I, along with many other Halo fans, have been openly griping over the lost season of Peter Bourjos during this rollercoaster of a year. Seriously, what in the world did Peter Bourjos do to deserve a year round pass to ride the pine all season long? This is a guy who was a top 5 leaders in UZR out of all CF in baseball, not just the AL, but in the entirety of baseball. I understand that not everyone can fully grasp advanced statistics like UZR, but if you want to get a real good feel for how indispensable of an asset Bourjos' defense is without needed a masters degree in statistics just look at the runs saved leaders of 2011. Peter Bourjos was second in baseball in defensive runs saved with 21 runs saved in the outfield, just 1 shy of leader Austin Jackson of the Detroit Tigers 22 runs saved. Now how in the world could one justify such an injustice to such a valuable player?
Peter Bourjos slow start along with the emergence of an incredible power threat in Mark Trumbo and Scioscia's veteran induced chubby lead to Bourjos being singled out to ride the pine. I realize the Peter Bourjos started off even slower than Wells, [P.B .167/.231/.250, V.W .225/.244/.425 in April], but in all fairness it would be far more beneficial to the team to develop young dynamic talent such as Peter Bourjos after such a strong breakout season rather than putting in a massively overpaid and underperforming veteran just to justify the cost. Mike Trout wasn't even on the roster back then and Peter Bourjos was still suffering on the bench while people quote his waning offensive numbers as reason for this benching, but the only reason Peter Bourjos has been having such an awful offensive season is because his playing time has been so ridiculously sporadic. Bourjos would be lucky to start 100 games this season, as opposed to his 146 game effort in 2011.
Now that we're done being sour over Bourjos lost season we can put our big-boy foresight caps on and look at how this move to practically erase Bourjos from the roster has been beneficial to both him and the team. Remember back in Spring Training how Bourjos made remarks in the media about his bad hip? If you don't I'm going to post a little snippet just ahead to refresh your memory.
"It usually bugs me in the spring then kind of goes away. Last year, it was bad in spring then never really got any better."
Peter Bourjos has been bothered with a hip injury that, according to him, provides continual discomfort. Even though he said it's typically a seasonal thing last year it flared up during Spring Training on Bourjos and then never went away. When you have a player that relies so heavily on speed and killing the other team with his legs (offensively and defensively) it would be a huge blow to have them aggravate a injury that could potentially harm the value that they bring to the club, and when it's an injury that affect the speed and defense of Bourjos it could become potentially devastating.
Now I don't want to sound like I'm building up some doom and gloom scenario to justify Bourjos' benching, but he said it himself that the injury was bad throughout the entire season. The Angels need to protect their young players from this kind of stuff, they can't risk any potentially serious harm affecting their youth. Just look at what the Nationals are doing with Stephen Strasburg, it's all about protecting your youth and preparing for the future even if you are in a "win now" mode. Bourjos is probably going to need surgery for it come this offseason, but for now it's better that Bourjos has had a physically low-stress season which may have prevented future complications with his hip.
One of the most important elements to come out of Bourjos lost season has to be Torii Hunter and what he's proved he can still do. Hunter faced decline in his 2011 season, batting a respectable .262/.336/.429 which is really the product of a hot final 3 months of the season. Torii's age showed in 2011, the majority of the season he hit below .250 and faced massive cold streaks, some lasting nearly a month. 2012 has been a huge bounce back for Torii, he's shown that he can still kill you with both the bat and the glove. His power has dropped off a bit, this will be only the 4th time in his career that he's finished a season with less than 20 HR's unless he undergoes a massive power surge in September (which the Angels desperately need).
Hunter has proved that he still has what it takes to start on a ball club, which may have pushed the front office to resign him in the offseason. The Angels don't need Torii Hunter for what he can do on the field as much as they need him for what he can do off the field. Torii would only be a reserve outfielder behind Trout-Bourjos-Trumbo next season, what the Angels really need is for him to continue mentoring and guiding the development of our young players.
Mike Trout is the most important thing to happen to the Angels since 2002, and when you're just 21 years old it can be tough getting adjusted to playing in the league full time. We've already seen what a massive influence Hunter has been on Trout, Torii's veteran leadership and approach to playing the game of baseball has rubbed off on Trout and helped him become the strong yet humble superstar he is today. Torii Hunter is incredibly important to Mike Trout, I don't know of a stronger mentor-student relationship in baseball, especially when you take into account the magnitude of each player. I'm not saying Mike Trout will be a lost little puppy if Torii leaves, but the continuing presence and influence of Torii Hunter will make Mike Trout miles stronger than even the strongest steroid extracted from the very blood of Jose Canseco.
Peter Bourjos riding the bench for the season may be a strange and slightly irritating concept to take in after watching him develop into the exciting player he still is to this day, but when you really look into it and take into account all of the factors present this move just might be better for the the future of the Angels. It might be difficult to see that through the dense fog that has washed over the team this season.