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Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Even More On Guillen's Suspension

Joe Sheehan at Baseball Prospectus comes out, dukes swinging at the Angels' decision to nullify Guillen's last weeks of the season:
The big story, which made the rounds in the middle of the game, was that Jose Guillen had been suspended without pay for the remainder of the season and any postseason action, following his tantrum upon being removed from Saturday's game.

I can't think of a precedent for this, where a team discards a starting outfielder with a week to go. I do know that the punishment doesn't fit the crime it followed, and it seems disproportionate even if it capped a series of unpublicized incidents, as was implied by Bill Stoneman in this story. This being the media era it is, I'm sure we'll learn more about whatever Guillen's offense was; secrets don't keep these days.

On the field, this creates another opportunity for the Angels to show off their depth. Adam Riggs started in left field last night and got two hits before coming out for defense. His replacement, Jeff DaVanon, will get the bulk of the playing time in left field, starting against right-handers.

What this decision really does is cement the Angels' position that chemistry, attitude, whatever you care to call it, matters as much or more to the team's management than performance does. It's a bold decision to suspend a major player at this stage, but consistent with the philosophy of a franchise that has spent a decade choosing personality over talent. [emphasis mine]

Watching the way the club goes about acquiring talent, his comments have the whiff of truth to them. Given the ridiculous contracts handed out to underperformers like Erstad and Anderson -- guys who simply don't excel offensively relative to their defensive positions, and/or whose contracts were only marginally defensible at the time they were signed -- the club must be using some other metric than on-field performance for assigning value. While we are in some means pleased to see former Angels staffers propagating this approach elsewhere, it's unrealistic to assume Ken Forsch will be running things in Oakland any time soon.

Sheehan's comments have the whiff of truth, but just that. Jose's recent production had fallen off dramatically from his early-season exploits, and in particular, from one week in which he virtually was the offense. The success of Guillen's appeal of the suspension, given the grounds we've seen, strikes me as highly likely. Even if Raul is right, Angels' management has overreacted by suspending him for so long, but it conceals a bigger problem: Jose's bat had gone stone cold. Addition by subtraction.

So, why would Angels management go so far to punish a player this close to the end of the season, with the team still in the hunt? I'm thinking it might have been a cumulative problem, not just with Guillen, but a number of players. The club has several whiners on -- and off -- the roster, and wanted to set an example to all of them. (Note I include Paul in this group because of his absurd demand to be traded off the Cubs' roster; it's a business, Josh. Get over it.)

In 1971 the Angels thought they had enough talent to overcome all of their turbulent personalities (Alex Johnson, Tony Conigliario, Chico Ruiz, et al.)

Turns out the players had neither the temperament nor the talent.
Interesting - three of the four players you link to are from the Dominican Republic.
Apparently the big issue was lack of backup from the players, they were tired of Guilen conduct...
"the philosophy of a franchise that has spent a decade choosing personality over talent."

That wasn't true this off-season when the Angels signed Guillen dispite his well-documented past and Kelvim Escobar, who had been accused of rape at the time.

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