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Could Michael Bourn be a Phillie in 2013?


As it currently stands today, Michael Bourn is probably the best player any opposing team has received from the Phillies since their reign of the NL East began in 2007, and you could mark a blockbuster deal down on your calendar as a sure bet from Phillies’ management.
Since being traded with Geoff Geary and minor league prospect Mike Costanzo for Brad Lidge and Eric Bruntlett, Bourn has won two Gold Gloves, made two All-Star teams, and stolen 239 bases. As successful as Bourn has been in his post-Phillies career, the Phightins won a World Series after they dealt him, so the deal should never be questioned.Michael Bourn photo: blogs.ajc.com

Last season, Bourn was traded to the Braves, where he gave the team a much needed spark at the top of their lineup. The Braves want him back next season, but whether they can afford him is another question. With the retirement of Chipper Jones after this season, there’s talk that Atlanta might pursue Mets third baseman David Wright in an effort to bolster their power.

This is where the Phillies come into play.

By now you most likely heard about Shane Victorino and his “conversation” with Charlie Manuel Sunday afternoon. Some reports say he got into it with Manuel after being dropped to seventh in the batting order for Sunday’s game. Manuel says he just needed a mental health day. Either way, Victorino was originally in the lineup but Jason Pridie ended up taking his place.

Well, if Pridie continues to hit the way he does, Victorino might be riding the pine a little more. Furthermore, Victorino might not even be here come July 31st if any of those conflicting reports turn out to be true.

Back to Bourn. With Jimmy Rollins’ less than spectacular performance becoming more the rule than the exception these days, the Phillies might entertain the possibility of signing Bourn when he becomes a free agent this winter. The Phillies are obviously familiar with him, having watched him come up through the farm system as well as on the major league level during parts of 2006 and 2007. Moreover, Bourn is reportedly good friends with several of his old teammates, and he’s played with Rollins, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Carlos Ruiz. I didn’t mention Victorino because he would be taking his place. I didn’t mention Cole Hamels because, well......I don’t even want to get into that. If the Phillies are able to bring Hamels back, chances are the bulk of their off-season budget will go to him.

As we noted earlier, Bourn has many positives to his game and by all accounts is a solid clubhouse guy. In saying that however, he does have some lesser points as well. He strikes out way too much for a leadoff hitter, he’s been ranked in the top three in caught stealing since 2009, and although his .366 on-base percentage ranks among the best for NL center fielders (and is much better than Jimmy Rollins’ .314 OBP), I’d like to see Bourn’s career OBP of .340 just a little bit higher.

Nonetheless, there’s going to have to be a time (whether it’s this year or next) when the Phillies need to make a change in the leadoff spot. Who knows why Rollins doesn’t hit well when out of his normal batting position, but coincidence or not, how long can the Phillies sacrifice ego for the overall betterment of their team? Rollins has been a franchise cornerstone for years, but like several other veterans on this team, he has not stepped up in the wake of this season long debacle.

The Phillies might not be blowing up this team the way it is currently assembled, but they do need some major changes, and maybe that can start with Michael Bourn patrolling centerfield in 2013.

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Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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Photo: Michael Bourn photo: blogs.ajc.com