Jose Guillen: bat speed, playing time, and big numbers

My network is now powered with a new wireless router giving me more speed and the ability to network my printer to my laptop wirelessly.  If you are asking me what this has to do with baseball, the answer is absolutely nothing, but the router’s arrival and smooth installation had me in a good mood and I felt the need to share the news.  Both boys were completely cooperative with bedtime which is about as close as you can come to a Christmas miracle in the middle of March.

In good spirits and with a quiet house, I fired up my laptop to get some writing done.  Not only did I pretty much mail it in yesterday, but I fell woefully short of publishing five articles over the weekend with a net total of only two posted.  Needless to say, I was motivated and ready to work on my next prospect profile and some thoughts on a handful of players who have been recently released by a number of teams.

My first step when I sit down to write is to always check Google Reader to see if any noteworthy content has come in by way of dozens of RSS feeds.  Sometimes I go through everything, sometimes I skim for the Royals news, and flag other stuff to read later.  Since I was in good spirits and wanted to get right to work, I was in “skim mode” when I came across Dick Kaegel’s article on MLB.com, Guillen showing moxie this spring.  After reading it, I felt compelled to react to some of the quotes contained within the story.

First off we have this gem that Jose Guillen was kind enough to share:

“I’m a winner, I’m a team player. I’m not one of those guys that’s going to be a selfish player,” Guillen said. “I’m going to DH sometimes but I’m going to play a lot in the outfield. And that’s something in my mindset, to show Trey I can play in the field and I think so far I have proven that. And I’m confident that I’m going to play, I’m going to get my 500 at-bats. I guarantee that.”

Guillen is a professional ballplayer, so I get that he is confident.  I have no doubt that he honestly believes what he is saying.  In fact, if he didn’t feel that he was going to play and get his ABs, he wouldn’t have made it through 13 major league seasons and he sure wouldn’t have a 2010 salary of $12 million.  I want to stress this.  Jose should believe he is going to play and he should prepare as if he’s going to be in the lineup everyday.  To do anything else on his part would be unprofessional.

The problem isn’t that Jose Guillen wants to play, it’s that Trey Hillman keeps making comments like this:

At the end of the day, I’m going to put the best team out there I think is going to win a ballgame.  He’s still going to get plenty of reps in right field.

Really?  Dayton Moore signed not one, not two, but three outfielders this offseason to upgrade the OF defense and yet Trey wants Jose to get his reps in RF?  I get that it is just spring training spin and such spin may be more meaningless than spring training stats, but does he really have to say such things.  Jose Guillen hasn’t had a positive UZR/150 in RF since 2006 when it checked in at 2.2.  His poor OF defense isn’t a recent occurrence.  Yes, he did struggle with injuries last year which contributed to his -43.8 UZR/150 for the season, but he had a -7.0 UZR/150 in 2007 and -7.8 UZR/150 in 2008.  A defensive renaissance isn’t impossible, but it is very improbable and he isn’t getting any younger.

Want more Jose Guillen delusion from the brilliant baseball mind that is Trey Hillman?

Hillman has complimented Guillen’s swing and bat speed several times this spring.

“Tremendous,” Hillman said. “It’s as good as two years ago when he put up the big numbers.”

Yeah, you know, two years ago.  You remember that tremendous bat speed and big numbers from 2008?  I must have missed the big offsensive season, so I looked up Guillen’s career on Baseball-Reference just to make sure.  Turns out that, at least in this case, my memory isn’t so faulty.

2008 was his first year with the Royals and it went a little something like this:

0.264/.300/.438, 42 2B, 20 HR, 23 BB, 106 SO and a 95 OPS+ in 633 plate appearances.  That was his year with “big” numbers.  That season Guillen struck out 4.6 times for every one walk.  Why is that significant?  In his 13-season career he has averaged 3.2 SO for every 1 BB.  In terms of plate discipline and patience at the plate, 2008 was Guillen’s worst season since 1997 when he was 21 and making his major league debut for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

It wasn’t a big season by any standards, even for the Royals.

This is the reality of Jose Guillen.  He has been an above average player in just 4 of his 13 career seasons.  His career OPS+ stands at 99.  He has never been very good defensively.  His career -4.9 UZR/150 has been compiled over 11,000 innings in the field.  He will turn 34 this May so his best days, offensively and defensively, are behind him.

No matter the spin and no matter the rhetoric, I stand by my belief that the Royals should give Jose Guillen his outright release and eat the $12 million they owe him in the process.  Granted, it’s not my money so I understand the reasoning behind his presence on the opening day roster, but I sure don’t have to like it.  Trey Hillman could minimize the error that was, and is, the Jose Guillen signing by restricting his game action to DH duty.  He should never be in the lineup over Alberto Callaspo.  The closest he should ever get to RF is when he is standing on first base.

It is what it is.  The money is spent and Jose Guillen is here.  Please Trey, don’t make things worse than they already are.

(Wally Fish is the lead blogger for Kings of Kauffman and FanSided’s MLB Director.  Subscribe to his RSS feed and add him on Twitter to follow him daily.)

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