Saturday, March 20, 2010

Concern about Guzman?

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The state of Cristian Guzman's right shoulder remains a question.
VIERA, Fla. -- For all the attention Stephen Strasburg, Drew Storen and plenty of other pitchers have received this spring, perhaps the guy we should have been watching more closely since day one was a guy we all assumed was a lock to be in the Opening Day lineup: Cristian Guzman.

Turns out it may not be as simple as that.

There is some serious concern in Nationals camp right now about the veteran shortstop and the state of his surgically repaired right shoulder. At first, we figured it was no big deal because it was early in camp and he was taking things slow. Then we figured we couldn't get too worked up because he missed several days while his wife gave birth back in Washington.

Now, though, we're 16 days shy of the season opener and there's still reason to believe Guzman's shoulder isn't 100 percent.

How do we know this? If you happened to be at Space Coast Stadium in the top of the second today and saw Guzman's incredibly weak throw on Donnie Murphy's bouncer to the hole, you understand what this is all about.

For a couple of weeks now, manager Jim Riggleman has said he wanted to see how Guzman would react to a ball hit to his right, to see if he could cut loose and really fire a ball across the diamond with no troubles. Well, the opportunity arose at last today, and Guzman basically took a pass. He slung a half-hearted throw that wound up well high and right of first base for an error.

The immediate question: Was that a case of Guzman not WANTING to make that throw, or not being ABLE to make that throw?

"I think not wanting to," Riggleman said. "I think when he gets over that hurdle in his mind and realizes he can throw it over there without having a problem, you'll see him do it. But right now, he must be a little tentative, because he didn't let that ball go."

Only Guzman knows for sure what's going on, and unfortunately there was no opportunity to ask him today. He had already packed up and left the ballpark by the time the game ended.

But make no mistake: Team officials are concerned, all the more reason to wonder whether Ian Desmond might manage to unseat the $8 million Guzman (who turns 32 tomorrow) as Washington's starting shortstop come Opening Day.

Asked if there's any chance Guzman might be kept on the team only for his bat (ie. as a pinch-hitting specialist), Riggleman replied: "I hadn't really thought about that. I don't really envision any scenario in which he's not with us."

Really, the Nationals' only options (if they decide Guzman isn't the starting shortstop) are to 1) place him on the DL, 2) try to trade him to another club or 3) cut him and eat the $8 million. He has no real value as a bench player, certainly not at that price.

So the club has about two weeks to decide whether Guzman can cut it in the field or not.

"That's what we've got to determine in the next couple weeks," Riggleman said. "If he airs it out, is there going to be no pain? Or is there going to be some pain? I think he was just tentative on the throw and didn't want to let it go, and the result was what you saw. ...

"We're going to get to the point here pretty soon where we'll have to test it out a little more thoroughly, see how he's going to respond."

26 comments:

Sunderland said...

They're eating that $8MM one way or the other. May as well cut him loose, give ID what he's earned as move on.
What's the upside in keeping Guzman?
We get a guy playing middle infield who is a minus fielder with a career OBP of .307? That's not upside, that's punitive.

Sure, we could DL-15 him, and have him tie up a 40 man roster spot. DL-60? Guzman would be pissed!

See how the next week rolls, but right now, cutting him loose seems like the best option. The $8MM is spent already.

TBC said...

Really, the Nationals' only options (if they decide Guzman isn't the starting shortstop) are to 1) place him on the DL, 2) try to trade him to another club or 3) cut him and eat the $8 million. He has no real value as a bench player, certainly not at that price.

You could have written the exact same thing about Kearns last year. Yet they chose option 4 and kept him all season, mostly on the bench. They could easily do the same this year with Guzman. He will be even harder to trade than Kearns was, since he's a 10 and 5 guy whereas Kearns was not.

Brian said...

Place him on the 15-day and leave him behind in Florida with sole purpose of strengthening his shoulder. If after the fifteen days are up, he's still not letting loose or looks too tentative then make the call on whether to release him and eat the salary. Using a 40-man spot on Guzman for two weeks early in the season is not going to be that huge a deal.

natscan reduxit said...

... I say give other teams an honest appraisal and let them take him if they want to. That is, make a trade that gives us something in return even if we have to swallow some contract. If he turns in an MVP year after that, that's too bad. But the bottom line for the Nats is simply this: you can't afford to go north with a Guzman you're not sure of. Better a Desmond who isn't an enigma wrapped in a riddle.

Go Nats!!

Anonymous said...

tell him he's competing for second base if he can't make the throws from short.

-longerterm

cass said...

Why not keep him on the bench? His slap-hitting ways should suit the role of pinch-hitter, no? He could also play some games at SS and 2B and provide insurance if Desmond or Kennedy get injured or flame out. The money shouldn't matter since the $8 million is gone no matter what.

1stBaseCoach said...

Trade him or Dukes' him. But don't take him north!

Oscar Sodani said...

I agree with cass - I don't like Guzman much as a hitter, but as a PH, he would be pretty dangerous. Managers like pinch-hitters that can come off the bench and slap a hit. That's why Neifi Perez and Lenny Harris had such long careers despite not being able to hit a whole lot.

Trade him to the Reds - I'm sure Dusty Baker would love Guzman, provided we eat 90% of the salary.

JayB said...

Mark,

Why is this team and Riggs to be exact so clueless? Go back and read the quotes you have written from them about Dukes and Guzman and Olsen from December to now. They are full of rosy reports on health, positive contributions and starting jobs given without verifing any progress on well known issues.

Is Riggleman really this much of a dope or does he just get get his talking points from Stan and thank his lucky stars he has a job. He really looks stupid this spring on a lot of items. It has been a month and nobody has worked Guzman out at SS on a back field to find out what is really going on....sounds increadably risking apporach to just sit around all month as hope? That is not how Rizzo works so what is the real story here?

Oh and we are about to get another does of realism on Olsen soon. He is done.

Doc said...

What a bunch of pussys! This guy can't play shortstop, and they still think that 'he might get better'. Riggleman would do us all a favor by saying what's on his mind. That which he is quoted as saying is BBBBBBBS! Even worse they haven't tried out his 2nd baseman's arm at 2nd base. Who's running the Nats, Guzman's agent or Rizzo????

JayB said...

That is a very fare point Mark, one that I wish I could as Riggelman or Rizzo. Why has Guzman not been put at 2B yet and why are is his arm strength still an "unknown". Rizzo is a straight shooter....walk up to Guzman and say..."Guz, we need to see some good strong throws from the hole now. Get warm and we are going to hit you them right now. If you can not make the throws from SS now we need to move you to 2B until you can be a MLB SS". Has anyone asked Rizzo why he has not done this?

JayB said...

On a different note....Minor League camp to day was great. I left the game when Martis came in today and went over to the other fields. BIG DIFFERENCE THIS YEAR in the work going on there.

Mark,

What is the Sunday Schedule over there? I could spend all day watching real teaching.....Still not a fan of Spin Williams but there was some great coaching and talk to be overheard.

Andrew said...

I am not as concerned about the Guzy situation as I am about how Dukes was handled.

Ian Desmond can do the job at Shortstop but there was nobody to step into RF that could do Dukes job when Dukes was released.

Besides the Starting Rotation and Bullpens having huge question marks, the RF situation just created another problem for this team.

Avar said...

Personally, I'm really rooting for Guzie to get healthy, get hot and get traded. Then Desmond can play every day and we can find out if he is the real deal. Ideally, he can play a month or two before the draft so they can factor that in.

sid bluntley said...

If Guz can't throw, then put him at 1B and Dunn in RF. Problem solved!

SonnyG10 said...

I believe Riggleman and Rizzo know whats going on with Guzman. They have too much baseball experience not to. I believe what they say for public consumption is not necessarily what they think. They are not going to publically disrespect Guzman at this point because it is not in the Nats best interest to do so. Just my opinion.

JayB said...

You would think they would know what they were doing and saying but then again.....if that was the case they would have moved him to 2nd base and gotten Omar v or Adam E as insurance that Ian D was not ready.....much more of Rizzo's moves have bombed than bit hits. With 2 weeks to go until opening day I would say this team is even money to lose 90 games and could easily lose 100 again with some a Lannan injury or Zim or Morgan.

Anonymous said...

So, he is an 8 million dollar player on the bench. I am getting a little tired of business decisions being excused over baseball decisions. This team is evaluated over wins and losses, not effective return on investment. A switch hitting .300 batter coming off the bench every day for one at bat would only make this team better.

Matteo said...

I think some of you are getting a bit confused. I Keep hearing the Dukes issue coming up while talking about Guzman. Two DIFFERENT issues. Guzman has PROVED he could play at the major league level. You have Desmond in the wings and can give a vet a little time to see if he can work it out. If he can't make the thorws it makes Riz and Rigs jobs easier to tell him he is a role player or 2B starter. Dukes never proved he could play at this level unlike Guz thus he was cut like a bad fart.

Anonymous said...

Guzman is going to get every chance to start at shortstop this season so the team can try to trade him to a contender at the deadline. Get used to it folks because unless Guzman is physically unable to perform he will be our starting shortstop.

Bote Man said...

The first half of this season is going to be very, very, very lonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnng for Nats fans.

Anonymous said...

Jocks, in all their ignorance, think fans can't see to the other side of glass. "I think not wanting to," Riggleman said. "I think when he gets over that hurdle in his mind and realizes he can throw it over there without having a problem, you'll see him do it. But right now, he must be a little tentative, because he didn't let that ball go." Come on....jocks even try to make dog poop taste good.

Doc said...

Jimmy Riggleman tries to come across as a Sunday School teacher with respect to Guzman. As other Nats commenters have noted, I don't think that he really believes that which he is saying. In other words, it is dog poop!

I really like the comment about seeing teaching going on at the minor league facilities. Dick Williams used to refer to his coaches as "instructors". If Ian Desmond had some "instructors" working with him the last 6 years, he might have improved some of his otherwise great fielding skills. Same for Dunn.

Anonymous said...

Austin Kearns, part 2

this ownership is not one way to favor play over pay, but stalling Desmond's development because of a bad contract is just the sort of decision making that makes a team a perpetual loser

Anonymous said...

I agree with JayB on this one. Go onto a back field. Hit him 10 balls to his right. Each one a little further out. Him him 10 balls to his left each one a little further out. And you will know whether he can go or not. I believe Riggleman thinks he has the strength. Just not showing it yet. Let's hope so.

NatsNut said...

I'm leaning toward starting Desmond at SS, but it would be dangerous to get rid of Guzman altogether because there is no depth whatsoever at that position. If Ian regresses down to average, gets hurt, or even just needs a rest, we're screwed.

Desmond is too big a question mark to rely solely on him for the rest of the season. Put Guzzie on the DL until he's solid and then worry about who starts when he's 100%.

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