Mike Silva's New York Baseball Digest » Blog Archive » Bobby Abreu HOF Debate, Jason Bay is an Expensive Scott Hairston, Rivera Panic, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, ESPN Can’t Beat a Vacant Chair

Bobby Abreu HOF Debate, Jason Bay is an Expensive Scott Hairston, Rivera Panic, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, ESPN Can’t Beat a Vacant Chair



By Mike Silva ~ August 10th, 2011. Filed under: Morning Digest.

Bobby Abreu beat his old teammates last night with two homers, including a ninth inning shot off the great Mariano Rivera. We will get to Rivera’s recent struggles later on, but this hit was ironic since Abreu was the topic of a Hall of Fame debate with the beat writers on Twitter.

Back in 2009 I wrote this about Abreu and the Hall of Fame. A piece that was picked up by Rob Neyer, then of ESPN:

As I mentioned before I have three areas I look at when making my decision:

1) Production at position
2) Consistency
3) Historic Seasons

Abreu’s position hurts him a great deal because the plethora of outfielders in the Hall of Fame with better power numbers. He also might not hit a magic number in hits, homers, and batting average. However, looking at OPS+, Abreu does have a benchmark of consistency and historic seasons. I usually take seasons 20% or over and catalog them as “historic”. Eleven of his 14 seasons to date meet the Silva “historic” factor. He also hasn’t performed below league average since he became a regular in 1999.

Is Bobby Abreu a difference maker? Writers and fans in Philadelphia and New York would probably say no. Don’t tell that to Mike Scioscia who called Abreu the Angels MVP. This is nothing to sneer at as Anaheim lost a potential league MVP in Mark Teixeira and replaced him with Abreu.

It’s a tough call, no doubt. A couple of years ago I would have given Abreu and the Hall of Fame a resounding no. Looking at potentially 2,500 hits, .300 career batting average, and 300 homers gives me reason to rethink that position. Obviously that gives other candidates who are on the outside looking in, like Andre Dawson, more credence.

Some think Abreu’s impact in this series will be overlooked. With steroids shrinking the candidate pool from the last 15 years Bobby Abreu is certainly a bubble candidate, but not a crazy discussion anymore. Maybe he is not just overlooked in this series, but in his career as well.

Before this year, Abreu performed at career norms his first two years in Anaheim. He still has a penchant to get on base (.367 OBP), but last night’s homers were a surprise as it was only his fifth and sixth all season. In his prime, Abreu was a .300 plus hitting walk machine with power. Now he walks and does little else. His defense has always been an issue as he’s never met an outfield wall that agrees with him.

I was non-committal in that 2009 piece about whether Abreu is a Hall of Famer. Two years later I feel confident in saying that he should be on the outside looking in. At 37 years of age, it’s unlikely he will play long enough to compile the magic number of 3,000 hits.

Abreu will go down as a very good, but not great player. That does not deserve enshrinement to the Hall.

***

Jason Bay extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a fourth inning single. This marks his longest hitting streak as a Met, and is only 3 away from his personal high set in 2005.

The Mets can only hope that Bay has rediscovered his stroke and can become a viable power threat in the middle of the order. Since the All Star Break, Bay is hitting .293 with 3 homers and 13 RBI. We have seen power out of him this home stand that has been missing throughout the last year and a half.

Even at his best, Bay is a streaky player. The Mets will take those peaks and valleys if the peaks actually last more than a couple of games. Take a look at his 2009 month by month breakdown in Boston:

Split G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
April/March 22 71 19 23 5 1 5 19 23 17 .324 .490 .634 1.123
May 28 106 19 28 8 0 10 30 14 27 .264 .355 .623 .978
June 25 100 12 23 3 1 4 20 10 27 .230 .301 .400 .701
July 25 78 16 15 5 0 1 5 23 29 .192 .394 .295 .689
August 22 76 18 22 4 0 9 18 12 26 .289 .400 .697 1.097
Sept/Oct 29 100 19 31 4 1 7 27 12 36 .310 .386 .580 .966
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/10/2011.

Great start, slow early summer, and strong finish. His June and July that year is pretty much what he’s produced as a member of the Mets.

Even an extended hot streak will probably do nothing to improve his trade value. He is owed $16 million per year until the end of the 2013 season. His $17 million dollar 2014 club option becomes guaranteed with with 600 PAs in 2013, or 500 PAs in both 2012 and 2013.  Both are easily attainable for a player that will most likely play every day.

What if Bay doesn’t turn it around? He could become an expensive version of Scott Hairston. This year Bay is clobbering LHP (.897 OPS, 3 homers in 95 Plate Appearances), but has been anemic against RHP (.620 OPS, 6 homers in 240 Plate Appearances). The best use of bay in 2012 and 2013 might be as the right-handed complement in a platoon. A Lucas Duda/Jason Bay left field platoon might turn out to be very productive.

***

When does it become time to panic with Mariano Rivera? That is a second consecutive outing where he’s been hittable. This time, it’s former Yankee Bobby Abreu that took him deep to fuel the Angels 6-4 win at the Stadium. Abreu had only 5 home runs all season prior to that at-bat.

Rivera usually goes through bad patches every year, but normally we discuss this type of panic in April or May. Usually August is when he begins his string of zeroes that takes us into late October or November. Don’t forget that Rivera skipped the All Star Game due to a lingering elbow injury. We will never know, but it’s possible that Mo’s arm is barking a little bit.

If Mariano Rivera is just like any other closer than the Yankees are more vulnerable than we think. We already know the days of consistent 2 innings saves are over. It’s unnecessary with Rafael Soriano and David Robertson as the 7th and 8th inning bridge.

I guess the better question is should Brian Cashman attempt to acquire a reliever before the end of August? I suspect Arthur Rhodes has a good chance to end up in pinstripes once he becomes a free agent. That takes care of the second lefty scenario. Cory Wade and Luis Ayala are nice “value signings” that make for a good story, but neither is trustworthy in a big playoff game.

It’s no secret that Heath Bell is available, but I talked about why I would stay away during yesterday’s Morning Digest. With that said, if Bell doesn’t cost much more than a couple of low level prospects and money do you bring him aboard?

Although both Soriano and Robertson are capable of closing, I like keeping them in their current roles. Especially Soriano, who can pitch in the lower pressure 7th inning. The presence of Bell could move Soriano even earlier in the game (6th inning), and give the Yankees a security blanket for Rivera. It would allow them to only pitch Mariano when necessary, avoid back to back outings, and give him as much rest as he needs.

Again, I am not a huge fan of acquiring Bell, but if this just costs money it might be well worth the investment in the case of Mariano Rivera Armageddon.

***

We know one talking head that doesn’t want Heath Bell. Morning Show host and Yankees fan Craig Carton explained why he isn’t a fan of Bell yesterday. 

Notice that Craig is citing Bob’s Blitz (as he should). And you don’t think we have impact here at NYBD.

By the way… I did hear the Morning Show did have time (in-between reading this site), to watch martial arts movies and get the July ratings from Bob’s Blitz towards the end of their show. That’s what happens when Esiason is away.

More of those July ratings later.

***

I talked about the future of Angel Pagan yesterday. If the Mets decide to non-tender Pagan there are a few high upside options that possibly could be available (Grady Sizemore, Nate McLouth), and few cost effective options as good as Pagan (David DeJesus?).

One name I didn’t mention is outfield prospect Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who is out for the year after shoulder surgery. The good news is the injury is to his non-throwing shoulder.

This was another unfortunate injury as Nieuwenhuis was hitting .298 with 6 homers and 14 RBI in 53 games at Buffalo. He was demonstrated improved plate discipline (32 walks) that yielded a .403 OBP.

I have seen Nieuwenhuis a bit during his time playing at Binghamton. He is the type of hustle player the fans will like. He is the type of grinder that would fit in with this team. When talking to those that have followed him throughout his MILB career, you get mixed opinions on his big league future. Some think he can play every day, but only as a corner outfielder. He’s been described as only “fringy” when it comes to centerfield. Others say his slow bat speed will prevent him from hitting enough to be a regular in the big leagues. We won’t know until he gets an opportunity, which inevitably would have happened if not for the injury.

Another reason Nieuwenhuis can’t be relied on in 2012 is because of the surgery. Michael Diaz of Mets Minor League Blog points out how B.J. Upton needed some time to recover after similar surgery in the offseason of 2008.

Tampa Bay Rays outfielder B. J. Upton had the same surgery on his left, non-throwing shoulder back in November 2008.  In this St. Pete Times piece, the Rays organization expected Upton to be ready for spring training in 2009 and opening day, but in a later St. Pete Times article, we find that Upton did miss the first week of the 2009 season, although he was back on the field on April 13. Read this opening line of that article:

“Even with his recovery from left shoulder surgery ahead of schedule, Rays centerfielder B.J. Upton expects to miss the first week of the regular season.”

That concerns me a little bit. Now mind you Upton’s surgery was done in November as opposed to Nieuwenhuis’ in July, but if you look at Upton’s numbers in 2009, this surgery is more than just a six month recovery.

Terry Collins had a chat with Pagan earlier this week, and walked away believing that his centerfielder has his mind in the right place. That wasn’t the case back in July when he took over for Reyes during his last DL stint. He’s hit two homers since taking over the leadoff spot.

These next 6 weeks are important for Angel Pagan, as I suspect they will go a long way to determining what direction they will go with centerfield this winter.

***

Summer Radio Ratings came out and it appears that ESPN lost ground to Mike Francesa’s vacant chair. 

660, with Mike Francesa missing for half the month, saw its rating hold at 2.8 while their cume moved up from 1,585,900 to 1,609,900. 

WEPN? Dumped from a .9 to a .7 while cume dropped from 679,100 to 655,200. 

You have to give credit to Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts, who have done an excellent job filling in. With that said, we continue to hear how Francesa is the “top of the profession” because of these ratings. Does his radio reach extend all the way to his vacations in Saratoga? Are fans that starved for Francesa they tune in with the hopes he will call in to say hello? I think we all know what the answer to that rhetorical question.

So if you are a CBS executive and you see this, do you start to wonder if it’s the host or the real estate? Why pay someone $5 million dollars a year to come to work unprepared and take vacation?

We have talked about bad contracts this morning (Jason Bay), but it appears radio could afford to shed some salary as well.

The best part is shedding that salary won’t hurt their beloved ratings one bit.

I have been saying this for years, but I am crazy, want a job at WFAN, and don’t know what I am talking about…. right?


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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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3 Responses to Bobby Abreu HOF Debate, Jason Bay is an Expensive Scott Hairston, Rivera Panic, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, ESPN Can’t Beat a Vacant Chair

  1. Michael

    How could you say Abreu is not a great player. He is an outstanding player, you are just another person that has not experienced his wealth of knowledge and skill that he has contributed to the game of baseball his entire career. He is the most underrated player in baseball but is absolutely a HOF player.

  2. Russ Cress

    In Mike’s defense, no one at WFAN shows up prepared. What’s worse is that the guys who should the most, the ones without prime real estate, don’t seem to either. In fact, I often find myself asking what universe people like Steve Somers and Lori Rubinson live in, since they seem to not be living in the current sports world.

    Carton continues to be a clown. Last week, he went on and on about the Giants signing zero free agents, only he did this after they actually had signed 3 (4 if you count the later “retired” Ben Patrick). I guess in Carton’s world, if you are not a RB, WR or CB you just don’t count.

  3. Russ Cress

    Mo is fine, by the way.

    He gave up a “Fenway Double” and retired everyone else easily in his blown save on Sunday. If they had an experienced 3B in there for the bunt play no one may have scored. He also only needed 9 pitches to retire the side and I was pissed that he didn’t work the 10th. Monday’s blown save was the typical Mo blown save at home. When he does that, it’s usually just like that LH hitters using the short porch. No biggie, if it doesn’t happen back to back, no one is “concerned”.

    Well, no one except the weird, fat, old guy in the dirty white t-shirt, plaid shorts, black socks and fishing hat who yelled “Rivera’s gotta go” at me in the Shop Rite today.

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