Josh Hamilton contract frees hot stovers to speculate about Peter Bourjos some more

Harry How

The Los Angeles Angels signed Josh Hamilton to a five-year, $125 million contract, which means hot stove leaguers will now be able to mock up Peter Bourjos trades with impunity.

Get any group of St. Louis Cardinals fans together long enough and they'll develop their own pet projects, irrational disgusts, and trade targets. For Viva El Birdos--well, there are too many to mention. But one of their(/our) favorite recurring trade themes involves the Cardinals sending the Angels some mid-range prospects in exchange for Peter Bourjos, their defensively otherworldly center fielder. After some news suggesting Bourjos would partially displace Mike Trout in center that pseudo-rumor seemed destined for a place in the trash next to those old Matt Cain-Chris Duncan fantasy trades. Then the Angels signed Josh Hamilton.

Hamilton isn't an iron man, or even a bronze man, but the move certainly puts Bourjos in a more prototypical fourth-outfielder role. So now Cardinals fans obsessed with his career 19 runs/year DRS average can think about him in a slightly less prototypical fourth outfielder role, as a member of an uneasy platoon with Jon Jay.

Bourjos's offensive performance to date only muddies his valuation. In 2010 and 2012, in part-time roles, he's looked awful, posting OPSes on the low end of .600 with sub-.300 OBPs. In 2011, as a starter, he hit .271/.327/.438 and showed power and offensively-useful speed, but it took him a BAbip of .338 to do it.

The Cardinals' solution to their fourth outfield problem will likely emerge out of free agency--they've been connected of late to Scott Hairston, a much different right-hander who can play center--but that won't keep VEB's commenters (and authors) from imagining the center field equivalent of Brendan Ryan getting 65 starts somewhere.

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