Michael/Male/26-30. Lives in United States/Pennsylvania/Wexford/Christopher Wren, speaks English. Spends 20% of daytime online. Uses a Fast (128k-512k) connection. And likes baseball /politics.
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Monday, December 17, 2007

The Bourn Successor 

This Phillies have had a lot of luck over the last few seasons finding rookies to step up and make contributions to the team in unexpected ways. Ryan Howard stepped into the breach and became the 2005 Rookie of the Year. Chris Coste came out of nowhere – actually North Dakota – to make the majors after a decade in the minor leagues and gave the Phillies some timely hitting down the stretch. Michael Bourn? His performance last season is legendary around A Citizens Blog: 18 of 19 stolen bases.

So who is the next Michael Bourn? Two candidates emerge:

Chris Roberson. I already talked about Roberson replacing Bourn a few weeks ago. Roberson and Bourn are very similar players in many respects. Roberson, the Phillies first-round pick in the 2001 Draft, was likely to make the Phillies roster as the Phils fifth outfielder until Bourn impressed the Phillies brass enough they decided to take a chance on him. Now with Bourn gone, Roberson has his chance back.

Roberson, currently playing with the Naranjeros de Hermosillo (the Hermosillo Oranges? – my Spanish is a little rusty) in the Winter Liga Mexicana del Pacifico (Mexican Winter League) has a chance of approaching Bourn’s output. He’s fast – 19 steals in 28 tries with Triple-A Ottawa in 2007, and 25 steals in 34 tries with Triple-A Scranton in 2006 – and swings a pretty good bat: .349 OBP in ’06, .313 OBP in ’07.

Bonus points for Roberson: he’s a native of Oakland, California, just like Jimmy Rollins.

The other candidate for Bourn-status is Greg Golson, the Phillies first-round pick in the 2004 Draft. Golson is an interesting case if he actually manages to make it to Philadelphia. Basically, he has no concept about working counts and drawing walks, and would therefore have to be utilized exclusively as a defensive replacement / pinch-runner. While Golson hit .285 with the Clearwater Threshers in 2007, his OBP was just .322. He managed to draw just 21 walks and struck-out 124 times.

Promoted to Double-A Reading, Golson struck-out 49 times in 153 At-Bats. Okay, that’s bad. Even worse – he managed to draw just two walks. Yes, he drew two walks in 37 games and struck-out 49 times. That’s atrocious and a virtual guarantee that Golson won’t make it in the majors. His track-record is that he’s a free-swinger. Golson struck-out 107 times with Single-A Lakewood in 2006, walking just 19 times. Golson also struck-out 53 times with Clearwater and walked 11 times in 2006.

The pity is that Golson’s got tools. In 2006 he stole thirty bases in forty tries, hit six triples and thirteen home runs. In 2007 he took thirty of thirty-eight bases, hit 15 home runs and five triples. Were it not for his chronic inability to get on base consistently, Golson would be a good bet to make the Phillies roster later in the season. Is there hope for Golson? Sure, he’s stolen all eight of the bases he’s tried for and he’s hit three triples thus far in the Arizona Winter League. Good. He’s also drawn eight walks in 27 games! Cutting that K/BB ratio down from 5-to-1 to 3-to-1 isn’t great news, but it is improvement.

If I had to place money on Roberson or Golson, I'd put it on Roberson, who might benefit more from the advice and counsel of First Base coach Davey Lopes and becomes an impressive base-stealing threat himself. I'm sure Roberson won't go 18 for 19 in steals next season, but he'll do well and might be a big help for the Phillies in 2008.

Season in Review is tentatively scheduled for publishing on Thursday or Friday. Stay Tuned.

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Like you, I like Roberson. His fielding before the "I forgot my Sunglasses game" was incredible, he one at least two games for the Phillies last year with his glove.

The problem is room on the Bench, if a full-time 3rd baseman is like Crede , or Inge is not acquired, because we may have 2 Platoons if Jenkins or Cameron is signed:


Jason Werth R RF
Wes Helms R 3B
Eric Bruntlett R UIF
Jason Jaramillo R C or
Chris Coste
This leaves just one bench spot and Zero Left Handed Pinch-hitters so Roberson will have to Win the spot with his Bat as well (he is a switchhitter).

So he will be competing with
Chris Snelling LOF or another
left handed bat.

If, a 3B man is signed, and Helms is moved, then Robersob would be perfect to be used exactly as Bourne was last year, and I am sure he will learn alot about basestealing from Davey Lopes.
Forget Golson this year, he may get a small cup of coffee.

I don't forsee Roberson getting a spot barring injury (likely need 2 spots to open up). Dobbs may also be counted as super Utility player for RF/LF/3B/2B.

Gillick is likely to add a few more players prior to spring.

Jaramillo is more likely to make an impact if a spot opens for him. Triple A has very little in the way of position players available that are actual prospects. However that will likely change near seasons end. The organization has alot of talent in the lower minors but they are now starting to get to Clearwater and Reading.

Pitching is a whole nother matter as there are a number of possible prospects who could have impacts.
There isn't a chance that either one of these guys contributes in a meaningful way to the Phils next year.

If they do get a lot of playing time for some reason, it is likely the Phils won't enjoy a very successful season.
I haven't seen enough of Golson but I doubt he ever gets more than a cup of coffee in the majors. If he can't handle AA offspeed stuff, he has no shot in the majors.

As for Roberson, I just don't see what he brings besides some speed (which isn't at Bourn's level either). No power, doesn't hit for average or walk a lot. Plus, his defense is overrated.

He has good range but takes poor routes on routes and has an average arm.
Bourn was one of those rare players. I feel we will miss him even though it was worth getting the closer and improving the rotation. Bourn may have the best arm for an OF. Rowand 11 Assists, Victorino 10, Werth 9 (in half the innings), and Burrell 8 have above average arms but Bourn from what I have seen (minor league games, etc...) may have the best arm out of all of them. One thing to note if Cameron or Jenkins signs they both had 7 Assists last year with good fielding % (987%& 988% respectively). I would like one or both signed. If both signs then maybe a trade of Burrell 948% fielding, could net a pitcher or 3rd baseman. Just a thought.
Bourn had a 1000% fielding average with 0 Assists - they just didn't test his arm enough to get those outs.
I, too, will miss Michael Bourn. I was at a Phillies/Marlins game in Miami last season and a Marlin hit a shot into deepest left-center field (a little more toward center) and Bourn tracked it down. I couldn't believe the ground he covered on that play. When the Phillies had Bourne in left, Rowland in center and Victorino in right, I considered that the best defensive outfield in the majors.
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