With the recent monster signing of former Texas Ranger Josh Hamilton to a 5-year, $125 million contract it's become obvious the Angels are in "win now" mode harder than they've ever been before. Harder than they were last year when they spent $300 million on Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson. The Hamilton signing is nothing but amazing for the Angels, in the short term that is. The future of the ball club is a little hazy, only because of the massive contracts given out to Pujols and Hamilton. If the Angels happen to win a World Series or two in the lifetime of the Hamilton contract then it'll be for the better, though that contract does have to potential to turn around and bite the Angels in the ass as quickly and out of the blue as the actual signing was. Hamilton's off-field issues always go hand in hand with his playing ability, when he's hitting like the All-Star MVP Hamilton you know everything is good to go behind the scenes, but once he hits a terribly drawn out slump most of us can come to the conclusion that something is off behind the scenes. After the All-Star break last season Hamilton's performance dropped off badly, and to no one’s surprise it turns out Josh Hamilton was overloading his body with energy drinks. The man has his issues, that's no question, but the Angels are going to need some contingency plan to protect themselves from any negative scenario.
What can the Angels do to avoid compromising the future of the club?
Easy. Don't trade Peter Bourjos.
I know that we have pretty much no room in the outfield for him and with the hole(s) in our starting rotation it would be incredibly beneficial to trade him for a reliable, middle-of-the-rotation starter. But what if I told you it wasn't beneficial to trade him for a reliable starting pitcher? This isn't that Angels of yesteryear anymore, we don't have to rely on phenomenal pitching to back up a mediocre batting lineup that can barely give their starters a lead. This Angels offense is absolutely juiced, so juiced that it makes up more than enough for the holes in the starting rotation. The need for another quality starter was voided as soon as the Angels brought Josh Hamilton on board; his bat can give the Angels more wins than an every-fifth-day player. I feel that Hamilton's presence in the lineup does more for guys like Weaver and Wilson and even the lesser quality pitchers like Blanton than Greinke would have done if he were signed. This move is huge for the question marks in the rotation that is Garret Richards and Tommy Hanson, giving these guys the confidence to go out and trust the offense (and defense) behind them will do massive wonders for their performance.
What happens to the Angels when Hamilton takes a big hit in production? What if he slumps hard, has another relapse, or is simply injured again and spends multiple weeks on the DL? That's why the Angels need to keep Peter Bourjos in the fold ready to go just in case. One of those previous scenarios is likely to happen with Hamilton's track record and the Angels are going to need to replace his production big time in case of emergency. In my eyes Peter Bourjos can produce just as well as Josh Hamilton, though in a much different way. Peter Bourjos ranks as one of the top defensive CFers in the game, losing out on Josh Hamilton's offensive production can be managed by slotting in Peter Bourjos and his elite defense. Peter Bourjos defense may not be as sexy as Hamilton's big offensive power, but I can guarantee you that the Angels pitchers would like very much to have Peter Bourjos robbing home runs and base hits if they can't have Hamilton smashing the ball out of the park. Once you add in Bourjos' value on the base paths it's clear that he's the best replacement in the lineup for Josh Hamilton, if you can't beat the other team with offense you have to beat them somewhere else. Peter Bourjos gives the Angels the luxury of giving the team options.
The Angels can't go and give up that luxury to fill a hole in the rotation, especially when you have guys like Kendrys Morales who can bring in decent value as well, though his trade value isn't nearly as good as Bourjos'. I know Garrett Wilson made the argument that it's better to trade Petey and keep Kendrys to give the Angels a super-offense, but that's just the thing, the Angels will have a super-offense with or without him. In fact trading Kendrys opens up the DH hole for Trumbo, which is where he fits best in the lineup anyway. That gives Bourjos the opportunity for more playing time, he might not get the chance to be an everyday starter even with Trumbo and Pujols sharing the DH hole, but he'll still get a hell of a lot more playing time than he did last year. Kendrys won't bring in anything special, probably a marginally better version of Joe Blanton at best, though he'll be a free agent next year and the Angels definitely won't be signing him again so might as well get some value for him now while we still can. If anything I'd rather the Angels traded him for some decent prospects to restock the farm for now, as of now I feel this team is capable of competing for a playoff spot and ultimately a World Series berth.
I wouldn't go as far as to say the future of this team is questionable, but I would point out that there's quite a bit of a kindling for a fire that could go up in flames at a moment’s notice. The longevity of this team would definitely be protected by keeping around the young cost controlled players like Bourjos; I would still say he's a core player on this team. This keeps the teams options open and vast as opposed to Vernon Wells, because if the Angels trade Petey they'll need a fourth outfielder and we all know who that will go to. The rumor that the Angels are shopping Wells & Morales as a package deal bodes well for the team, though not for the value that'll bring in by forcing teams to take on Wells with Morales.
The Angels have a team capable of not only winning big now, but winning big far into the future. I don't want to see that compromised by trading away one of our biggest assets in Bourjos, especially when he's paired up with Trout in the outfield. Even if Bourjos' bat never resurfaces to his 2011 form posting him next to Trout every day in the outfield will do more for the Angels than wishing him farewell for a solid starter.
Unless that starter happens to be Matt Moore or Jeremy Hellickson of the Tampa Bay Rays. Dammit why hasn't this trade happened already?! Get on it Dipoto!