Remember back when Brian Sabean’s trades took everyone by surprise? I had no idea Matt Williams was on the block in 1997, or that the Giants were going to deal Darryl Hamilton to the Rockies for Ellis Burks (quietly one of the best trades the Giants have ever made) or send Armando Rios and Ryan Vogelsong to the Pirates for Jason Schmidt (loudly one of the best trades the Giants have ever made).
Now, Sabean’s trades are telegraphed like a JaMarcus Russell pass when he’s high off that purple drank. Seems lately that every player the Giants are rumored to be interested in, it turns out they ARE interested in that player. And usually, it’s someone who most of us would rather Sabean stay away from.
Last year, it was Freddy Sanchez. Sanchez was rumored to go to the Giants for weeks, then finally did. And we all know how that turned out. Last winter I was going to be absolutely shocked if the Giants DIDN’T sign Mark DeRosa, and we all know how that worked out.
But earlier this year, after an especially meager offensive performance, I predicted the Giants would sign Pat Burrell. And I’ll admit, I wasn’t particularly happy about it. Poor defense, an inability to produce in a Rays lineup far more potent at the time than the one in San Francisco, and my own suspicions that age and drug testing meant Burrell’s best years were behind him.
And we know how that worked out.
Now that the Giants have finally pulled the trigger on Jose Guillen, after weeks of rumors that they would do so, the same sort of hesitations that I had with Burrell are present once more. Forget clubhouse chemistry concerns, Guillen has negative range in the outfield, he’s 34 and completes the Giants outfield’s transition from young/up-and-coming to the target demo for movies like It’s Complicated (if Nate Schierholtz is removed from the team, that means the youngest Giants OF is the 32-year-old Andres Torres).
But just like Burrell proved me wrong, the potential for success with Guillen does exist. He’s in a contract drive and he hits with a lot more power than Schierholtz, who can’t stop hitting grounders to the right side. And if the Huff/Burrell experiments in the outfield have taught us anything, it’s that the importance of corner outfield defense could be an eensy, teensy bit overblown. At least in left field anyway, and that’s where Guillen will roam.
So will Guillen be one of those Jeff Kent, Jason Schmidt, Ellis Burks, Pat Burrell moves? Or will he become the next Freddy Sanchez/Mark DeRosa? We should have a good idea in a month and a half, if not sooner.