Jose Guillen Rumors

Quick Hits: Damon, Guillen, Jackson

Here are a few odd items of note as Tuesday becomes Wednesday …

  • Executives from three teams believe Johnny Damon has altered his patient plate approach in his quest to collect 3,000 career hits, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Damon is believed to be intent on reaching 3K to increase his odds of reaching the Hall of Fame, which is turning off potential suitors, according to Sherman. The outfielder/DH denies this.
  • Outfielder Jose Guillen, who did not play last season, wants to return in 2012, according to Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportesLosAngeles.com (Spanish link). Guillen, 35, last appeared in the Majors in 2010 with the Giants.
  • The one-year, $11MM contract the Nationals gave to Edwin Jackson seems more advantageous under the new CBA than it did at first glance, writes Amanda Comak of the Washington Times.
  • If the Mets are not in better financial shape by next offseason, Commissioner Bud Selig must take action, opines Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com. Doing so would be difficult for Selig, writes Rosenthal, as Wilpon is a long-tenured and well-respected owner.
  • For a look at how each first-year GM fared this offseason, check out this writeup by John Schlegel of MLB.com.

Jose Guillen Considering Retirement

Jose Guillen told Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes that he will call it a career if he doesn't have a contract offer within a week (link in Spanish). Guillen says he has told his agent to gauge interest around the league in case teams are looking for an outfielder/DH. And if no teams come calling, Guillen says he'll walk away from the game.

"If I don't have any offers within a week, I will retire from baseball permanently," Guillen said, before explaining that he's ready to play after a trying 2010 season. "If I receive an attractive offer, I'm willing to try. Otherwise, I know that it's over." 

Guillen, 34, posted a .258/.314/.416 line with 19 homers for the Royals and Giants last year. He struggled with neck injuries, dealt with an HGH investigation and was left off of the Giants' playoff roster.


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Odds & Ends: Headley, D’Backs, Angels, Cardinals

Links for Sunday….

  • Dan Hayes of The North County Times says that Chase Headley's impending raise as a Super Two player is giving the Padres some payroll-related headaches. He adds that GM Jed Hoyer mentioned that this offseason will be similar to last, in that most of the team's signings will occur in January and February.
  • MLB.com's John Schlegel looks ahead to some of the big trades we might see this winter.
  • Yahoo's Tim Brown tweets that the Diamondbacks are expected to hire Billy Ryan from the commissioner's office to be Kevin Towers' second in command.
  • The Angels' catching depth will likely be a hot topic at the upcoming GM meetings, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.
  • While the Cardinals have a few positions that could be addressed, John Mozeliak will likely prioritize a shortstop upgrade this winter, writes Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
  • In his latest ESPN.com blog entry (Insider required), Buster Olney explains why Scott Downs' Type A status shouldn't limit his opportunities.
  • Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe provides an extensive list of possible trade candidates in his preview of the offseason market.
  • There are a few red flags to consider when weighing the Mets' managerial candidates, says Bill Madden of the New York Daily News.
  • DEA agents intercepted a package containing "nearly 50" pre-loaded syringes of HGH that was sent to Jose Guillen's San Francisco address in September, according to a New York Daily News report. The writers' sources say that MLB is "actively pursuing information about the shipment," since a violation of the league's drug policy could result in discipline for Guillen.


Jose Guillen Tied To HGH Investigation

Jose Guillen has been linked to a federal investigation involving shipments of human growth hormone sent to Guillen's wife, reports Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times.  Guillen's involvement was brought to the attention of Major League Baseball before the playoffs began, and after the commissioner's office conducted an investigation of its own into the matter, it was suggested to the Giants that Guillen be left off of San Francisco's postseason roster.  His absence obviously hasn't hurt the club thus far; in fact, as Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle points out in a tweet, Guillen "might've played over [Cody] Ross."

The Giants acquired Guillen from the Royals in August.  In 139 plate appearances, the outfielder contributed a .266/.317/.375 line to San Francisco's push to the NL West crown.  Guillen wasn't likely to draw much interest on the free agent market this winter given his declining production, increasingly terrible defense and history of attitude problems, but the spectre of this investgation might drop his chances of a 2011 contract from slim to none.    


Possible Platoon Partners For Domonic Brown

Jayson Werth is days away from free agency, so if the Phillies intend to re-sign their right fielder, they'll have to bid directly against other interested teams. There's a real chance Werth signs elsewhere this winter, so the Phillies are thinking ahead. Manager Charlie Manuel has acknowledged that he may pair Domonic Brown up with a more experienced player who can handle southpaws and play right field.

Brown, just 23, had no trouble hitting minor league pitching this year (.327/.391/.589 line) but he bats from the left side and the Phillies could ease him into the big leagues by limiting his exposure to left-handed pitching. Here are eight outfielders the Phillies may consider as platoon partners for Brown:

  • Jeff Francoeur, 26 years old, non-tender candidate – Frenchy has his faults, but the 26-year-old can handle lefties. He has a .299/.343/.481 line against them in his career.
  • Matt Diaz, 32 years old, non-tender candidate – Diaz has a .335/.373/.533 line against lefties in his career.
  • Juan Rivera, 32 years old, trade candidate – The Angels will have to part with an outfielder if they sign Werth or Carl Crawford. Rivera, who spent most of the 2010 season in left field, has a career .288/.333/.499 line against lefties.
  • Jose Guillen, 34 years old, free agent – He struggled against lefties this year, but boasts a .270/.327/.460 line against them in his career.
  • Xavier Nady, 31 years old, free agent – Nady, who struggled through the 2010 season as he recovered from Tommy John surgery, has a .297/.367/.451 line against lefties in his career.
  • Andruw Jones, 33, free agent – Jones would likely be able to find more playing time elsewhere, so he's not a natural fit in Philly, but his career (.261/.361/.501) and 2010 (.256/.373/.558) numbers against left-handers must have the Phillies salivating.
  • Milton Bradley, 32, trade candidate – Again, Bradley seems like an unlikely target for the Phillies, but he has a .300/.382/.488 line against left-handers in his career and could be available.
  • Willie Bloomquist, 32, free agent – He has a .272/.334/.366 line against lefties in his career – not much pop, but he's far more versatile than the players above. Bloomquist played all three outfield positions and all four infield positions this year, so Manuel could use him elsewhere if Brown wins the job outright.
  • Austin Kearns, 30, free agent – Kearns has a career .261/.383/.416 line against lefties and may have trouble finding an everyday job.
  • Ben Francisco, 29, on the Phillies – Francisco has a .267/.347/.460 career line against left-handers.

Diaz and Francoeur handle lefties well and can play right field, so they would be good fits for the Phils if they are indeed non-tendered. Rivera, Nady, Bloomquist and Kearns would also be legitimate options and none of the players listed figure to cost more than a few million on a one-year deal, so the Phillies are well-positioned to recover if Werth leaves and they consider alternatives to Francisco. Their biggest challenge will be helping Brown improve upon the .210/.257/.355 line he posted in 70 plate appearances this summer.


Royals Acquire Pucetas, Complete Guillen Trade

The Royals acquired right-hander Kevin Pucetas as the player to be named to complete the Jose Guillen trade, the team announced. The Royals added the 25-year-old to their 40-man roster. Pucetas, a 17th round pick in 2006, has made three minor league All-Star teams, appeared in the Futures Game and finished first or second in ERA three times in his pro career.

Despite his early-career honors, Pucetas is no top prospect. He has struggled in two seasons at Triple-A and had yet to succeed in the upper minors. This year, he posted a 5.69 ERA with 6.3 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9 in 26 starts at Triple-A Fresno. The silver lining for the Royals? As MLBTR’s Howard Megdal showed earlier this month, the return for Guillen has usually been better than expected.


Jack Of All Trades: Jose Guillen

Jose Guillen's career has been one of many teams, many moods, and many different levels of play. As a result, Guillen holds this rare double: four teams have released him, while four other teams have traded for him. Fascinatingly, the return on a Jose Guillen trade has usually been far better than you'd think.

With Guillen's Giants headed to the playoffs, now seems like a perfect time to bask in the memories of Jose Guillen, and all the Topps Series Two baseball cards his career has created.

Like most players who succeed elsewhere, Jose Guillen began his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, signing as an amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic back in 1992. The Pirates allowed Guillen to jump directly from A-ball to the majors, then seemed surprised when his performance failed to live up to their expectations. Finally, on July 23, 1999, the Pirates sent the 23-year-old Guillen and Jeff Sparks to Tampa Bay for catchers Humberto Cota and Joe Oliver.

The trade wasn't as one-sided as it should have been to punish Pittsburgh for trading a talented young outfielder for Joe Oliver and a younger version of Joe Oliver. Guillen never figured it out in Tampa Bay, hitting .255/.317/.394 over three seasons and earning his first release following the 2001 season.

His releases by Arizona, Colorado, and even Cincinnati quickly followed. But the Reds brought him back in 2003, and the hitter who'd posted a career line of .260/.305/.398 through age 26 had a mostrous age-27 season: .311/.359/.569. He also got traded in the process, amazingly enough, going to Oakland on July 30, 2003 for Jeff Bruksch, Aaron Harang and Joe Valentine.

Cincinnati won that deal, and won it big. Guillen hit just .265/.311/.459 for Oakland over the remainder of the 2003 season. Meanwhile, Harang posted full seasons as a starter with ERA+ marks of 112, 124 and 124 from 2005-2007, along with some success (and some injuries) in a tenure that has lasted to the present day.

The Athletics didn't even bring Guillen back in 2004, letting him sign with the division-rival Angels instead. Guillen's age-28 season was strong for Los Angeles of Anaheim: a .294/.352/.497 batting line.  However, a late September outburst was the last straw for the Halos, who felt they were better off without him for the rest of the regular season and playoffs.  Guillen was dealt to the Washington Nationals on November 19, 2004, with the Angels receiving Maicer Izturis and Juan Rivera in return.

Again, the team dealing Guillen did not regret doing so. Izturis has been a valuable utility infielder for the Angels, and Juan Rivera is a .277/.325/.462 hitter with the Angels over six seasons. Both contributed significantly to four postseason runs.

 As for Guillen, he had one good season in Washington, one horrific one, then signed with Seattle for the 2007 season. With a good year for the Mariners, he earned a three-year, $36MM contract from the Kansas City Royals. Guillen proved instrumental in taking Kansas City from a 69-93 record in 2007 to a 75-87 record in 2008. I guess that was the plan.

Guillen then slumped badly through an injury-ravaged 2009, and while he recovered to post a decent-enough .255/.314/.429 in 106 games with the Royals in 2010, it was still a surprise when the Giants traded cash and a player to be named later for Guillen. But San Francisco needed offense, and Guillen does, at times, provide it.

Guillen's .279/.331/.393 line for the Giants down the stretch actually wasn't a disappointment by comparison. The primary right fielder for San Francisco this year, Nate Schierholtz, hit .246/.315/.371. Still, if you are betting in a futures market, grab whoever turns out to be the player to be named later. There's something almost mystical about getting traded for Jose Guillen.


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Giants Acquire Jose Guillen

The Giants acquired outfielder Jose Guillen from the Royals for a player to be named later and $250K. The Royals, who gave Guillen an ill-advised three-year, $36MM deal in December of 2007, designated Guillen for assignment on August 5th. The $250K is about $138K more than the pro-rated portion of the major league minimum salary.

Guillen still has $3.39MM left on his contract, but the Royals are covering some of that, according to a press release. The 34-year-old is hitting .255/.314/.429 on the season with 16 home runs in 437 plate appearances.  He has logged only 169 innings in right field, so playing him regularly in the outfield would be risky.  The Giants probably don't have an everyday role in mind for Guillen anyway – there's no reason he should supplant Pat Burrell, Andres Torres, Aubrey Huff, or Travis Ishikawa.

Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes first reported that a deal was close and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, Ed Price of AOL FanHouse and Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle also broke elements of the story (all Twitter links).


How Reasonable Are Jeff Francoeur’s Demands?

In a move that has amused those who follow the New York Mets closely, Jeff Francoeur has gone public with his demands to be traded following New York's decision to platoon him with young outfielder Fernando Martinez.

Despite a season line of .241/.294/.385, Francoeur apparently believes a major league team would play him regularly at a position, right field, that averages production of .271/.344/.447. Indeed, Francoeur's line is well below the MLB average at second base (.266/.331/.393).

But we have yet to see how Francoeur's demand for a trade stands up to history. It isn't easy to find comparable performance among right fielders in recent years, and it's even harder to find any who were traded after performing as poorly as Francoeur.

Since 2000, just 31 of the 165 right fielders to amass at least 300 plate appearances posted an OPS+ below 100. Of those 31, only four checked in lower than Francoeur's 2010 OPS+ mark of 82: Richard Hidalgo's 2005 (81), Jeromy Burnitz's 2002 (80), Austin Kearns' 2008 (67) and Jeff Francoeur's own 2008 (72).

Kearns followed his 2008 with a similarly poor 2009 before the Nationals let him walk after last season. Burnitz followed 2002 with a half-season of a 139 OPS+ for the 2003 Mets, earning a trade to Los Angeles for Kole Strayhorn, Jose Diaz and Victor Diaz. Hidalgo never played in the majors again, and Francoeur followed his 2008 with a half-season of 68 OPS+ hitting in 2009, earning a trade to the Mets for Ryan Church.

In other words Jeff Francoeur is the only one from that group to be traded for anything at all. Incidentally, four of the 31 player seasons in right field below 100 OPS+ are from Francoeur. Only three others are on the list more than once: Juan Encarnacion (three times), Alex Rios (twice), Hidalgo (twice) and Burnitz (twice).

Encarnacion is an instructive comparison. His career OPS+ of 97 is better than, but similar to, Francoeur's 91. Encarnacion had additional value because he lacked a platoon split (amazingly, his OPS against both lefties and righties was .758) and had the ability to play center field.

In the middle of an 84 OPS+ season in 2004 at age 28, a year after he posted a 97 OPS+, the Marlins acquired Encarnacion as part of a six-player deal from the Dodgers. He went on to start 46 of Florida's remaining 58 games. His salary ($3.6MM) was roughly equivalent to the $5MM Francoeur earns in 2010.

So there is precedent. It happened one other time.

Among those under 100 OPS+ in right field, Alex Rios had a 96 OPS+ last year when the White Sox took him from the Blue Jays and agreed to pay his entire salary (at $61MM, many times as much as remains on Francoeur's deal). But Rios had three seasons of 120, 122 and 112 OPS+ in 2006-2008 under his belt, success Francoeur hasn't seen since his half-season debut in 2005.

Overwhelmingly, the players performing as poorly as Francoeur, or even demonstrably better, are simply let go, often never to surface again. Trot Nixon's 96 OPS+ in 2006 represented his last season as a regular player. So did Danny Bautista's 85 in 2004 and Derek Bell's 98 in 2000. Jose Guillen's 89 in 2000 got him sent back to the minor leagues by Tampa Bay, then released.

There's also that pesky question: who would Francoeur replace in another team's regular lineup? Of the 20 right fielders in MLB who have played more than half their games in right field this year, Francoeur ranks dead last in OPS+ with 82. The four closest to him? Jay Bruce (96), Ben Zobrist (98), Hunter Pence (102) and Ichiro Suzuki (107). It is safe to say Francoeur won't be replacing any of those players. He'd make a decent platoon partner with Bruce, but… right. Platooning led Francoeur to demand a trade in the first place.

In short, the answer to the title of this piece is: not reasonable at all. Not reasonable in light of his 2010 performance, not reasonable in terms of other right fielders, not reasonable comparatively through recent history.


Dodgers Interested In Jose Guillen

3:23pm: The Dodgers' interest in Guillen is "thin," according to Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times (on Twitter).

1:32pm: The Dodgers have "strong interest" in Jose Guillen for a part-time role, tweets ESPN's Enrique Rojas.  He adds that the Dodgers might wait for Guillen to be released, as the DH/outfielder was designated for assignment by the Royals five days ago.  The Giants are the only other team known to have some measure of interest in Guillen.

The Dodgers are 5.5 games out of the wild card, but it is surprising to see them showing interest in another outfield type.  The current group includes Scott Podsednik, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Reed Johnson, and Jay GibbonsManny Ramirez is on the DL with a calf injury.

Guillen, 34, is hitting .255/.314/.429 with 16 home runs in 437 plate appearances this season.  The Royals are expected to assume most of his remaining pay one way or another.