Distinguished Senators, the Washington Nationals Blog That Is Great

Thursday, February 02, 2006


Predators -- or "Yautja" if you want to get technical about it -- have claimed many victims. From humans to Aliens (or "Xenomorphs" if you want to get technical about it) to Carl Weathers, from cinema to graphic novels (or "funny books" if you want to get technical about it) to the only source of innovation in modern entertainment: fan fiction.
Sam Max, a brave soldier pulled out his survival knife already stained with the glowing green blood of the killers and ran for the nearest one with a scream. I seen the blade of that knife penetrate its stomach, I heard it scream, but it only staggered backwards then stood straight up after a second and unsheathed its wrist blades. Sam had that "Oh nuts" look on his face, he didn't run but stood his ground and let it happen.
Cristian Guzman could soon have that same "Oh nuts" look on his face, because there's a Predator coming after him.
The Washington Nationals yesterday signed 15-year veteran shortstop Royce Clayton to a minor league contract and told him he would have an opportunity to compete for the team's starting job this spring -- a clear signal to incumbent Cristian Guzman that, big contract or not, his place in the starting lineup is not guaranteed.
As I said before, I don't believe this. Clayton in his senescence is the same hitter as Guzman pre-2005 meltdown -- maybe a little better because more of his OPS value in his on-base percentage. Guzman has a few advantages: youth, $12 million dollars left on his contract, and unbeatably low expectations.

Guzman's 2005 was an absolute disaster, and don't let any homer nonsense about his red-hot September tell you otherwise. A 219/260/314 line is just unheard of for an everyday player. Want to see it in context? Check out the bottom ESPN.com's batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. There is no context. Guzman was so bad, ESPN refuses even to acknowledge his performance. It's like trying to get a German to talk about what he was doing during the '40s.

The problem with this is that it's going to make everyone forget what a lousy player he is even when he's not so bad that ESPN decides it's impolite to talk about it. Guzman's had one good year in his life, and that was back when the Mariners were a powerhouse and John Rocker was closing for the Braves. Since then, he's developed no ability to get on base and lost his power, which was only an illusion created by triples in the first place. It was that player, a 270/310/370 kind of guy, that Jim Bowden signed and dubbed the cornerstone of the franchise. So they're expecting him to suck.

And that's what will to happen. Guzman will hit .290 or something in Spring Training and Bowden will proclaim him all better. He'll hit .260 during the season, and everyone will forget about him because they're saving their bile for Soriano. Tom Boswell, who unbelievably never stopped defending Guzman, will say "I told you so" and prompt a regrettably personal attack from me. Royce Clayton will be quietly released, and Guzman will waddle his way through the last three years of his contract unmolested. And we'll be here with that "Oh, nuts" look on our faces, we won't run but stand our ground and let it happen.

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