Chris at Capitol Punishment, who's doing a hell of a job, has elected not to do himself in over the Jose Guillen trade. I remain displeased.
- Chris suggests that Guillen might not be as bad a guy as he's been portrayed, comparing him to such media pariahs as Barry Bonds and Gary Sheffield. I don't think this is a good comparison. I agree completely that we shouldn't allow smug jackasses like Rick Reilly tell us who the good guys are (just as we shouldn't allow hypercritical bloggers to tell us which Sports Illustrated columnists are jackasses), the Guillen Affair goes far beyond something like Barry Bonds being a dick to Jeff Kent. Whatever Guillen did, and we don't know the entirety of it, it caused a team in a pennant race to suspend its second best hitter for the last two weeks of the season and the playoffs. Nor was it an isolated incident: "Unfortunately, this was not the first time something has cropped up with Jose." It's likely that Guillen won't get in a fistfight with Frank Robinson, but he's got a much better shot at it than Juan Rivera does.
- Chris overestimates the martyr Rivera's 2005 salary. Whatever it winds up being exactly, it'll be under half a million dollars. The difference may not be all that great in baseball terms, but $3 million here and $3 million there and pretty soon you're talking about real money. In fact, let's go back in time and undo all of Jim Bowden's big splashy moves. We save $3 million on Guillen, $3.5 milion on Vinny Castilla, and $4 million on Cristian Guzman. That's over $10 million, which in Bowden's hands gained us minor upgrades at best. Throw in a few more mil Bowden will end up spending on a "proven closer" or a "15-game winner" or another "run producer," and we're in Beltre/Beltran territory. What would you rather have: Castilla, Guzman, Guillen, and Endy Chavez; or Brendan Harris, Maicer Izturis, Rivera, and Carlos Friggin' Beltran?
- Chris is absolutely right about Izturis. So right that I'm quoting:
As a prospect, Izturis probably wasn’t much. I think much of the hype surrounding him was because of his last name and because this is a franchise that, while traditionally a talent-producing machine--was kind of starved for prospects.That said, he's not much worse than Guzman.
- I don't trust Guillen to keep up his current level of production. He was amazingly craptacular for six years, a right fielder who couldn't even produce at a league-average level. Remember, the concept of "league average" includes catchers and part-timers and Cristian Guzman, so it's particularly ugly for a right fielder to dwell in those depths. Guillen has no plate discipline: his career high in walks is 37. Barry Bonds walks that many times in a double header. It's quite possible that he'll keep it up, but even then he'll be making ten times as much as the martyr Rivera.
- In conclusion, I don't think this trade is disastrous. At worst, Juan Rivera hits 35 homers, Maicer Izturis wins a Gold Glove, and Jose Guillen goes into the stands after a guy who threw a drink at him and gets suspended for 73 games. All that happens, and we win 65 games instead of 70. No big deal. I find it more disturbing as a manifestation of Bowden's wrong-headed attitude: the RBI obsession, the lack of economy, the misjudgment of the needs of this team. Bowden hasn't done irreparable damage. Yet.