May 23, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels short stop Maicer Izturis (13) jumps over Oakland Athletics designated hitter Jonny Gomes (31) during the second inning at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE

Trade Target: Peter Bourjos (and Maicer Izturis)

Last night the Tigers dropped another Verlander start that they needed to win while the White Sox mauled the Yankees to go 5 games up on Detroit. It’s looking grim again. The Tigers are still seen as ‘buyers’, but barring a nice win streak before the break any deal really ought to be made with a view to 2013 in addition to a 2012 run.

Jun 19, 2012; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels center fielder Peter Bourjos (25) beats a throw to San Francisco Giants second baseman Ryan Theriot (5) to steal second base in the eighth inning in the interleague game at Angel Stadium. The Angels defeated the Giants 12-5. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

We all know that the Tigers as a team do not hit as well as they should. In particular they have not been hitting lefties well – note that they roughed up James Shields but not David Price and both of those guys are quality starters. People imagine that their pitching staff must not be all that great – but really I think it is. The problem there is a defense which might, just might, wind up the second-worst overall since they started keeping these “advanced metrics” in 2003. A full EIGHT wins below average on defense alone. Should it be hard to field a defense only slightly below average? Especially when you’re getting little if any offense from a bunch of those positions?

SO. My next crackpot scheme to improve the Detroit Tigers revolves around giving the team the outfield defense that a team playing in Comerica Park always needed and not attempting to find the Tigers more homers, a second baseman or a veteran 5th starter. According to rumors circulated by Jayson Stark re-circulated by Ben Nicholson-Smith at MLBTR, the Angels are willing to part with Peter Bourjos – since he has lost playing time to Trumbo and Trout and the Angels really need some good relievers. I noted in my Angels preseason analysis that the Angels bullpen looked like the team’s one big weak spot and nothing has happened to change that. Their bullpen ERA looks alright, but their xFIP and WPA numbers don’t. As a unit they are 8-9 with only 18 saves in 27 chances.

At the plate, Bourjos is basically Austin Jackson – he’s a right-handed triples hitter that relies on a high BABIP for success because he strikes out too much. The big difference would be that as the two have developed (both are currently in their 3rd major league season) Jackson has started taking significantly more walks while Bourjos has hit a few more home runs. All in all, Jackson currently looks like the better all-around hitter. They aren’t just similar hitters, though – both Jackson and Bourjos are exceptional defensive center fielders – with Bourjos a +2 win defender by UZR/150. What team would want two Austin Jacksons? Well… maybe a team with two center fields? For all intents and purposes, that’s what left amounts to in Comerica Park.

I have my doubts that Bourjos is actually much better than his .660 OPS so far this year – in addition to the strikeouts, he gets popped up too often and hits too few line drives. He can get infield hits, bunt for hits and steal bases – but he will never walk enough to be a genuine top of the order hitter. BUT… the whole ‘point’ of dealing for Bourjos isn’t an offensive upgrade over Brennan Boesch or Delmon Young. The ‘point’ is to get a player that can do what Brett Gardner has been doing for the New York Yankees: single-handedly make an awful defense mediocre. If he can be a replacement level hitter as a left-fielder (and his ceiling is much higher than that) his glove will make him a 3-win player. Boesch, on the other hand, will wind up 2 wins below replacement level if he keeps playing and doesn’t turn things around. With Bourjos in left (batting 9th), Berry/Raburn/Dirks would man right with Boesch (all of my plans include this in the end) in Toledo or dealt. Again – this isn’t a plan to make the Tigers offense significantly better – this is a plan to help the Tigers actually win those low-scoring games.

Of course, the Angels are a good team in a big market in the thick of the playoff hunt – they aren’t going to be interested in Rob Brantly or Alex Burgos. They want to win now, and so the cost that the Angels would require might wind up being one that would do damage to the Tigers 2012 playoff chances: quality major league relief pitchers. The first thing that jumped to my mind when I read that was “Jose Valverde, maybe?” Valverde is probably not going to be around here in 2013, so the Tigers need to be planning for that anyway – whether there is an immediate closer in the wings or not. He hasn’t been stellar this season, but he was last year and that might be enough for the Angels to figure that he could help. Besides, Al Alburquerque should be back in a few weeks and should help hold things together. A half-season of Valverde might not be enough to bring Bourjos and the other guy I feel the Tigers could stand to part with, Phil Coke*, would swing that three-man trade too far in the Angels favor. Perhaps they could be persuaded to include infield reserve Maicer Izturis?

A switch-hitter with solid OBP and above average defense at second, short or third. He’s also a free agent after the season (who the Tigers should be chasing anyway) and blocked at every position by guys the Angels will be committed to in 2013. If they felt that they would need a replacement for that spot on the roster, I’d be willing to include Danny Worth without a second thought.

SO… my idea comes down to a 5-man deal: Peter Bourjos and Maicer Izturis for Jose Valverde, Phil Coke and Danny Worth. Tigers fans (and bloggers) feel free to let me know how the Tigers would never agree to this. Angels fans (and bloggers) feel free to let me know how the Halos would never agree to this. If both sides feel burned, it’s probably a fair trade.

*I’m aware – few other Tigers’ fans are willing to part with Phil Coke for any reasonable price. I love Coke too – but I would have no problem at all with Below filling his role with Andrew Oliver or Casey Crosby coming up from Toledo to get some lefties out.

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Tags: Detroit Tigers Los Angeles Angels Maicer Izturis Peter Bourjos

  • Inside Pitch

    This posting is just not very accurate and there just isn’t a lot of research being done — the Angels pen has done a complete 180 since trading for E. Frieri..  To argue nothing has changed borders on the irresponsible as it relates to relaying information..  The inclusion of Izturiz seems sorta random…. other than possibly getting a below replacement level back up IFer that’s under club control, what does Worth bring to the table to the Angels?  Absolutely nothing.  
    Phil Coke is at best garbage — reief pitchers that allow 1.5 runners per innings are available on the waiver wire, Coke’s been over 1.4 for three years running.
    Valverde, clearly the best player going to the Angels would have the 6th best WHIP among Angels relievers, just barely ahead of David Carpenter.   The source for this Borjous speculation was a Stark posting where he states a couple of teams state the Halos would move PB in the right deal.  Please consider who the Angels traded for Frieri,…  Their GM wouldnt ever make a deal for either Coke or Worth,  Valverde has value, but trading a player under club control for another 4 years for him seems a bit shortsighted for the Halos.  He world be 7th inning guy in Anaheim.  An expensive one, that won’t be around past this season.  Not what the Angels need,

    • ChrisHannum

       @Inside Pitch So… what you’re saying is that Coke, Valverde and Worth are terrible and “under no circumstances would the Angels ever agree to such a deal”?  It’s quite probable that they wouldn’t.  But bear in mind that most Tigers fans would say the same about the 31-year-old rental utility man and leadoff hitter with the sub-.300 on-base percentage.  
      And the one and only source for the idea that the Angels actually want relievers IS Stark, which I believe I did mention above – it may be completely inaccurate.  You can’t argue with Frieri’s zero runs allowed, but I could imagine somebody worried about his walks.  But, then I certainly wouldn’t say that they have any other clear needs.  Mainly what I try to argue is that Bourjos could be a better fit for the Tigers’ actual needs than players typically discussed as trade possibilities should he, in fact, be available at a price the Tigers could afford to pay.

      • Turks Teeth

        @ChrisHannum @Inside Pitch
        By your own estimate, Peter Bourjos is something more than simply a “leadoff hitter with sub-.300 on base percentage”. He’s an elite defender that can transform an outfield defense.

        Bourjos delivered 4.8 WAR playing nearly full-time last season. He delievered WAR at a similar rate per plate appearance in 2010 and 2012 as well — 7.2 WAR over just under 900 plate appearances. That’s a 5 WAR everyday player.

        Folks suddenly think they can buy low on a 5 WAR player because he had a bad April and is blocked by Torii Hunter. But c’mon, Hunter’s contract ends this year, Bourjos makes league minimum, and he’s cheap for another four years on the Angels. Since May 1, Peter Bourjos has hit .296/.333/.451, by the way. He stumbled out of the gate, but so did Pujols and most other Angel players.

        Valverde would provide the Angels with about 30 IP over the final months of his contract. As he makes an astounding $9M a season, the Angels would be paying the Tigers $4.5M for the privilege of those 30 innings, while forfeiting 15-20 WAR over the next four years to surrender the player several advanced metrics said was the best defensive CF in the league last year (and per UZR, this). Meanwhile, Valverde would be a seventh inning guy, playing much the same role as Walden on the club now. Frieri, Downs, Hawkins and Isringhausen have all delivered better performances than Valverde at this point.

  • Turks Teeth

    If you’d like an honest counterproposal from an Angels fan that appraises Bourjos for his true value, and addresses true organizational need for the club, then here’s one.

    While the media keeps pointing to Angels’ need for relief pitching, the Angels pen has actually been quite successful since early May. The club’s true need is at catcher and in the backend of its rotation, where the Angels depth is very challenged, beyond Garrett Richards and Jerome Williams. A cost-controlled catcher of the future and AAA spot starters are what the Angels truly need.

    So who on the Tigers has put up the 5.7 WAR Bourjos has put up since 2011? Who had the truly dynamic 2011 that Bourjos did (and Bourjos was hands-down the fan favorite last season for his nightly highlight reel catches that subtracted countless runs from rival team box scores), followed by a back-to-earth regression in 2012? The question answers itself.

    Alex Avila has delivered exactly 5.7 WAR over the same period as Bourjos. They both deliver excellent value at defense-first positions, are both cost-controlled for several years, and fans of both clubs would be sorely disappointed to see each leave. The Tigers have a substitute for Avila in Brantly, but if your faith in Brantly is low, the Angels have a former first-round pick in AAA in Hank Conger that could join Bourjos in a slightly expanded deal. Conger is an offense-first catcher that has been blocked for years by light-hitting defensive catchers that are a peculiar fetish of Mike Scoscia (this is the organization that traded Napoli after all). It’s clear that Conger’s promising bat does not have a future on a Scioscia-helmed club, so much to Angel fan chagrin, I’m sure he could be had in the right deal.

    So Avila for Bourjos straight up. Or Bourjos, Izturis and Conger for Avila, Luis Marté and Adam Wilk.

    • ChrisHannum

       @Turks Teeth I know Tigers, not Angels, so I appreciate your input.  Brantly isn’t ready, but Conger might seem a nice addition to Detroit.  I would be inclined to take the last deal you mention – but that would be due to very real concerns over Alex Avila’s knees and the kind of workload he’ll be able to sustain over the next 3 years.  Most I think most Tigers fans would see such a deal as a baffling white flag, though – Avila for a catching prospect and a couple of throw ins (based solely on Bourjos and Izturis offensive numbers in 2012).  Elite defenders appeal far more to fans of the team that watch them play than to fans of other teams that look at their back-of-the-baseball-card stats.  By your own admission, though, it doesn’t sound like Avila is a fit for the Angels – he is not a good defensive catcher by any means and sometimes opposing teams seem to more or less steal at will.  I suppose that wouldn’t be relevant anyway – it’s impossible to imagine Captain Nepotism being dealt away by his own Dad (Assistant GM & team VP Al Avila).

  • DetroitDale

    I like your plan Hannum.  The only thing wrong with it is, as the Angel Fans Turks Teeth and Inside pitch, it’s not likely the Angel’s fans will go for it.
    Borjos is young enough that it’s reasonalbe for a team like the Angel’s (a team not shackled with Leyland Lackey Lloyd McClendon as a “hitting coach” ) might see him develop into something more.  We might be better off Targeting Torii Hunter rather instead.  I agree that “a move has to take 2013 into account as well as 2012″ but that means you need to be as careful about what you’re giving up as what you’re getting.  Granted, he has the same liabilities you ascribed to Borjous (“a leadoff hitter with less than a .300 OBP”) but he’s still solid on defense, which is the point of the excercise.  Plus He might make a Delmon Young 2011 type run with the change in scenery.  Sooo… I ask, how about Marte and Wilk for Hunter and Insuris?  I’ll throw in Worth like Hannum did if it’ll help.  I really can’t cough up Valverde until AL AL (pitcher, not catcher) shows he can still throw, and certainly not for Hunter (now if you can put another middle infield prospect who can hit, we’ll talk)

    • ChrisHannum

       @DetroitDale To be frank, I DO think it’s unlikely that the Angels will deal anybody else from their major league roster during the season despite the stiff competition for playing time.  I don’t think Hunter is going anywhere, nor do I think that Vernon Wells is going anywhere – right now.  The team is just too hot for that.  That doesn’t mean that the Angels don’t have players that the Tigers or other teams might desperately want.