THINGS STARTING TO PERCOLATE
The Seattle Mariners - to their credit - opted not to pick up Jose Guillen's $9 million dollar option for next year, though they still say they might negotiate a new, multi-year deal with Guillen like any other free agent on the market.
A couple of interesting things here. Guillen, who batted .290-23-99 in 2007, says he wants to end his career with the Mariners. Of course, he said the same thing about the Nationals, and the Angels, and the Athletics, and the Devil Rays and ... well .... you get the idea. Also, Mariners' manager John McLaren says that Guillen has not been a problem in the Seattle clubhouse. "I don't know where all the trouble came from, but he wasn't trouble here" said McLaren.
Newsflash to McLaren: Wait. It'll come.
Jose Guillen reminds me a lot of my wife. When things are going well, when there isn't much to get stressed about, Guillen is a good teammate. But when things are off kilter, when outside pressures are causing problems, Jose Guillen will erupt and destroy the clubhouse (it's a good thing my wife doesn't read this blog, huh?).
The Mariners turned down $9 million a year, and Guillen turned down Jim Bowden's $7 million a year in 2006. Sounds like a 4 year, $32 million deal to me.
Would the Nationals be better with Jose Guillen in right instead of Austin Kearns? Last season, Guillen committed 8 errors, had 9 assists and a .972 fielding percent. Kearns made just 2 errors along with 9 assists. His fielding percent was .995. If Guillen is thought to be an excellent fielder - and he is - then Kearns must be considered a super-star. Offensively, Kearns is capable of matching Guillen's offense, and will probably exceed it one day. And Kearns is considered one of the genuine "nice guys" in the Nationals' clubhouse while Guillen, well you know the answer to that.
Really, it's no comparison. Guillen is four years older and sometimes acts like a four-year old. He'll probably play another six years and do it with six different teams. Kearns, on the other hand, will be a National for the rest of his career.
And now word surfaces that he's been doping for several years. A doped-up outfielder with an anger management problem.
So, what's that worth exactly??
With the general managers' meeting in full swing, there are already several rumors that are beginning to circle the Washington Nationals (and some suggestions from fans to be sure).
Some are trying to read something into Jim Bowden's contacting Aaron Rowand and Tori Hunter's agents. Nothing's happening here. Both are top-tier free agents that just aren't in the Nationals' plans right now; Kasten has said it and Bowden has said it. And they're right. As much as I'd like to see a stud in center, the team just isn't strong enough to ride the coat tails of a super star into the playoffs. And if they aren't, then why spend $12 or $15 million a year?
The Tampa Bay "Rays" [they've all but dropped the "Devil" part of their name] are going to be shopping Scott Kazmir during this year's Winter Meeting. Kazmir was part of the most one-sided trades in recent memory when the Mets traded the former 1st round pick along with Jose Diaz to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for Bartolome Fortunato and Victor Zambrano [who?]. Playing for a bad team in a decidedly offensive division, Kazmir has gone 35-29, 3.64 since 2005. What would it take to get him into a Nationals' uniform? Start with Matt Chico, throw in either Jon Rauch or Chad Cordero and a mid-level minor leaguer, and you'd be pretty close.
How busy will Jimbo be this off season? My guess is very. The Nationals have to at least appear to be stocking the team with player upgrades for the new stadium. These are the players I expect to be traded by opening day:
- Felipe Lopez: Ronnie Belliard is a great 2nd baseman and the law of averages demands that Cristian Guzman have one good, healthy year out of four in D. C.
- Chad Cordero or Jon Rauch. The team won't miss one of them (with Luis Ayala filling in the 8th inning set-up roll)
- Ryan Church: I love him, the team doesn't. If they find a power hitting outfielder, he'll be the guy to go.
We're getting into my favorite time of year when foundations are being laid for trades and signings that will help craft next year's team.