Abreu Hysteria Seems Familiar To Me

An article by posted on October 10, 2013

If you look around the Mets twitterverse, here, or any other Mets related site you’ll find fans, writers, and commentators all speaking on the likelihood or unlikelihood that the Mets will sign Jose Abreu to play 1B for the Mets.

I’m not sure about you, but I am growing tired of anybody who has never seen Abreu play more than a handful of games (if that), acting like he’s a no brainer for the Mets to sign.

Abreu doesn’t necessarily represent a fix at 1B, he represents a change in free agent philosophy that some fans are desperate to see, just for the sake of seeing it. Action for the sake of action doesn’t always lead to the best results.

Remember 2011 when it seemed like Yoenis Cespedes was the second coming Vladimir Guerrero meets Bo Jackson?Yoennis Cespedes

In December 2011, the New York Times wrote about Céspedes, which helped create the high expectations for Céspedes. In this piece you’ll read glowing evaluations after glowing evaluation. It wasn’t just the NY Times, it was everywhere you went. Anonymous scouts and executives touting just how amazing Céspedes is – move aside Steve Nebraska, because this kid is a scout’s dream come true.

He’s going to be the best Cuban major leaguer we’ve ever seen, he’s likely going to command over $50 million, and then poof…suddenly he signs a 4 year, $36 million contract with the Oakland Athletics.

He had a solid “rookie” campaign, but suddenly at age 27 Céspedes looks like he has gotten worse – not better. His batting average dropped 52 points to .240, his OBP dropped below .300 (previously .354), and his slugging dropped 63 points down to .442 leading to an OPS drop of over 120 points. His strikeouts increased, his walks decreased, his steals decreased and his caught stealing increased.

What happened to the guy who was a “can’t miss” and going to be the best ever to come out of Cuba? Seems to me he is heading more toward being an average player, if that.

And now, just two years later, it’s the same story with a different name. Nevermind that Céspedes was going to be the next big thing, forget about him and the fact he was even compared to Abreu in that NY Times piece – now we have Yasiel Puig to make everybody feel excited about Jose Abreu!

I’m not denying that Puig can be a very good big league player, I’ve seen him play with my own eyes and see the merits of his game (and also the demerits), but he’s only 22 years old. Puig had to prove he was big league material in the minor leagues before he was brought up to play for the Dodgers.

Before Abreu ever steps foot on a major league diamond he will have turned 27 years old. He’s not going to get better, he is what he is – so comparing him to Puig is borderline ridiculous because all they have in common as players is where they were born.

ESPN.com writer Jerry Crasnick wrote this piece on Abreu in September. The part that jumped out at me was this quote from a National League club,

“If you throw him 90-92 [mph] inside, he gets beat a lot,” said a scout for a National League club. “I don’t think he’s going to hit a good hard fastball in. But there’s a lot of marginal pitching out there. The No. 1 and 2 starters are going to get him out, but he’s going to feast on the 3, 4 and 5 guys. That’s where he’s going to make his money.”

That doesn’t exactly sound like a ringing endorsement to me. To say he’ll do just fine against the marginal pitchers out there, but not against the good ones?

JoseAbreuWBCAll of the major league clubs have scouting departments that will decide whether Jose Abreu is worth a major league roster spot directly from Cuba. I’m fascinated by the people who have seen specific clips of Abreu (likely publicized by his own representatives), and think they know anything about him as it relates to the major leagues.

We all knew that Céspedes was going to be a great player – and now we hardly notice him after just 2 seasons minus his solid LDS performance thus far. So here we are again – second verse, same as the first.

I’m not suggesting I know whether Abreu will be a solid big leaguer or not, I’m merely suggesting that there is such little information out there for fans and even writers to use that we seem to rush toward praising the guy without seeing a big sample size. If a team whether it be the Mets or not is in love with Abreu’s talent at 1B, then he’s going to sign with them most likely.

That doesn’t mean that the Mets refused to pay a guy who SHOULD be their 1B in 2014, it means they didn’t feel he was the right guy for the job.

It’s October 10th, 2013 and the Mets still haven’t signed any free agents or made an offer to Jose Abreu, and for some that seems like a reason to jump off a bridge or act as though the Mets 2014 off-season will replicate the last three years.

For me, it means nobody has signed any free agents, nobody has made an offer to Abreu and none of us likely have seen Abreu long enough to say how his talent will or will not translate to the major leagues.

That is my biggest problem with the Met fan hysteria over Abreu. He’s not a player we’ve all seen for years, know what he is, and have a good argument as to what his value is. The majority of those who are adamant about getting him have a desire to just get “somebody” and he is the shiniest of the options right now because of his situation.

Will this off-season replicate the last three years? Maybe it will, I don’t know – but here’s the thing. Neither do you.

I said it before, and I’ll say it again. Why complain about something in October, when you’ll have plenty of time to complain during the winter?

About the Author ()

Michael Branda grew up a Mets fan watching the mid 1980's teams and his favorite Met of all-time is (and was) Wally Backman. When it comes to sabermetrics versus old school thinking, he's in the middle and believes adopting new ways to get answers is helpful, especially when the old way has not produced results.

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