UPDATE: CBS’s Jon Heyman is reporting that the deal has fallen through between Cleveland and Los Angeles. Poor Angels.
It’s been a long time coming. Tony Reagins’ tenure as GM still stings in the hearts of Angels fans. But on Thursday evening, it began to hurt a little less as rumors swirled of a possible deal between the Angels and the Cleveland Indians. After Abreu had a solid year in 2009, the Angels brilliant former GM got the idea to sign the 36 year old DH to a three year deal worth 27 million dollars. Even coming off a terrific season there was no one that thought this was a good deal.
And expectedly, Abreu certainly failed to live up to the contract, as his last two seasons have been marred by general ineffectiveness. In an outfield with defensive superstars Peter Bourjos and Torii Hunter, there simply was no room for Abreu. The routes he took were terrible. The jumps he got on the ball were terrible. His arm rivaled Juan Pierre’s for the worst anyone had ever seen in the outfield. Admittedly, during his prime Bobby Abreu was a solid defensive outfielder and a force to be reckoned with at the plate. His calling card was of course his patience and discipline in the batters box.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a hitter in either league that took as many pitches or drew as many walks as Abreu did. But with the slowing of his bat speed that generally comes with age, came the end of a productive era of hitting for Abreu. No longer were pitchers nibbling at the corners against Abreu, there was simply no need to be careful. He was no longer a homerun hitter, couldn’t pick the ball up out of a lefty’s hand and couldn’t catch up with the heat any decent right-hander could bring. His ability to take pitches and work a count no longer mattered. Pitchers would attack him immediately and more often than not Abreu would find himself in the hole 0-2.
Perhaps the worst part of this entire scenario is the fact that Abreu was the last to know that his skills had declined. He consistently griped to any media member that would listen that he was still a superstar and that the Angels couldn’t be trusted. He’d coaxed manager Mike Scioscia to guarantee him playing time despite young sluggers Trumbo and Morales squeezing him out of any reasonable lineup. Just how far he’s fallen became clearer than ever this Spring. Minor league pitchers have simply destroyed the once formidable Abreu. Still, he talks a big game and teams that are desperate would certainly take a flier assuming the Angels ate his entire 9 contract. That desperate team of course was the Cleveland Indians. It apepars that the return for the Angels will be outfielder Trevor Crowe, who was pulled from his game tonight and told that it was because of a pending trade.
Maybe Abreu will rediscover himself in Cleveland. Maybe he won’t gripe to the media whent the Indians decide to bench him when Grady Sizemore comes back. Maybe this will work out for both sides. Or maybe the Angels new GM Jerry Dipoto found a team as desperate for any bat as they were to unload Abreu’s salary and unfortunate willingness to complain to anyone who would listen.
UPDATE: CBS’s Jon Heyman (who originally tweeted that the deal seemed to be just about done) is reporting that Crowe is NOT involved in the deal, and that Cleveland had him set up in another trade that fell through. Heyman is also reporting that the deal will require approval from the commissioner’s office due to Abreu’s salary, which the Angels will likely be eating in the deal.