URL Weaver: Bourn to Lose

Sadly, no team chases Michael Bourn with the enthusiasm of Orlando Cabrera

They used to call Scott Boras “Mr. January.” Boras would analyze the market for a few of his clients than hold one or two back, allowing the supply to dwindle as demand rose. The rules of the new Collective Bargaining make it tougher for Boras to play it this way, argues Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports.

The shifting sands of free agency might just have left Boras clients like Adam Laroche, Rafael Soriano and Michael Bourn out in the cold. Improbable, considering the strength of those track records. Many teams could benefit from adding any one member of that trio, yet the most prominent team attached to Michael Bourn doesn’t really need him at all.

Atlanta Braves general manager Frank Wren took to the airwaves this weekend to express an ever-charitable opinion: the Braves aren’t shut off to the idea of bringing Michael Bourn back to Atlanta. Important provisos such as “for the right deal” and “we haven’t spoken with him” drench the idea in cold water but, having just signed B.J. Upton to an incredibly lucrative free agent contract, it is an interesting proposition for the Barves.

Wren went on to say that he would only consider Bourn to play left field in Atlanta, an understandable position considering how much they just paid Upton to be their CF. Do either of those two center fielders hit enough to play left field every day?

Bourn is best known as a burner, a base stealing threat with little power who takes away hits with his feet and creates extra bases for himself the very same way. Upton is a speedster himself but his offensive profile is one of a power hitter, thanks to his “boom or bust” contact rate.

The average left fielder in baseball posted a 103 wRC+ in 2012, meaning the average left fielder is a slightly better than league-average hitter. The average wRC+ for center field is lower, 101 last year. Both Bourn and Upton are more than capable of posting above-average offensive numbers. Upton is a career 110 wRC+ hitter while Bourn is less proficient, registering 99 wRC+ over the last three years.

Fortunately, this talk is more about the casual ego massaging required a baseball general manager than fitting these players together in a cogent outfield. Wren isn’t about to go on satellite radio and tell the listening world how much he prefers some other guy to be his center fielder over the guy he just handed seventy million bucks.

If, by some miracle, the Barves found the money to re-sign Bourn and ended up with an outfield of B.J. Upton, Michael Bourn, and Jason Heyward – they’d survive. How ever much offense Bourn/Upton “give back” in left is surely made up for by their defense and the overwhelming awesomeness of Jason Heyward. Unlikely as it might be, Barves fans can dream on that elite outfield.

And the rest

The Marlins have not even discussed trading Giancarlo Stanton internally, we’re told. Thank goodness, said exactly nobody. [Miami Herald]

The top ten Diamondbacks prospects. Weird that the Derek Jeter guy only ranks fifth. They must have a good system. [Baseball Prospectus]

An oral history of Nick Punto sliding into first base. Yup. Get money! [Twinkie Town]

The latest on Darren Oliver. Cue ostensibly working-class people siding with billion dollar corporations. [DJF}

Justin Upton isn't just a creation of his home park. [Fangraphs]

Lance Berkman is now a Texas Ranger. Salt and pepper comes free of charge. [Getting Blanked]

JAWS goodies on the best players at each position not in the Hall of Fame [Hit and Run]

Buster Olney’s top ten bullpens in the game. Betcha can’t guess number one!! [ESPN Insider]

Comments (18)

  1. That Nick Punto oral history is absolute gold.

  2. You guys are like a dog with a bone on straw-man Monkey Army narratives.

      • I think he means the Oliver/Rogers thing (and I agree with him).

        There are very legitimate reasons not to like the Oliver holdout, not all of which have anything to do with wishing Rogers to retain money.

        • I think holdout isn’t even an accurate description of the situation. I’m simply not of the opinion that what Oliver is doing warrants any criticism.

          • Then why the “cue the…” intro? Sure gives the impression that’s how you feel about those being critical.

            • That is how I feel about those who offer nothing more than kneejerk “HE’S GREEDY!” reaction.

              • Isn’t that the same thing as saying “it’s not your money, so who cares that a free agent is overpaid”? Payrolls are not infinite.

                • No. This isn’t Jose Bautista waking up tomorrow and deciding he needs to be paid better. It is unique.

                • I recognize that this card can only be played by someone truly willing to retire, but that doesn’t make it less greedy. Oliver made a decision regarding his value in 2013 when he signed the contract and AA made his decisions accordingly.

                • It’s shrewd, but definitely greedy.

      • As though the only objection to the Oliver situation is one in which those opposed simply side with a super rich corporation.

        Not to rehash – but there is an exceptionally rational argument on the basis of contractual convention in both professional sports and in the “regular” working world to understand why one wouldn’t just see this as a guy who’s just trying to get his fair share. In both cases, Oliver’s agent (at least) crossed a line of sorts. But the reaction on here and DJF has been focused solely on those who jump to an emotional “fuck him” response.

        Not all of us came out against Oliver simply on the basis of blind acceptance of Rogers, or emotion. I work with contractors all day long – and although some have occasionally tried the same type of tactic – it has worked precisely zero times. I don’t really even care whether Oliver comes back or whether AA plays outside the lines on this one – but it is weird that both here and at DJF you guys seem to latch onto the false premise that you either support Oliver or are a mouth breathing, corporate zealot. I’m all for people trying to get paid, and he’s well within his rights to retire – but there is a conventional framework under which contracts in MLB are executed – and Oliver (or maybe just his agent) finds himself on the wrong side of the debate.

        • Just because the other negotiating party is rich doesn’t mean Oliver is not being greedy.

          • Exactly, though I’m not even sure its greedy – I can’t think of a contractor that I know that doesn’t want more money. That is all of us. But when a contract is signed there are provisions for the cancellation or amendment of the agreement with the consent of both parties. Otherwise – the deal is the deal.

            This isn’t simply one side trying to use leverage in the same way a GM would in bargaining with a young player. This is a guy with a negotiated contract for 2013 trying to change it midstream because circumstances have changed and he now thinks he has value that he didn’t realize when he had the choice in early 2012. A total bummer for him – but not really a case for breaking the deal which he signed which at the time was as much in his favour as anyone in MLB was willing to give.

  3. If people haven’t seen this at fangraphs – check it – it is entertaining.

    A story about the 3 stolen bases last season – by pitchers. Each one of them hilarious in their own way. http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/pitcher-theft-in-2012-an-examination/

  4. How does the whole retirement thing work with Oliver? If he retires, how soon can he unretire? Can a player retire to get away from one team and play for another in other words? I’m just thinking of the whole Clemens multiple un-retirements issue.

  5. As one of those contractors always trying to get more cash, I would only leverage a client by not honoring my contract ala Oliver if the job was absolute shit and i didn’t respect the client one iota. Otherwise you can’t in good faith do something like this. Doesn’t mean my thought process is Oliver’s but it makes me question what Oliver really thinks of the jays.

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