By Christopher Harris
July 31, 2006
Much has been made of the fact that Bobby Abreu has hit only eight home runs this year and only 14 since launching a record 41 taters in 2005's All-Star Game Home Run Contest, but the fact is: this is a ridiculously beneficial trade both for the Yankees and for Abreu's fantasy value.
As a left-handed hitter, Abreu moves from a pretty favorable home right field to Jason Giambi's fantasy in Yankee Stadium's right field. The Yankees run more than the Phillies do (as a team, New York has 90 steals compared to 60 for Philadelphia), and it goes without saying that the powerhouse Yankees lineup will present Abreu with more RBI and runs-scored opportunities. Plus, let's not lose sight of the fact that before Sunday, Abreu was third in the National League with a .427 OBP, and also led the NL in walks – 91, which is five more than Barry Bonds so far in '06.
Sure, maybe Abreu's kind of a glider and not the type of grinder Yankee fans typically embrace, but he's approximately 5,000 times better than Aaron Guiel, Bubba Crosby, Bernie Williams or whoever else the Yanks have tried out in right field to replace Gary Sheffield. Speaking of Sheffield, considering New York is committed to Abreu at least through '07, this is probably the end of The Sheff in The Apple. One now has to wonder how hard Sheffield will rehab, since it seems pretty clear he doesn't figure in Brian Cashman's plans next year.
Of course, Cashman wasn't done buying talent when he got Abreu; he also received Cory Lidle as a bauble in the pantheon of Yankee crown jewels. Lidle's a crafty 34-year-old who spent most of his first five years in the bigs cruising the American League. He'll be a fine fantasy player against the Tampa Bays and Kansas Citys of the world; he'll typically give you six innings, strike out five, walk one, give up two or three earned, and give you a chance to win. Of course, Lidle has featured a BAA of around .280 and a WHIP around 1.35 the last couple years in the NL, where he's seen very few lineups like he'll face when he pitches against Boston, Toronto, the Angels, the White Sox, etc. He's obviously a far more valuable fantasy commodity than he was before the deal, since he's much more apt to get a ton of run support and thus perhaps five or six more wins over the rest of the year. But he's not great, and when the chips are down in September, there's a big chance he'll get lit up. But then again, so would Shawn Chacon and Aaron Small. The Yankees officially now are spending more than $100 million more than the second-highest payroll in baseball for 2006. Sheesh.
On Philadelphia's side, this is an utter and complete fire sale, and I'm not sure I exactly understand it, except they must really have not liked Abreu. Sure, he's due $23.5 million over the next two years, with a $2 million buyout if his team doesn't pick up his $16 million in '08. And sure, $15 million in '07 is a lot for one guy. But this is one of the game's elite talents, and the Phillies just treated him like Chan Ho Park.
Of the prospects they received – SS C.J. Henry, LHP Matt Smith, C Jesus Sanchez and RHP Carlos Monasterios – only Henry can be considered a legitimate major-league prospect at this point, and he was just drafted (in the first round) in 2005, and currently features a .676 OPS at Class-A Charleston – though he's thought to be an okay prospect who could play in the majors in, say, 2009. Smith pitched for the Yankees in the bigs this June, and didn't allow a run in 12 middle-innings appearances, but he's a one-batter kind of guy: a prototypical lefty specialist. Meanwhile, Sanchez has struggled (to put it mildly) at the plate in rookie ball, and Monasterios has shown flashes of being a decent middle reliever on the same team. No offense to the families of these four men, but the Phillies essentially got nothing for their best player – well, okay, maybe Ryan Howard or Chase Utley is their best player, but it's close – because they wanted to dump him. When did Philly turn into a small market?
In Abreu's absence, Shane Victorino and David Dellucci are the primary beneficiaries, as they'll take over in right field (while Chase Utley may move down to Abreu's third spot in the order, making him an even better bet for more RBI). Remember, Victorino had a very good May when Aaron Rowand was out with his wall-induced broken nose, but has struggled to find at-bats since then. He might be worth a look; he posted minor-league seasons of 47 and 45 stolen bases. However, Dellucci is the left-handed-hitting side of this potential platoon, and if he stays with the Phillies after the trade deadline, he'll render both himself and Victorino essentially unusable in all but the deepest NL-only leagues.
Christopher Harris is a Fantasy Sports Writers Association award-winning columnist and beagle-owner who has written about fantasy sports for SportsIllustrated.com, NBA.com, and TalentedMrRoto.com. Send Christopher a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated on Monday, Jul 31, 2006 11:52 am, EDT
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