Quick reaction as the Cards complete a trade with The Angels that sends David Freese and Fernando Salas to the LA for Peter Bourjos and a minor league hitter by the name of Randal Grichuk. Right as I finished 24/7 on HBO of the Pacquiao/Rios fight, I was bombarded with tweets, alerts and updates that had this trade was being sent down to print. Here is my instant reaction. Like it or not. Take it or leave it. It’s coming your way now.
I like the deal all around. I like Bourjos and his defensive ability in center field and the fact that he brings an element of speed to this lineup. Since the Cards may be out of the running on Elvis Andrus, Bourjos brings that speed factor we need. This guy stole 22 bases 2 years ago and can do it again. In limited duty, he was 6-6 in thefts last year. Sure, he won’t drive in as many runs as Jon Jay but he is a defensive upgrade over the previous Cards center field incumbent. Peter Bourjos is a relatively young player at 26 years old and can boost our outfield. With Carlos Beltran gone, the team needs a defensive minded player out there who can take control. Bourjos has a better arm than Jay and a lot better range. In 2011, he slapped 11 triples in 147 games and hit .271. His first three seasons have been injury filled, and last year he only played 55 games so there is a risk there. However, Bourjos, when healthy, is a good player. His 4.8 WAR(wins above replacement) in 2011 was among the league leaders and something to look at. It’s shameful to think he can’t repeat what he did in 2011.
He isn’t going to light up the scoreboard or knock homers out of Busch but he is a player that will easily fit in the Cardinals mold and bring a different element to this team. He isn’t perfect and did strike out 124 times in 2011 but he has an upside that can’t be ignored. What does this do for Jon Jay? That isn’t a really important question. Jay could stay on as a bench player/backup OF or go elsewhere to start. The bigger question is, what role do the Cards have prescribed for Bourjos? Is he an everyday player or a supplemental player? Does this mean Oscar Taveras is being targeted for RF or will he share CF with this new Cardinal? Does the trade keep Allen Craig at lB if Oscar goes to right field? And if so, where does Matt Adams go. Surely, John Mozeliak said in September that he doesn’t want Adams blocked anymore. Mo wants the big man to get 500-600 at bats. The question is…does he want to see that in a Cards uniform or another uniform? Is Adams in play for a shortstop? The Bourjos acquisition opens things up.
Freese could rebound and replicate the 2012 season he had or he could sink further down the rabbit hole into a platoon position. Getting out of his pressure packed hometown that can’t get Game 6 of the 2011 World Series out of its head will help. Freese joins Albert Pujols out in LA and may carve a new name for himself that won’t affect us unless the teams meet in the World Series. If he rebounds, good for him. He was a great return investment on the Jim Edmonds trade and exceeded expectations. Could the Cards have gotten more for Freese? Yes and no. It’s hard to tell. The most important thing is that Freese needed a new spot and The Cards got a valuable piece in return. Freese can now get a full serving of AL West pitching and see where he lands. I truly do wish him well.
Salas was becoming a hard contact pitcher and may see a rebirth or demise in the dangerous American League grounds. I couldn’t care less about him. He was washed up.
More details and takes will come out. I am sure they will involve more numbers than mine but what I am giving here is my instant analysis. I like Bourjos and I like that the outfield gets a defensive boost and the lineup gets a little speed. Freese departing is a little sad because of what he did here and how far I thought he could travel up in the ranks of third basemen but most sports feel good stories don’t end well. Sometimes they wrap up bittersweet.
This also moves Matt Carpenter back to third base and hopefully moves the speedy defensive wizard Kolten Wong into second base. Along with Bourjos and Oscar, Wong could help transform this Cards lineup into something fierce and quick. I am excited about what this trade has brought the Cards and the minor leaguer we received is basically filler but promising nonetheless. A 5 year pro who is only 22 who bashed 22 HR in AA ball last year.
As the least, the Bourjos acquisition is intriguing because of how it sets up the Cards moving forward and how it improved our center field defense.
Until the next bit of news drops, I am out of here.
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