The Astros have a couple of speedsters on the team, and with how the team is currently set up, playing them both regularly is just not a likely scenario. Michael Bourn and Jason Bourgeois boast the same skill set to a certain extent, and unless we start playing with four center fielders or trade Carlos Lee (haha… still gets me laughing thinking that’s possible) we letting a clock tick on a skill that is time precious: speed.
With two straight years of gold gloves and back to back campaigns of leading the NL in steals, Michael Bourn shows that he is here to stay and should be in the conversation when you discuss “best center fielders” in the game today. While being on pace to score more than 100 for the first time in his career and collecting more than 60 stolen bases for the second time in his career, Bourn has stayed consistent longer than other speedsters. Speed, fielding, and decent plate discipline is something that comes along seldom in the same package, but when a player has that, he is worth more to the team than most realize. A catalyst, Bourn turns singles into doubles and can generate offense without someone even swinging a bat.
Atlanta is a team that is licking at the chops to pick up a player to boost their outfield and speed on the base paths while trying to stay alive in a pennant chase. With players like Nate McLouth and Jason Heyward on the DL and little depth in the outfield, Atlanta could use a run generating speedster to add some life to a team that could find themselves on vacation in October when they are ready to win now. McLouth has not done what most thought he would do (be respectable hitter that can bulk up the middle of the order), but he is only making $7 million on the year. Though that is a lot to some ball clubs, it is better to count your losses in Atlanta and give the fans of Turner field something to look forward to as the post season looms closer in closer. So why Bourn? The Tomahawks rank dead last in the majors in steals with 15 and find themselves in the bottom 10 teams when it comes to run production. Bourn would be a player that would instantly help their offense, but also bolsters their defense as well. On a team that relies heavily on pitching, upgrading your defense can’t hurt, and this would be far from a lateral move.
Bourn is only due $4 million dollars this year and built for MMP, but you would have to imagine the Astros would be looking to add some depth to a lack luster farm system if the price is right. Atlanta finds themselves rich in relief talent, and could possibly package a deal that makes Ed Wade look smart. But how can you look smart if you are trading away what appears to be one of the few worthy players of a dismal ball team? Cue Jason Bourgeois.
At just one year older than Bourn (Jason-29, Bourn-28), Bourgeois is a player that sustains the same talent as Bourn when he has played in 2011, but doesn’t have the same track record. Yet to have a full season in the majors, Bourgeois has a history of low batting averages and suitable to only pinch run, but 2011 has been a different story. With 12 stolen bases in limited action, Bourgeois shines on the 90 foot gaps between the bases. Sure, it is a small sample size, but look at the possibilities. If the Astros are able to make a lateral move by trading Bourn and letting Bourgy play in front of Tal’s Hill, then they could improve themselves where they need it most: the farm and the bullpen.
Suitors will be calling about Bourn. The question is whether or not we respond. If we have faith that Bourgeois is for real this season, then we could hit pay dirt. If not… well we at least improved our future because the present is already an after thought.