Thursday, September 25, 2008

Abreu Slams Yankees to 7th Straight

Bobby Abreu knows how important is too put up good numbers in a free agent season. Last night the right fielder hit a grand slam in the 10th inning to give the Yankees their seventh win in a row, 6-2 over the Toronto Blue Jays. The 4 RBI left Abreu one shy of the magic century mark, a feat has accomplished in each of the last six seasons, and the seventh time overall in his career.

The Yankees also saw the best of Phil Hughes this year. He'll still finish the season with no wins, but the second year right-hander had his most impressive outing of the season, allowing two earned runs over eight innings. He left the game after having allowed a solo home run to Scott Rolen in the eighth inning that tied the game at two apiece.

Abreu has produced impressive numbers since being acquired with the late Corey Lidle prior to the 2006 trade deadline. He had a poor first half in 2007 after straining an oblique muscle, but rebounded after the break to help the Yankees reach the playoffs for a 13th consecutive season. Abreu's play this season has left the Yankees decision makers in a quandary as to the possibility of re-signing him to a new deal.

While we agree that Abreu has put up consistently good numbers and he, along with Jason Giambi, are the only Yankees that consistently work the count, we think the Yankees would do better to let Abreu walk after this season.

While Abreu comes off as very likeable, and genuinely seems to be popular among his teammates, he's always had a reputation as a soft player, and it is clearly the case when he's playing defense. Will Rogers never met a man he didn't like and Bobby Abreu has never met a right field wall, period. Abreu doesn't go aggressively after any ball hit near the wall, and for that matter, he doesn't attack balls hit in front of him either.

The 34-yr old Abreu would most likely be seeking a three year or more deal. Letting Abreu go would also enable the Yankees to move Xavier Nady to his more natural position in right field.

It remains to be seen whether Hughes figures in next year's plans either. After not being dealt for Johan Santana in the off-season, Hughes was counted on to be a major part of the '08 season. But he struggled early and then suffered a stress fracture in his rib cage that kept him out of action for several months.

Last night he pitched like the prospect the Yankees have been counting on, and they hadn't seen since the 2007 ALDS. Hughes' fastball was clocked at 89-91 all night, and hit a high of 92 mph. He mixed his new cutter in well with his top notch curve ball. It was only one game, but it gives us some hope for next season.

A.J. Burnett, who will reportedly seek $15 million per year when he opts out of his Blue Jays contract after this season, allowed one earned run in eight innings and struck out 11. He finished 3-1, 1.64 in five starts against the Yankees with 43 strikeouts in 38.1 innings pitched.

Xavier Nady's 2-out, 2-run single in the third inning gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead before Rolen's 11th home run tied things up. Juan Miranda, who had earlier picked up his first major league hit, doubled off of Jesse Carlson to lead off the 10th and Chad Moeller followed with a walk. After Brett Gardner successfully sacrificed the runners over, Robinson Cano was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Abreu then delivered with his 20th home run of the season, giving him eight 20-20 (HR-RBI) seasons in his career. Only Bobby and Barry Bonds have achieved the feat more times than the Venezuelan native.

News and Notes

Jose Veras, who has struggled the last two months of the season, completed his third straight scoreless stint to earn his fifth win of the season. Sidney Ponson, scheduled to start Saturday in Boston, pitched the 10th inning to get some work in.

The Yankees have won 10 of 11...too little too late.

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