Sunday, July 31, 2011

Michael Bourn To The Braves

Braves receive: Michael Bourn
Astros receive: Jordan Schafer, Brett Oberholtzer, Paul Clemens, Juan Abreu

Bourn appears to have been the target for the Braves all along. Frank Wren inquired on everyone, but he made it known Bourn was the man for Atlanta's center field, probably in an attempt to drive up the prices of the other bats. If this was his intention, it worked, as the Braves easily made a much, much better trade than the Phillies.

Bourn is hitting .303/.363/.403 with 26 doubles and one home run. He has a BB% of 8% and K% of 19%, recording a .353 wOBA and 3.6 fWAR. These numbers for his career: .271/.338/.359, 8.7 BB%, 19.6 K%, .324 wOBA and 14.6 fWAR.

Oh yeah, four straight seasons with 40+ steals as soon as he swipes his first bag with the Braves, and very solid defensive ratings.

Bourn has an increasing outside swing percentage over the past three seasons, reaching 26% currently, which is pretty high for the type of hitter he is. His 41.1 Swing% is in line with the normal rate, and his zone contact rate at 89% is solid. His overall contact may not be stellar, resulting in a fairly high amount of strikeouts, but he makes up for it with a good walk rate for a speedy leadoff type.

Bourn is in his prime and that's evident by his career-high numbers across the board this season. He's showing more pop and creating more runs than ever before, and the Braves are catching him at a pretty good time, as he has had his best two months in June and July, hitting .324/.388/.467 in June and .349/.388/.413 in July.

Always keep in mind the position. Center field is a premium spot and does not come cheap. To get someone that impacts an offense as much as Bourn in a premium position is always a major move. It usually costs a ton. The Braves made the move without giving up any big impact prospects in a seller's market, and that in itself is a victory.

My offseason reports of the two ranked prospects traded to the Astros:
#15 - Brett Oberholtzer
#24 - Juan Abreu

Paul Clemens emerged as a mid-level pitching prospect over the last two seasons, posting a 3.69 ERA with 65 strikeouts in 75.2 innings at Class-A Advanced Myrtle Beach in 2010 and currently a 3.73 ERA with 93 strikeouts and 44 walks in 108.2 innings at Double-A Mississippi. He wasn't on many radars prior to last year, and his ceiling is mid-rotation, so his stance in the Atlanta system wasn't very solid. He would have been ranked between 15-20 on my list this offseason, more than likely.

Jordan Schafer is a fourth outfielder. He should only start by necessity, and hopefully the Astros are smart enough to realize this. But judging by this trade, you never know.

To wrap this trade up, the Braves got the bat and center fielder they need without giving up any of the big four prospects. To top it off, the only worthwhile player sent to Houston is Oberholtzer, a left-hander with mid-rotation potential. It could be perhaps the best buyer's deal of the deadline.

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