Bobby Abreu signed his first professional contract in 1990 as a 16-year-old from Venezuela. His major league debut came six seasons later, as a member of the Houston Astros. In September of 1996, Bobby Abreu had his first major league hit, against the New York Mets. Now 40 years old, Abreu is a member of the Mets, a team that desperately needs his help.
That the Mets came to be in demand of a player who had not played in the majors since 2012, and was cut from another team in spring training, demonstrates just how ill-conceived their roster was coming into the year. That is not to say the Mets are a bad team. Sitting above .500, they should hang close enough to be in the wild card discussion all year. However, it was no insider secret that their offense was shallow, and that was before the injuries to Juan Lagares and Chris Young (who has since returned), and the trade of Ike Davis.
In his last season, Abreu’s numbers were hardly eye-popping, but did seem good enough for him to stick around the majors. When he did not sign a contract over the following winter, he announced he would take the season off to tend to business in Venezuela, with the hopes of another shot in 2014. That chance came with a spring invite from the Philadelphia Phillies, the team where he first became a star. Abreu was not in the same shape he used to be, but still managed a high on-base percentage thanks to his still sharp eye and patient approach. When he did not make the Phillies roster, the Mets took a shot at him and assigned him to their Triple-A team in Las Vegas.
During his 15-game stint in the minors, his longest stretch since he was a prospect, Abreu mashed to the tune of a .395 average, with as many extra base hits as strikeouts. When the Mets began to clamor for another hitter on the roster, Abreu made the decision easy. It should be expected that a seasoned former all-star would have no trouble working over minor league pitching, but it was important that Abreu prove he had shaken off any rust accumulated during his year off.
The Mets’ need for a right field bat is very apparent. Their right fielders are currently batting a combined .153. For some perspective, consider the National League average for pitchers batting is only a few points below that at .136. It would be disingenuous to say Abreu is the answer to those problems, and it is not even especially likely that he will be a regular player. Just having another bat off of the bench, however, who can step in a few days per week and provide solid offense at a position of weakness is a great step up.
Abreu seems ready to do that, and in his first start he even whacked a double. It was a vintage play for a guy who has had 40 or more two-base hits in a season seven times in his career. Perhaps his patient approach will rub off on some of the Mets’ hitters, as there is certainly value in experience. At 40 years old, Abreu has a wealth of it.
Commentary by Brian Moore
Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer covering New York Baseball