Tampa Bay Rays v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Peter Bourjos is firmly planted on the Angels’ bench


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.

NL Wild Card Game: Cubs vs. Pirates lineups

Jake Arrieta

Here are the Cubs and Pirates lineups for tonight’s Wild Card game in Pittsburgh:

CF Dexter Fowler
RF Kyle Schwarber
LF Kris Bryant
1B Anthony Rizzo
3B Tommy La Stella
2B Starlin Castro
C Miguel Montero
SS Addison Russell
SP Jake Arrieta

Cubs manager Joe Maddon wanted Tommy La Stella in the lineup over Jorge Soler or Chris Coghlan, so he starts at third base and Kris Bryant shifts to left field. Bryant started just four games in left field all season, compared to 136 starts at third base. Also of note: After batting Addison Russell ninth–behind the pitcher–116 times this season Maddon has him in the more traditional eighth spot tonight.

RF Gregory Polanco
3B Josh Harrison
CF Andrew McCutchen
LF Starling Marte
C Francisco Cervelli
2B Neil Walker
SS Jordy Mercer
1B Sean Rodriguez
SP Gerrit Cole

Pedro Alvarez started 119 games at first base for the Pirates and with right-hander Jake Arrieta on the mound he was the presumed starter tonight, but instead manager Clint Hurdle has benched the 27-homer slugger in favor of utility man Sean Rodriguez. Alvarez is vastly superior to Rodriguez offensively, especially versus a righty, but he’s also very shaky defensively. During the regular season Rodriguez started a grand total of one game at first base against a right-hander, so this qualifies as a hunch by Hurdle.

The Cardinals are optimistic about Yadier Molina’s status

St. Louis Cardinals' Yadier Molina celebrates as he arrives home after hitting a solo home run during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Leave a comment

Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports that Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina‘s bum thumb responded well after participating in baseball activities Tuesday, including catching, hitting, blocking balls and the like.

This morning Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said that he’s now even more optimistic that Molina will be on the NLDS roster. The Cards’ first game will be Friday against the winner of tonight’s Cubs-Pirates tilt.

Having Molina would obviously be a boon for the Cardinals on the field. For a look at what Molina means to the Cardinals off the field, however, take some time to go read Derrick Goold’s excellent story about what Molina’s teammates think of him. Short version: the world. It’s worth your time, even if you’re not a citizen of Cardinals Nation.