Tag Archives: Peter Bourjos

Phillies reportedly looking at right-handed hitting center fielders

As potentially convoluted as the Philadelphia Phillies infield situation could get during the 2020 season, the outfield appears to be fairly set at this point

In right field, Bryce Harper put together an outstanding first season in Philadelphia. As long as he remains healthy, Harper is locked into the starting lineup at the position for years to come.

Andrew McCutchen is the left fielder. The veteran is expected to be 100% recovered from the devastating knee injury and subsequent surgery that ended his own first season with the club in early June. In fact, he responded earlier this week to a piece that I published asking what the Phillies could expect from him in 2020.

In center field, 2017 first round draft pick Adam Haseley will enter spring training as the anticipated everyday starter after appearing in 65 games during his rookie season last summer. Haseley, who turns 24 in mid-April, made 40 of his 65 overall appearances in center field in 2019, including 36 starts.

This morning, MLB insider Jon Morosi revealed that the Phillies may be looking to add a right-handed hitting complement to the lefty-swinging Haseley.


On the assumption that general manager Matt Klentak is still willing to look at available options outside of the organization, which players remaining on the free agent market might make the most sense for such a role?

The best available right-handed hitting center fielder is probably Kevin Pillar. Having just turned 31 years of age earlier this week, Pillar is a seven-year veteran.

Pillar has spent most of his career with the Toronto Blue Jays, who dealt him to the San Francisco Giants just one week into the 2019  campaign. He went on to enjoy his best season with 21 homers, 61 extra-base hits, 88 RBIs, 83 runs scored, and 14 steals. Pillar also finished fifth among all MLB center fielders in putouts.

Other available free agents fitting the bill of an experienced center fielder who bats right-handed include Peter Bourjos, Rajai Davis, Austin Jackson, and Juan Lagares. Switch-hitting speedster Billy Hamilton is also available.

The Phillies current outfield depth includes left-handed hitters Jay Bruce, Nick Williams, and Odubel Herrera. The latter is not expected to remain with the club into the 2020 season after a highly publicized domestic violence incident last year.

Even the top two outfield prospects in the minor league system, 2016 first overall draft pick Mickey Moniak and 2016 international signee Simon Muzziotti, are each left-handed hitters. Both can play center field but neither is big-league ready at this point.

The lone player on the Phillies current 40-man roster who fits the bill would be the injury-prone Roman Quinn, a switch-hitter. It is a near certainty that Quinn will make the team and fill a reserve outfield role with as long as he is healthy.

Two players who have big-league experience and who fit the right-handed hitting center field bill were signed by the club this winter to minor league deals. Both Mikie Mahtook and Matt Szczur (pronounced ‘Ceasar’) will come to spring training with a shot at filling the role for the club.

In an emergency, McCutchen could slide over to briefly cover the position. He played in 15 games there in 2019 including 10 starts. But his days as an MVP and Gold Glove caliber defender in center are long over, and it would be best to limit McCutchen’s exposure there considering the knee injury.

It is no secret that the Phillies hope to use last year’s .500 finish (81-81) as a springboard to compete for a postseason berth in 2020. Assuming health and continued positive development, Haseley will get the majority of starts in center field.

For the Phillies in the coming season, having a quality, experienced, right-handed hitting option at the position could prove to be a big help, giving Haseley a break against some tougher southpaw pitchers.



Philadelphia Phillies 2016 Grades: Outfielders

There is probably a wide swath of the larger Philadelphia sports fan base who were not paying much attention to the Phillies during the month of September.

Unless you are, like myself, one of the hard cores who follows closely year ’round no matter the circumstances, you missed something significant and exciting.

That exciting and significant development was the somewhat unexpected promotion and insertion into the regular lineup of outfield prospect Roman Quinn following the conclusion of the minor league playoffs.

The 23-year old speedster has worked his way towards the top of the Fightin’ Phils batting order, producing four stolen bases and eight runs scored over his first 65 plate appearances over 14 games, 13 of those as a starter.
Those may not sound overly impressive at first blush. But extrapolated out over a full season at the top of the order, and we are talking about a likely base line of 40 stolen bases and 80 runs scored for the switch-hitter.
I’ve been harping the talents of Quinn for the past couple of years, so the fact that I am a fanboy is no surprise to anyone who follows.
He is also weighed down by a .226 batting average that is sure to increase by at least 50 points as he adjusts to the big league level. His on-base percentage of .349 is already acceptable.
But I believe that anyone who has watched his speed on the bases and that same speed as well as his throwing arm in the outfield now is well aware that I haven’t been selling a bill of goods. Quinn is the real deal, and he is the Phillies future in center field.
Quinn is one of seven Phils outfielders for whom I am going to provide a grade for their 2016 performance.

I’ll be leaving out a quartet of relatively inconsequential players who each received fewer than 100 plate appearances: Darin RufDavid LoughEmmanuel Burriss, and Cedric Hunter.
The seven who will receive grades are Quinn, Odubel HerreraPeter BourjosTyler GoeddelCody AscheAaron Altherr, and Jimmy Paredes. So let’s begin with the dispensing of their 2016 report card grades.
SEE ORIGINAL article at That Ball’s Outta Here for grading breakdown.

Phillies Trade Chips: Peter Bourjos

When new Phillies GM Matt Klentak selected outfielder Peter Bourjos off waivers from the Saint Louis Cardinals back on December 2nd of this past off-season, the move caused some scratching of heads among the fan base.
The Phillies already had Odubel HerreraAaron Altherr, and Cody Asche on the roster and apparently needing regular playing time. 
In the minor leagues, top outfield prospect Nick Williams appeared to be just a few months away from being ready for his big league shot.
If the club needed an extra veteran outfielder to suck up innings and at-bats at the big league level while awaiting the arrival of Williams, then many fans would have been very happy to see the Phillies bring back popular right fielder Jeff Francoeur for one more go-around.
Also, the Phillies controlled the top pick in the Rule 5 Draft, which at the time of the Bourjos signing was just a week away. 
It was rumored that outfielder Tyler Goeddel would be that top pick, which would mean the club had to plan on him possibly being carried all year on the big league roster.
But Klentak saw something that he liked in the former Angels’ 10th round 2005 draftee who had six years of big league experience. Remember, Klentak had been an exec with the Halos previously, and knew Bourjos from those days.
In 2011, Bourjos had hit .271 for the Angels with a dozen homers and 22 stolen bases
while playing on a full-time basis for the only time in his big league career.
“Since that time, he really hasn’t had the full-time opportunity that he had in 2011,” said Klentak to reporter David Murphy in a Philly.com piece back in December. 

Part of that has been some nagging injuries, part of that was the development of Mike Trout, part of that was getting traded to St. Louis, which had a pretty good outfield.” ~ Murphy

Here in Philly, Bourjos got off to a rocky start. Following an 0-2 at Saint Louis on May 5th he was at a season-low .165 mark. 
Even as late as June 12th, Bourjos’ batting average was still below the feeble fabled ‘Mendoza Line’ at a .197 mark.
And then something clicked in, turning his season completely around. From June 13th through July 9th, the final game before the MLB All-Star Game break, Bourjos hit for a .412/.457/.671 slash line with seven doubles, three triples, three home runs, 9 RBI, and 17 runs scored over a 25-game stretch.
Bourjos also was playing a fantastic right field, using his speed to track down balls in the gap, up the first base/right field line, and back against outfield walls.
In short, the talent that Klentak had observed a few years ago with the Angels was on full display. 
The hot stretch also put Bourjos on the map for contending organizations looking to add a valuable and versatile outfielder at the MLB trade deadline.
So who might be able to use a speedy outfielder who can play everyday, but would also have real value coming off the bench as a hitter, defensive replacement, or base runner? Pretty much all of them.

Looking Ahead to Phillies 2016 Outfield Mix

On April 6th, 2015 for Opening Day against the Boston Red Sox at Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies starting outfield consisted of Ben Revere in left, Odubel Herrera in center, and Grady Sizemore in right field.
Six months later, on October 4th, the Phillies closed out the season hosting the Miami Marlins with a starting outfield of Darin Ruf in left, Aaron Altherr in center, and Jeff Francoeur in right field. During the game, Altherr slid over to left, and Herrera came on to play center field.
During the course of the 2015 season, Cody Asche started 61 games and played in 63 out in left field. 
With the trade of Revere to the Toronto Blue Jays at the July trade deadline, that made Asche, who began the year as the starting 3rd baseman, the player who had seen the most action at the left field position.
That 2015 outfield mix was a major change from the previous season. In 2014, the Phillies started Marlon Byrd in right field for 149 games, Revere in center for 141, and Domonic Brown in left field for 127 games.
Now as the club prepares to report for spring training in Clearwater in just three weeks, the outfield is again poised for significant changes. 
Gone are Byrd, Brown, Francoeur, Revere, and Sizemore. The outfield has been a disappointing mess for the Phillies at least since Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence were dealt away at the 2012 trade deadline. 

The Phillies are going to be picked for last place in the National League East by every resource as those prognostications are released in the coming weeks. 
The Nationals and Mets are the clear favorites. The Marlins will get a healthy Jose Fernandez and Giancarlo Stanton back in their rotation and lineup.
While the Braves finished just four games ahead of the Phillies in the 2015 NL East standings, an evaluation of the two likely opening rosters still shows Atlanta with arguably better talent than the Phils will put out on the field. 
Even if you want to hope for a 4th place finish, it will still come with a record that is likely to be at least 20 games below the .500 mark.
One of the main reasons that the Phillies will not improve measurably this coming season, and may not for a couple more, is the state of that outfield. 
There are no players who are likely capable to hit even 20 home runs or steal 20 bases. Only Herrera appears capable of hitting in the .290-.300 range.
While Altherr finished out the 2015 season as the starting left fielder, there is a good chance that he will become the new everyday right fielder this coming season, with Herrera sliding over to left, and newcomer Peter Bourjos starting in center field.
That alignment would appear to upgrade the Phillies defensively, and that is an important part of the game to be sure. 
I am a huge proponent of defensive excellence contributing to a winning ball club. However, be honest: does a Herrera-Bourjos-Altherr outfield excite you in the long-term? Does that look like a postseason alignment to you?
Back in early December, manager Pete Mackanin was quoted by CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury regarding the 2016 outfield alignment: “We really have three centerfielders, no matter where they play.” 
He and GM Matt Klentak will watch the players perform in spring training before making any final plans.
However, it is clear that Mackanin realizes the offensive limitations of this group, and so will focus on improving the team defensively. 
Defense is a very important part of the game, and I’m very happy that we’ve got some outfielders that can cover a lot of ground and they are sure-handed outfielders,” Mackanin told Salisbury.
Both Asche and Ruf are likely to be back in the lineup mix, though Ruf is most likely to see his time as part of a platoon at 1st base with Ryan Howard
He is a defensive liability when used in left field, and his bat is only truly functional against left-handed pitching. 
Asche is a solid athlete, but is much more suited to a utility role, backing up in left field and at 3rd base.
The Phillies just signed former Orioles outfielder David Lough as insurance, and also selected former Rays prospect Tyler Goeddel with the top pick in the Rule 5 Draft. 
Both players will get a shot to show what they can do in the spring, and Goeddel will have to be kept in the big leagues all year, unless the Phils decide to return him or work out a deal with Tampa Bay.
Given health and anticipated production, the 2016 Phillies outfield is likely to be Herrera-Bourjos-Altherr, with Asche backing up in left, and Goeddel all across the outfield. 
We are likely to see Altherr play at least on both corners at one point or another, and Herrera will likely see some center field.
The wild card for the current group is Goeddel. The Phillies liked his potential enough to make him that top Rule 5 selection. 
It is possible that he could play himself into a much more significant role during spring training.
In the future, the real excitement will come from the minor leaguesNick Williams is the team’s #4 prospect, and is likely either the right or left fielder of the future. 
That future should begin for the 22-year old at some point in 2017, though he could push for a September call-up with a strong performance at Lehigh Valley.
Further down the line, 2015 top MLB Amateur Draft pick Cornelius Randolph is seen as a premium hitter who is likely to be a left fielder. That would mean Williams becomes the right fielder eventually. 
If spring training for the 2018 season doesn’t include Williams and Randolph as the likely starters in those roles, it has to be seen as a developmental disappointment for the club.
Of course, much of the future could also change based on the team spending money in free agency. 
As the young pitchers develop, and shortstop J.P. Crawford reaches the big leagues and develops as an infield compliment to Maikel Franco, ownership may decide that it’s time to open up the wallet and spend. 
Bryce Harper is due to become a free agent following the 2018 season, and Mike Trout after the 2020 campaign.
While Phillies fans can feel free to dream on those young, proven studs, the more immediately important and much more realistic situation is to sort out the options currently available. 
The team needs to find out if either or both of Altherr and/or Herrera is for real as a longer term option, and needs to get Williams to the big leagues. 

What Do the Phillies Have in Free Agent Peter Bourjos?

The Philadelphia Phillies have signed free agent outfielder Peter Bourjos.

Bourjos had been left unprotected by the Saint Louis Cardinals, and Phillies’ GM Matt Klentak had intimate knowledge of the players’ talents and personality from their days with the Los Angeles Angels, with whom Bourjos began his professional career.
“…I think very highly of Peter Bourjos the person and that is something that I’ve been talking about since I first started here six weeks ago, which is the importance of building an environment.”
I happen to have first-hand knowledge of knowing Peter, knowing what a great human being he is, and how he fits into a roster.”
Bourjos, who will turn 29 years of age at the end of spring training in 2016, was the 10th round selection of the Halos in the 2005 MLB Amateur Draft out of high school at Notre Dame Prep in Scottsdale, Arizona.
A speedy baserunner and hustling outfielder, Bourjos stole 141 bases as he rose incrementally through the Angels’ minor league system from 2006-2010, becoming a Baseball America Top 100 Prospect prior to that 2010 season.
He finally made his big league debut at the beginning of August in 2010, taking over the Angels’ starting job in center field, a job he would continue to hold in a battle with Mike Trout in 2012. 
Over parts of four seasons in Los Angeles, Bourjos hit just .251 with a .306 on-base percentage that kept him from being able to fully utilize his speed on the base paths in Major League Baseball. He swiped just 41 total bags in that time with the Angels.

In November of 2013, the Cardinals acquired Bourjos along with fellow outfielder Randall Grichuk in exchange for David Freese and Fernando Salas
His inconsistencies continued in Saint Louis, where he hit just .218 with a .292 on-base percentage across 519 plate appearances in the 2014 and 2015 seasons combined.
In announcing the signing, the Phillies emphasized his defensive value. As reported by Philly.com’s Ryan Lawrence, that official statement included the following: 
According to FanGraphs, since Bourjos made his major league debut in 2010, he is averaging a 16.1 ultimate zone rating per 150 defensive games (UZR/150). That ranks third among all major league outfielders with at least 3,500 defensive innings played in that span, trailing only Lorenzo Cain (19.0) and Jason Heyward (18.3).
It’s hard to imagine that Bourjos can be considered as anything more than a backup outfield candidate, though Klentak obviously believes enough in his defensive profile and his personality to feel that he can make a difference in the locker room. 
Jerry Crasnick also believes there will be playing time available to him.
I like the  Peter Bourjos pickup. Guy has never hit much, but he’s a terrific OF. They have ABs for him, so worth a shot.
Klentak moved quickly to sign Bourjos to a one-year, $2 million dollar deal yesterday, something necessitated by the fact that he was arbitration eligible, and had to be tendered a contract prior to midnight last night.
The big question now involves the popular Jeff Francoeur, who many fans hoped would return for the 2016 season. 
While Klentak claimed that the Bourjos signing does not preclude bringing Frenchy back, there would not seem to be room for both players, who fit a similar profile.