Tag: Cristian Guzman

Signing Cristian Guzman Cost Washington Nationals More Than Just Money

When the Washington Nationals signed Jayson Werth to a $126 million contract this past offseason, they plugged a hole in their outfield and brought in one of the few true five-tool players in baseball.

And because their first-round pick was protected thanks to their dismal 2010 record, all they had to give up was their second-round pick in this June’s MLB Amateur Draft.

And that’s not much, right? After all, over the past two seasons, Werth has averaged .282/.380/.519 with 32 home runs, 92 RBI and 19 stolen bases. A second-round pick might—or might not—make an impact at the major league level, but almost certainly won’t be another Jayson Werth.

Since their first season in Washington, the Nationals have received far more draft picks for lost free agents than they have given up.

2005 was an exception, however. Shortly after Jim Bowden took over as team general manager, he found himself without a left side of his infield. Tony Batista, who had batted .241-32-110 (but with a .272 on-base percent) signed with a team in Japan and Maicer Izturis was traded along with Juan Rivera to the Angels for Jose Guillen.

There was no one in the farm system ready to take over at either short or third and because Major League Baseball—then owner of the team—had gutted the minors in anticipation of contraction, there was not enough depth to trade prospects for established major leaguers.

And so Bowden entered the free agent market to fill the holes.

On November 16th, 2004, Bowden signed Twins’ shortstop Cristian Guzman to a four-year contract worth $16 million.  Three days later, the Rockies’ Vinny Castilla agreed to a two-year, $6 million deal.

The two signings cost the Nationals their second- and third-round picks in 2005.

Was it worth it?

Castilla played in 142 games in Washington, batting .253/.319/.403 with 12 homers and 66 RBI. When Ryan Zimmerman was called up from the minors on September 1st, Castilla moved to the bench. He was traded to San Diego that winter for Brian Lawrence, who never pitched for the Nationals.

Cristian Guzman’s first year in Washington was his worst of his career, batting .219/.260/.314, and he needed a hot September just to get over .200. He missed most of 2006 and all of 2007 due to injuries, but averaged .301/.327/.416 in 2008 and 2009. He hit .284 before being traded to the Texas Rangers last season.

Castilla’s one year with the Nationals was not worth a second-round pick and Guzman’s roller coaster ride in Washington was probably—barely—worth the lost draft choice.

Let’s see who the Nationals lost.

With the fifth pick in the second round, the Colorado Rockies chose outfielder Daniel Carte. His best year was in 2007 when he hit .283-14-71. Over his six-year minor-league career, Carte has averaged .257-16-75 over 550 at-bats.

If he makes it to the major leagues, it’s going to be as a reserve. The Nationals didn’t lose much by signing Castilla.

However, the signing of Guzman hurt.

With the Nationals’ third-round pick, the Minnesota Twins chose pitcher Brian Duensing, a left-handed pitcher who went 17-2, 3.66 in three years at the University of Nebraska. In five minor-league seasons, Duensing had a record of 33-36, 3.61, allowing 9.3 hits and 2.2 walks per nine innings while striking out 6.4. He joined the Twins in 2009.

Though he started in the bullpen, Duensing has joined the starting rotation and has excelled. He has a record of 15-5 with an ERA of 3.03. He has allowed just 8.5 hits and 2.8 walks per nine innings with a 2:1 strikeout to walk ratio.

Last season he went 10-3 with a 2.62 ERA.

He is described as having “moxie” and never giving up. More than once, he argued with coaches in the dugout to let him go back out and pitch another inning. About the only negative is his size. At 5’11” and 175 lbs, stamina is a concern. But thus far, anyway, he has outperformed his expectations.

Look, I realize that just because the Twins chose Brian Duensing it doesn’t mean that the Nationals would have. But conversely, the Nationals—had they retained their second-round pick—might have chosen instead of Carte Yunel Escobar, who in four major-league seasons has averaged .289-11-64.

When the Nationals signed Vinny Castilla and Cristian Guzman, they knew what they were getting. There weren’t going to be any surprises (though one can say that Guzman’s 2005 season was very much a surprise). But high-round draft picks can either become a bust or a plaque in the Hall of Fame.

You just never know.

But man, wouldn’t Brian Duensing look really good in the rotation right now?

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MLB Rumors: Breaking Down Every Team’s Interests in the Free Agent Market

It’s almost February and that means pitchers and catchers will be reporting to spring training in just a few weeks; it also means that the free agent signings are coming to an end. It’s rapidly becoming time for coaching staffs to be extending training camp invites to a group of players – a few of which may be lucky enough to land the last few rosters spots on a team. 

Even though, for the most part, all the real impact players have long been signed to teams,organizations are still paying attention to some free agents that can make a difference for a contender or fill a vital role/position for any team. Just look at the San Francisco Giants in 2010 if you’re wondering why teams are maintaining interest in the players left unsigned (they’re World Series run couldn’t have been achieved without players like Cody Ross, Pat Burrell, etc).

So, let’s take a look at each team, individually, to see who they’re still interested in… 

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Trying To Fill Remaining Chicago Cubs Needs on a Shoestring Budget

The Cubs managed to get Carlos Pena for only $5 mil this year ($5 mil deferred until 2012) and stole Kerry Wood for $1.5 mil.  Factoring in arbitration raises though, they only have a few mil left to work with, so what are the rest of the possibilities for the Cubs offseason?  In this article I’ll look at free agent possibilities and later will look at trade possibilities:


The position players all look set and will probably break down to 13 people:

Starting lineup:   Castro, Colvin, Byrd, Ramirez, Pena, Soriano, Soto, Dewitt

Bench: Fukudome, Baker, Barney, Hill

As always, no great leadoff options and Hill’s offense is nonexistent.  Having said that, Fukudome makes  a more than capable backup in case Soriano continues his 3 year decline or Colvin suffers from the sophomore slump.  I like Baker in a platoon at 2B with Dewitt but not crazy about Pena playing everyday as he’s always struggled against lefthanders….an average lineup at best, unless Ramirez rounds back into a 110-RBI threat in his contract year.

Possibilities: Not much affordable that’s still out there since the Cubs already missed the boat on a couple of possibilities.  SF only paid $1 mil for Pat Burrell to come back and I would’ve offered $2.5 to make him the right-handed part of a RF-platoon.  They could still go out and get Reed Johnson back for $1.2 mil to spell Tyler Colvin against left-handed pitchers and provide late-inning defense for Soriano.  In the infield, what about Cristian Guzman as a superutility player and right-handed platoon option?  He does have a .329 avg and .816 OPS against left-handed pitching the last 3 years, so you could play him at 2B and Jeff Baker at 1B for 6 innings until the other team’s bullpen comes in.….if Bill Hall can get $3 mil, I might offer this to Guzman only if the club can’t afford to get anybody else on the roster.  Otherwise, might offer Mike Lowell $1 mil to be the platoon 1B option and bat off the bench.

Current Grade:  C


Starting rotation: Zambrano, Dempster, Silva, Wells, Gorzelanny

Say what you will, but Zambrano managed to turn around his season once he was back in the rotation for good, and Dempster has continued to surprise me by throwing  great innings for a 3rd consecutive year. Wells and Gorzelanny are average starters for the back end and Silva’s always an injury risk.

Possibilities: I see Casey Coleman getting lots of average fill-in innings once again. Although I’d prefer having a low-base guy like Brandon Webb or Chris Young waiting in the wings, I see them signing for more with other clubs….if you can’t get either of them, Kevin Millwood’s stock has never been lower so you could probably get him for just $2 mil plus incentives….this might all change if Andrew Cashner looks good as a starter during spring training and unfortunately I don’t see them trading Silva now while the free agent market looks as bad as it does for teams looking for pitchers….

Current Grade: C+


Bullpen: Marmol, Marshall, Wood, Grabow, Cashner, Samardzija, Maine

The late innings look good and I expect Grabow to bounce back as a decent middle reliever (although a really expensive one at $4.8 mil…..)  This is Samardzija’s last year and the club is paying him $3.5 mil so I expect him to get his final shot at a bullpen spot in spring training.  Scott Maine impressed down the stretch last year so lets hope he doesn’t turn into another pumpkin like Esmailin Caridad and Justin Berg did this year after their 2009 stretch runs……

Possibilities:  This is the one area where I think the Cubs will probably make their remaining moves. Middle-relief is thin again and they could probably use a left-handed specialist.  I might offer Joe Beimel $2.25 mil annually to fill that role, and if he turns the club down offer $1.5 to Lance Cormier. Strangely, Cormier is a right-hander who has been better against left-handers, with a 3-year OPS-against-lefthanders of .686.  Brian Fuentes, Octavio Dotel, and Jon Rauch will probably all cost $4 mil or more, so I would take a flier on Takashi Saito.  Strangely, this guy continues to fly under the radar but there have been few relievers in the last five years that have been as good as this guy if you really crunch the numbers. He’s terrific against left-handers and even better against right-handers.  Many teams will try to lowball him with incentive-laden deals due to his advanced age and injury concerns, but I would offer a deal guaranteed to blow away the competition: 1-year, $3.5 mil guaranteed, with vesting option for 2012 based on innings pitched.

Current Grade:  C+


Final free agent possibilities: 

Player                                   Role                                                                                       Contract

Reed Johnson                   4th OF against LH pitchers                                              1 year, $1.2 mil

Mike Lowell                        1B against LH pitchers and RH bat bench                1 year, $1 mil

Kevin Millwood                 5th starting pitcher                                                           1 year, $2 mil guaranteed

Joe Beimel                          LOOGY relief specialist                                                   2 years, $2 mil in 2011

Takashi Saito                      right-handed relief, 7th inning                                     1 year, $2.5 mil with $1 buyout


Total cost in 2011:  $8.7 mil


Ultimately, the everyday lineup and starting rotation still aren’t great but the bullpen and bench are a little better.  That might be all we can hope for this offseason before some of the big contracts (Ramirez, Fukudome, Silva, Grabow, Samardzija) come off the books after 2011…

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Dodgers’ Musical Bases: Weighing Five LA Second Baseman Possibilities for 2011

One of the main concerns for GM Ned Colletti and the Los Angeles Dodgers this offseason is finding a permanent solution for second base. For Dodgers fans, the last few seasons have been confusing in the middle infield, as several journeyman veterans and utility players have stepped in, taking turns manning the right side of the infield.

The upcoming season appears to be heading in the same direction. However, it is also possible with major names on the free agent market, the Dodgers will be able to sign a solid fielder with a productive bat to a multi-year deal.

With the future beyond the 2011 season in mind, let’s examine the possibilities of a second baseman with stability-type qualities for the Los Angeles Dodgers.


Also check out: One Spot Left: Should the LA Dodgers Sign Vicente Padilla or Brandon Webb?

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LA Dodgers’ Dark Horse Winter: 5 Potential Unexpected Additions for Next Year

This offseason marks a turbulent time for Major League Baseball, as several key names around the league are free agents, and many of them have already begun the steps towards a new team and a new beginning. 

By now, experts and analysts everywhere are already buzzing about the possibilities of blockbuster trades and big-name free agent signings.

Los Angeles Dodgers GM Ned Colletti has leaked to the media his plan to add starting and relief pitching, and maybe acquire a power bat if the price is right.

With this in mind, let’s explore the possibilities no one is talking about.

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Everything In It’s Right Place for the Washington Nationals

The non-waiver trade deadline has passed and the Washington Nationals have continued to accumulate critical pieces to their future championship puzzle.

There was no purge of all veteran players for prospects, but there were deft moves to acquire highly thought of prospects, including Wilson Ramos, and create major league openings for young talent already in their system.

Ramos, 22, was the top catching prospect in the Twins organization and only cost them an overachieving Matt Capps. Ramos helps the Nationals solidify the catching position and could arrive in Washington during September call-ups.

Although the Nationals already have Ivan Rodriguez mentoring their young staff and Derek Norris developing at minor league level, Ramos sheds some light into what Rizzo wants in his backstop. It would make great sense for Ramos to spend the next year or so picking Pudge Rodriguez’s brain about the art of catching.

For all the things said about Pudge, Rizzo should be applauded for recognizing Pudge’s ability to bring along a young staff. It wouldn’t be shocking to see the Nationals transition him to a coaching position within the next five years. His great understanding of the game would translate well into a solid managerial career.

The move, or lack thereof, that baffled many was the keeping of Adam Dunn. Dunn was rumored to be in several deals and at one point he seemed fated to go to the White Sox in exchange for the enigmatic Edwin Jackson. Instead Rizzo held on to his slugging first baseman with the hopes to re-sign him to a multi-year deal.

However, if Rizzo loses him during free agency the Nationals could receive to premium compensatory picks that could become future contributors for this developing powerhouse. The ultimate in terms of a win-win proposition one can find outside of a lopsided prospect package deal.

The Nationals also found a way to unload veteran Christian Guzman and continue to augment their pitching depth in the farm system. Guzman was set to be a free agent after this season and was most likely not going to be brought back or garner high quality draft picks via free agency.

Another key point was losing a bit of salary that will most certainly go into the Bryce Harper fund as the Nationals continue to negotiate with the powerful prodigy. With the Ramos trade, it also solidifies the organization’s stance that Harper’s future is as an outfielder and not a catcher.

With September call-ups a month away, it will be interesting to get a glimpse of future major league talent that could be apart of Washington’s ascension through the next levels on their way to being the top team in the NL East and a perennial championship contender. Names like Marrero, Zimmermann, Norris and Espinosa could surface on the big team. While others like Marquis, Walker, Martin, and Atilano try to prove healthy and could create some value as possible trade chips during the upcoming hot stove.

This could make the end of the season appointment television for both fans and scouts.

For hopeful devout fans and eager front-runners ready to reserve their seat on the Nationals freight train that is poised to roll through everyone shortly and for a better part of this decade, possibly the next as well.

Stephen Strasburg’s recovery will coincide with this potential unveiling of something special. His place on this team has been carved out and all the fans are waiting on is for the leashes to be removed so Strasburg can mow down opponents and claim his place baseball’s top pitcher. A title that can only elude his grasp if he suffers major injuries preventing him from reaching his considerable potential.

And the craziest thing is that this is all a prelude to the arrival of Bryce. Harper’s arrival may be a year or more away, but his shadow will loom over division foes like an hourglass counting down to the moment of truth.

The moment Washington is ready. A moment Rizzo has been carefully building to.


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MLB Trade Deadline: Texas Rangers Continue To Add Parts

It’s amazing to me that a team that is supposedly in financial ruins continues to add players at the trade deadline.

If there is an early winner from the July 31 trade deadline it has to be the Texas Rangers. First they added Cliff Lee, then they added Jorge Cantu, and now they have added Cristian Guzman. Obviously, the latter two aren’t in the same category as Lee, but they are solid pieces that can be used to help solve the Rangers’ World Series puzzle.

The Rangers acquired Guzman from the Washington Nationals for minor leaguers Ryan Tatusko and Tanner Roark. The Nationals will also send over $2 million to the Rangers to cover Guzman’s salary.

Guzman was batting .282/.327/.361 with two home runs and four stolen abses in 346 plate appearances for the Nationals this season.

With the Rangers sending Chris Davis down to Triple-A (his Rangers days might be over), Texas will now move Cantu over to first base full-time. Acquiring Guzman fills the void left by Ian Kinsler when he went on the DL.

Guzman has played 63 games at second this year for the Nationals, posting a -1.9 UZR. He will be a decent fill-in for Kinsler while he is out and he could spell Elvis Andrus from time to time. Once Kinsler returns from the DL, Guzman will move into a utility role.

The two prospects the Rangers gave up are nothing more than fringe prospects. Tatusko is 9-2 with a 2.97 ERA in Double-A, but he is already 25-years old and his K/9 has declined three years in a row. Roark is also a pitcher in Double-A, who was 10-5 with a 4.20 ERA in 17 starts.

Not only have the Rangers added a star player in Lee, but they have added depth in Cantu and Guzman. I really like what the Rangers have done this trade deadline.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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MLB Trade Deadline: Texas Rangers Doing What the Angels Should Have Done

The Texas Rangers are going to the playoffs, and it is clear they are not going to be happy with just “being there.”

Texas’ nine-game lead in the AL West appears to be safe as the fledgling Angels search in vain for answers.

With the addition of Cliff Lee, most of baseball realizes the Rangers will be able to hang with any team in the playoffs, but Texas is clearly not interested in just “hanging.” They are out to win their first world championship.

This is what going for it looks like, Angels fans.

Not satisfied with winning the biggest pitching prize at the trade deadline, Texas has kept busy acquiring key playoff pieces like Bengie Molina—a World Series champion catcher and clutch veteran leader.

Still not done, the Rangers acquired Jorge Cantu and his 54 RBI to help out at first base.

Their All-Star second baseman Ian Kinsler goes on the disabled list, and boom! The Rangers waste no time in picking up two-time All-Star middle infielder Christian Guzman today to fill in.

So now they’re done, right?


Today, the Rangers offered the Florida Marlins their top three prospects for pitching ace Josh Johnson and are still reportedly in the running for Adam Dunn.

Clearly Texas is making moves they feel they need to make in order to compete with the New York Yankees—not the Angels.

Granted, these players are no Alberto Callaspo, but something tells me baseball fans in the Lone Star State are willing to live with that.

Obviously, the Dan Haren move was nice for the Angels, but once again, it is too little, too late at the trade deadline.

It’s a good thing the Angels did not make any short-term moves to try to save this season because it wouldn’t have done any good. They would have hurt themselves long-term in the process.

In fact, Angels fans should be sending thank you cards to Derreck Lee right now for saving Angels GM Tony Reagins from himself.

However, it makes one wonder what the Angels could have done if they would have traded their prospects to supplement the key pieces they already had in place a few years ago—pieces that are now scattered across the baseball landscape.

Texas is doing what most Angels fans were screaming at the top of their lungs for then-Angels GM Bill Stoneman to do.

Stoneman balked at the idea—touting virtually every Angel prospect as an un-tradeable future Hall of Famer.

So, instead of having Alex Rodriguez and possibly a few more rings, the Angels instead retained the services of their “future Hall of Famers” Brandon Wood, Howie Kendrick, Jeff Mathis, and Erick Aybar.

They also refused to trade baseball greats Casey Kotchman, Dallas McPherson, Joe Saunders and Kevin Jepsen.

When they finally did part with a few of these individuals, some acted as if they had parted with Mickey Mantle.

Ask yourself this, Angels fans. Is there any talent in that group of eight that you couldn’t acquire on any given year in free agency at a very reasonable price?

Then ask yourself, how often do you get the chance to make a trade for Babe Ruth? Because that is exactly who you passed on, Stoneman.

Texas understands that concept, despite having one of the top-ranked farm systems in baseball.

The Angels should have understood that, but they were too preoccupied falling in love with the fantasy of an impending dynasty that never materialized.

Instead, the Angels became to this decade what the Atlanta Braves were to the last—a very good team that never took the next step to greatness.

Now the Angels find themselves in a quagmire of underachieving, untradeable disappointments. They will now have to buy themselves out of this situation through free agent purchases during the offseason.

Not only have their prospects underperformed, they have managed to turn a team on the verge of greatness into nothing more than a .500 ball club.

As of now, and hopefully before the trade deadline, Reagins should consider nobody un-tradeable.

In the meantime, Angels fans will be gazing enviously toward Texas to see if their gamble pays off. If it does, Angels fans will continue to wonder about what might have been.

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Washington Nationals Offense Strong Enough for September Playoff Push

There is a great deal of consternation right now about the Washington Nationals and their offensive struggles.


Writers, commentators, bloggers and fans think the team’s offense is just not good enough to keep the team around .500—maybe a little better—until Stephen Strasburg finally arrives and saves the day.


But that is simply not the case.


Below is the Nationals’ most-used lineup for 2010. Take a look at the player’s offensive production when projected over the complete season.


CF—Nyjer Morgan:                 .242/.316/.339            24 2B—15 3B—0 HR—24 RBI


2B—Cristian Guzman:               .321/.347/.403            21 2B—9 3B—0 HR—48 RBI


3B—Ryan Zimmerman:          .299/.374/.571            38 2B—0 3B—32 HR—86 RBI


1B—Adam Dunn:                    .270/.379/.546            44 2B—6 3B—32 HR—80 RBI


LF—Josh Willingham:             .275/.429/.529            22 2B—3 3B—32 HR—107 RBI


SS—Ian Desmond:                   .263/.314/.410            22 2B—6 3B—14 HR—80 RBI


C—Ivan Rodriguez:                 .325/.351/.439            27 2B—3 3B—3 HR—51 RBI


RF—Roger Bernadina:              .241/.289/.410            14 2B—7 3B—6 HR—39 RBI


Nyjer Morgan has a career average of .291/.353/.381. There is no way he will finish the season this poorly. Expect him to have a sizzling summer and approach his career numbers by September.


Pudge Rodriguez is 38 and will no doubt end the season somewhere in the neighborhood of .260/.330/.440. Even though he will cool off, Rodriguez should still hit well enough to make him an offensive asset.


The only hole in the lineup is in right field where Justin Maxwell flunked terribly. Willie Harris hasn’t hit well since 2008. Roger Bernadina, after a remarkable five-game span, is returning to the real world.


Kevin Mench, who is Triple-A Syracuse’s every-day right fielder, is currently hitting .303/.373/.379 for the Chiefs with eight doubles, a home run, and 21 RBI.


Mench, 31, played seven seasons in the major leagues and has a 162-game career average of .269/.326/.460 with 21 homers and 76 RBI.


A right-handed batter, Mench hits lefties well. He, and perhaps Willie Harris, are the best options for the Nationals can right now unless they make a trade for a veteran right-fielder.


Six of the eight position players are providing the Nationals with satisfactory to above-average offense. A seventh (Morgan) will eventually hit to his potential, and sooner or later, the Nationals will fix the problem in right field.


From what I can tell, the Nationals struggle offensively because the team lacks timely hitting with runners in scoring positionand especially with two out.


I think the offense—with the exception of right-field—is certainly strong enough and the team’s middle-of-the-lineup sluggers (Zimmerman, Dunn, and Willingham) might be the best in the league right now.


A proven right fielder and the addition of Stephen Strasburg and Chien-Ming Wang to the starting rotation—and the reintroduction of Jason Marquis—make the Nationals a team that could contend for the National League wild card, at least from the periphery, until late into the season.


Let’s wait until John Lannan, Stephen Strasburg, Chien-Ming Wang, and Jason Marquis anchor the Nationals’ rotation before we worry about the team’s offense.


The Nationals would then find their fifth starter from a group that includes Livan Hernandez, Scott Olsen, Luis Atilano, Craig Stammen, and J.D. Martin and could use one or more of the remaining starters to nab a pretty good right fielder on the trade market.


This Nationals’ team will win 77-82 games in 2010, perhaps 85-88 if they find that veteran right fielder with a potent bat.


Man, this has been a fun season. Can you imagine how much more fun it will be once the final pieces of the puzzle finally fall into place?

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