Saturday, February 14, 2009

Best Deal of the Bargain Bin So Far

February 14, 2009 - Spring training is among us, and the free agents still on the shelf are dribbling into major league contracts. When will you sign Manny? But the best value so far, by far, is a player we were not the most enamored with while a member of the Philadelphia Phillies. We were even pretty glad to see him go. But Bobby Abreu is just what the Anaheim, sorry, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, were looking for, and they've gotten themselves the best deal of this free agent season. Bobby Abreu is a perennial hitter. Yes, he is getting older. Yes, he can be somewhere between brutal and disinterested in the field. To be fair, it's more like disinterested. But he is a professional hitter, every year, and he knows how to take a pitch. One sneaky little truth about the Angels last year while they were winning all those games, ... most of their hitters don't take pitches, i.e. Torii Hunter or Vlad. They don't walk. So there's not a whole lot of folks on base. That will not be the case with Abreu. You'll see Abreu trotting home with a boatload full of runs if they bat him in front of Vlad.

At $5,000,000 for a season, with incentives that could raise it above $6m, the Angels have jumped at a half price sale. No, Bobby was not worth the three years and the $48m it is rumored he was looking for. But he was worth north of $10 million per season for three or four years. Look out Disneyland, this could be the final piece in the puzzle, as long as the pitching holds out, that could get the Angels a playoff series win. And I wouldn't be too surprised if you didn't see Abreu playing in the mix at first base, as well as left field. That would remove a lot of our trouble with Bobby in the field, where he often wasted his good speed with bad jumps and an over 50 softball player's affinity for going half speed.

Adam Dunn and the Nationals. While his two year contract isn't the half price sale that Abreu's deal in California is, it is a significant signing by an organization who truly hasn't taken advantage of a new ballpark, but his is a step in the right direction. In fact, it's a step that could push Washington closer to a season out of the basement. If the Nationals pick up a player or two from the remaining free agent class, i.e. one of the Orlando's, or even take a flyer that Pedro has something left in the tank, there might be a run at the Marlins for fourth place. Of course, the Marlins might pull one of their youth movement seasons together again and challenge for the pennant. Or maybe not. There's that other team in Florida that is more likely to play in that arena.

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