Why Bourn, If Not Reyes?

San Francisco Giants v Atlanta BravesAs the possibility of Michael Bourn landing in Queens seems more and more like a reality, there are a faction of fans who feel Bourn wouldn’t be such a necessity, had the Mets simply resigned Jose Reyes.  On the surface, they’re correct, however as is the case with everything New York Mets, there is always more to it.  Its easy to compare the two players.  Both center their games around speed, are similar in age, play skill positions and are amongst the best leadoff hitters in baseball.  So it begs the question: Why would the Mets sign Michael Bourn if they weren’t willing to resign Jose Reyes?

From a pure statistical standpoint, Bourn and Reyes aren’t so different.  If you want to discuss their best quality, speed, Bourn has averaged 51 stolen bases and 8 triples per 162 games played whereas Reyes has averaged 55 and 15 respectfully.  When it comes to their prowess at the plate, each have a career on-base percentage within points of .340, but on all other fronts Reyes has been a bit better.  Reyes boasts an career batting average twenty points higher than Bourn and a slugging percentage that dwarfs the free agent centerfielder.  Reyes also doesn’t share Bourn’s propensity for strikeouts.  So again I ask, why would the Mets sign Michael Bourn if there weren’t willing to resign Jose Reyes?

As much as most Reyes advocates won’t want to hear it, health is a factor in this comparison.  While Bourn may only average six more games per season since becoming a full-time player, the last five seasons have seen him average 150 games per season compared to Reyes’ average of only 123.  Such a health concern, or lack there off in Bourn’s case provides one reason why the Mets may be considering him when they balked on Reyes.  Another reason, which shouldn’t come a a surprise to most, is that the four year, roughly $50 million dollar contract the Mets are theoretically set to offer Bourn is no where near the six year, $106 million dollar contract Reyes commanded on the open market last winter.

Michael Bourn may not be the flashy, exciting player the Mets once had in Reyes, he may not be as good as Reyes in general (although WAR states otherwise if you’re into that kind of thing) but he certainly appears to be less of a risk.  Therein lies the reason Bourn appeals to Sandy Alderson so much. Not only does Bourn immediately fill the teams’ need at leadoff, he also bolsters a weak outfielding core on the cheap, so to speak.  That should make him an ideal fit in Sandy’s system.

Finally, its important to reaffirm that the Mets wouldn’t be signing Michael Bourn to replace Jose Reyes.  That task was unfairly dealt out to Ruben Tejada last spring, and while he can’t be expected to fill Reyes’ shoes, it was the presence of a sound shortstop who the Mets feel can hit for average that made a much more expensive Reyes expendable.  There is no such player when it comes to the Mets’ outfield.  Michael Bourn is not Jose Reyes, and likely never will be.  However, under these circumstances and at the price being discussed, he will be a Met if Sandy Alderson has his way.

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