Adding Michael Bourn is not going to make the Braves make up five games on the Phillies, but it was a masterful move all the same. Simply a great trade for Atlanta any way you look at it.
First Bourn: he’s an elite center fielder, obviously. You can look at the gold gloves if you want to, though I don’t advise it. Look instead at the advanced defensive metrics which suggest that he’s easily the best defensive center fielder in the National League and, short of Franklin Gutierrez, probably the best in baseball. He is also an elite base runner, successful in 83% of his stolen base attempts in his career.
That glove and those legs have allowed him to more than make up for a fair-at-best bat these past few years, but this season has been an offensive breakthrough for him, as he’s hitting .303/.363/.403. His on base percentage is up, mostly because he has been a bit hit-lucky this year, but his power numbers are interesting. He has never been a home run hitter and still isn’t, but he already has more doubles and triples this season than he had all of last year.
So, acquiring Bourn is clearly a great move for Atlanta, who was in desperate need of an outfielder, especially a center fielder. What’s crazy though is just how great a deal they got for him.
While I have seen some commentary this morning about how the Braves are “high on Jordan Schafer,” I think the best way to take that is that they’re high on him in much the same way you might get high on a hallucinatory drug. He is clearly overmatched by major league pitching and has shown no real progress in that regard over the past few years. None of the prospects involved — Brett Oberholtzer, Paul Clemens and Juan Abreu — are top tier guys. And the fact that the Astros are sending the Braves money in this deal is borderline criminal.
When I saw the good deal that the Phillies got for Hunter Pence — likewise not having to give up their best prospects — I sighed “well, there goes Ed Wade, playing favorites with his old employer again.” Guess Wade decided to share the wealth with the Braves as well.
Major League Baseball just announced the details for the ceremonial and off-field stuff in connection with Games 1 and 2 of the World Series. The one most people were wondering about was the ceremonial first pitch. Sorry, Charlie Sheen fans. Sorry fans of “Major League” in general. Two real baseball stars are handing first pitch duties: Kenny Lofton before Game 1, Carlos Baerga for Game 2.
Lofton needs no introduction. He should be a Hall of Famer but is criminally overlooked, perhaps because he bounced around to a lot of different clubs. He made his name in Cleveland, however, doing three separate tours with the Indians, leading the AL in stolen bases for five straight years early in his career and putting up a line of .300/.375/.426 in ten seasons on the shores of Lake Erie.
Baerga played for the Tribe between 1990 and 1996 and was, for a time, quite the superstar, even if people don’t talk about him much anymore. His career fell off pretty quickly in that way that often happens for second basemen and/or stars who end up on the Mets, but there was a time when he was perhaps the biggest star on some excellent Indians teams. People had “will Carlos Baerga be a Hall of Famer?” conversations and stuff. The mid-90s were a special time.
Beyond the first pitches, the National Anthem will be sung by Rachel Platten before Game 1 and by the group Locash before Game 2. As I am an old man out of touch with most things, I have no idea who they are, but I am sure their fans are passionate and their renditions of the Anthem will be fine and non-controversial. Fox, MLB and the folks at major record labels are pretty good about that sort of thing and everyone will be especially vigilant in light of what happened with that Canadian tenors group at the All-Star Game. If nothing else, I bet you pick up the check for the Anthem performance after the song, and not before these days.
I realize everyone is super excited about the Cubs being in the World Series for the first time since 1945, with the chance to win it for the first time since 1908. But you’d think folks would remember that it’s just the Cubs — and not Chicago as a whole — who have been away from the Fall Classic for so long.
I know their recent struggles makes it seem like a long, long time ago, but the White Sox won the World Series in 2005. They were in the World Series in 1959 too. You wouldn’t know that, though, if you looked at some prominent media outlets:
I understand the impulse to tell the “a whole city is coming together!” story every time stuff like this happens, but there are a lot of White Sox fans in Chicago. A good number of them don’t give a crap about the Cubs. Many even resent them for being the glory franchise in the city in the eyes of many. They certainly don’t feel like there’s a championship drought afoot, and I imagine they’re somewhat cranky about having their team’s glory plastered over like this.