Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Some Thoughts On Carlos Guillen

There are two ways of looking at Carlos Guillen and his recent comments indicating he is less than thrilled with manager Jim Leyland.
One is that he is a disgruntled player, upset with his role with the club, yet signed to a long-term contract at a cost that essentially prohibits interest from other teams.
The other is he actually cares deeply about his role with the club despite getting paid so much.
A couple things about Guillen:
- He is a much better athlete than the general perception. He still runs well. His arm isn’t weak. He has power - 11 home runs in 187 at bats upon his return from the D.L. He is a very good hitter capable of batting .300 again.
- In person, he looks a lot younger and in much better shape than on television. On TV, he looks like he is early 44 rather than 34.
The problem is staying injury-free. If he is healthy, he can play left field reasonably effectively. He won’t play the position with any effectiveness whatsoever if he is constantly in and out of the lineup.
And there is no way to hide a player from injury - infield or outfield. That premise is ridiculous. Also, not every player can be a full-time DH. You need to mix and match at that spot.
The delicate part is Guillen is the Tigers’ best team leader. A calm hand at the wheel, so to speak. A bridge to every element in the Tigers’ clubhouse. A potential manager when he is done playing.
But that reputation is not what he carries with the fan base in Detroit at the present time. Most fans I talk to perceive Guillen as an overrated, aging veteran well past his prime.
The only one who can dispel that notion is Guillen himself. He did for awhile when he came off the disabled list. Problem is, he really didn’t sustain it.
Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if he has a bounce back season in 2010. He is a prideful player with more left in the tank than generally perceived.
But can he stay healthy?
That is a legitimate question, concern criticism.



Anonymous Anonymous said...


Carlos Guillen has been one of my favorite players on the ballclub since he arrived in Detroit. I'm not entirely happy about his handling this through the media, but you're right: he is a prideful player who does care. I am definitely glad that he waited until after the season, and I think he was voicing a general team consensus about all the lineup changes. I thought it was refreshing that he switched to first base, then third, then left without much public conversation. I think the guy just wants to win and contribute.

It is a shame to me that he has been so injury prone and that his infield skills deteriorated so quickly because his leadership at the shortstop position is missed. Polanco, Cabrera, Inge, Everett, Casey, Shelton, Pena, Santiago, Renteria... none of these other infielders who were/are teammates of Guillen's has the instinct to settle down a pitcher or call a mound conference like Carlos does. The guy is a 3-time All Star in this town, and you wouldn't know it by how he's treated here.

If he stays healthy, he'll be productive like he's always been. Like you said: health is the biggest issue.


4:05 PM 
Blogger Larry Baker said...

Boy, who wouldn't want a clutch switch-hitter with power playing left field for the Tigers? I'm sure Jime Leyland would. But realistically if Huff and Thomas had been productive down the stretch, Carlos would have played less, not more. The innings he logged had more to do with hoping he would deliver than any runs he was actually generating. And the whole sliding catch attempt sort of left me feeling that a gold glove is not in his future. Hope he bounces back (and Bonderman and Zumaya and Rocertson and Willis.....)

5:51 PM 
Blogger Fred Brill said...

I am quite certain that Carlos Guillen has stated these same sentiments with Tiger's management - most likely several times, each time (I will bet) resulting with a closing comment - "I'll do what's best for the team skip".

I think most of us can identify with Guillen's position - I'm certain Brandon Inge can. How frustrating to want to help the team and find yourself in left field when all you really know is short stop.

I love guys like Guillen - that's what makes a player special to me - not his stats - but his heart.

But ... what do you do? Can he still play short? Does he deserve a shot back at short? Is he better at short than Everett or Santiago? Or are his infield days really behind him?

Carlos has been clutch for the Tigers on so many occassions. So has Polanco and Ordonez - both at the heart of the personality of the Tigers. That's what makes this offseason so much harder than those in recent memory - you know core guys that you love as Tigers will be ... well ... moved aside or gone.

Next year smells like a different face to this ball club. And I hope the Tiger's aren't really considering trading Granderson.

It's good to just be a fan who can root with my heart, stats be damned. But the prospects of an offseason like this one aren't any fun.

6:03 PM 
Blogger Barry said...

Pat, like you said, Guillen biggest problem is if he can stay off the DL. Guillen other problem (in the field) is what he has between his ears on some occasions. His physical ability is fine. Tigers need his left-handed bat and he did show some range in LF.

9:45 PM 
Blogger Core Contrarian said...

I thought Guillen's comments on the crazy lineups (not his words obviously) and lack of any type of consistency with that were on the mark but with his injury history and recent defensive issues, I am not sure that he is the best guy to make those comments. Where could you have played him last year anyway? Regardless, I am sure that he is not the only guy on the team that feels that way.

As you mentioned, let's hope for a bounce back year from Carlos.

9:09 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Larry Baker,
The sliding catch certainly didn't help the perception Guillen can play left field. That's where the consistency comes in. He has to play the position every day to get a better feel for it. A couple times a week after a long stint on the D.L. isn't going to help in that regard.

10:54 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Fed Brill,
In fairness to Guillen, he has been kicked around a lot. Like Inge, it was as if he had to stand up for himself. Like Inge, he believes he is really good, even if a lot of fans and media don't. If Guillen plays 140 games next season - I don't care what position - it will help the Tigers a lot.

11:12 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

He has an issue with transfering the ball from the glove to his throwing hand - and dropping that ball - that is persistent problem.

11:13 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Core Contrarian,
I believe it was just his way of saying he can still play the game, and all this disruption isn't helping.

11:16 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Frustration is the word for it. That's what came out. And pride. He does care. There is some ego involved. That's important for a player at that level, but this is the downside of it.

11:18 AM 

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