The Media and Jose Guillen

Dave · September 15, 2008 at 7:43 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Occasionally, the local beat writers like to play the “we’re objective!” card to try to explain why you should listen to them despite the fact that their analysis is usually horrible. But then, they write about Jose Guillen, and their analysis becomes both horrible and unobjective.

Case in point, John Hickey’s latest musings on Guillen and how retaining him would have effected the Mariners.

Guillen has, after a slow start, come on to have a decent (.263, 20 homers, 93 RBIs) season…

Guillen’s hitting .263/.297/.446 – he’s hit a few longballs, but they just serve to somewhat offset his abysmal rate of reaching base, making him a slightly below average hitter instead of a horrible one. I don’t care how much you think all our statistical analysis stuff is crap – you can’t sit there and honestly believe that a right fielder with a .297 on base percentage is having a decent offensive season. You have to intentionally ignore the facts to write that sentence.

The reality is that Guillen’s been worth a couple runs less than an average major league hitter this year, thanks to his out making prowess. Corner outfielders hit better than the average hitter, so we can knock off another five runs or so to compare him to his positional peers. And, to boot, he’s also played absolutely abysmal defense. The Fielding Bible’s +/- system has him at 19 plays below average on the season, which works out to about -15 runs or so.

Overall, Jose Guillen has been about 20 to 25 runs worse than a league average right fielder this season. If you think that’s a decent season, you don’t know baseball.

for a Kansas City team that’s only claim to fame is that they’re going to finish 2008 with a better record than the Mariners.

Wait – isn’t part of Guillen’s mythical appeal that his presence in the locker room makes the team’s he’s on magically better? In fact, let’s just go ahead and skip down to where Hickey makes that point in the same post.

That’s a lot to put on one man’s shoulders, but there’s no doubt that one of the reasons the Mariners won 88 games last year was because they had an in-your-face guy, Guillen, in the clubhouse.

That’s right, folks – there’s “no doubt” that Guillen’s personality was one of the main reasons the M’s won 88 games, and his loss is one of the main reasons why the M’s suck this year. Except, you know, the Kansas Royals have Guillen this year, and they didn’t have him last year, and they’ve improved a whopping .014 points in Win%, going from .426 to .440.

If Guillen’s clubhouse influence is without doubt, why haven’t the Royals bonded together and performed better than expected? What players has Guillen held accountable and forced to perform who otherwise would have slacked off without his vaunted leadership? Seriously, name a player on that roster that you could make any kind of argument that Guillen has helped this year. Just one.

The beat writers love to tell us that Guillen kept the young players focused on winning and playing the right way, inspiring them to work hard by his example. But in his only season here, Jose Lopez – the guy who the organization constantly reminds us needs help working hard – had his worst season as a Mariner, and then had his best season as soon as Guillen left.

If you want to play the correlation = causation game, then you might as well conclude that Guillen was responsible for Lopez’s brutal 2007 season. Or, you could realize that correlation is not causation, and that the team’s collapse is due to things beyond not having a replacement level right fielder yelling in the clubhouse.

John Hickey’s not stupid. But when it comes to Jose Guillen, the guy who was constantly there for the beat writers last year, the media has no objectivity. They continue to ignore facts in order to fawn over a guy they like, whose personality fits their preconceived notion of what a clubhouse leader is supposed to look like, despite the fact that Guillen is one of the main reasons the Royals haven’t improved at all this year.

Jose Guillen’s having a horrible season, and he’s costing the Royals $12 million a year for the right to not make them any better. And yet, the local writers continue to write about Guillen as a glowing savior.

Good luck playing the objectivity card, fellas. Your biases are just as obvious as you claim ours are.


39 Responses to “The Media and Jose Guillen”

  1. RotatorCuff on September 15th, 2008 8:21 pm

    Hey I would have taken Guillen and his 90+ rbi’s back in RF this season but not for 3 and 36 mill.

    Besides if we would have given Guillen that money we wouldn’t have been able to sign Silva. (throws up in lap)

  2. scraps on September 15th, 2008 8:22 pm

    Jose Guillen will probably end up being a manager, based on his self-cultivated and media-abetted reputation as a Clubhouse Leader. Just like Don Baylor.

    There never seem to be very many quotes from his fellow players supporting these stories.

  3. scraps on September 15th, 2008 8:29 pm

    his 90+ rbi’s

    Augh. Did you just skim over Dave’s explanation of Guillen’s inadequacy?

    Guillen had 93 RBIs because he batted 183 times with runners in scoring position. His OPS in those situations was .739 — slightly lower than his overall OPS (.743). That is a bad OPS for a right fielder. He knocked in 93 runs because of when he batted, not because he was good: he wasn’t.

  4. MattThompson on September 15th, 2008 8:30 pm

    What is fascinating is the way Jose Guillen went from clubhouse cancer to clubhouse leader in a few seasons. Doesn’t anyone remember that Guillen basically got fired by Mike Sciosia a few years ago?

  5. msb on September 15th, 2008 8:30 pm

    If Guillen’s clubhouse influence is without doubt, why haven’t the Royals bonded together and performed better than expected?

    obviously, it is all those slackard KC players, who fail to take advantage of the Wonder that is Jose.

    would this be the same kind of mindset that attributes all Mariner wins to Lou, ignores his time in Tampa, and points to how he’s now brought the Cubs back?

  6. scraps on September 15th, 2008 8:42 pm

    Jose Guillen ranks at #252 in Value Over Replacement Player this year — a measure that doesn’t take defense into account, so is very kind to Guillen. He ranks 30th among right fielders.

    I’ll repeat that: Jose Guillen ranks 30th among right fielders in VORP this year.

    And plays lousy defense.

    If you are playing Jose Guillen in right field every day, you are losing games on the field. I really, really doubt he’s making up the deficit with his clubhouse presence.

  7. Hooligan on September 15th, 2008 9:08 pm

    Many successful baseball minds value intangibles. Dave does not value intangibles. Therefore, Dave can never be a successful baseball mind.

    I could be a beat writer.

  8. Dave on September 15th, 2008 9:13 pm

    If someone can show me that intangibles are both predictive and important, I will gladly value them. I do not value baseless opinions from people who think their job titles earn them the right to say whatever they want and expect people to give them the benefit of the doubt.

  9. abender20 on September 15th, 2008 9:14 pm

    Honestly the writers are clueless. I’m even more sickened when I see the articles like “Davies sharp against Mariners” as if all the pitchers in the world just happen to be lucky enough to have their best stuff against the M’s. Maybe Davies was good because the M’s dont take pitches and mostly can’t hit?

  10. JLP on September 15th, 2008 9:25 pm

    I’d love to get a beat writer that could delve deeper into these kinds of issues to cover the Mariners. Right now, it seems we have a bunch that take what they get from the organization at face value and regurgitate exactly what they’re told. That, and they offer up obviously biased opinions that they neglect to investigate.

  11. Steve T on September 15th, 2008 9:56 pm

    Obviously, Guillen’s fiery clubhouse leadership is worth at least 25 games a season, and the Royals would be 40-122 this year. Obviously.

  12. cody on September 15th, 2008 10:03 pm

    A .297 OBP?

    Wow, that’s just brutal.

    And, according to baseball-reference, he’s basically been hitting cleanup all year.

  13. joser on September 15th, 2008 10:05 pm

    Wait, Jose Guillen is a “a stand-up presence”? This is the same Jose Guillen who got suspended for 15 games during the offseason for violating MLB’s drug policy? This is the same Jose Guillen who insisted on pushing a better defender out of right field so that he could be happy? This is the same Jose Guillen who went after a fan a couple of weeks ago (granted, the fan was apparently heckling him about something personal, like evolution or his OBP or something).

  14. Adam S on September 15th, 2008 10:41 pm

    Jose Guillen has been about 20 to 25 runs worse than a league average right fielder this season.
    Along with scraps comment, does this mean Guillen is BELOW replacement level this season? Yesh, I know he’s not very good but hard to believe he’s been that bad.

  15. Dave on September 15th, 2008 10:46 pm

    League average offense + terrible defense is pretty much the definition of replacement level. There are a lot of guys in the minors who can hit a fastball but don’t do anything else – that’s basically been Guillen this year.

    His true talent level is certainly better than this, but for 2008, he’s been replacement level.

  16. wlad on September 15th, 2008 10:56 pm

    Check out some of the comments on the page…

    Not bringing Guillen back was one of Bavasi’s dumbest moves on a long list of dumb moves. Guillen’s intensity, leadership, and fire left the team when he was not resigned. Every team needs a guy like him if they expect to have any chance of being a winning ballclub.

    Are you serious?

  17. Vlad on September 15th, 2008 11:19 pm

    I think that the best ideas come from taking the opposite thoughts into consideration so take mine as one. Guillen had a solid year playing for Mariners while he is not having a solid season now. But I slightly remember that most of you guys moaned about his departure because we simply lost one of our better players. Clubhouse chemistry is a very important thing in a course of a long season, that is something very ununderstandable for someone who never played any kind of team sport and I strongly believe that last year we didn´t hear that much of that bad chemistry in the clubhouse comments as we hear this year so that would be the reason for me to beileve that Guillen IS somehow a leader. By the way I think Don Baylor was a perfect fit for manager. Sorry for my English.

  18. DaveValleDrinkNight on September 16th, 2008 5:12 am

    Obviously Guillen wouldn’t have helped us this year but this thread got me thinking.

    With the pain were going to be put through over the M’s re-building campaign, which may or may not work, the process will inevitably lead to a few replacement players at key positions.

    We have all kinds of stats to approximate a players value, especially replacement value.

    So, who does everybody like in the minors or as affordable free agents/trades for next year, and at which positions?

    I’d start with RF/CF and look for good defense with at least a little plate discipline.

  19. terry on September 16th, 2008 7:17 am

    His true talent level is certainly better than this, but for 2008, he’s been replacement level.

    Truth be told, Guillen wasn’t much better than replacement level last season either.

    He is the last person that I would drop cash on and frankly, letting him go was one of the few player valuation tests that Bavasi passed.

  20. skyking162 on September 16th, 2008 7:32 am

    Justin’s stats, which I trust more than anything out there, have Guillen as 9 runs worse than replacement level this year. Funny enough, that puts him just behind Esteban German and Mark Teahen, and about five runs ahead of Tony Pena Jr. Yeah, the Royals are that bad.

  21. Tek Jansen on September 16th, 2008 7:37 am

    Vlad, people were not generally upset that Bavasi let Guillen go. Some, inlcuding me, were a little upset that Bavasi did not offer arbitration. The M’s would have had either a relatively cheap Guillen or draft picks.

  22. gwangung on September 16th, 2008 7:48 am

    Vlad, people were not generally upset that Bavasi Armstrong let Guillen go. Some, inlcuding me, were a little upset that Bavasi did not offer arbitration.

    I think that’s more accurate.

  23. JMHawkins on September 16th, 2008 8:15 am

    There never seem to be very many quotes from his fellow players supporting these stories.

    Yes. In fact, if players ever do comment on “clubhouse leadership” they usually say something like “the real leaders are the quiet guys, not the in-your-face types the media love to write about. Those guys are just annoying.”

  24. Evan on September 16th, 2008 8:20 am

    Hickey’s point isn’t obviously absurd (it’s wrong, but not absurd).

    If the Royals already had a clubhouse guy like Guillen last year, then the .426 winning percentage they put up already represented the height of their potential. Having Guillen on the team this year only keeps them at that level.

    If they hadn’t added Guillen (and presuming they no longer have whoever did the job last year), clearly (by Hickey’s reasoning) they would have been vastly worse even than they are.

  25. big hawna on September 16th, 2008 8:20 am

    “John Hickey’s not stupid.” What do you base that statement on? Seems condescending. This guy has been asleep at the wheel for ten years.

    As a great philosopher said “stupid is as stupid does”…

  26. Gomez on September 16th, 2008 8:30 am

    Everyone who writes for a public audience is biased, and many are not as good at hiding their biases as they think they are.

  27. jzalman on September 16th, 2008 8:58 am

    I always thought Guillen was considered a clubhouse cancer type? I thought his teammates usually didn’t like him or hated him? I mean, beat writers may love him because he’s in your face, but don’t the players disagree?

  28. msb on September 16th, 2008 9:13 am

    I thought his teammates usually didn’t like him or hated him?

    as with almost every ball player, some teammates like him, some don’t.

  29. G-Man on September 16th, 2008 10:07 am

    Trade Silva for Guillen.

  30. Doc Baseball on September 16th, 2008 10:09 am

    If someone can show me that intangibles are both predictive and important, I will gladly value them.

    What, Dave, how can you ignore the evidence…just think about the impact that the fiery in-your-face clubhouse leader Carl Everett had on the Mariners … and, uhh, also how much the 2001 Mariners struggled because they did not have any fierce throw-’em-against-the-wall guys….

  31. Evan on September 16th, 2008 10:26 am

    Yeah. Soft-spoken guys like John Olerud always make their teams suck. Guys like John Olerud have never played on successful teams.

  32. Doc Baseball on September 16th, 2008 10:38 am

    and … and … Guillen led the Angels to the division championship in 2004, and then when Scosia fired him there at the end of that regular season, you see they completely fell apart in losing in the playoffs that year (what was Mike thinking – the Angels haven’t done a thing since) … and then look how Guillen’s leadership completely resuscitated the Nationals in ’05 and ’06….
    Just how much more evidence does anyone need that fiery leadership, and in particular Guillen’s leadership, is the key to winning?

  33. Steve T on September 16th, 2008 10:42 am

    Jzalman, yes. Earlier this year I read something about Guillen being a clubhouse cancer in KC, fighting with the manager, being a self-centered jerk, all the things they call you when you don’t fit their mold of the perfect interview.

    Hickey’s totally full of crap. Stuff like this, to me, is like finding “white power” crap in the paper — it casts their whole operation in doubt. There’s NO WAY a person could write an article like that unless they were wholly ignorant of how baseball works. Hickey’s a worm.

  34. msb on September 16th, 2008 11:37 am

    Baker weighs in on the topic…

  35. JLP on September 16th, 2008 2:18 pm

    Even Baker is on the “Guillen’s a good clubhouse guy!” bus. Can anyone show me on quote from one of last year’s Mariners that says anything to the effect of “Yeah, Jose Guillen is the leader around here. He’s the spark that gets us going.”? I’d love to see it.

  36. msb on September 16th, 2008 2:35 pm

    mostly it was “Mariners manager John McLaren said Guillen, who entered Monday’s game against the Los Angeles Angels hitting .295 with 19 homers and 81 RBI, has been one of the team’s leaders.

    “He pushes his teammates, he encourages them, he puts his arm around them – he’s been a great teammate,” McLaren said. “I don’t think anybody looked at him in that light before.””

    oh, and Guillen, himself.

  37. JLP on September 16th, 2008 3:22 pm

    Well, then…

    That seals it, doesn’t it? I’m sure McLaren knew exactly what was going on in that clubhouse. And I don’t put much into someone calling themself a leader.

  38. beckya57 on September 17th, 2008 4:06 am

    Anybody besides me notice the striking similarity to how the political media is covering the presidential race?

  39. beckya57 on September 17th, 2008 4:08 am

    Not to mention that all of this “clubhouse leader” stuff is nonsense. Teams win because they have good players. The M’s don’t have good players this year, so they’ve lost a lot of games. Why is that so hard to figure out?

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