I realize right off the bat that saying Peter Bourjos is expendable feels slightly extreme, but it's the truth that we've all come to accept over the past month. The insane production of Trout and Trumbo in addition to the still productive Torii Hunter in right as well as the returning Vernon Wells make it incredibly difficult to envision a scenario in which Peter gets steady playing time. He's became the biggest trade chip the Angels have to offer, and a very good one at that, and it's become apparent that the front office brass realize the value that Bourjos can bring to this struggling ball club. Why keep a player that really has no spot on this team when you can flip him to bring in immediate and much needed help?
Well for starters, he has massive value for this team in the long term. He's a relatively cheap player that'll be under team control for a few years that plays arguably some of the best CF defense in all of baseball. There are questions about his offensive ability, though he has shown to have surprising pop in his bat that could rope in 15 HR's in a good season. His ability to get on base leaves a lot to be desired, but he can hit for a high enough average that you'll overlook his offensive questionability for his supreme defense. This season has been and will continue to be a massive struggle for Bourjos, because he isn't going to get any solid playing time with the Angels.
If Hunter leaves next year that opens up a spot for Bourjos to roam CF while Trout patrols LF and Trumbo takes over RF; this is a great alignment for these players because Trout has a sub-par arm that is exposed in center, putting him in left takes puts less pressure on controlling the running game without taking away any defense in center. Trumbo works best in right because let's face it, he's got an absolute cannon of an arm and could more than easily gun runners down trying to take that extra base, though he does provide very mediocre defense.
If you've been paying attention to the media these past few days you'll have noticed multiple reports coming out of the woodwork that Peter Bourjos is available, as well as Kendrys Morales. Although these rumors have been acknowledged and shot down by Dipoto he's also made it apparent that if the Angels want to get something good they're going to have to give something good up. Dipoto is the kind of GM who likes to toy with the media, he'll throw them all over the place while working very hard under the radar, this is something we saw with the Albert Pujols and C.J Wilson deals this past winter. The fact that he's subtly acknowledging Peter Bourjos as a trade trip means that the Angels brass have come to realize another factor that plays into the whole Bourjos trade saga.
While Torii does happen to be 37 years old he's still playing like the man who was signed on to the Angels back in '08. He still plays superb defense, he's provided power and stability out of the 2-hole, and he's one of those special players that is essential both on and off the field to a team. He's a leader, he's a team player, he's a mentor, and he’s a key franchise player. He's provided the perfect bridge between Mike Trout and Albert Pujols in the lineup; whereas Kendrick showed to be extremely unreliable and sporadic in the 2-hole Torii has proved to be the exact opposite. In the 29 games he's started as the #2 hitter, which rounds off to 131 plate appearances, Hunter has hit .311/.351/.467 with an .818 OPS. He's provided a consistent power stroke as well, hitting 4 HR's and 5 doubles while collecting 23 RBI's. It's not saying a lot that Hunter's bat overshadows Bourjos', he's a proven vet who's hit very consistently over his career, but when you have an offense that is raking as hard as the Angels you'd have to be inclined to give up one of the teams weaker hitters to plug a hole that's sinking this ship.
The big rumors have been a trade centered around Peter Bourjos + a top prospect for Cole Hamels from the Phillies, and while this trade makes the most sense for both parties involved seeing as how Philadelphia desperately needs a long-term centerfielder while Angels have the best one on the market to offer right now it'll be incredibly difficult to get Dipoto to pull the trigger. Why? Cole Hamels will only be a rental for the Angels, no way in hell Dipoto is going to let all that go just for a few months on starting pitching, however incredible it may be. What'll get this deal done is Hamels willingness to sign an extension per his arrival in Anaheim, and since he's a SoCal guy it gives the Angels an even bigger shot to make this trade with the Phillies happen. The big problem is the Phillies were said to have offered Hamels 130 million dollars to stay in Philly, and if the Angels want a shot at a trade/extension they're going to have to ballpark that number.
Garrett Wilson already talked about this in a recent article this past week, but with the Angels penning Weaver and Wilson to incredibly friendly contracts seeing as how ridiculously out of hand the FA market has gotten the past few years it'll be tough for them to break that trend to shell out money for Hamels, especially when you take into account all the spending they did this offseason.
At best, the Angels could pursue Zack Greinke, with the terrible month he's been having his value has to be at least somewhat shot, and with the reports from an insider that the Angels are a "perfect fit" for Greinke it makes a trade/extend much more feasible than with Hamels. The money required to extend Greinke is still in the ridiculous 100 million dollar mark (seriously, what's up with pitchers setting 100 million as their minimum?), but they were able to surpass that with Wilson so they'll probably be able to work Greinke down to somewhere reasonable. Aside from his Cy Young year in 2009 the guy hasn't even posted an ERA below 3.47 in his career, where again does that make you worth 100 million?
At worst, they could pursue Francisco Liriano, a guy who has shown he can be an ace as well as an absolute terror on the mound...for his own team that is. He's far too inconsistent to be able to haul in any real value; this is a guy the Angels could feasibly trade for without giving up any key long term pieces like Bourjos.
While Bourjos has proven to be expendable with the logjam of outfielders the Angels have he still has incredible value with this club if he can survive past this season. Dipoto doesn't need to go after any flashy big names in order to secure a top pitcher, and if the rumor that he'd be willing to trade Bourjos for a reliever is true then I'll personally march into his office and slap him in the face for all of us because we know Bourjos has more value that a guy who's going to pitch one inning a game.
The Angels may prosper if they trade Bourjos. The Angels WILL prosper is they hold on to him until next season. It all depends on if the Angels are willing to stand pat and let this team ride it out to a Wild Card spot, which we all know this current team on the field is perfectly capable of. If Dipoto wants he can just wait until the offseason and pull in one of these big free agent starters AND hold on to Bourjos if he trusts this team enough. With the trade deadline quickly catching up to us we'll know Dipoto's intentions very soon, and we'll just have to trust whatever move he makes.
Dipoto knows best.
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I just don't see Dipoto trading 4 years of Bourjos for another 10-14 starts of Cole Hamels, or any other rental pitcher. I think the Angels are counting on off-setting the effects of Wells's salary by having a starting OF of Trout, Trumbo, and Bourjos, who will make appx. $ 1.2 million next year (combined) vs. Wells at $21 million. I might take a chance on Torii next year on a year deal, but he will still get "Abreu money" of around $9 million, which would represent a 50% cut for him. I suspect what they will do is work out an extension with Haren as long as he shows he is healthy (they can probably get the SoCal discount with him that they did with Weaver and Wilson), and part ways with Hunter, Santana, and Morales.
Anyway, the only way I see Bourjos being traded is for a pitcher like James Shields, who would still be under team control through 2014 on a very reasonable contract. Per Jayson Stark, the Rays want a combination of high-end young pitchers, a young catcher, and a controllable hitter for the likes of Shields and Jeremy Hellickson. The Angels could offer Bourjos (a controllable hitter to step in for BJ Upton after he walks), Hank Conger (since it looks like Scioscia doesn't like him anyway), and Hellweg / Pena, though I suspect the Rays would demand Richards, which would probably be too much.
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Sure, Hunter is OK this season. And Wells was OK the season before he came to the Angels. When it goes, it can go fast and, do we have to say it again, Hunter will be 38 next season (happy birthday yesterday, Torii!). If he wants to hang on, come back cheaply and ride off into the sunset as a sub, that's fine. We should never expect that he can be a full-time starter for '13, as we may still see for '12. Although that little vacation he took should artificially assist him for this season. The outfield alignment, as advocated by Mr. ™, should be Trout, Bourjos and Trumbo. This is also dictated by the paucity of outfielders in the Angels' anemic farm system (although Kole Calhoun should be almost as good an all-around backup as Orlando Palmeiro was, and I don't just say that because the Kirkpatricks and my wife's Moores belong to the Calhoun clan; I wouldn't mind seeing him on the roster at all, post Hunter or Wells).
"Paucity"! Ha! That's what I get for reading Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter book series this month.