Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.
July 11, 2008 2:57 PM
Posted by Geoff Baker
So, just got done talking to Jose Guillen in the Kansas City clubhouse. Quite the interesting conversation, as you might imagine. Lots of subjects. He was happy to see the media from Seattle. Been having a rough time in Kansas City. But when I arrived today, he was surrounded by the local media. Looked like a one-man press conference in front of his locker. He assured me it was the first time in two weeks he's even spoken. Caused a fuss earlier this year for calling out some of the team's younger players for not working hard enough. Used some colorful language that didn't go over all that well with some of the good midwestern folks in this neck of the nation. There was more focus on his language at the time than his message.
Then last week, Guillen got into a verbal confrontation with Royals pitching coach Bob McClure. Guillen had been giving an interview saying that coaches didn't need to be getting in the players' faces, that they knew they had to play hard and were trying. Anyway, there seems to be a common theme here. A theme missing in Seattle this season. When controversy erupts with the Mariners, it's usually because no one is calling anyone out for not playing hard.
Former GM Bill Bavasi said as much and then, the day he was fired, said that letting Guillen leave as a free agent might have been his biggest regret.
So, how surprised is Guillen to see what's happened with the Mariners? Very. Says he didn't see it coming.
"I just cannot believe it,'' he said. "It was such a great team. A veteran club, got some great pitching this year. Has some good offense. I was totally surprised to see that team have pretty much the worst record in baseball. I did not see that coming, trust me.
"I just feel bad for Mac and Bavasi. Such great baseball guys, to see tham go like that...it's not their fault. It;s the players' fault. We all have to realize and understand that. Thet are not the ones playing. I know they're the ones putting the team together, but if you don't come to play hard and play to win every day, what do you think is going to happen?''
Guillen said that, when he was there last year, he made sure the team played hard every day. He got on players like Jose Lopez and Yuniesky Betancourt in the second half, pushing them to show more focus. Got on others as well.
Did the same things with the Royals.
"If you let some of these young players go and do whatever they're going to do and you don't say anything, they're going to keep doing it every day,'' he said of the Royals. "Fortunately, I don't like that. I'm not that type of player. I make a lot of money but I play hard every day, I play hurt.''
Guillen said the players he called out on the Royals "got the message.''
"This clubhouse has changed, has been turned around 100 percent,'' he said. "Now you see the way these guys play. Now, you see the way these guys go about their business.''
Royals manager Trey Hillman said as much this week, praising his players for not giving up the fight despite their 41-52 record.
"We don't have the greatest team,'' Guillen said. "But trust me, we're going to go out and play hard.''
So, here's the kicker question.
Last year, in the Mariners clubhouse, who helped Guillen when it came to "policing" and telling guys they had to play hard? Who got in players' faces?
"I believe it was only myself,'' he said. "Because you had a lot of nice people who pretty much just like to be nice. In this game, sometimes, when you make a lot of money, this is not about being nice. It's about doing your thing. Earning your money and doing your job.''
Could Adrian Beltre do what Guillen did? Could he police the clubhouse?
"He can, but I think he's way too nice too,'' he said, laughing. "But when he gets mad, you don't want to be around him.''
Posted by scottM
3:05 PM, Jul 11, 2008
Good on you GEOFF for seeking out Jose. Did you tell him that the Jose Guillen Society of Frankie, Walla Walla Girl and me still want him back?
I decided to check out some numbers. It seems the number one reason the M's stink in '08, is lack of offensive production.
Based on production after 92 games in '08 compared to 2007, this is a comparison of how many Runs and RBIs that the M's will produce or did produce calculated on per game rate over a 162 game season:
('08 compared to '07)
151 less runs and 149 less RBIs (nearly one per game)
Wilkerson/Balentien/Morse VS Guillen
51 less runs and 64 less RBIs
Johjima/Burke (07) VS Johjima/Burke/Clement ('08)
21 less runs and 23 less RBI
Sexson (07) VS Sexson (08)
1 more run and 3 more RBIs
[Sexson (05/06) VS Sexson (07/08)
19 less runs and 41 less RBIs per season]
Beltre (07) VS Beltre (08)
17 less runs and 24 less RBIs
Ibanez (07) VS Ibanez (08)
17 less runs and 21 less RBIs
Vidro (07) VS Vidro (08)
33 less runs and 23 more RBIs
Ichiro (07) VS Ichiro (08)
3 less runs and 31 less RBIs
Lopez (07 VS Lopez (08)
21 more runs and 20 more RBIs
Of course, Ichiro can't drive in RBIs if the bottom third of the order isn't on base. Sexson basically sucked like he did in '07, as we can see from his 05/06 production. Lopez is the only shining light at the plate. We're comparing Vidro to Vidro here, not what a good DH should produce. Beltre and Ibanez are equally less productive. The glaring difference is in Right Field (before Ichiro moved over). The catcher spot is also significantly down.
The problem is, obviously, that there are holes in the '08 offense that weren't there in '07. Scoring runs usually means being driven in by someone else, RBIs require baserunners. In '07, all nine hitters had over 50 RBIs. That's was key for that powerlite team winning 88 games.
Fix four key holes--one outfield spot, 1B, DH, and Catcher, and the dynamic will be completely altered.
Posted by JGS(Jose Guillen Society)
3:10 PM, Jul 11, 2008
Numbers are nice. The clubhouse dynamic cannot be measured. Bring back Jose!!!!!
Posted by ethan
3:13 PM, Jul 11, 2008
Lili Von Shtupp: "What a nice guy."
Posted by Bill
3:21 PM, Jul 11, 2008
Why is it OK for Ichiro to not be a leader but certain people have always looked to Ibanez, Beltre, and Sexson for leadership?
I smell a double-standard.
Jose Guillen was great for this club. My favorite memories of him were when he slid into second trying to break up double plays. The 2008 M's don't have anyone like that, nor can they really expect to get a chance to slide into second base the way the offense is producing.
Posted by jason2
3:23 PM, Jul 11, 2008
The M's need to trade for Guillen in the off seaon and then make him Captian. That would be sweet.
Posted by Mike
3:24 PM, Jul 11, 2008
I think more than missing his clubhouse presence we miss his offensive contribution. If you assume the difference between Jose and what we've gotten so far over the course of a whole season you are looking at losing maybe 30 runs.
Great dialogue over at USSM (and LL I think) about this today. It's not just that players have underperformed, it's that they've been such huge stinking piles of suckiness that replacing them with just average players increases our offensive output by a lot.
Posted by scottM
3:38 PM, Jul 11, 2008
It's a staggering 51 less runs and 64 less RBIs from the outfielders who replaced Jose Guillen and what Jose produced in 2007. (see 3:05 post). And, there should be little doubt that Guillen's clubhouse presence would have stirred the M's pot of "entitlement stew" in April and May.
Posted by schuultzie51
3:49 PM, Jul 11, 2008
I think Jose Guillen is my Favorite MLB player. Used to be Charles Gibson... what ever happened to him?
Posted by Mike
3:56 PM, Jul 11, 2008
I'm sure the Ms clubhouse is awful. I think guys like Guillen can encourage younger players to focus more, party less, watch more video, etc. But I really really doubt someone like Vidro, Johjima or even Sexson underperformed this year because they lacked a clubhouse leader.
Lopez has improved (offensively) this year so at least on the offensive side of things Guillen didn't help him much. Now defensively maybe Guillen might get more focus out of the double play twins. But it seems that Yuni has been regressing defensively for awhile and that included last year.
All in all I think clubhouse chemistry is a result of what happens on the field, not a cause, at least until it gets to a point where you are so far out you quit.
Richie might have felt entitled but that sense of entitlement didn't cause him to underperform as a hitter. Aging and having "old player" type skills did that. Same as Vidro.
I think it is human nature to over-ascribe positive traits and negative traits after the fact. On a losing team an idiot player watching dumb movies for the umpteenth time becomes a cause of the team's failure. On a winning team that very same action is responsible for "keeping a team loose."
I also know that not everything that counts can be counted (see first paragraph on effect that vets can have). But a team full of gritty David Ecksteins is going to suck, no matter how hard they work.
Posted by stango
3:57 PM, Jul 11, 2008
Charles Gibson is the host of Good Morning America, I believe. He's done well for himself.
As Charles Gipson, never really got much of a chance to play (321 AB in 373 games from 98-05), out of baseball since 2005. I liked him too, hell of an arm.
Posted by smith
4:05 PM, Jul 11, 2008
sounds great and all, but I doubt Guillen would have helped Sexson, Vidro & Kenji's woeful demise.
What is our record in 1 run games? I know it is terrible.
If Sexson was on his way to 40 homers, Vidro was hitting over .300 and Kenji duplictaed last year's success, the Mariners would be at least a .500 team.
but that's all water under the bridge now, time to move on. We have some good young talent to build upon. Now hopefully we can trade some veterans to supplement that young talent.
Posted by Walla Walla Girl
4:09 PM, Jul 11, 2008
Great blog today, Geoff! I am a big fan of Jose Guillen. The Mariners are really missing his offense and clubhouse "policing."
scottM, you are correct! The Jose Guillen Society (you, me, and Frankie) still want Jose back. :) The M's need a good outfielder and team captain.
It's great to see that Jose Lopez has improved his offensive numbers this year.
Yes, we miss you Jose Guillen. (I liked Charles Gipson too. He always went all out.)
Posted by VanFan
4:15 PM, Jul 11, 2008
question: Are there stats that reveal players left on base? Is there records for this and is so how does the M's compare. To themselsves in past and other teams. It's been too long seeing LOB's the last few years.
Posted by kaseyswagger
4:15 PM, Jul 11, 2008
Basically we have a team of guys who are weenies and are scared to tell there friends to step it up.We have so many foreign players that they are not gong to speak up they are shy they dont all know the language most of them speak there native tongue off the field.I'm sorry but when you have that there is not alot of communication.
It doesnt help that we have probably the worst lineup in baseball I blame that more so then the club house you can have the greatest club house but when you cant hit you wont win.
Posted by scottM
4:25 PM, Jul 11, 2008
Jose Guillen could be both fierce and fun-loving, and unpredictable, too, but he laid it on the line when he played. Those characteristics are at the core of the chemistry he brought to the M's, not after-the-fact, but going into the season and into each game.
Sexson has played at his 2007 level when he was the biggest dreg on the team. He didn't make the M's worse, but didn't make them as good as a $15m man should have either.
When I watch Reed play this season, he has a certain fire and determination that he didn't show in '05 and '06. This is the kind of contagious resolve that Guillen also brought to the team.
Wilkerson was pressing from day one and more than stunk. Balentien looked like Reed did at the plate in '06. Worse, actually.
Johjima, Vidro and Ichiro didn't look like they came ready to play at the beginning of the '08 season.
Much of the team acted shocked when other teams refused to roll over and lose, such as Texas and Baltimore. This is part of the overconfidence that came with a sense of entitlement and contender-hype at the beginning of the season.
Posted by Walla Walla Girl
4:56 PM, Jul 11, 2008
Right on, scottM. Good analysis.
I concur with everything. Reed has been a pleasant surprise this season.
Posted by Lola
5:14 PM, Jul 11, 2008
What are the chances of getting Guillen back? What would it take?
Posted by GripS
5:18 PM, Jul 11, 2008
OK.... Question: Shouldn't the DH be somebody that can actually produce some hits?
Why the F*CK do they keep putting Vidro in the cleanup spot? Please someone explain the logic to me. I'm confused.
Posted by Resin isn't Cheating
5:22 PM, Jul 11, 2008
When I watch Reed play this season, he has a certain fire and determination that he didn't show in '05 and '06
Reed is by no means a clubhouse leader in the mold of Jose Guillen. Ichiro himself has a higher slugging percentage than Jeremy Reed. Reed is hitting an empty .260, I beg to differ with anyone that states he is a pleasant surprise. I predicted Reed would regress as he increased his playing time. He's a fourth outfielder at best.
Posted by Nat
5:24 PM, Jul 11, 2008
scottM, I see a big difference in the way Reed is playing overall, as well as in his composure and attidude in his ABs. And I like what I see.
About Guillen: although I liked him a lot while he was here if you recall he was quite adamant in his stand for the vets. When he refused to acknowledge that it was time for the rookie, Adam Jones, to get his shot, Guillen's stubbornness became irritating very quickly. Talk about veteran entitlement! I think sometimes over time people tend to glorify a person and forget certain traits that weren't particularly attractive about that person.
e.g., to quote Mike: 'I think it is human nature to over-ascribe positive traits and negative traits after the fact. On a losing team an idiot player watching dumb movies for the umpteenth time becomes a cause of the team's failure. On a winning team that very same action is responsible for "keeping a team loose." '
Posted by Resin isn't Cheating
5:46 PM, Jul 11, 2008
I realize the season is meaningless right now. You can still move Ibanez and Beltre down and avoid having a dead spot at #5 in Vidro.
This is the line-up I would enjoy seeing the rest of the year .....it would require call-ups from Tacoma.
Posted by Jose Messier
7:15 PM, Jul 11, 2008
Yeah, Jose Guillen is a real prince. Wasn't he suspended for a little cheating? Great leader...gosh, the M's are sorely lacking in character guys and their woes are a direct result of a shortage of character guys ....has nothing to do with the fact that they are simply a terrible team. Clearly the "leaders" need to get in a guys' faces and all will be well, right?
I can't believe that I'm on this blog....it's like discussing my shopping experience at KMart. Alas, guess I'm a loser too.
Posted by faithful
8:56 PM, Jul 11, 2008
Guillen is a good offensive player but not quite the 'great' motivator he seems to think he is. His history is one of disruption. If he were so great a leader why would no team be able to tolerate him more than a year or two?
Posted by Guffdigsspeelchik
12:00 AM, Jul 12, 2008
Geezus, Gyeff... Howza but some speelchik? I'm certainly not one of those who kare when posteers throw on something full of ers, but it's comically painfull when an umployee of the Times chucks up "It;s", "tham", "thet"............
Start earning your check, Wanker.
Posted by David
1:26 AM, Jul 12, 2008
Christ get a life! Spelling? Really?
Posted by Dave from the Coast
3:12 AM, Jul 12, 2008
I remember listening to the Mariners/White Sox game of long ago (I think it was the Sox) in which Mike Cameron hit 4 home runs, and almost hit a 5th...that was long ago in a galaxy far, far awaaaay....
Posted by Guffspeelcheck
11:32 AM, Jul 12, 2008
"Christ get a life! Spelling? Really?"
Nice to see you can read. As I mentioned, I don't care what posters put up there. However, someone who gets paid to do this really should at a minimum be willing to use spell check. He has a big enough credibility problem as it is and this simply makes him look like a lazy wank.
Posted by jeff928
9:36 AM, Jul 13, 2008
You wonder what Bonehead Bavasi was thinking when he let Jose get away. Brad Wilkerson?
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