Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Michael Bourn is the Player Michael Brantley Will Now Never Become

i just wrote a lengthy blog with some compelling arguments, if i do say so myself, about giving Brantley his shot in the leadoff spot this season. then the Indians shock everyone last night by signing Michael Bourn. so now i have new issues to address. Bourn automatically becomes the leadoff center fielder. there's definitely no longer any opportunity for a debate or a spring training showdown in CF. the title i came up with for this blog says it all. Michael Bourn did not become Michael Bourn by being tossed around in the outfield or juggled around in the lineup, so my Michael will never emulate the new Michael.

left field is the loser position of the outfield. it's one step away from being the ball boy in foul territory really. okay maybe it's not that bad but it can be perceived as the least respected position. left is not flashy. you're not the captain running the outfield. you're not able to make over-the-wall catches in left in our ballpark and a lot more balls can be hit high up that you can't get to, giving off the false impression that you're not a good fielder. not to mention the paycheck is certainly not as fat as a center fielder or right fielder. money talks in this business and it will become an issue in the future. sigh, this is now Brantley's reality.

first, let's get the facts of the Bourn deal straight. it was all over mlbtraderumors that Bourn was close to signing on the dotted line with the Mets. Bourn's first choice was the Mets, he really wanted to play in the Big Apple. the Mets offered Bourn 48 million for 4 years, but were very hesitant when it came to the draft pick compensation situation. so when the Indians heard about this, they decided to sweeten their offer and add an option for a 5th year along with the 48 mill for 4 years. Bourn and Boras had no choice but to listen and then finally decided to accept our offer. i said it about Swish and i'll say it to Bourn, hey man, thanks for settling. =/

before the Bourn acquisition, Francona admitted he was torn about letting Stubbs play center and moving Brantley over to left because he did progress in center quite nicely last season. now i don't know if that was a little bs'd to present himself in a more positive way towards Brantley or completely sincere. but the ease of the decision now just goes to show, Brantley is still not seen the way i want him to be seen on this team. he will be taking another backseat for the immediate future. his development as a center fielder is stifled and he will probably never be viewed as anything more than mediocre now. =/

so, Bourn is our new center fielder and leadoff man for at least the next few years. i admit i didn't know much about this guy, since he's always played in the NL and i don't pay much attention to guys in the NL since we don't play those teams a whole lot. after some research, i see that the man's never hit 10 home runs in a season, and is another guy to put on high strikeout watch. oh my. however, he's super fast and has a ridic amount of steals, which i feel was attributed to by constant placement in the leadoff spot.

now it's time to do some comparisons.

it's interesting to me that Bourn isn't exactly a HR hitter, much like Brantley, and he struck out 3x more than Brantley did in 2012. wow that is gonna get old real quick. how will he perform against pitchers in the AL such as Verlander and the rest of the tough pitching we constantly face in the Central? this is a fair question. just because this guy is speedy and led off more games in his career than Brantley, it shouldn't necessarily deem him the best leadoff man. both Brantley's SLG and OPS #s were higher last season. Bourn is a career .272 hitter, Brantley is at .274 right now. (and don't forget, Brantley played a handful of games injured which definitely brought his BA down some.) Bourn struck out 295 times in the last two years, while Brantley struck out 132 times. Bourn batted .311 in the first half last year, and only .225 after the All-Star break. Brantley bat .288 in both the first and second half last year. at least Bourn can also draw some walks. but again, will that translate over to the AL?

the main thing Bourn's really got over Brantley right now is experience, which has groomed him into becoming a gold glover, and a lot of respect. he also has more runs scored and steals. why? because he was allowed to leadoff consistently, duh. do people really think Brantley is such a shitty player that if given a chance he wouldn't be able to steal and develop into a GG defensive guy? it's easier to pad your runs scored total when you're batting in the top of the lineup. when you're batting lower and you have crap hitters behind you, how many runs do you think that player will score? same with the steals. it's easier to steal when you have no one ahead of you. hitting higher in the lineup allows for that, as opposed to being stuck behind slow pokey Santana or the like. the arguments and assumptions that Brantley just couldn't do any of these things are not very valid imo. Brantley wasn't given enough time to reach his maximum potential and prove himself. Bourn was and now he's the top dog here.

okay now i definitely NEED to clarify that i'm not "throw my computer at the wall" mad that we got Bourn lol this makes us better in a multitude of ways, which is great. i just wish the result didn't mean such a change for Brantley. i've said this a million times before (to the point where even i'm getting tired of it) but he was once projected to be our next Kenny Lofton. that pretty much will never happen now. you can't get really good at a position like Kenny and Bourn have if you're not allowed to constantly play there. i'm super pissed about Brantley not being given enough of a chance here to become a Lofton and Bourn type player. who do i blame? the actions and decision making of Mr. Manny Acta? he's not even here anymore to rectify that situation so that's pretty pointless. i hate that the franchise once saw him as something he now will not be. the direction of his future career here is completely changing. i know Michael's just thankful to have a job and put on the jersey but behind closed doors, come on, the boy is irked. as a #1 supporter of Brantley, i honestly think we screwed him by getting him as the PTBNL in 2008, i really do.

i feel so bad for Brantley. he's saying all the right things, as i knew he would, but deep down i think different thoughts are going through his head. i'm surprised his agent didn't have a stroke yet. he was none too thrilled when we first added Stubbs, but now that Bourn's here, he has no other choice but to accept his client's fate.

here are some quotes from Brantley's agent in December:

Why do the Indians keep adding CF? Brantley had a 2.9 WAR last year. Stubbs 1.3, BJ upton 2.6. I dont get it. Not one bit.

I just hope Mike gets ample time in CF this year. He's earned it.

Reynolds and stubbs are two of the top K guys. I hope for their sake they bounce back this year. I just want Mike to get what he's earned

I just feel he has a greater value in CF add his bat and his ability to get on base you have a burgoning all star.

rarely strikes out and walks a ton. He made many highlight reel catches as well. Stubbs will have to cut down his K's to be a guy

i agree with his agent 1000%. maybe they need to hire me haha

now let's get to Brantley's thoughts on the situation (his public thoughts anyways). this was before Francona told him today that he would for sure be starting in left:

"He's a phenomenal player all the way through on the offense and defense. I'm excited to meet him.

"I'm not sure what this means to me. I'm sure I'll be talking to upper management and Francona."

Asked if it was easier to accept a move to left field because of Bourn's reputation as being one of the best defensive center fielders in the game, Brantley said, "Yes. I've seen it too. He has speed and is a great defender. I'm just looking forward to being by his side no matter what side it is."

"My job is to come out here and play baseball wherever the team needs me...I get a uniform and I got a position I'm happy," Brantley said.

ever the professional. but sometimes i wish he didn't have the reputation that he has. it might help him if he was a bit more vocal and opinioned. maybe he can be now because what's left to lose? imagine if we acquired another closer for our bullpen and he was going to take over Chris Perez's spot. what do you think his reaction would be? lol i'm not saying go all Pure Rage but as i learned back in grade school, your feelings can be disregarded somewhat more easily if you're always agreeable to superiors.

and here's a comment from one of my most respected Tribe twitter boys confirming my thought about the money:
Brantley saying the right things, but move to LF will probably hurt him in wallet down the road.
idc how Brantley tries to spin that, he is not going to happy when it comes time to negotiate for a raise.

all i can do now is hope that this doesn't affect Brantley's place on the team. it's a fear i did not think i'd need to be concerned about so soon, and it doesn't feel good. he could easily be used in a future deal to bring back a starting pitcher. he's no longer a necessity in the outfield now that we have Bourn and Swisher for at least 4 years and Stubbs for 3 years. Brantley is arb eligible after this season. he's definitely going to lose out on some money since he's going to play most if not all of 2013 in left field. my heart really goes out to this man. someone's always ahead of him on this team. doesn't matter if he led the team in BA or played the most consistent ball last season. he's become almost replacable in the eyes of this franchise. and all the fans who argued that he was never going to be anything more than a mediocre ballplayer (despite my protests) will claim to be right now.

at the end of the day, my opinions and input really don't mean much, it's not like what i say will change anything. probably won't change any fan's mind either. but i at least hope people will acknowledge and realize that i have made some valid points, as well as try to see where i'm coming from with this. or, if nothing else, appreciate my passion for my favorite Indian.

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