Following an 0-15 stretch in August (and going hitless in his last 21 at bats) and the call up of Kila Ka’aihue, Kansas City has bit the bullet and designated Jose Guillen for assignment. What that means is the Royals have ten days to trade him or release him. Either way, he’s no longer on the roster, a move awaited by many Royals fans since the day he signed.
Taking his place on the roster is Philip Humber who was recalled from Omaha. Humber was the third overall pick by the Mets in 2004 and was part of the trade that sent Johan Santana to the Mets. In Omaha, he’d posted a 5-6 record with a 4.47 ERA, striking out 6.1 batters per nine innings and walking just 1.5 per nine in 118.2 innings pitched.
But enough about Humber. The big news is, of course, the end of the Jose Guillen era. At the time of his signing prior to 2008, his three year, $36 million contract was laughed at, and for good reason. The Royals essentially outbid themselves, as other teams were reportedly only offering 8 or 9 million (“only”) for Guillen’s services.
Guillen’s time in Kansas City can be described as bipolar. He would go on stretches where he’d hit homers in bunches, then follow it up by two weeks of strikeouts and grounders. At one point, he called his teammates “babies”, though in 2010, he’s been mostly well-behaved. On the surface, it’s odd that a team would cut their team leader in homeruns and RBI, but Guillen was in the way of younger players’ development. As we’ve seen in the last two weeks, Dayton Moore has made moving aging players on the cusp of free agency to free up room for younger players and to get some kind of return.
This move allows Kila Ka’aihue to get regular playing time at the major league level for the first time. Despite his stellar minor league numbers, the Royals front office doesn’t seem to believe in Ka’aihue the way a lot of Royals fans do. There’s a very reasonable chance that Ka’aihue won’t be part of the big picture with Billy Butler around and Eric Hosmer on the way, but until he gets regular time at the plate, there’s no way to know either way. So this is a good move for the organization long-term as it should finally provide some answers.
For now, let us think back on the memories. There were the good: the wicked series against the Yankees in June 2008. Numerous laser-like throws from right field to nail a runner. The wonderful feeling that you could beat a major league baseball player in a footrace…
There were also the bad. The “babies” comment. The misplayed popup that turned into an inside-the-park homer last year in Anaheim. The slider down and away.
You can’t really applaud Moore too much for the move, as he created the problem in the first place. But there’s something to be said for at least recognizing when it’s time to fold the hand. I don’t know what return – if any – the Royals might get for Guillen. Since he’s been DFA’d, teams know the Royals have to release him at the end of the assignment period so they may not even make a trade offer. But if there are a few teams interested, they’ll have to offer something in a trade, though you can’t really figure it’ll be much in return.
The biggest benefit to the move has already been realized.