One of the more intriguing offseason trades was the Los Angeles Angels sending speedy outfielder Peter Bourjos to the St. Louis Cardinals for slugging third baseman David Freese. The Cards have infield depth to cover Freese and they liked Bourjos because of the ground he can cover in center. And, presumably, on the bases.
Bourjos stole 22 bases when he got 552 plate appearances in 2011, his only full and fully healthy season in the major leagues. Given another chance to play every day in 2014, Bourjos said in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Monday, he wants to steal 40 bases. He's stolen as many as 50 in the minors.
"I’d like to be in the 40s," said Bourjos, referring to his potential stolen-base total, as he was interviewed at the Cardinals’ Winter Warm-Up, which wrapped up Monday.
Forty is a funny total, because a Cardinals player hasn't stolen at least 40 bases in a season since Delino DeShields swiped 55 back in 1997. In 2013, as a team, the Cardinals stole 45 bases total. Remarkable for the organization of Lou Brock, Vince Coleman, Ozzie Smith and Willie McGee. They're the Runnin' Redbirds no more.
And they still won't run much as a group. Bourjos probably will be on his own in his quest to get 40 of the Cardinals, oh, 50 steals in 2014.
"It’s all about how you’re swinging the bat," said Bourjos.
Swinging the bat, but more importantly getting on base. In 2,168 career plate appearances in the minors, Bourjos has drawn 142 walks. He has a .306 on-base percentage in the majors after walking 10 times in 2013. Bourjos, thankfully aware of his limitations, admits he's not a an "on-base guy."
"I think I’m more of a gap-to-gap guy. I don’t inherently draw a lot of walks.
"I don’t go up trying to walk because I don’t think it’s one of my strengths."
Bourjos is going to have to hit at least .280, possibly higher, and get 150 starts to reach 40 steals. He can do it, but he doesn't make it easy on himself with a swing-happy approach. And considering he turns 27 years old in March, it's not realistic to expect him to change now — even if he wanted to.
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