Angels Should Not Trade Peter Bourjos
There are a lot of words that can describe me. Awkward, creepy, bearded, not-matching, curvaceous, thick-thighed, and devilishly handsome obviously are the most common adjectives. Looping these in with the countless amount of expletives muttered under-the-breath about my bad jokes (What do you call a bear with no teeth? A gummy bear!) and the not-so-under-the-breath expletives about my driving ability ( I drive as well as Kendrys “I’m Bringing the S Back” Morales runs), I have been depicted in a multitude of very distinct ways.
One of the very few words in the English language that I have never been called, however, is “tidy.” If you ask my mom about how I cleaned my room growing up, she would paint you a very vivid picture of my “dirty clothes” pile, my “clean clothes” pile, and my “I really don’t know if this is clean or dirty, so I’ll just smell it later” pile littered across my bedroom floor. Then she would tell you about the hundreds of empty hangers in my closet just steps away from these piles. Then she would tell you an adorably cute story about the time I rounded second base and headed to left field after hitting my first triple in little league. Then she would show you baby pictures of me (to those of you that will, someday, see these pictures, just remember that real babies have curves). Then she would start crying about how I am not a baby anymore. It is usually at this point that any prospective girlfriend looks at me, frightened in the eyes, and says, “I don’t think this is going to work out.” Then I actually start crying because I’ll realize that I’ll never be able to have a good relationship with an attractive woman because of one story about one confused moment rounding second. THIRD BASE IS VERY ELUSIVE!
I got sidetracked. I apologize. If I can remember correctly, the point I was trying to make is that I am not, nor have I ever been, a tidy person. My car is so messy you should probably wipe your feet before you get out, so you don’t get the pavement dirty. I have to clean my room once a month just to remember that I do, surprisingly enough, still have carpet. The untidiness started at home with my mom, and as I’ve grown older, has now been imposed upon my very patient roommate. Same cleaning tactics and abilities, just a different zip code. What makes this situation even worse for my roommate is that she is, in fact, a she. While I’m poisoning the house with the smells of a real man, she is busy placing candles in strategic places throughout the condo to mask the gaseous remnants of the Taco Bell I had earlier in the day. Taking a tour of the condo, one will notice that at the top of the stairs you will reach two doors. To the left, the door will be closed, yet a Pigpen from Charlie Brown-like cloud of dirt will surround the door handle and escape from underneath the door. If you turn right, your nose will be surrounded with the amazing essence of the entire store of Bath and Body Works. Lucky for us, our neighbors, and all of our friends, the overwhelming smell in the house is, somehow, hers and not mine.
My roommate and I have known each other for a long time, but I do not think anything in her life could have prepared her for the depths of my untidiness. My mom, dad, sisters, four month old nephew and two cats all tried to warn her beforehand, but she did not heed their advice. Now she is stuck with me as her roommate, and everything that comes with it. Every time she finds my lucky boxers (they’re candy canes!) on the kitchen table after a wild night of laundry, every time I leave a bowl of Cap N Crunch on the living room table with King of Queens still on the TV, and every time I tell her I have funny feelings for a girl based on her Twitter avatar (but SHE retweeted ME!), I’m sure she curses the day she agreed to this. In short, I am Brandon Wood and she is the Angels, except she cannot designate me for assignment. She’s stuck with me striking out four times a game.
Another Angels metaphor I liken our situation to, is that of Peter Bourjos. When we first started living together, I was awesome. I was cleaning toilet bowls, I kept to myself, I vacuumed. I was Bob freaking Vila. It was during this time that my roommate grew comfortable living with me. Why wouldn’t she? We were in the honeymoon stage of our co-inhabitance.
Peter Bourjos was awesome in 2011, when he started living with the Angels. He hit for average (.271) , he hit for moderate power (.438 slugging percentage), he played exceptional defense in center field (4 errors in 1269 innings). He was Darin freaking Erstad in 1998. It was during this time that we, as a fan base, grew comfortable with the idea of him being our everyday centerfielder. Why wouldn’t we? We were in the honeymoon stage of our relationship with him.
The honeymoon stage with my roommate and I ended abruptly, however. I started eating Taco Bell. I started leaving the toilet seat up. I started watching Manswers with her. It was during this stage that my roommate is probably counting the days until her lease is up. Why wouldn’t she? I turned from being Bob Vila into being Al Bundy.
**Fun game to play while watching Manswers: Take a shot every time the narrator comes up with a different word for the word “boobs.”**
The honeymoon stage with Peter Bourjos and Angels fans ended abruptly as well. He started not hitting for average (.216). He has not hit for power (.278 slugging percentage). Even when Vernon Wells going down with an injury for four months, Peter Bourjos lost his job as a starting outfielder in the major leagues. Angels fans are counting the days until Bourjos is either traded or sent down to the minors. And why wouldn’t we? He turned from being Darin Erstad into being Reggie Willits.
This is where the similarities stop. The smart thing for my roommate to do is probably be on the next train out of the condo. The smart thing for the Angels to do? Give Peter Bourjos a contract extension and continue their living situation. Even if Peter does leave the toilet seat up.
I will give you a minute to come back to the computer after you probably flailed your arms in the air calling me crazy. Wait for it. Alright. Peter Bourjos has turned into the red headed little freckly brother of his much superior older brother, Mike Trout. No offense to all my ginger readers. He has become so subservient to Trout that his value has diminished to the point of the Angels actually having a John Lannan for Peter Bourjos rumor floating around the mill. The same John Lannan who gives up 13 base runners per every 9 innings for his career. For comparison, that is the same amount of base runners per game Ervin Santana is giving up this year. Yikes. The same John Lannan who has an ERA over 5 this year…in Triple A. The Mike Trout effect has taken our little love affair with Bourjos and turned him into, allegedly, John Lannan. That’s like my roommate trading me for the neighborhood creep. Neither Bourjos nor I have much to offer, but we are, at the very least, a step up above John Lannan and the neighborhood creep
Somebody with a lot more tools to offer than Peter Bourjos is Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles. One of those tools is having lots and lots of money, as he recently signed a seven year, 92 million dollar extension keeping him in Baltimore until 2018. For having such a generic name, Adam Jones sure does have a lot of money. However, in Jones’ first full season in the majors, he posted a very Bourjos-like stat line: .270/.311/.400 triple slash with 9 homeruns, 21 doubles, 7 triples, 23 walks and 108 strikeouts. Bourjos’ first year in the majors: .271/.327/.438 triple slash with 12 homeruns, 26 doubles, 11 triples, 32 walks, and 124 strikeouts. They both played exceptional defense as well. As you can see, Bourjos and Jones were very similar in the first full year in the bigs. In fact, Bourjos was actually better than Jones in all of the counting stats (note that Bourjos did play in 15 more games than Jones).
In all reality, Peter Bourjos is not Adam Jones. Bourjos had his breakout year at age 24, while Jones had his at age 22. Jones was drafted in the first round; Bourjos was drafted in the tenth round. Bourjos’ main skill is his defensive prowess, while Jones’ value relies much on his bat. Had the Orioles extended Jones after his rookie season, in all likelihood, he would have not cost them 92 million dollars. As the story goes, Baltimore waited until after three more years of steady improvement from Jones, including his breakout 25 homerun, 53 extra base hit year of 2011 to sign him. These three years probably cost the Orioles upwards of 40 million dollars. In other words, these three years cost the Orioles the same amount it would take to feed Prince Fielder for six months. The Orioles waited until Adam Jones’ value was at its apex, instead of understanding the skill set he possessed earlier and locking him up for cheaper. Even Akon was locked up sooner than Adam Jones.
This is the chance the Angels have now with, as lonely female Angels fans call him; Gorgeous Bourjos (look at his eyes, OMG! #SingleGirlProblems). By his performance in 2011, the club has seen what Bourjos is capable of. Yet, his performance in the early part of 2012 gives the Angels a window of opportunity where his value has suddenly plummeted. Don’t worry; this window is much cleaner than the one in my kitchen. Is he capable of hitting .270 with 11 homeruns at the major league level consistently? Probably not. But, is he better than his .216 batting average and zero power production of this year? The smart money would say he is. Even if he falls somewhere in between the two, at around a .250 batting average with 35 extra base hits and 15 stolen bases per year, a centerfielder with his defensive excellence is an extremely rare commodity and immensely valuable part of a major league team. Especially when you consider the longest contract of any Angels pitcher belongs to an extreme fly ball pitcher, Jered Weaver. Do you think Weaver would like to look behind him and see both Trout and Bourjos covering hundreds of feet at a time for the next five years? I would venture to guess Jered would reply with an emphatic “yes” and a fist pump. Jered Weaver is a scary guy; you don’t want to be on the wrong side of that fist pump.
I do not know what dollar amount the value of Peter Bourjos is at the moment. I do realize, however, that his value is significantly lower than it was last year, and probably lower than it ever will be. Peter Bourjos’ value is probably lower than James Earl Jones’ voice. With the current financial structure of the team, having big money contracts guaranteed to Vernon Wells, Albert Pujols, Jered Weaver, and CJ Wilson, the Angels need to start spending smarter. This means doing things like signing Bourjos, Trout, and maybe even Mark Trumbo to long term deals before they reach a dollar amount of no return. Yes, I said it, even sign Mark Trumbo.
Bourjos is eligible for free agency after the end of his age 30 season, so any contract longer than the one Baltimore gave to Jones is too long. In addition, signing players to long term contracts whose main skill is based around their speed is also dangerous, because once they lose that extra step, they become borderline replacement level players. See: Figgins, Chone. Yet, I do think it is reasonable to sign him to a 6 year deal right now. Like I said, I do not know how the market values defensively great players with questionable bat skills, so I will not even estimate the how many dollars it would take to lock him up. I do know, though, that it would probably be worth every penny. And that contract would definitely still leave Prince Fielder hungry.
In conclusion, this is a plea from Bourjos to the Angels, and from me to my roommate: Dear Angels Organization (beautiful, wonderful roommate), if you keep me around, I promise, I will become a contributing member of this outfield (household). Just, please, sign me long term right now (don’t ditch me yet), and I will prove to you I’m worth every penny (bottle) of money you spend (Windex we will buy). Thank you, and sorry I struck out yesterday (drank all of your beer yesterday). Have a good day.
Originally published June 2012.