Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Onward, Cristian's Shoulder

Good news, Nats Fans! Cristian Guzman is back on Monday!!! Yay! Woo!

And Manny Acta has announced that he'll slot back at shortstop, with Felipe Lopez playing 2B, pushing Ronnie Belliard to the bench.
But manager Manny Acta pointed out that Guzman has two years left on his contract with the Nationals, and the skipper wants to see if Guzman can be the player that helped the Twins win three consecutive American League Central titles.

I know others have pointed out the fallacy of this, but can we please put this to rest?

The Minnesota Twins did not win three consecutive AL Central pennants because of Cristian Guzman. It might be a bit harsh to say that they won despite him, but that's much closer to the truth.

First, let's establish that Guzman has never been an excellent shortstop. The defensive evidence isn't their, either from scouts at the time, or from metrics today. All things considered, he was basically a league average shortstop, which is nothing to sneeze at. The Nats of the last three years would've killed for a league average defensive shortstop.

The Twins won the pennant from 2002-2004. In those years, Cristian Guzman hit:
2002: .273/ .292/ .385
2003: .268/ .311/ .365
2004: .274/ .309/ .384

Those aren't particularly good numbers. So he wasn't winning games for them with the bat.

Let's put them into further perspective, though. Here's what the average AL shortstop hit in that time frame:
2002: .272/ .328/ .422
2003: .269/ .328/ .414
2004: .275/ .329/ .422

He was nowhere close to being league average offensively.

Average (we'll cheat and even say slightly above average) glove, and below average bat add up to a below-average player.

Great teams can win with below average players. But they don't win because of them.

The '02 Twins won because they had the best defensive CFer in the league hit 30 homers. The '03 Twins won because of a dominant bullpen and a great season by their 3B and a terrific half season by a key trade acquisition. The '04 Twins won because they had the best pitching staff in the league.

Sure, Guzman deserves some of the credit, but so does Luis Sojo for the Yankees' success in the late '90s. Need I remind you, too, that the Yankees have not won the World Series since they let Clay Bellinger go?


  • nail meets the hammer again! great post chris. dead on balls accurate.

    By Blogger DCPowerGator, at 5/02/2007 10:28 AM  

  • another funny guzmanian anecdote - i recall hearing that when he relayed the nats offer to the twins GM, he replied along the lines of, "if that's what they offered you, you'd be crazy NOT to take it."

    with numbers like those you posted staring him in the face, you gotta wonder WHAT bowdsie was thinking on this one? oh well, we're now more than halfway through the contract! yeaaahhhhh!!!!!

    By Blogger DCPowerGator, at 5/02/2007 10:32 AM  

  • Great post title

    By Blogger D, at 5/02/2007 10:56 AM  

  • Just great. Our already league worst (by far) offense is about to take a step backwards and get even worse than it is now.

    On another note, there was a great moment in the game last night. When Shawn Hill came up to bat with Schneider on second base, Bob Carpenter says of Hill, "he's been known to drive in a run from time to time."

    Hill, as you probably guessed, has zero RBIs in his major league career.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5/02/2007 11:37 AM  

  • The more I listen to Carpenter, the less I like him.

    Before it was his style that annoyed me. Now it's the substance.

    Last night, there was a play in the stands where the fan reached up and prevented the Padres 1B from making a play on a foul. Carpenter wondered if fan interference would be called. He's done how many games? And he doesn't know that balls in the stands are fair game?

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 5/02/2007 11:40 AM  

  • I think Carpenter is ore or less okay. Paciorek had really grown on me and I was sad that they didn't bring him back this year. I'm surprised that I like Sutton better than I expected. I didn't really like him as a player (and, no, he doesn't belong in the Hall of Fame), and I also don't remember being bowled over by him on TBS, but he's reasonably likable as a color guy.

    By Blogger John O'Connor, at 5/02/2007 11:44 AM  

  • Just wanted to drop off a pretty article by Ken Rosenthal. I always liked his work from his days with the Baltimore Sun.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5/02/2007 2:18 PM  

  • Shawn Hill - "he's been known to drive in a run from time to time."

    Maybe Carpenter was auditioning for Tony Snow's job.

    On a serious note, I'd rather watch steaming bowl of dung than see Cristian Guzman play shortstop. His contract is proof enough that Bowden should get the heave-ho.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5/02/2007 2:47 PM  

  • Shawn Hill has 7 RBI in only 14 minor league at bats. That's more often than time to time.

    By Blogger Will, at 5/02/2007 5:58 PM  

  • Will --

    That's not what Baseball REference says. He barely has 7 career games. ;)

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 5/02/2007 6:26 PM  

  • My friends here in Minnesota still give me crap to this day over the Nationals signing Guzman.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5/06/2007 1:16 AM  

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