Urban: Guillen is Here. What Does that Mean?

Urban: Guillen is Here. What Does that Mean?
August 13, 2010, 7:46 pm
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Aug. 13, 2010


Mychael Urban

The conversation about Jose Guillen coming to the Giants started in earnest Tuesday, and a spirited conversation its been. Now the subject shifts, from, Should they get him ? to, Now that they have him, what does it mean?

One part of the former discussion -- hes a bad clubhouse guy should now be addressed in the latter. What does Guillens reputation as a frequent malcontent mean? In this case, absolutely nothing.This was a baseball decision, pure and simple. Guillen has some history of bad behavior, no doubt about it, but consider the following while wondering if hes going to be a wave maker on the shores of McCovey Cove:- Hes going from a miserable team to a legitimate World Series contender. That in itself should keep him happy for his short stay in San Francisco.- Hes playing for a 2011 contract. His three-year, 36 million deal with the Royals expires at the end of the season, and theres only one way to capitalize on free agency: Light it up on a big stage before you hit the open market. If he goes the bad-boy route here at all, hes going to cost himself a ton of glue. Wont happen. Theyre going to give him regular run in right field, moving Aubrey Huff to first base -- a source close to Guillen told CSNBayArea.com that the Giants told their newcomer that he'll start at least four games per week for now. That means he's got a real shot to prove hes got more left in the tank than most people believe.- Hes coming to a team with an impressive, high-integrity collection of clubhouse characters. This is a biggie, the reason it was a baseball-only decision to add Guillen. So strong is the cohesion on the club that the Giants brass is convinced it would mitigate any unpleasantness brought in from the outside.- Part of the great clubhouse vibe stems from the high-character Latin players on the team. Juan Uribe, Edgar Renteria, Andres Torres, Guillermo Mota step out of line while representing the fraternal Latin brand and youll get pulled aside in a heartbeat.- And finally, theres precedent for good behavior from Guillen in this situation. I covered the As team that acquired him in midstream in 2003, and he was a pleasure to cover. A bit off-center, to be sure, but not in the scary Milton Bradley sense. In 45 games he hit eight homers and drove in 23 runs to help Oakland get to the playoffs, and he was their best hitter in the teams loss to Boston in the ALDS, hitting .455 with a .571 on-base percentage -- while playing with a broken bone in his hand!
If Guillen is going to be a problem here, it wont be based on his ability to play nice with his teammates. Itll be a matter of production. Hes been a roller coaster all year, batting .304, .202, .340 and .207 in the first four months of the season, respectively, before the Royals dumped him after an 0-for-15 start to August.Is he the big bat many fans think the team needs? That, of course, will be determined over time. But as weve seen with Pat Burrell, a happy player is often a very good player, and Guillen has many, many reasons to be happy with the Giants.