With Jose Guillen opting out of his contract in the near future, in search of greener pastures, the Mariners find themselves with a hole in their offense. Make no mistake; Guillen leaves the Mariners with a significant hole.
The first notion that we should dismiss (one I have heard spouted by fans at various get to gathers) is that the Mariners found Jose Guillen on the scrap heap. This fallacy is followed by another which states that there are more Jose Guillens just waiting to be picked up for pennies on the dollar. If your definition of “scrap heap” includes players that are getting 5 million guaranteed (with roughly another 3 million in incentives and a mutual option for 9 million the next season) —- then Guillen was on the scrap heap. This isn’t to say that Jose Guillen was a unique opportunity, players like him come along all every so often. Let’s not kid ourselves; Jose Guillen bargain contract included the following baggage: 1) recovering from a serious injury and 2) had the reputation as a headcase. In spite of this the Mariners guaranteed him 6 million (the extra mill was for the buyout if needed), because he was in his prime and he’s an above average player. Imagine the contract Guillen would have gotten if his reputation had been better and he had been healthy. My guess would be it would have been a 4 for 40 type contract. I don’t think another Jose Guillen caliber player will be available for next season at pennies on the dollar.
His defense was poor but his offense was above average. I have much more faith in the accuracy in his offensive numbers than I do in the accuracy of his defensive numbers, but why don’t we assume Jose Guillen is an average RF all around. This means that the Mariners need to find an average RF to replace him. Considering that the Mariners have overachieved in terms of Pythag last year, the Mariners have the doubly (is that even a word?) difficult task of improving on this team.
Maybe Adam Jones or Wlad Balentein go bananas next season and fill the void nicely. I think that this is an optimistic projection. Both of those young men would almost certainly exceed Guillen in terms of bang for the buck, but the Mariners primary concern right now should be getting more production (regardless of the cost). The short story on Jones and Balentein is that both strike out a ton and I don’t feel comfortable projecting either of them to hit enough to become an average RF. Also Jones could be headed to LF which means that the M’s still need to find someone to play RF next year. Given the other areas of weakness on this team, I would rather the Mariners have this situation wrapped up. Instead the Mariners have another player to replace, and this time he isn’t terrible.
Remember in order to win the division next year, the Mariners would likely need to dramatically improve.
The ray of sunshine is that the Mariners have a few holes to fill this offseason, and many of them will be easier to fill than RF. The two rotation slots, 1B, LF, 2B or DH slots are all candidates to be upgraded. If Bavasi does it right, he can improve this team.
Feel free to chime in with any names that could fill the void left by Guillen.