Indians expect more steals from Michael Bourn
The first two years of Michael Bourn’s four-year hitch with the Indians have been a boon for the player and a disappointment, if not an abject disaster, for the team. Bourn has raked in $20.5 million in exchange for 1.6 WARP, sliding both defensive and at the plate, and virtually collapsing on the base paths.
Once renowned as one of the majors’ greatest stolen-base threats, Bourn went just 23-for-35 (65.7 percent) in that department in 2013 and tumbled even further, to 10-for-16 (62.5 percent) last year. The decrease in attempts might have reflected Bourn’s mediocre success rate from the previous season, but a series of hamstring injuries—stemming from October 2013 surgery—was the primary culprit. Assuming those heal with an offseason of rest, manager Terry Francona wants Bourn to “wreak havoc” on the dirt.
That should mean more tries and, in turn, more steals, which is music to fantasy owners’ ears, but Bourn will need to convert his stolen-base opportunities more frequently to help the Indians. Moreover, the one base you can’t steal is first, and Bourn has increasingly had trouble reaching it, with his on-base percentage dropping to .314 last season, his worst performance since 2008, his first full year in the majors. Healthy legs should help in that area, too, as Bourn hit just .242 on groundballs last year, down from .307 in 2013 and the .260-.275 range in 2011-12 with the Astros and Braves.
With at least $27.5 million remaining on Bourn’s contract, and $12 million more coming if he reaches 550 plate appearances in 2016, the Indians need to find some way to salvage value out of the four-year, $48 million investment agent Scott Boras massaged out of them. Getting more from the center fielder’s legs is paramount, and at 32, Bourn should still have something left to offer. If Francona and the Tribe hold true to their word, we’ll find out early in the season just how much is left in the tank.
At any rate, the Astros want a pitcher to complete their rotation, and they have their sights set on Correia after losing out to the Giants on Ryan Vogelsong, according to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman. The right-hander is cheap, slightly above replacement level, and generally durable. In other words, he fits the job description.
Correia was better than his 4.94 ERA might suggest (4.38 FIP) before the Twins shipped him to the Dodgers, but he was terrible in the swingman role Los Angeles skipper Don Mattingly asked him to fill, coughing up seven homers in 24 2/3 innings. A steadier role should help the 34-year-old to return to his days of providing stability and chewing up 160-180 innings for a club whose sights are set low.
At present, first-year skipper A.J. Hinch’s rotation consists of Scott Feldman, Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh, Brett Oberholtzer, and Dan Straily, with a few lurkers like Brad Peacock and Sam Deduno coming to camp. Signing Correia would firm up the no. 5 job, but it would also stymie the competition, essentially removing any chance the Astros have of getting excess value from that spot.
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