Last winter, the Phillies added one hitter on a major-league contract. The team did not have delusions about Peter Bourjos' offensive abilities, but he was expected to be an everyday player on his $2 million deal. He is regarded as an elite defender in the outfield, a quality that outweighed his hitting woes.
Two months into the season, Bourjos is a bench player. Pete Mackanin reached a breaking point with the 29-year-old outfielder, a point when the defense was not enough to compensate for his empty bat.
"Unfortunately, yes," the Phillies manager said. "He has got to make a drastic change to his approach offensively."
Bourjos has started in just one of the Phillies' last eight games. He is 1 for his last 16 with seven strikeouts. His .511 OPS was tied with Houston's Carlos Gomez for the lowest among all major-league outfielders entering play Tuesday.
More at-bats in the outfield will go to recent additions Cody Asche and Jimmy Paredes. Tyler Goeddel, a rookie Rule 5 pick, looks entrenched as a regular. The current alignment, of course, is not optimal and will change. The Phillies hope Nick Williams, Roman Quinn, and Dylan Cozens are some part of a future outfield combination.
Bourjos, one of Phillies general manager Matt Klentak's first acquisitions, was meant to be a mere stopgap, and even that could not last for half of a season.
The book on Bourjos appears quite clear. No hitter in baseball, according to FanGraphs, has seen a higher percentage of sliders than Bourjos. He is 6 for 38 with 16 strikeouts against a slider.
The Phillies, a team so challenged when it comes to run production, will move forward with Bourjos on the bench. He is the team's highest-paid outfielder.
"Well, you know, he's got to make an adjustment," Mackanin said. "I love his defense. He has to make adjustments mechanically like a lot of our guys."