Thursday, May 29, 2008

José Guillen Got It Right (AND He's A Royal)

I've never found anything even remotely worth liking about José Guillen. He's been the 500-pound elephant that's invaded every team's clubhouse he's ever been in. And he famously tussled with one of my all-time favorite players, Hal McRae, when Guillen was a member of the (then) Tampa Bay Devil Rays, managed by Hal. Who would have thought that Guillen would be the one to finally do for the Royals the very needed thing that hadn't been done since...Hal McRae?

Keep in mind, I'm still trying to get past the fact that Guillen found out how to speak fluent English. I never could get past the idea of Guillen showing up for his first press conference at Kaufman Stadium, wearing uniform #11 for the Royals, a number which Hal wore as both a player and manager for the team. After learning about Guillen's surly past, I figured it was his way of sticking it to Hal. There's a part of me that still thinks that. In fact, when a reporter brought up the fact that Guillen was wearing the number donned by McRae for years, he seemed overjoyed, despite their checkered past. I don't think it's slanderous in anyway to suggest that Guillen is a major prick. EVERYONE swears by this. He might be the one guy you can say, without reservation, has a worse reputation than Barry Lamar Bonds. I know some who really like Barry. I can't find anybody who takes a liking to Guillen. Dayton Moore was besieged by anyone to avoid the guy like the plague last winter, when he wanted to throw that stupid money at him. It was almost like Dayton knew he was auditioning for Ned Beatty's role in Deliverance, knew he was going to get ass-raped, and went ahead and enjoyed it.

I defended the signing of Guillen, similar to the signing of Gil Meche. Mostly this is because I subscribe to the idea that the Royals absolutely have to overpay for free agents, especially free agents who wouldn't get that sort of money from any other team. It's the only way the Royals can be taken seriously when they want to attract GOOD free agents, let alone keep some of their younger players to long term deals. I defended Guillen when he struggled mightily at the plate, as whispers that turned into screams suggested that being off steroids had brought Guillen down to earth. He has a canon for an arm in right field, something the Royals defense desperately needed. I had him penciled in for .265/33 HR/110 RBI with an on-base percentage around .365 and a slugging percentage north of .500. Not numbers that justify the contract Dayton Moore got him to autograph, but hell it'd be at least SOMETHING.

Now I'm again José Guillen's biggest supporter, because last night's infamous tirade was worth the entire free agent contract. The Royals haven't had an outburst like that since Hal McRae legendarily ripped phones out of a wall and tossed them at foolish beat writers. That was in May, 1993. That Royals team went on to win, and frankly win big at times. Not enough to win the (then) American League West, which was clearly going to be taken by MVP Frank Thomas and the White Sox. The Royals finished 3rd in the West that year, going 84-78 but playing very well after McRae's outburst. It was George Brett's final season, and he could only DH. That Royals team had no regular hit over .300, and Catcher Mike Macfarlane led all Royals in homers with 20. Jose "Chico" Lind was the everyday 2nd baseman, and ex-Twins Gary Gaetti and Greg Gagne found Jesus and were actually vital to that team's success. The point is, after McRae shook a little life into everybody, the team finally started winning. And Kevin "Sleepy" McReynolds was on that squad!

Last night, Guillen really spoke for what the franchise has been since Brett's retirement. The face of the franchise for year's had been Mike Sweeney, and even though he is probably the nicest guy to have ever played Major League Baseball, I never really got the feeling that winning games was something that drove the guy. And I don't see it this year. Alex Gordon has all of the tools to become a David Wright, but sometimes he looks like he'd rather be on the beach hanging out with Patrick Swayze's crew in Point Break. If you shot David DeJesus with truth serum, he'd probably go on and on about how he's the luckiest guy in the world because there wouldn't be another team in the majors that would dare pencil him in their starting lineup, let alone ride the bench. I still expect great things from Mark Teahan, but he and John Buck constantly disappoint me and are mostly reminders of the Carols Beltran trade. The Royals still don't have a shortstop, anybody resembling a shortstop, or any clear cut idea on who would even be a backup plan for a shortstop.

So let's all applaud Guillen for if nothing else his moment of honesty. No burying Guillen here, only praise. He's right in saying nobody wants to win more than Manager Trey Hillman. We already knew Guillen was never a big reader of "How To Win Friends And Influence People", but I think he might have influenced some by finally telling it like it is. Yes, it'd be better if a Gordon or Teahan showed such passion. And Guillen may not even hit his weight. But maybe this guy has more of Hal McRae in him than I thought.

1 comment:

Mac G said...

I enjoyed watching Guillen with the Nats. He had a very good season his first year. You could tell that he wanted to win and he always gave it his all.

The next year he battled injuries and was not the same player.
That tirade was awesome and he was spot on about the Royals.

I loved the Jose Lind, Kevin McReynolds flashbacks.