Originally written on Chop-N-Change  |  Last updated 1/31/12
Mlb_jun_01_a591
I am way behind on these. I know, I suck. Going to get a few of these done today and tomorrow to get back on track.

The Braves acquired Bourn on July 31st last year from the Houston Astros for a quartet of minor leaguers, none of whom the team will really miss: Jordan Schafer (a center fielder who failed in multiple stints in the majors), Juan Abreu (live-armed reliever who never got a chance in the majors), Brett Oberholtzer and Paul Clemens (both of whom could be back-end starters in the majors, but lack the upside of many of the pitching prospects in the system). The Braves wanted him to provide a spark, and to a certain extent, he did.

Bourn wasn't as much of an impact player as the Braves expected, with just a .673 OPS (and an ugly .321 OBP) during his 53 game stint in Atlanta. His defense wasn't as good as expected, logging just +2 DRS in center (compared to +12 in 2009 and +16 in 2010). However, the one facet of his game that did come as advertised was his speed. Bourn stole 22 bases in his 53, putting him on pace to perhaps steal 70 over a full year. 

The Braves really aren't known as a running team, but you have to imagine that with Bourn in the fold for a full season, the shackles will come off a bit, and he'll get carte blanche on the basepaths. If Bourn is able to up his OBP to the .350 range that it was as he became a commodity with the Astros over the past couple of seasons, and his defense rebounds to the stellar level it was at, Bourn will absolutely be a catalyst for the Braves in center.

With Bourn entering free agency after the 2012 season, the Braves are in an interesting position with him. The system lacks a high upside center field prospect that could take over in 2013 if Bourn leaves town, with the possible exception of Mycal Jones, who had a vastly disappointing 2011 season. If Jones is able to turn his game around in 2012 and looks like he could be a full-time guy in the majors, I could definitely see the Braves letting Bourn walk. Bourn will be 30 at the end of the season, and once you get up to that age, speed starts to slip....and without his speed, what kind of player is Bourn? That's why I'd be hesitant to give him a long-term extension, but we'll play it by ear depending on what exactly happens in 2012.

Check out Bourn's player projection on THT here.

Photo credit to Joe Lucia 
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