The Angels Would Be Nuts To Trade Peter Bourjos

As noted by Mike Newman and Jim Breen this morning, a recent report out of New York suggested that the Mets would be willing to trade David Wright for Peter Bourjos (and some other stuff). I’m not going to get back into the issue of David Wright’s trade value, but I do want to point out the obvious – Bourjos is a far more valuable asset than Wright, and the Angels would have to be crazy to trade him at all.

Bourjos’ availability is only discussed because the Angels have some kid named Mike Trout, who you may have heard of, and also happens to be a pretty terrific young center fielder. If you view both as true center fielders (and you probably should), then you could argue that the Angels have a surplus of players at the position, and perhaps trading one to get an upgrade at another position would be a decent use of resources.

Of course, that’s only true in a world where center fielders can only play center field, and teams can only have one at a time. In reality, Major League teams need three outfielders per game, and there’s no rule preventing a guy with the ability of a center fielder from playing left field or right field. In fact, with players like Brett Gardner, Carl Crawford, and Ichiro Suzuki establishing themselves as legitimate assets in corner outfield spots over the last decade, teams have become more and more open to the value of having multiple center fielders playing side by side.

Peter Bourjos isn’t blocking Mike Trout, nor does Trout’s presence make Bourjos’ value to the Angels superfluous. If the Angels had some terrific corner outfielders locked up for the foreseeable future, it would be a different story, but they don’t – they have Vernon Wells and Torii Hunter.

The colossal disaster that was Vernon Wells in 2011 has been well chronicled, but less talked about is that Hunter wasn’t exactly a superstar in his own right, and he turned 36 in July. In fact, for all the talk about Bourjos’ value being tied to his defensive abilities, he and Hunter posted the exact same .765 OPS last year, and Bourjos clearly pulls ahead once you include baserunning into the equation.

Penciled into one corner OF spot, the Angels have Wells and his .248 on base percentage. In the other corner, they have a 36-year-old who wasn’t any better offensively than Bourjos a year ago, and who will be a free agent at the end of the 2012 season. These two are not blocking anyone with even a modicum of talent, much less a player like Bourjos whose skills could make him one of the game’s most exciting outfielders.

Trout is clearly the future of the Angels outfield, but his presence doesn’t invalidate what Bourjos can bring to the table, and neither Wells nor Hunter offer enough value to make Bourjos worth trading. Hunter may very well be gone in a year, and if Wells has another poor season in 2012, he could easily find himself unemployed as well.

The Angels have two good young outfielders, one aging outfielder who is coming towards the end of his usefulness, and another who may have already reached that point. Rather than viewing both Trout and Bourjos as center fielders who are getting in each other’s way, the Angels should see them as two of the three answers to their future outfield questions, and realize that they can extract a lot of value from having a pair of high quality defenders playing side by side.

The idea that teams should only have one good defensive outfielder flanked by two lumbering sluggers is just outdated. With significant money invested in extreme fly ball pitchers like Jered Weaver, the Angels have even more incentives than most teams to ensure that they have a high quality outfield defense. Having Bourjos and Trout as the anchors of their future outfields should be viewed as the team’s biggest strength, and Jerry DiPoto should be in no hurry to break it up any time soon.




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


65 Responses to “The Angels Would Be Nuts To Trade Peter Bourjos”

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  1. Brad says:

    Great read, Dave. As a Mets fan, I was very intrigued by the possibility of adding Bourjos to center field in Queens. Please don’t dash those hopes with a dose of reality.

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  2. Kyle says:

    Hell, they should just put those two in left and right center and add another infielder.

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  3. Los says:

    When I read this morning that Mets fans would likely want more for Wright because Bourjos wasn’t enough, I laughed and stopped reading. Glad to see some reality here though.

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  4. hunterfan says:

    Hmmm…

    “The Angels would be nuts to trade Peter Bourjos” ranks right up there with:

    “Angels would be nuts to trade for Vernon Wells” and
    “Angels would be nuts to deal Mike Napoli” and
    “Angels would be nuts to let Abreu’s option vest”

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  5. Greg says:

    Bourjos has a low walk rate, high K rate, and high BABIP despite a putrid LD%. Perhaps people are overestimating him.

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    • filihok says:

      According to B-R, Bourjous’ batted ball BABIPS were:
      GB .305
      FB .165
      LD .865

      That led to a .338 overall BABIP.

      Given ML average BABIPS for his batted ball profile he should have had a .294 BABIP. That leads to something like a .240/.298/.413 line.

      Given ML average BABIPS for FBs and LDs but keeping his above average GB BABIP, Bourjous would put up a line something like: .264/.321/.437

      that’s not too far from his .327/.438 actual line since he hits a lot of ground balls.

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    • AA says:

      You do realize the guy is among the fastest in baseball, right? His GBs more often go as hits than other players. Also, Anaheim Stadium is noted for its outlier LD/FB scoring.

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    • chuckb says:

      He’s going to maintain a high BABIP, in all likelihood, due to his speed. And b/c he’s such a great base runner and very good defensive player, at CF he’s at least a 3-3.5 win player going forward with 5 years of team control. That’s a ton of value! He doesn’t have to make All-Star teams or win MVPs in order to be a very valuable asset.

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    • TecJug says:

      Bourjos is only 24 with fewer than 200 major league games played. Perhaps he hasn’t peaked.

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  6. Nate says:

    As an Angels fan, I definitely don’t want to see us start trading away our young future for players clearly on the decline. As much as I’d like an upgrade over Callaspo, this isn’t the way I’d want to do it.

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  7. Eminor3rd says:

    Maybe The Angels can have Bourjos play Left-center and Trout play right-center and use and extra infielder! The next market inefficiency!

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  8. Jason says:

    I think the opposite. I think the Mets would be crazy to trade David Wright for Peter Bourjos. You are overvaluing defense and overestimating your ability to evaluate defense.

    Wright is a much more valuable player, and his value will likely increase with the new dimensions at Citi Field. …Bourjos better learn how to get on base if he wants to have a long career.

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    • Brian says:

      I think you need to cut some slack for Bourjos. The entire minor league career, suggests that Bourjos is capable of a better K/BB ratio, and batting average naturally comes with experience. I can’t guarantee Bourjos will be better than Wright, but at least he will be much cheaper.

      Also, realistically, by the time the Mets are become competitive again, David Wright will be long gone. And I’m thinking to myself, ‘would I rather have some mystery man or Peter Bourjos?”

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      • Jon L. says:

        “Batting average naturally comes with experience.”

        I don’t think batting average improves much with experience. Power may increase with age, walk rate often improves, young basestealers sometimes pick up their percentages, but batting average? It often peaks even before a player’s prime.

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  9. Perceptron says:

    Of course, this ignores the $48 (!) million that the Angels owe to Hunter, Wells, and Abreu next season. In a perfect baseball world, this doesn’t matter at all, but I’m not sure that is the case for the Angels.

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    • Ryan says:

      We only owe those three a total of 21 million in 2013. Hunter and Abreu will be gone. Trading Bourjos will make the Halos very thin in 2013 if they made such a deal.

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    • chuckb says:

      So why compound that by trading an asset w/ 5 years of team control for a guy who is owed $16 M?

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    • williams .482 says:

      This is known a a sunk cost fallacy, and It really should not be factored into their decision making. Remember, they have a new GM who does not need to worry about saving face for the old one.

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      • Antonio Bananas says:

        They should not be factored in. However, if you have X amount to spend, and you’ve already spend 9/10 of X, you don’t go and get more expensive, declining assets.

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      • The Real Neal says:

        Describing baseball players salaries as “sunk costs” is a fallacy (except when they’ve got a career ending injury and are on a guaranteed contract). If Vernon Wells, contract was really a sunk cost, he wouldn’t be playing for the Angels.

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      • Brian says:

        No, salaries are a sunk cost no matter what since they’re a past commitment. Wells getting injured in the future does not suddenly transform his salary into a sunk cost. (Hell, if he’s playing below replacement, an injury may actually improve the return on his salary!)

        They’ll pay Vernon Wells next year whether he plays, sits on the bench, or chugs beers in the clubhouse all day long. That’s the epitome of a sunk cost. Angels management would be foolish to think they have to play Wells to justify his cost.

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  10. Matt says:

    Let’s be careful we don’t overestimate Bourjos here. Yes, he’s a magnificent defender, but he’s nothing special with the bat.

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    • AA says:

      He’s good enough with the bat, and showed even more in the minors.

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      • Dunston says:

        His slash line in the minors over 5 years was .293/.346/.452 and he was remarkably consistent (outside of a slightly better year in the hitter-friendly PCL).

        Bourjos looks good, but he’s only had 745 PA in his major league career. I’m surprised that much of the community here has him rated so high.

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      • Brad Johnson says:

        Dunston, I think most everybody is considering him to be a roughly 95-105 wRC+ hitter with borderline elite defense. That’s a profile for a consistent 3.5 win player who will probably always earn considerably less than he’s worth because his skill set is traditionally undervalued.

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  11. vivalajeter says:

    This article isn’t about whether he should be traded for Wright. It’s about whether he should be traded, period. Here’s my counterpoint for why it might make sense to trade him:

    He’s the type of player that is more valuable in CF than RF. Yes, he still has value in RF – but not as much as he’d have in CF.

    With Trout (and his defense/range) in CF, it’s not quite as important to have a RF/LF with fantastic range. It’s great to have range in all three spots (obviously), but the corner outfield range just isn’t as important if you have a CF that can cover ground.

    So essentially, Bourjos just isn’t as valuable to the Angels as he might be to a team that has no good CF and lumbering corner outfielders. If a team is willing to give the return on a ‘maximized’ Bourjos, that might be worth looking into.

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    • ettin says:

      Actually I’d disagree with your statement. Having a LF and CF who have great range allows them to shift towards Left-Center and Right-Center, respectively, allowing a RF to cover the corner and shallow RF better (which Hunter did this year, along with Bourjos and Wells, with great success). It literally makes it an airtight defense and rarely will you see a fly ball drop with players like that.

      Keep Bourjos!!!!!

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  12. whoa says:

    Hunter hasn’t been THAT bad. He’s not what they expected, but at least he is still an above average player. That’s worlds better than Wells.

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    • Colin says:

      Problem is Wells has multiple years left while Hunter only has one. Which is why Hunter will probably be first out the door, he or Abreu anyway.

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      • Amish_Willy says:

        With they way Wells career has bounced from good to bad with such consistency, I’m curious if the trend will continue in 2012:

        ’06 – 129 OPS+
        ’07 – 85 OPS+
        ’08 – 122 OPS+
        ’09 – 86 OPS+
        ’10 – 125 OPS+
        ’11 – 83 OPS+

        You have a gap of 7 OPS+ in the good years and 3 OPS+ in the bad years, possibly the most consistent inconsistent player of all time? He’s turning 33 shortly so I don’t expect the trend to continue, but then again, wouln’t be surprised if he bounces back in a big way in 2012. Clearly the Angels should deal him after 2012 (eating what needs to be eaten) if the trend continues.

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  13. Bobby Ayala says:

    I see nothing here comparing the two players- only an argument that the inevitable departure/utter failure of Wells/Hunter/Abreu means the Angels have to hold on to all their other outfielders as though they’ll never be able to trade for or sign one later. Starting off by saying Bourjos is by far a more valuable asset is bizarre to me- I guess that makes sense if you’re talking about baseball in the context of a business with no actual intention of winning championships, i.e. all inexpensive players with market value are better than expensive veteran players, but if that’s the case trade everyone before their first big payday and keep cycling prospects up and out on 2-3 year stints. See: Florida Marlins.

    Wright’s offensive numbers In 389 AB last year were pretty similar to Bourjos’, and that was Wright’s worst season of his career. He’s a perennial gold-glove and silver-slugger candidate at a more premium position that the Angels have a greater need for. He plays for an uninspired team with an uninspired fanbase, and his owner happily bashes him to the media, and all the while Wright doesn’t say a thing, just keeps going out and displaying all that hard work, leadership, and team-first attitude you want to build around.

    Bourjos was a 2nd-3rd tier propsect who turned in an above average season last year; his ceiling is an above-average defender and a average bat. See: Franklin Gutierrez. A handful of players exactly like him get traded or signed every season. 28-year-old future HOF 3B don’t.

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    • ettin says:

      Bourjos is actually a great reason the Angels WILL win a championship. You seem to forget that he has game-changing speed on the base paths…. Do you even watch him play?

      He has the potential to be a 15/30+ perennial, gold glove defender for the next decade. That is worth a heck of a lot and makes a difference to a team like the Angels that have a lot of fly ball pitchers in a park that doesn’t give up homers as easily as other parks do.

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    • Preston says:

      I agree that we are taking one season of Borjous and projecting it out like he will be a 4 WAR player every season. But David Wright is no longer a future HOFer. He has become a middling 3B who appears to be physically n decline. His ability to hit for average, power and get on base seem to all be dissipating. And his defense has now become a huge liability.

      Every team has two resources to fill their roster with talent. Their minor league system and money. Bourjos has the advantage of not being a “prospect” he is an actualized product. Whether he’s a four win player or not he is a contributing MLB player. He will be a cost effective commodity for a team for five more years. Trading him for Wright is expending both your team resources to get a player who may not actually be an upgrade. Even if Wright rebounds from his poor 2011 is he really going to be 30 million dollars better than Borjous in the next two years? Plus they’re sacrificing three years of control over Borjous after that.

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    • chuckb says:

      You’re overrating David Wright spectacularly. He is a below-average defensive 3B as his 3 year UZRs demonstrate. He is a poor defensive 3B. He’s also owed $16 M and is controlled by the Mets for just 1 more year, as opposed to Bourjos’s 5.

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      • Bobby Ayala says:

        My bad. The “custom” stats on my fangraphs must have too many columns, it was leaving off the minus sign.

        Still, I’ll go ahead and call the 28-year-old 3B with 183HR and a career .300/.380/.508 line a future HOF.

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  14. Anthony says:

    Peter Bourjos=Cameron Maybin?

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  15. beastwarking says:

    I believe the Angels should make the trade because they could use such an asset in David Wright. He’s the man with things like intangibles and hustle and he hits home runs and has a nice, long list of healthiness.
    – The Mariners faithful

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  16. Michael says:

    The lofty value given to Bourjos in this article is not nearly as far off base as calling Wright a future HOFer at this point.

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  17. Eric says:

    Bourjos isnt that good but neither are the Angels ..

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  18. Eric says:

    Arte needs to sign Prince Fielder and Heath Bell, trade for a 3B and call it an offseason.. But he wont, he’ll pinch pennies like always and the angels will fail to beat Texas AGAIN

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    • TecJug says:

      The Angels had the 4th-highest payroll in baseball in 2011, trailing only the Red Sox, Phillies, and Yankees. For the last three years, they’ve been no lower than the 7th-highest payroll in all of MLB.
      Please explain how this is considered penny-pinching.

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      • vivalajeter says:

        Just another troll. Reminds me of the people who complain that the Wilpons are cheap, even though the Mets have the highest payroll in the NL over the last decade.

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  19. James says:

    They better not trade Bourjos but I hope Dipoto is smarter then that to trade him for a guy with injurys on him. If Bourjos gets traded Texas will make a offer Mets cant refuse and get him then here we go again another trade that fails the Halos again….

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  20. Carl LaFong says:

    This is a good trade for both teams. Bourjos IS ABSOLUTELY BLOCKING Trout, or at the very least will be in a year. Trout has much more power upside, but he’s not going to have enough power to play left or right. They’ll have to make a choice. They can’t compete with both of them in the outfield. The Angels desperately need a quality third bagger and are in position to trade from one of their strengths. The Mets get a quality young CF in the mold of Ellsbury, and if the arm is Chatwood they also get a stud young pitcher who throws 95 and is a gamer. He will be a strong number 2 pitcher, worse case a number 3. He has some control problems, but he’s only 21.

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    • Jross says:

      Yea I hated it when BJ was blocking Carl in CF. There was no way the Rays could contend with those 2 in the outfield.

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  21. Michael says:

    WELLS contract is blocking Trout as well as Hunter! As the author noted it would behoove the Angels to keep both young stud OF’s. Hunter is gone after this year and an under performing Wells will likely not finish out that contract with the Halos ( released in 2013?)

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  22. Syler says:

    So Bourjos is “far more valuable” because of one good season where he had a 5.7% walk rate?

    Glad to see we’re not overvaluing small sample size here.

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  23. Barbara Schriebman says:

    I agree. The Angels would be crazy to trade Peter Bourjos at all! Period end of story. Good blog.

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  24. NoHorseInThisRace says:

    One feels compelled to recall a certain Mariners squad that gambled on outfield defensive value trumping all other factors. It did not work out.

    Bourjos is exciting, including with offensive potential, but Wright has put up too much for too long to be dismissed this quickly at age 29. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle of this article, these comments, and Sandy Alderson’s brain.

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  25. Drew says:

    I’m surprised to hear so many people overrating Bourjos’ speed. Yes, he’s fast, but he cost the Angels runs with his stolen base attempts (he was well below the breakeven rate of 75%). All things considered, he was 2 runs better than David Wright last season on the basepaths. Bourjos is almost certainly more valuable than Wright, but only because he will be so cheap for the next five years. His MLEs the last several years were no great shakes. OLIVER projects a .306 OBP from Bourjos next year, which is nothing to write home about. I wouldn’t trade Bourjos for Wright, but I would certainly trade him to a team that thinks he is going to be a 4-5 win player for the next several seasons.

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    • vivalajeter says:

      Yeah, there’s a lot of overrating going on. I love the modern day stats, and it’s great to be able to quantify aspects that were completely subjective in the 90′s, but still…. We’re starting to go downhill when someone like Peter Bourjos is deemed untouchable.

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  26. Steper says:

    Finally, a writer who gets it! No way should the Angels trade either of these two young studs. All this foolishness about trading one of them is shear stupidity. There’s only a few names I would even give a moments thought to receiving in exchange for either of them, Joe Mauer, Evan Longoria, Brice Harper. And frankly, I’m not sure I would do either of them for Harper.

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  27. Brendan says:

    Was just looking up Borjous’ past stats, and this article popped up. How much things change in a year. haha.

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  28. Joe says:

    This article and everyone that commented on it now look like a crowd of complete morons. Bourjos is one of the lightest hitting players in the league while Wright is a bonafide MVP-caliber player.

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  29. Derp-A-Durrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr says:

    What a bunch Of donks

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