Saturday, November 20, 2004

Our Long Nationals Nightmare

Well, it's not Jim Bowden's worst move, but it is his most puzzling. As you've probably heard, the Nationals acquired Jose Guillen from the Angels in exchange for Juan Rivera and Maicer Izturis. Reaction has been mixed; I think it was a lousy deal, but perfectly in line with Bowden's tendencies.

First, Guillen. Jose Guillen, whom I will occasionally call Joey Williams in the tradition of the Tony the Baptist, is Dominican and will be 29 next year. He'll make $3.5 million in 2004, and the team has a $4 million option for him in '05. He has awful control of the strike zone - you don't walk off the island, as they say - and has only recently become a good hitter. From 1997 to 2002, his OPS+ stayed between 88 and 66. That is very poor; for comparison, Cristian Guzman's career OPS+ is 76, and he's famous for not being able to hit. Barry Bonds was at 260 last year. Guillen's career high in homers is 31, in doubles 38, and walks 37.

Joey broke out in 2003, his age 27 season, posting an unexpected 141 OPS+ (.311 BA, .359 OBP, .569 SLG). He subsequently signed with Anaheim and put up a solid 119 OPS+. That's not what's best known about his 2004 season however, as he was suspended for the last two weeks of the season (as the Angels battled for the AL West title) and the playoffs following a confrontation with his manager.

That's the guy we're getting. Here's the guy we had: Juan Rivera is two years younger than Guillen. He spent parts of three years with the Yankees before coming to Montreal in the Javier Vasquez trade. He took over the right field job vacated when Crazy Carl Everett went to the White Sox. Rivera had a solid 2004, providing a 118 OPS+ (.307/.364/.465) for the low price of around $300,000. So let's compare their 2004s directly (I'm sorry, but my li'l chart won't behave.)

Guillen Rivera
OPS 849 829
OPS+ 119 118
EQA .282 .279
AOM 1 0

That last stat is a creation of my own, Assaults on Manager. Guillen led the AL with one.

As we can see, Guillen was a hair more productive than was Rivera, as long as we stick to stats that give no weight to playing time. This trade has gotten good reviews (from the Bowden perspective) in some circles, and I suspect that it's simply because people undervalue Rivera. They remember him as a part-timer in New York and a platoon outfielder in Montreal. I see a solid producer who costs next to nothing and could be poised to break out. Let us not forget that Joey Williams was a really bad hitter until he was 27. Rivera's age 26 season (104 OPS+) is better than anything Guillen did before he made it to 27. Let us also not forget that Guillen has never had another season that came close to his 2003. Guillen has a better than even chance to out-hit Rivera over the next two years, but he won't out-hit him enough to justify the outlay of $3 million and Maicer Izturis along with the risk of Guillen getting himself kicked off the team again ("Unfortunately, this was not the first time something has cropped up with Jose." - Angels GM Bill Stoneman, announcing Joey's suspension). That's a heavy price to pay for such a small and questionable upgrade.

Then there's Izturis. I'm not real busted up about the loss of young Mr. Izturis. My fixation on him over the last month says a lot more about the crappiness of Cristian Guzman and Orlando Cabrera than it does about the goodness of Maicer. Izturis has a chance to be a solid major leaguer, but he also has a good chance to be a master pine-rider. The Guzman contract isn't going to get unsigned until I perfect my time machine, so we didn't need him. Given the crappiness of this trade, however, it really should have been Anaheim throwing in the marginal prospect. Jim Bowden needs to learn that the other GMs aren't going to respect him after he lets them do this kind of thing to him. Once again Bowden gets his name in the paper and grabs a guy people have heard of. Once again he does his best to make us mediocre now and mediocre later, rather than bad now and good later. Once again he proves that he was possibly the single wrongest man in the world for this job.

Miscellany:
  • Frank Robinson will manage in 2005. I guess he didn't really mean all that stuff about getting a multi-year deal. I don't care one way or the other. Just go easy on the pitchers, Frank.
  • It's the Nationals, and it'll be announced on Monday. Red, white, and blue uniforms, script W on the caps, all my favorite crap. It's a temporary name and could be a lot worse (remember the Virginia Fury idea? Boy, those Loudoun guys sure were a bunch of wacky idiots), so I'm not upset exactly. I'm filled not with anger but with ennui.
  • You know that Jim Bowden guy? I don't think he's a very good GM.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What perplexes me is how Jaime Bowden is pontificating on who will play which position, and other issues which ought to be the prerogative of Francisco el Gerente.

Okay, enough of that silliness. Even if Guillen is a miserable malcontent troublemaker, he's entitled to his own name.

(Someone else praised your Latin. Might want to leave the Spanish at home, though. "Batista" is not Baptist, but a type of cloth. You were thinking of "Bautista", like Jose Bautista. Except of course, you couldn't call him Joey the Baptist, because he's Jewish.)

Whew! *That* was tiring.

-- Gadi