- For Abreu, the winter was nothing but question marks. Why did the Yankees not offer him a contract? Why were other teams not aggressive in courting him? Why did he have to take a contract that guaranteed less than a third of what he made last season?
After paying him $16 million last season, the Yankees forecast correctly that Abreu, now 35, could not command such a salary in a depressed free-agent market. If they offered him arbitration, he might accept and be awarded a raise. So they declined and forfeited the compensatory draft pick.
"I didn't know what was happening, really,” Abreu said. "I was doing a pretty good job over there. I didn't expect that they would let me go like that, but business is business.”
The Yankees believed they had right field covered with Xavier Nady and Nick Swisher, a younger and similarly patient left-handed hitter obtained in a November trade. They plowed most of their free-agent dollars into elite pitchers (C. C. Sabathia and A. J. Burnett) and the best hitter on the market (Mark Teixeira).
The Yankees were right. Even with Nady playing only seven games all season, they were covered because of Swisher, who is -- due mostly to his relative youth -- a slightly better hitter and fielder than Abreu. Swisher wound up earning slightly less than Abreu this season, too, so the Yankees won this "trade" all the way around. They got better and they got cheaper.
Of course, so did the Angels, who paid Garret Anderson $12.6 million last season. The Yankees were smart to let Abreu go, and the Angels were smart to sign him at a discounted price in a depressed market. They presumably figured he would bounce back from the worst season of his career, and he did.
Oddly, the headline on the story about Abreu reads, "Stats Tell Only Half the Story for Abreu."
Only half? Really? I can excuse a bit of poetic license, but you have to figure that stats tell at least 90 percent of the story for Abreu, right?
The Angels drew 66 more walks this season than last season, which pushed them from 12th in the league to 7th. This improvement is due almost entirely to two players: Abreu, and Chone Figgins. Abreu drew 67 more walks this season Garret Anderson drew last season, and Figgins drew 39 more walks this season than last season. Obviously, the rest of the team actually drew fewer walks this season than last season.
Abreu brings more walks to the table, and it's possible that his presence has contributed to Figgins drawing more walks, too. Does Abreu bring less tangible to the table? A winning attitude, perhaps?
Perhaps. But in the five seasons before Abreu arrived, the Angels averaged 94 wins per season. This season they won 97 games. This season, statistically speaking, Abreu was worth roughly three wins. Sometimes the stats really do tell most of the story.