I had a nice debate with a fellow Angels fan on Sunday afternoon about whether or not it would be prudent for the Angels to consider a Bourjos for Rendon swap. It's an honest enough question and should create some disagreement among fans.
The argument in favor of "Yes"
- The Angels have been lacking that cornerstone prototypical third baseman since the days of Troy Glaus. Anthony Rendon promises to be all of that and then some. While playing at Rice, Rendon accumulated a .371 BA, .520 OBP and 52 homeruns across three years. He literally walked more than twice as often as he struck out. Rendon plays excellent defense at the hot corner and projects into the middle of a lineup. Bourjos could easily be replaced by Mike Trout, who is considered by many to be the most complete prospect in baseball. Bourjos' .293 BA in the minors suggest that his .271 BA in the majors this season is about as good as Bourjos is going to be. His stolen bases have trended downward since A Ball, so he may never steal more than 25 bases in the majors. His ability to run the bases is a redundant skill in the Angels organization as they have plenty of smaller, quick runners, but not as many complete hitters like Rendon will be.
Alberto Callaspo lacks the necessary power to be an elite third baseman, Mark Trumbo's defense may never be up to par for the position, Luis Jimenez may lack the necessary plate discipline to hit at the major league level and Kaleb Cowart is still in Rookie Ball a year and a half after being drafted in the 1st round. This system needs Rendon. He's a Top 100 prospect and before long could be an elite third baseman in the class of Evan Longoria and other great collegiate 3B that turned pro.
The argument in favor of "No"
- Peter Bourjos is the best defensive centerfielder in baseball. His range, glove and arm make every Angels pitcher better. Losing him would not only hurt the Angels outfield defense, but hurt their ability to take the extra bag and hurt the pitching staff significantly as well. The argument that Bourjos is blocking Trout is completely misguided, Trout would make a fine defensive RF or LF. In fact, Trout and Bourjos would provide so much range that the Angels pitching staff would hold a permanent advantage over any other in baseball. Is it any coincidence that as soon as Bourjos took over in CF that Angels pitchers have posted one of the top three ERA's in all of baseball? Probably not.
Peter hit .270 in his first full season of pro ball at age 24, that means there's a very good chance he could eventually become a .290 or .300 hitter in the majors, just as he was in the minors. He's fast enough to steal 50 bases a year once he learns to read a pitcher and has enough power to hit 15 or 20 homeruns a year. While Anthony Rendon is a good prospect, the Angels aren't exactly hurting for depth at third base. Alberto Callaspo is inexpensive and posted one of the top 5 "WAR" for a third baseman last year. It also looks like Mark Trumbo will be able to play some third base and the Angels have a couple of very good prospects named Luis Jimenez and Kaleb Cowart that have futures as major league third baseman. Bourjos is inexpensive and under team control for another five years.
Anthony Rendon also isn't completely healthy. His final season at Rice he experienced shouder pains and couldn't play 3B. He also managed to hit a measly 6 homeruns, which may have a lot to do with the new bats they use in college, which aren't as potent as they were in the past, much like today's wood bats. Or it may be in large part because Rendon's shoulder simply wasn't healthy and therefore he couldn't generate enough power to drive the ball. Either way it doesn't speak well of Rendon. He'll either struggle with wood bats or he isn't healthy enough to hit for power. Current Angels 1B prospect C.J. Cron experienced similar shoulder problems and was swinging the same bat as Rendon in college, yet he still managed to outhit him at Utah and continued to pound the ball with authority in Rookie Ball. This seriously call into question whether or not Rendon is as advertised. Is he healthy? Can he stay healthy? Is he even a 3B anymore? Many of these questions need to be answered before even considering such a trade.