Acquiring Jason Vargas, Keeping (and Playing?!) Peter Bourjos and Other Things that Make this Blogger Giddy Happy

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. So, these two Dirt Bags walk out to the mound and…and…well, suddenly I’m a much happier Angels fan, that’s what. No, no punch line. Just that. See, early yesterday I started writing a post that was quite ranty (about the need for another starting pitcher, a good one this time) and involved a great deal of begging and pleading (please, please don’t trade either Mark Trumbo or Peter Bourjos to accomplish this). I don’t like writing begging, pleading rants at all and I liked both the state of the starting rotation and the, seemingly likely, prospect of trading Bourjos and/or Trumbo with or without additional prospects in order to correct the situation even less.

But instead, thanks to Santas Jerry Dipoto and Arte Moreno, I get to write about the Angels trading Kendrys Morales to the Mariners for Jason Vargas instead (another Long Beach State baseball team alum, joining fellow Dirt Bag Jered Weaver in the rotation). What’s not to like about that? Yes, the Angels and, indeed, this Angels fan will absolutely miss Kendrys in the lineup and I even think that he will improve a bit more this season as he moves further and further away from his last surgery. However, I think that with the addition of Josh Hamilton, we will miss Kendrys a lot less than we would miss the more versatile Trumbo. In addition to slugging, Trumbo can cover both corner outfield positions, first base and – yes I’m going to say it, quiet you – if he actually gets practice time during Spring Training this season there is even the possibility of him covering third. Hey, it could happen.

And — and this is a huge and in my book, more of an AND, really – Trumbo can now spend most of his time in the now vacated designated hitter’s position allowing for a regular outfield featuring Mike Trout and Hamilton in the corners and Bourjos playing an even better centerfield than Trout. Yes, you read that correctly, an even better centerfield than Trout – Bourjos is alternately just as fast and faster depending on the task in question, tends to run better routes and has a stronger arm. And watching Trout and Bourjos dominate the outfield together on the rare occasions I’ve gotten to see it is one of my current favorite delights in baseball…adding Hamilton to that mix? Every day or very nearly so? Um, yeah, I’ll be in my bunk.

But Bourjos can’t hit, whine the naysayers. Correct, he can’t hit…when he’s only getting one or two innings of playing time a week as he was in 2012 or during his first half season in the majors. When Bourjos has a full season of regular playing time however, well we only have a one season sample size for this but, while he started out slow to be sure in 2011, Bourjos hit .271 with a .765 OPS (a decidedly speed enhanced figure, and yay for that) and 12 homeruns for the season. I for one would really like to see what the kid can do with another full season of regular playing time and it sure sounds like Dipoto and Mike Scioscia would like to see that as well. Yo ho, yo ho, it’s a lightning fast Angels lineup for me!

Um, hey, blogger lady? Sorry to interrupt and all but so far you’ve talked about every single aspect of this Vargas trade except Vargas himself. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Patience. There was a reason for that. In my opinion this deal is every bit as important to the Angels for it allowed the team to do in terms of bolstering defense while maintaining offense as for what it did for the starting rotation. However, when it comes to the starting rotation, the Angels just moved from having an Ace, a positive and three question marks to having an Ace, two positives and Scioscia’s choice of the two most promising question marks out of the three. Is it perfect? No. But it is a lot better. And, with this outfield and this offense, on paper at least it all looks pretty darned good. The same can also be said of Vargas himself. Yes, that 4.35 career ERA looks a little scary. But I think this is a case where the numbers don’t really reflect the reality of Vargas’s pitching. Vargas has pitched better than that 4.35 ERA for three of his four seasons – the most recent three – with Seattle. And last season he was good for 14 wins…with Seattle’s outfield and Seattle’s offense. Wait’ll he gets a load of ours!



  1. Minoring In Baseball

    Kristen-I remember last year I think you were sticking up for Kendrys, so I know you’ll miss him. Vargas is a solid pick-up, though, and the Dirt Bag legacy is awesome! Bourjos’ offensive stats aren’t bad, and with the Angels line-up, they can hide an average hitter with great defense. 2013 can’t come soon enough. Merry Christmas, again!

    • This is a very simple game...

      Merry Christmas Mike! Yes, I was definitely sticking up for Kendrys last season. I still don’t know if he’ll ever be exactly the player he was, but he has definitely improved back to being a player teams should want for his offense and, while I doubt he can play the field every day just yet, the man can still move at first. And I think he’s going to keep getting better as he works range back into that ankle. I think this was a win/win trade. The M’s are getting someone good that they need and the Angels are as well. And both players involved seem to be genuinely good guys as well. I only hope Kendrys doesn’t turn into decimator of Angels pitching like Napoli did because, yikes!

      — Kristen

  2. Mateo Fischer

    This is a scary team. They seem to be a team that can be streaky, but that also means they’ll go on hot streaks where they’ll be near-unstoppable.. My only hope is that hot streak happens after April.
    P.S. I actually didn’t know that was the mascot. That should be a great tid-bit to have when the Angels come here to Minnesota. (Well I currently write this in California…you know what I mean!)

    • This is a very simple game...

      Well, the Angels are known for slow season starts, Mateo, so you can hope but I sure hope this year will be different. 🙂 I just always keep in the back of my mind that paper is all well and good but no one knows how things like the streakiness will play out until the teams hit the field.

      Dirt Bags is more of a nickname than a mascot and only for the baseball team. Before the baseball program had any money, Long Beach State players used to practice on an all dirt field and practice long and hard such that they came in from every practice absolutely covered in dirt – hence they became the dirt bags. As the hard practices began to yield results, dirt bag baseball became synonymous with their talented, tough underdog style of play. Dirt bags who’ve made the majors (Weaver, Vargas, Evan Longoria and Troy Tulowitzki – kind of an impressive list) have since given back to the program, so they probably have better practice digs now, but the nickname stays and is considered quite the compliment so if groups of Twins fans start shouting Dirt Bag it may sound like they’re cheering for the opposing pitcher, LOL!

      — Kristen

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