Atlanta Braves Trade Speculation: Case for Acquiring Michael Bourn

Daniel Hudson@daniel3417Correspondent IIIJuly 27, 2011

Atlanta Braves Trade Speculation: Case for Acquiring Michael Bourn

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    Sit down, go position by position and ask yourself where the Atlanta Braves really are weak. It's center field.

    I've written about this previously, slamming current center fielders Nate McLouth and Jordan Schafer, but forgot to include Michael Bourn of the Houston Astros as a possible trade target.

    While some inquiries have been made by the Braves about Bourn, they have not been very serious.

    He has been called a bad fit in Atlanta, but nothing is further from the truth. Here's five reasons why.


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    Speed is probably the first word you think of when Michael Bourn's name pops up and for good reason.

    Bourn has stolen 41, 61 and 52 bases in his last three seasons for the Houston Astros and already has 37 this year. Quite simply, he's the best base stealer in the game today.

    The Atlanta Braves have the fifth-worst stolen base total in all of baseball. Jordan Schafer, a platoon center fielder, has the most on the team with 15. After him, the next highest total is Jason Heyward with five.

    That certainly seems like a match made in heaven.

On-Base Savvy

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    Jordan Schafer is posting respectable stolen base totals while platooning with Nate McLouth in center field.

    But his on-base percentage strongly indicates that his pace wouldn't hold up over an entire season. His OBP currently sits at a putrid .300.

    As in stolen bases, the Atlanta Braves rank as the fifth worst team in on-base percentage. The team should be producing a lot of runs in support of its great pitching with players like Jason Heyward, Chipper Jones, and Brian McCann knocking the lead-off man in.

    He can't get knocked in if he has just popped out.

    Michael Bourn OBP, you ask? It's .358, just outside of the top 20 in the National League. So the guy gets on base and steals once he can. I like it.


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    For me, defense is secondary. And as a former Little Leaguer with little to offer my team but a decent glove, that takes a lot to admit.

    I mean, how many times do you say, "Man, if that play had not been made in center field, we would've lost!" Once a three-game series? Maybe twice?

    Now how many times do you say, "That was a key hit that won us the game." Probably once a game.

    Of course, I preface this third reason as if Michael Bourn is incompetent on defense, and he's definitely not.

    Bourn has won the Gold Glove for his efforts in the outfield in 2009 and 2010. In my view, his terrific glove is a huge bonus to his bat and speed.


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    Now I'm going to begin delving into the long-term reasons for acquiring Michael Bourn. The first is his age.

    Trading for Bourn would be no rental for the rest of the season. He is 28 years old, in the middle of his prime, and doesn't depend on any powerful swings of the bat to make his mark on a team.

    Speedsters don't wear down as quickly as other baseball players. The best base stealer of all-time, Rickey Henderson, played until he was 45.

    Former Atlanta Braves center fielders Kenny Lofton and Otis Nixon both played until they were 40 and rank 15th and 16th all-time, respectively.

    Bourn could conceivably torch the base paths in Turner Field until 2023.


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    Finally, the main reason the Atlanta Braves would be wise to acquire Michael Bourn is because the price would be reasonable.

    While the Houston Astros aren't keen on giving up Bourn for nothing, GM Ed Wade is much more concerned with getting a big haul if they move Hunter Pence out of Houston.

    Houston is weak all over the field, and the Braves have a plethora of great young pitching.

    With Derek Lowe and Tim Hudson nearing the end of their careers, that leaves only two starting spots for prospects Julio Teheran, Mike Minor, Randall Delgado, and Arodys Vizcaino to fill.

    My math tells me that leaves two pitchers stuck in the minors. Why not move Delgado or Vizcaino for a center fielder who can steal, bat and field for the next decade in the ATL?