If Ruben Amaro has made one mistake in the offseason, it was committing so early and so much money to Raul Ibanez. Two months after signing Ibanez to a three-year, $31.5 million contract, the Angels nabbed Bobby Abreu for the discounted terms of one year and $5 million.
Bobby Abreu: seven 100+ RBI seasons in eight years; eight 20-20 seasons; a career .300 average; a .405 on-base percentage.
Hey, Phillie fans know full well about Abreu, considering he’s one of the franchise’s greatest players. So it’s difficult to fathom that while Ibanez, a 36-year-old outfielder, got two more years and $26 million more than Abreu, a 33-year-old outfielder … who has better numbers.
Let’s look at their 2008 numbers, comparatively:
Very, very similar. While Ibanez has a tad more power, Abreu has a tad more on-base skills. We know what Abreu will give a team — walks, singles and doubles, good speed. We’re not as sure with Ibanez, but from his numbers, we can tell he has above-average power and doubles ability. And consistency, right? Ruben Amaro Jr. stressed Ibanez’s consistency as one of the reasons he was sought instead of the plateau-and-valley Pat Burrell.
But a look at Ibanez’s 2008 gamelogs show he’s actually not unbelievably consistent. His season started strong with an OPS above .900. But that dipped below .800 by late May, mainly because of his slugging, and he wouldn’t get back above .800 until late July. So while it’s a two-month dip, it is a dip, and it’s the same kind of dip we’ve seen from Burrell, whose OPS first went below .900 in September. He suffered a two-month lull that lasted until his very last at bat as a Phillie, in game five of the World Series.
Abreu, meanwhile, fit himself in the .810s quickly. He had a couple weeks where his OPS slid into the .760s at worst, but it always regained into the .800s, mainly because no matter what, he’d find a way on base. Moreover, Abreu hit .800 on July 26 and never saw below it again, riding a hot final two months to an OPS that rested at .842, five points higher than Ibanez.
This isn’t to say Abreu was a better choice for the outfield than Ibanez. But all the sticking points that made Ibanez so desirable actually look better with Abreu. He’s just as consistent a hitter (and more consistent getting on base) than Ibanez (imagine Abreu getting on base a lot for Utley and Howard). He’s better on the basepaths and proabably similar in the field. He understands Philadelphia and is familiar with the clubhouse. He would have known he was coming in as a leader or a star, but a fine complimentary piece.
And those lefty splits that make Ibanez so great? While Ibanez is a career .268 hitter with a .733 OPS against lefties, Abreu is a career .280 hitter with a .776 OPS against lefties.
Amaro wanted his man and got his man, despite probably overpaying and over-reading the market early. Here’s hoping it works out — but hopefully he knows there were options that might have been just as good (if not better) and at a much, much cheaper price.