Thoughts on today's injury notes in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
My only criticism of Abreu in the past is that he’s shied away from big at bats. However, I don’t cite that reasoning for his recent invisibility on this road trip.
Abreu, quite simply, is out of gas.
While Chase Utley and Ryan Howard have captured most of the headlines, Abreu has taken the field for nearly every game this season, maintaining his usual level of high production. He leads his team in BA (.292), OBP (.412) and is second in the National League in walks (113).
His dexterity is the easiest quality to overlook. Columnist Rob Neyer called “games” the most underrated stat in baseball. Abreu leads the Phillies in games with an incredible 155, and he and leadoff man Jimmy Rollins rank first and second in baseball in plate appearances (Rollins 783, Abreu 766).
Abreu isn’t a spring chicken anymore. He’s 31 and probably at the apex of his career. He’s also a pretty big guy. The media guide says 6-0, 210, but he looks more like 220 or 230.
The Inquirer reported that he’s playing on some bad wheels, and it’s impairing his fielding, base running and hitting. In spite of that, he’s only had one bad game on this trip, and that was the 10-2 comeback against Florida when he went 0-4 with three strikeouts against Dontrelle Willis. He’s reached base in every other game, including an important walk to set up the ninth-inning comeback against Atlanta on Thursday.
Instead of criticizing Abreu for not showing up in September, it’s worth viewing it as a player that spread his contributions evenly over a marathon season, but is paying the price in the stretch.
Madson’s empty tank can be blamed on overuse
While Abreu has been steady, even with injury, pitcher Ryan Madson’s tank is dry because he was overworked earlier in the season.
I can recall at least five occasions when Madson was used when he didn’t need to be, either in garbage time or to preserve a substantial lead.
It’s rare that you get the same three pitchers holding and closing out games. While the three-headed closer of Madson, Ugueth Urbina and Billy Wagner has been effective overall, in hindsight, it would have been better to drop Madson out of many of those appearances.
Teams have also picked up on Madson’s jerky delivery and change-up money pitch, just as he’s hitting a physical and mechanical wall.
I’d drop Madson into Rheal Cormier territory for the remainder of the season. He's a pretty big mess right now.