It is time for one of my favorite games, guess the blind slash line! In this game, I give you the slash line for two players, only I don't tell you who they are (unless you read the title of the blog post, but let's not get bogged down in details). Then, I slowly reveal additional details and you decide which player you would rather have in the lineup everyday. Let's play!
Player A: .289/.327/.431
Player B: .271/.327/.438
Ooh! Very clever, those slash lines are so similar. Player A can hit for average a bit better, but Player B has a little more power and a better walk rate. Still, basically the same. It is almost like it is some sort of trick! But don't fret, you don't have to choose just yet.
Now, for the additional details. One of these players can play superlative defense at a premium position and steal a lot of bases. The other plays no defense and can barely walk briskly without looking like his leg is going to shatter into a million pieces. D'oh! I think that last clue might've been a giveaway.
So who do you want? Of course you want the guy with speed and defense. That player would be Player B, as in Bourjos. And that slash line is his line from 2011. That makes Player A Kendrys Morales and that slash line is his current numbers for this season.
And now a new question: knowing who the players and the year their slash lines are from, do you regret taking Player B? If you do, that makes you like Mike Scioscia, because Scioscia has been actively choosing Morales over Bourjos for most of the last two months. That's good because Mike Scioscia is usually right. It is also not so good because he might be wrong here.
Player A supporters (you Red state sonzabitches!), would likely argue that I cherry-picked Bourjos' slash line. Guilty as charged. I totally did. That's because his 2012 slash line is an ugly .230/.291/.349. Who would want that? Mike Scioscia certainly doesn't, that's why Morales has 118 more plate appearances that Bourjos. He's not wrong for doing that, but he also isn't right either. Using Morales because of his better offensive production this season ignored the second half of our game with those additional details about base stealing and defense. You know what doesn't ignore baserunning and defense? WAR... the statistic, not the act of violence, that kind of war is bad. It is also in lower-case letters. There's a difference.
WAR, fWAR to be exact, values at Kendrys at 0.6 because he is basically a free-swinging, slap-hitting DH that makes Bengie Molina look like Usain Bolt on the basepaths. But fWAR rates Bourjos at 1.1 thanks mostly to his tremendous defensive prowess. Yup, turns out the glove can matter as much as the bat. Who knew? Of course it may not matter quite as much as fWAR says because it uses a different defensive valuation than rWAR which values Morales at 1.1 and Bourjos at 0.9. Yep, turns out I cherry-pick my WAR stats too.
So, I will ask one last time, who do you choose? Bourjos or Morales?
Go ahead and guess because there is no right answer. It really boils down to a matter of preference. If you are the type that really values defense and would love to see the outfield defense upgraded by putting Bourjos in center, Trout in left and Trumbo at DH, your choice is obvious, especially if you think that Bourjos can rebound in the second half and put up offensive numbers not far from what he posted in 2011. But if power and lineup balance is your thing, the switch-hitting Morales is your man, especially if you believe that his power will continue to slowly return to him as his mangled leg gets stronger and the rust continues to flake off his long dormant swing.
The reason I pose this quandry despite not having a real answer is that the Angels are going to be forced to choose between these two in the next few weeks or months. If they like Morales more, then we could see the Angels finally give in and trade Bourjos as soon as this trade deadline. If they like Bourjos more, they could decide that Morales is not worth his salary and trade or non-tender him this off-season. But they could also keep them both. It won't be easy as it will lead to this exact same roster logjam conundrum that they currently find themselves in, especially if they re-sign Torii Hunter or, heaven forbid, get the notion to try and play Vernon Wells once again. For a team low on quality prospects, moving either of these young(ish) assets is not a decision they should make lightly, said the blogger who just reduced said decision to a faux game show contest.
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IF you have to move either of these guys, you'd have to make it Petey ONLY because he has more value right now. The return would have to be right as well. I think getting .289/.327/.431 out of K-Mo is better than what we got out of him last year, or frankly, more than what we expected from him this year. At any given at bat the guy can still blister a ball, although I get all shaky & twitchy when Sosh bats K-Mo behind Albert and before Trumbo but I flip flop on that myself.
Speaking of spiderman in your final paragraph, I would like to take this opportunity to include my opinion regarding all this mumbo jumbo mentioned in Angelsville about the freeing up of Torii Hunter money as if it were a foregone conclusion. I think Torii has more than shown that he can still produce. Furthermore, having one of the games most decorated soldiers, along with his fan favorite status, I can't understand why everyone is ok with the notion that Torii would ride off into the sunset as anything but an Angel.
I will offer an alternative endings to the Torii Hunter era:
1. We just win the whole thing this year and Torii pulls a Jerome Bettis and retires before they even parade down Katella.
2. We win it all this year and Torii takes a home town discount to try and win one more & pull a John Elway, retiring after a Back to Back to end his career
I know I should have saved this for a "What to do with the Torii Hunter situation" piece, BUT, I don't recall seeing one - Monkeys, please feel free
@azhalofan AZH, the only reason I'd disagree with you is that Morales is represented by Satan. As such, he'll be gone anyway since Boras' mind tricks (how the HELL does he get these guys some of these horrendous contracts?) will not work on our JeDi warrior. What this means is that we'll be without Morales much longer anyway. I wish we hadn't gone through the whole leg thing and received the benefit of Morales' most productive years but we didn't. He'll never be the same (including the additional fielding value he once offered, the other reason I'd disagree with AZH) so I'd hope the Angels are not prepared to pay top dollar for him. If Trumbo never finds a full-time position I'd rather he DH'd most days and became a fill in at three other fielding positions while using Petey in center and Trout in left. With regular use, Pete should easily become the '11 slash line player we see above (or better). Then maybe it would be ok to divide right between the inexpensively re-signed Hunter and Wells, who also spends most of his time relieving in the outfield. To me, Trumbo's emergence makes Morales part of the logjam, not part of the solution. I based my off-season hopes on Morales becoming that 30 HR and gap power guy but I'll roll with the punches and make the switch.
And yes, I am one of those Red state sumbitches stuck in a Blue state fast approaching default. Nice of our state legislature to vote in the $81 billion Train To Nowhere and soon increase Medicaid expenditures so sponges, er, "people" fleeing better run states that are cutting back can move here and drive the price of my home down even further before I can sell it and seek political asylum in a Free State.
Man, I love Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online!