Friday, August 13, 2010

The Pros and Cons of the Jose Guillen Trade

Well, it's official. Jose Guillen is a Giant (I got the e-mail from the Giants' Web site, and usually, that seals the deal in terms of "officialness").

I can't explain my feelings in one or two tweets. This has been a long time coming, ever since June when the Royals were rumored to be in talks with the Giants in terms of trading Guillen.

So here are the pros and cons of the trade that went down today on a weird day for Bay Area Sports fans. (The Glen Coffee retirement was puzzling, but it's not a huge loss; as my friend Travis said on FB chat today "Coffee f******g sucked...I don't give a s*** about that...He was soft." I tend to agree with him for the most part.)

Pros of Acquiring Guillen

1.) People say Guillen doesn't provide much more offense than Aaron Rowand they're probably right. Let's look at some advanced numbers on the two players:

Guillen: .325 wOBA, 100 wRC+, 0.32 BB/K ratio, .174 ISO, 0.7 WAR.
Rowand: .307 wOBA, 89 wRC+, 0.24 BB/K ratio, .154 ISO, 0.9 WAR.

Now, I know fans will say "His WAR is Higher!" in defense of Rowand, but remember, Rowand is playing for the Giants (a team that is winning) and Guillen played for the Royals (a team that isn't). As you can see though, Guillen is a better option than Rowand. Is he much better? No. Is he a better clubhouse guy? Probably not. However, the Giants need offense, and Guillen provides a better upgrade than what they currently have on the bench, which is Rowand and Nate Schierholtz (who, from what I heard, could be the "PTBNL").

2.) The Giants starting pitching is shakier than it was at this point last year, especially Tim Lincecum. Guillen makes the team more offensively average, which they may need after watching yesterday's game against the Cubs (e.g. the bullpen blew a 7-3 lead). The days of them winning 1-0 games is a lot less likely than a year ago.

Speaking of Timmy, Lincecum doesn't look like 2008 or 2009 Tim Lincecum but more like...well...2010 Tim Lincecum. (He has only two full seasons prior to 2010 for chrissakes!) His FIP (3.31) is almost a full point higher than last year (2.31) and his K/BB ratio (2.76) is over a full point lower than last year (3.84). Granted, this isn't necessarily an alarming thing. Lincecum was so good his first two years that anything less would look bad in comparison.

3.) Guillen shouldn't cost any prospects of note. Furthermore, he'll be a free agent after this year, so if he doesn't work out, then the Giants will be off the hook after the season ends.

Cons of Acquiring Guillen

1.) Guillen's lackluster defensive skills don't help the Giants and hence, the Giants defense is probably the biggest concern of this trade. While Guillen has been pretty decent for the Royals this season in right field (2.6 UZR), Guillen for the most part, has been a sub-par defender in his career (minus-22.4 career UZR). An outfield with Burrell, Andres Torres and Guillen is shaky, mainly because you're putting two iron gloves out there (Burrell and Guillen) and that puts more pressure on Torres and the pitching staff. Furthermore, right field isn't easy to play in San Francisco. If you don't believe me, ask the Pirates' Garrett Jones, who got owned by the wall on Aubrey Huff's early-season "Inside the Park" home run.

The Giants have been successful this year because they have had one of the top defenses according to UZR. Guillen isn't going to bolster that UZR.

2.) He has power (career .171 ISO) but that's about it. Guillen doesn't draw walks (career 0.29 BB/K ratio) and he doesn't get on-base well either (career .322 OBP). In order to be worthwhile, Guillen is going to have hit dingers and fast. Granted, Burrell did that when he came over to Tampa, but can the Giants get lucky on three cast-offs in a row? (With Huff being the first.) That seems like a lot to ask and hope for.

3.) Guillen doesn't exactly have the most sterling clubhouse reputation. This year he openly complained about being benched and this year wasn't the first time something like that happened. He was suspended for the playoffs when he was with the Angels, and he was volatile his second year in Washington. Granted, Bruce Bochy is known for managing clubhouse knuckleheads well, but still...why risk it?

Granted, people will say that "chemistry" in baseball doesn't matter and to a point I would agree (just because baseball is such an "individual" sport). However, while good chemistry, in my opinion, won't bolster a team automatically, bad chemistry can certainly destroy a good team fast. If you don't believe me, look at what happened with the Giants when they acquired A.J. Pierzynski and Shea Hillenbrand.

Final Conclusion?

It's another low risk, potential high reward move by the Giants. They get a player with pop and they got him for "Fred Lewis to Toronto-esque" cheap. If Guillen doesn't work, the Giants can cut ties with him and there won't be much of a loss.

That being said, you have to like the way the Giants are playing. They're looking good and they're playing with confidence. So, you just have to ask, "Why mess with it if it isn't broken?"

Is it the worst deal of the year? No (Mark Derosa's

We have to wait and see, but I'm not optimistic. (Then again, I wasn't optimistic about Burrell either; I don't mind be wrong again if it results in the Giants winning.)


  1. Lots of good info via tweets today, recommend TweetDeck to follow all the Giants writers.

    For example, Jeff Fledtcher of AOL has been talking to scouts and sources, tweeted that Guillen is "about the same" as Huff in RF, and still thinks Jose can dial it up defensively. Also believes got stuff left in his bat. The KC source noted "Jose (Guillen) wants to win. He'll get along with everyone who wants to work hard." Someone (Urban?) tweeted that Huff was a former teammate on Devil Rays and thought that Guillen was a good teammate (back then, almost decade ago).

    So like everyone else, I'm worried about Guillen, but a lot of people think that is a bit overblown and that he would straighten up offensively playing for a winner and not for a perennial loser.

    Urban also wrote in an article that it makes no sense for him to lay down or to make waves right now, he'll be a free agent after the season and needs to attract teams to bid on him. Dogging it and ruining a winning team's chemistry would not be good characteristics to be placed on you when you want to sign a big contract.

    FYI, it is win-share where the team's wins affects his production, not WAR. WAR is just based on team and park neutral stats, if I understand that correctly. So the Giants winning should not be affecting Rowand's WAR, it is probably because he plays better defensive relative to Guillen.

    Lastly, someone tweeted that the PTBNL is not on the 25-man roster, so it is most definitely not Schierholtz.

  2. "Now, I know fans will say "His WAR is Higher!" in defense of Rowand, but remember, Rowand is playing for the Giants (a team that is winning) and Guillen played for the Royals (a team that isn't)."

    WAR actually has nothing to do with the team you're playing on; it is entirely context-neutral. The reason why Rowand's WAR is higher is because of his positional adjustment. Guillen's spent most of the season at DH and RF, whereas Rowand has spent all of his time in center field.

    Otherwise, very nice post.