Peter Bourjos has started just two of the Angels’ last nine games as the combination of his poor first two months and Mike Trout’s arrival pushed the Opening Day center fielder to the bench.
Bourjos is an amazing defensive center fielder who last season hit well enough to be one of the best all-around outfielders in the league, but he’s lost 200 points of OPS so far this season and apparently the Angels would rather have the 25-year-old collect dust than play regularly at Triple-A.
“Peter has a role on our team and he’s going to help us win games, although it’s not a role he had last year,” manager Mike Scioscia told Trey Scott of MLB.com. “It’s difficult for a young player that has the ability to play every day but isn’t in there, but Peter is going to help us win games.”
Last year Bourjos started 138 of 162 games and logged 552 plate appearances. This year he’s on pace to start just 77 games and log 292 plate appearances, which is an awfully odd approach to take with a very promising young outfielder even if the Angels are forced to make some less than idea playing time decisions because of their glut of corner bats.
Scioscia is essentially locked in to Trout, Mark Trumbo, and Torii Hunter as the everyday outfield, with Albert Pujols at first base and Kendrys Morales at designated hitter. All five of those guys are plenty productive, so the fact that Bourjos isn’t starting over one of them regularly should be less up for debate than whether playing at Triple-A is better than sitting in the majors.
And every team in need of a long-term center fielder should be calling Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto about Bourjos constantly.
Back during the 2015 playoffs the sorts of New York media types who love to find reasons to criticize players for petty reasons decided to criticize Yoenis Cespedes for playing golf the day of a playoff game. The Mets won the series with the Cubs during which the controversy, such as it was, occurred and it was soon dropped.
It was picked back up again in 2016 when Cespedes, while on the disabled list with a strained quad, was seen playing golf. Despite the fact that everyone involved said that golf did not contribute to his injury and that golf would have no impact on his injured quad, it was deemed “a bad look” by a columnist looking to get some mileage out of bashing Cespedes for having a hobby that probably half of all ballplayers share. They did it when he showed off his fancy cars too, by the way, even though just about every ballplayer has a fancy car or three. When you’re a superstar in New York — especially when you’re one with whom the media is not particularly close for various reasons — you’re going to catch hell for seemingly nothing.
Now there’s a new twist to the Cespedes golf saga. Yoenis himself says that his poor start — he’s hitting .195/.258/.354 and leads the league in strikeouts — is due to . . . not enough golf! From the New York Times:
He gave a possible reason for the poor start this weekend: not playing enough golf, a hobby beloved by many baseball players. And, yes, he is serious.
“In previous seasons, one of the things I did when I wasn’t going well was to play golf,” he said after a game on Friday in which he struck out four times but still drove in the go-ahead run in the 12th inning. “This year, I’m not playing golf.”
The story says Cespedes quit golf last summer because he worried that it was contributing to hamstring problems. He’s thinking about going back to it soon, as he thinks it’ll help his swing. Given that he’ll catch hell either way, he may as well do what he wants.