One of the big offseason acquisitions St. Louis Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak was thought to have made was CF Peter Bourjos. Acquired as part of the David Freese trade, Bourjos was said to be a significant upgrade from veteran Jon Jay and the club’s best CF since Jim Edmonds.
Midway through the opening game at Cincinnati, however, having already fanned and dropping a catchable fly ball, Bourjos was reminding nobody of Jimmy Baseball and provoking a more thorough examination of the two players’ stats.
While Bourjos comes with a reputation, that reputation is both good and bad. Good namely for defense, but that defense came in limited participation due to a history of injury. Conversely, Jay has been very durable, reliable and an integral element to the Cardinals’ vaunted chemistry.
With a combined Baseball Reference WAR of 8.3 over his first four seasons, Jay compares very closely to Bourjos with nearly double the amount of at bats in that time. Jay is also noted for his clutch play, as demonstrated throughout the various playoff runs the club has enjoyed during his stint as a starter.
Bourjos is not without ability and is certainly capable of leaving his debut a distant memory, but his start and his history of serious injuries leads one to believe it is entirely possible that before the season ends Jay will reclaim the familiar territory of center field at Busch Stadium. Were that to happen, the Cardinals would not be suffering such a downgrade after all if one looks at the stats, the history and not so much the hype. But the trade, while known now for bringing Bourjos, may well still swing heavily in the Cardinals’ favor when a man named Randal Grichuk casts his shadow over Busch. More on that tomorrow.