Distinguished Senators, the Washington Nationals Blog That Is Great

Monday, November 22, 2004

A Proven Run Producer

I know that I seem to be complaining all the time, especially lately. But even my cynical heart leapt when I first saw our new official team site. I like the logo, I like the color scheme. I dislike the dude ranch W, but not so much that it prevented me from buying a cap on the way home. Even the name, while less than optimal, isn't bad in and of itself. It's not the Wizards or the Voodoo or something. I've been doing this since June, and the team feels more real with each passing day. So today's a happy day, and I start complaining . . . now.

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.


Chris Needham said...

Man, I thought we were friends! I guess that's what I get for not fully endorsing Rickey :P

As to the Guillen incident, yes, you're right in that other issues have popped up. By all accounts, he's a complete jackass. But this is the first time that something's popped up of this magnitude--rumors are that it was a shoving match. I think he's on a short leash, and by the accounts I've read, I think he knows it. Plus, I think this is where Robinson can come into play. He was known as a bit of a hothead, a really intense player. If they can have some sort of mentor relationship, all the better. Yes, some of that is wishful thinking, but so is assuming he's gonna go all Artest on us.

As far as the salary, I'd be glad to take you on on that bet. I imagine he was making around half a million last year. Even though he didn't play a full year, he still put up some decent stats.

And you're dead on regarding the money we've spent being allocated differently. I'd much rather have one expensive superstar than 4 moderately priced, but below average players.

I shoulda probably just done an entry on my blog with this. Sorry for hogging your comments!

Ryan said...

Hey, that's cool. More content for me!
I'm having a hard time figuring out exactly what Rivera's going to make, but the few news reports and blogs that mention it just seem to assume that Anaheim's saving 3 million.
My latest nightmare is that the new owners are so impressed with all the Veteran Leadership and Clutch Hitting Bowden brought on that they remove the interim tag.

Chris Needham said...

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/players/profile?statsId=6805 ---he made $312K last year. I'm actually surprised it was that low. I'm sure he'll probably double that. Who knows though?

Regardless, the larger point about pissing away dribs and drabs of cash is the right angle here. For the money we've spent on crap, we coulda had Beltre--or at least have been a player for him.

There I go with the 'we' already. I don't know if that's a good sign or not!

Anonymous said...


There's no way Guillen gets a beer thrown on him if RFK charges Fedex money for beer.

Anonymous said...

Yesterday at Union Station, hundreds of boxes of Nats gear sold, and not one Nationals beer cozy to be had.

Is this anyway to launch a franchise?

JammingEcono said...

While everyone seems to be boo-hooing that Bowden is selling the team's future to pay for a .500 team now, how about we look at it this way. Rivera and Izturis would have brought zippy, zilch, nada in the way of prospects at the deadline this year. I'd be willing to put money on the fact that Bowden will be shopping Guillen and Castilla at the deadline to playoff teams that are looking for that last piece for the stretch run. If Guillen and Castilla finish out their deals in DC, I'll eat a big heaping pile of crow, but I think Trader Jim will deal them for farm help.

Furthermore, I think Guzman is the kind of player that will eventually blossom into an above-average SS with the possibility of being something special. Adrian Beltre was in the majors before his 20th birthday and was also criticized for not living up to his potential. Give Guzzie two years in DC and I think the proof will be in the pudding.

Bijan C. Bayne said...

Now that the Nats are here, they need someone who can throw.

(Mark Brunell and Patrick Ramsey need NOT apply)

Ryan said...

That's definitely possible with Guillen. Assuming he performs at his 03/04 level and doesn't get in trouble, contenders would be lining up for him. I don't think most would see much value in Castilla, especially after half a non-Coors season.

I hope you're right about Guzman. I really, really do.