Change The Angels In The Outfield

Last night, the Rangers beat the Angels 3-2 to push their lead in the AL West to six games. They did so, in large part, because Anaheim’s outfield defense is atrocious. Even Jered Weaver couldn’t hide his frustration with the fielding ability of the guys playing behind him, saying the following:

“Some things didn’t go my way there in the sixth inning or it could have been a little different game. We could be playing right now.”

“Obviously, (Vladimir Guerrero) hustled out there and turned what I thought was a single into a double.”

On Josh Hamilton‘s double, Weaver stated that he “popped a changeup up.” Torii Hunter was a bit more direct, saying “Some balls dropped that probably shouldn’t have dropped.”

The misplays in the outfield isn’t a new problem for the Angels. On any given night, they have two of Juan Rivera, Bobby Abreu, and Hideki Matsui in the outfield, and none of them are exactly range monsters. Matsui can barely move at this point in his career, and as Guerrero showed last night, Abreu’s arm doesn’t scare anyone anymore either. Anaheim’s outfield defense is a big problem.

If they want to give themselves a chance to run down Texas, they should consider a drastic move – call up Peter Bourjos from Triple-A and play him everyday. Ideally, he would get to run around center field, but I’m sure that Hunter wouldn’t take that well, so they would have to settle for putting him in in a corner. Even there, Bourjos would still be such a huge defensive upgrade for the Angels that it’s worth trying.

Whether Bourjos will hit in the majors is still a question mark. He doesn’t have much power or a great approach at the plate, but he’s extremely fast and a pretty decent bunter. His upside is probably that of Juan Pierre, but right now, the Angels could use a guy like that.

Rivera and Abreu could split time between one OF spot and DH, limiting the damage the three statues can do to the pitching staff. And, at the same time, the Angels would get a chance to look at part of their future, since there’s a pretty decent chance that they’re not catching the Rangers this year anyway. Instead of trading for a first baseman, the best move the Angels can make is probably an internal one. I know Mr. Weaver would certainly appreciate the help.

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Dave is a co-founder of and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.

17 Responses to “Change The Angels In The Outfield”

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  1. Hermie13 says:

    I said this about a month ago….but IMO Austin Kearns makes a ton of sense in the short term for the Angels.

    Only has around $350K or so left on his deal so fits into any team’s budget. Won’t take a big player (if any) to get either. His defense is down some this year but overall pretty solid. Not a bad bench bat to have around too if you’re trying to catch the Rangers.

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  2. another know it all says:

    I like the idea of Bourjos playing LF everyday, but I think you are selling his hitting ability short. I think the Juan Pierre comp is a bad one. Good stuff tho. I’d like to see them try this. Would be interesting to see how it plays out.

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  3. jGreen says:

    I know he’s not ready, but that OF defense would look a lot better with Mike Trout in CF.

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  4. Mike says:

    Someone should tell Jered Weaver he will go back to being a mediocre baseball player after this fluke season is over before he calls out any more teammates.

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  5. TheQuestforMerlin says:

    Agree with your conclusions. However to nit-pick…

    “Whether Bourjos will hit in the majors is still a question mark. He doesn’t have much power or a great approach at the plate, but he’s extremely fast and a pretty decent bunter. His upside is probably that of Juan Pierre, but right now, the Angels could use a guy like that.”

    He may at this point be a question mark to hit in the majors, nor have a great approach to the plate (although he is showing up well this month) he most definitely has more power potential than a Juan Pierre.

    Juan Pierre had a SLG% 393 and 1 HR during the minors.
    Peter Bourjos has a SLG% 443 and 34 HR during the minors (with 9 HR’s and 12 3b’s this year).

    Basic rate stats, I know, but they illustrate the difference. Nevertheless, the Angels could do with Bourjos and his defense in the outfield.

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  6. Sean says:

    So your outfield and DH consist of Bourjos, Hunter, Abreu, and Rivera. Where does Matsui fit into this?

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    • Rally says:

      How about, “he doesn’t”?

      Personally, I’d like to say I’ve seen the last of Matsui and Rivera. I can live with Abreu riding out his last year and a half with the team as a DH.

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    • David says:

      Salary dump. I could imagine, for instance, the Orioles trading some junk for Matsui and eating his salary, especially if they trade Tejada, Scott and/or Wigginton. Matsui’s a hell of a lot better than seeing Corey Patterson as the DH…

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  7. Scottathan says:

    Bourjos is hitting .300 in AAA and would immediately be the fastest player in MLB. His approach isn’t great, but he hits the ball, steals bases and is a superior defender. His time will come in 2011. Matsui will be gone, Abreu will be forced into the DH role, Rivera will move to rF because of his great arm, Hunter will accept that he’s 35 years old and move to LF and Bourjos will go to CF. Morales will be back at 1B, and the Angels will more than likely be a better team in 2011 than they were in 2010.

    We all saw it comin. 2010 was “transition” year. Hunter would become too old for CF, Abreu would become too old for RF, adding Matsui didn’t help. The only thing the Angels did right was sign Joel Pineiro, who has outperformed John Lackey at a fraction of the price.

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  8. kevin says:

    Nobody’s afraid of Abreu’s arm anymore? Abreu has 5 assists on the season. Last night was a fluke. Gurrero got to second because no one thought he would try for second. He sure as hell didn’t (couldn’t) run worth a damn when he played for the Angels.

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  9. TK says:

    I realize you’re focusing more on this year but I really think the Angels will outspend everybody to get Carl Crawford in the offseason. He just fits with their organizational approach and they’ve got the money to spend. They can’t be happy with Aybar as their leadoff guy relative to what Figgins offered, and Crawford would be a huge defensive upgrade on Rivera.

    I would guess Trout’s about a year away from pushing Abreu to DH.

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  10. Rally says:

    Way to go Dave, once again showing your Mariner bias and anti-Angel…wait a minute! This makes sense! Too much sense! :-)

    Bourjos is righthanded, and has some pop in his bat (9 HR and 12 triples right now) so I’d prefer a different comp than Pierre. How about Doug Glanville? Won’t walk, could hit .270 to .300, just enough power that you have to respect him, great speed and defense.

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    • Dave Cameron says:

      Sure, that works. The comparison player was a throwaway line in the post, and you’re right, that’s a better one. Same general idea, though.

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      • Rally says:

        I really need to add a player comp feature to my projection system. I just do these off the top of my head. I really like the Bourjos – Glanville one, as much as I can tell their strengths and weaknesses match perfectly.

        I don’t know if Bourjos plays a Dwarven Paladin in World of Warcraft though.

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  11. jrogers says:

    Can any of those poor defenders (Rivera, maybe?) play a passable 1B? That would make a good move in conjunction with the Bourjos callup.

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  12. brianS says:

    But Eye-Eye is a Gold Glover!!!111one111!!!!!

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