Do you have faith in the Dodger management’s plans? Do you trust the Dodger’s international scouting department? That’s what you need to ask yourself as we enter the 2014 season. With spring training right around the corner there has been a lot of talk about the Dodger’s lack of middle infield depth. And what the club is going to do about second base. And who’s going to start at second base. Hold your horses, but let me explain who is going to be the Dodger’s everyday second baseman in 2014…I’m rubbing my crystal ball here…..Alexander Guerrero! Boom!
Read between the lines here. The Dodgers signed the 26-year-old infielder to a large contract. It was a 28 million dollar deal that adds up to 32 million after the signing bonus. Believe me when I tell you that this contract does make a difference. If the Dodgers were unsure of this guy, they wouldn’t have signed him to a 28 million dollar deal.
But the Dodgers know what they’re doing. Their international scouting department is one of the best in Baseball. Management has a plan, and they are following it to a tee. If they were concerned they wouldn’t have let Mark Ellis walk in free agency. Guerrero will be fine.
Fine is a relative word, but if you think the guy is a minor leaguer, check out some of the numbers he put up in the Cuban National League over the years. The first four seasons he batted .277 with a .426 slugging. During the 2008-2009 seasons he batted .338 with a .641 slugging, and hit 19 home runs for Las Tunas. He tied Jose Dariel Abreu, and Yenier Bello in home runs, and led all middle infielders in home runs and slugging. He was named to the all-star team. Small sample size, probably, but it’s just an example of his talent. He can hit. He can play Baseball at the highest level.
The guy has put up some pretty good numbers down there. Is there some uncertainty about him? Sure, I am not arguing that, but the guy is a professional Baseball player, and there is no reason to believe that he needs to waste time in Chattanooga unless he needs to rehab an injury.
The arguments and worry are starting to pile up more and more as we enter spring training, and people keep saying how Guerrero will start in the minors, like it’s a sure thing. I don’t think so. Hey I remember another international player the Dodgers signed that everyone thought should spend years in the minors. Remember they said they same things about him. “He won’t be ready”. “it’s better for his development”. As if he’s some kind of college prospect that needed years of development, with no professional experience. I’m laughing as I’m writing this. This player I am talking about is of course, Yasiel Puig. They said the same things about him, that they’re saying about Guerrero now. “He won’t be able to handle MLB pitching”, or “he’s never faced MLB pitching!” Like Oh my god!
But of course Puig already had some experience in the Cuban leagues, and low and behold, I think he was able to handle MLB pitching. What do you guys think?
But back to Guerrero, he was a shortstop, and he’ll be playing a new position at second base. I think he can handle the change. Although some worry that he won’t be able to.
Another argument is the argument that because the season is shorter, that Guerrero won’t be able to handle a full 162 MLB season. This may be the only valid argument I’ve heard. The guy has been playing professionally since 2004, and he’s 5’11 and 200 pounds. He’s built like a brick house. I think he can handle it.
Nobody is expecting him to play in 162 games though. The Dodgers will need some kind of depth behind him. But I’m not here to talk about depth, I’m talking about Guerrero.
There is a common misconception amongst some people, that players coming from other countries are at a lower level than a player from the major leagues. This is not always true. Just because a player didn’t come through the major leagues, and didn’t play college Baseball in the United States, doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t be able to hit Major League pitching, or get major league hitters out. There are many international players that are just as good, or better than MLB players. Baseball is a universal language, and these international talents can speak it fluently. Yasiel Puig can speak it. Hyun-jin Ryu can speak it. I trust the Dodger’s scouting department.
I’m not trying to argue that there isn’t some element of uncertainty here. Yes he pulled his hamstring playing winter ball and had to be shut down. There was a brief problem with his Visa, but that was corrected. He is at Camelback ranch right now as we speak preparing for spring training. Judging from pictures tweeted out by the Dodger’s twitter account he looks happy and healthy.
Yes there is some uncertainty about him moving from shortstop to second base, but I think he’ll be just fine. Many guys have made the move from shortstop to second base. Besides he wasn’t brought over for his defense. He’s an offense first type of player, and any defense he brings to the table is a plus. If he is slugging 25 home runs per season and batting .290 all he has to be is average with the glove and I wouldn’t complain.
Yes I know nobody has seen him play, other than in winter ball. I haven’t seen him play. You haven’t seen him play. But the Dodgers have to see what he has first before they look for other options. Sending Guerrero to Chattanooga so Miguel Rojas can start at second base because of public perception of his “uncertainty” is a bad bad bad bad exceptionally awful move. Let’s see what Guerrero has first. If he sucks, then and only then do you send him down. Otherwise, you play him, and hope for the best. yes it’s a risk, that’s what free agency is, a risk. The Dodgers should have had a better backup plan then Miguel Rojas, and Dee Gordon, but that’s the nature of the beast sometimes. That’s how the cookie crumbles. Things aren’t going to be perfect. We learned that lesson last year.
Spring training is supposed to be a time when players prepare for the start of the regular season. If Guerrero really isn’t prepared to play, he has six weeks to make sure he’s ready. That’s what spring training is for.
If I am wrong about Guerrero, then I will eat some crow. It wouldn’t be the first time. But until then, let’s trust the Dodger’s international scouting department. The Dodgers know what they’re doing with international players. Not every player works out, but the Dodgers have a pretty good success rate. Trust that Alexander Guerrero knows how to play Baseball at a pro level. Trust that the Dodger management knows what they’re doing. I have faith in the Dodger’s scouting department, and so should you.