I get home from work today and turn on MLB Network to get my weekend started and what do I see? Bobby Abreu is wearing a Dodgers uniform and standing two steps in front of the warning track with Starlin Castro at bat for the Cubs. Abreu was released by the Angels last week and, surprisingly, it didn’t take long for the 38 year-old DH-type to find a job- in the National League, no less.
Abreu made his Dodgers debut earlier in the game as a pinch-hitter and stayed in to play leftfield. As fate would have it, Abreu came up again with two outs and a runner on first in the ninth inning. Abreu represented the Dodgers last glimmer of hope against newly anointed Cubs closer Rafael Dolis. The newest (and oldest) Dodger hit the ball hard but rightfielder David DeJesus hauled it in and the game was over. Exactly how desperate are the Dodgers for outfielders that they would sign Abreu? I guess they wanted a left-handed compliment to Juan Rivera. I mean these guys are pretty much the same player, just from opposite sides of the plate. Abreu had a nice career, but a steady decline in production over the last few seasons would suggest that time has caught up with him.
How does this at all pertain to the Astros? Young fans won’t remember but Abreu was originally signed by Houston back in 1990 as a sixteen year-old prospect out of Venezuela. At the time, the Astros were on the cutting edge as one of the first organizations to establish a heavy scouting presence in Abreu’s home country. Abreu was a five tool player with a tremendous amount of potential and eventually made it to the big leagues with the Astros as a September call up in 1996. He appeared in 59 games with the Astros in 1997 before being left unprotected in the expansion draft. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays took Abreu with their sixth pick and immediately traded him to Philadelphia for shortstop Kevin Stocker. I was annoyed with the Astros decision to allow such a talented young player get away.
Both the Astros and Rays misjudged Abreu’s potential. In nine seasons with the Phillies Abreu posted a .303/.416/.513 slash line, hit 195 homers, drove in 814 runs, and swiped 254 bases. The Phils traded Abreu to the Yankees at the 2006 trade deadline and his numbers started to decline. Abreu was still good in New York, just not as good. Abreu signed a Free Agent deal with the Angels prior to the 2009 season and had another nice year. His numbers continued to slip over the next couple of years and he became a defensive liability as well. This season the Angels decided to promote super prospect Mike Trout and part ways with Abreu.
Only time will tell if Abreu can jump-start his career with the Dodgers. I’m not sure how much time the Dodgers will give him to prove that he can still hit big league pitching. He’s definitely not an option as an every day outfielder, so a pinch-hitting role is probably what they have in mind.