The addition of Michael Bourn was a masterful move for the Braves

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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.

Mariners sign Ichiro to a minor league deal

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USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports that the Mariners will sign Ichiro Suzuki to a minor-league deal. If he makes the roster he’ll make $750,000. At least until he retires.

I say that because it seems quite clear that the idea here, telegraphed since last season, is to activate Ichiro for the Mariners’ series against the Oakland Athletics in Tokyo on March 20-21 and for hoopla surrounding it all. The Mariners and A’s will have a 28-man roster for that series, which is officially part of the regular season schedule, but it will be pared back down to 25 once games begin in the United States.

Suzuki, 45, hit .205/.255/.205 in 47 plate appearances through May 2 last season, at which point he agreed to be deactivated to join the Mariners’ front office. Many assumed Ichiro would announce his retirement later that season or during the offseason, but the Japan Series soon crystalized as an obvious way for him to offer his final farewell to both his American and his Japanese fans.

Unless of course he goes 6-10 with three doubles in that series, at which point everyone will be tempted to keep him on the roster past Japan. Which, given the Mariners’ rebuild and likely poor performance this coming season, wouldn’t exactly be hurting anyone, would it?