official of a team that would have loved to add Abreu in a less complicated, dollar-signed world. "I'm just baffled that they could not get anything back for a guy this good. And they paid him $1.5 million to waive his no-trade clause. And they just tossed in Cory Lidle—tossed him in. I know for a fact there were teams that offered better prospects for Lidle alone. I don't get it."

Abreu's review:

Abreu has been a bit of a success for the Yankees. His propensity to get on base for an offensively oriented Yankee team immediately upped their RBI opportunities. When he came across to New York in 2006 the Yankees and Red Sox were going toe to toe for the division. In his 209 at-bats Abreu posted an impressive line of .330/.419/.507.

After the trade the Yankees and Abreu comfortably swept to the AL East title—although faded badly in the playoffs to the Tigers.There was more of the same in 2007, (except the Red Sox, of course, won the division) although as expected, Abreu regressed in all departments. Still in an age of rising salaries he was deemed valuable enough to have his hefty 2008 option exercised.

I'd say he was more than a bit of a success. He's been the quiet, consummate professional that the Yanks wanted. He hits for average, gets on base, plays a reasonable defense and doesn't act like a primadonna. While I think he's still overpaid, I really like him and his game.

The verdict (handily called: "It's all about context stupid!"):

The final thing to consider: had Abreu stayed at the Phillies would they have increased their odds of making the postseason, as that is obviously pretty lucrative? In 2007 the Phillies made the playoffs only to be dispatched with a whimper by the Rockies—Abreu would not have made much of a difference.

In 2006, though, Philadelphia missed out on the wild card by three games, although it seemed closer than that at the time. Abreu would not have made that up despite going on a tear with the Yankees in the last few month of the season.

This remains a tie I'm afraid.

With all due respect, I can't see how dealing a then-serviceable starter (Lidle) and a Top 20 OF for four never-was-and-never-will-be's come out a wash. The deal remains among the most lopsided in recent years. Had Gillick cleaved Lidle from Abreu and sold him separately, I think they could have gotten better/more pieces to possibly groom. Had Gillick kicked in a few extra bucks, he'd have gotten better prospects in return, rather than saving a few dollars and getting 4 guys who haven't amounted to anything.

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