Alex Guerrero started at shortstop against the Angels on Thursday. That’s the kind of thing that shouldn’t matter at all, because most of spring training doesn’t matter at all. (For example, when he left, he was replaced by Dillon Moyer, a player I had literally never heard of.) But we’ve talked about Guerrero a lot, because his situation has been one of the more interesting aspects of a quiet spring, and because I’ve spent more than a year enjoying the opportunity to refute people who claim that “he’s a natural shortstop!” (The usual go-to: Kenley Jansen was a “natural catcher.” Big deal.)
Anyway, Guerrero’s seen some time at third base this year and apparently done okay doing it, and he’s been inoffensive in limited opportunities in left, but he hadn’t been at shortstop. Finally, his big chance, the opportunity to show that he could at least back up Jimmy Rollins, that maybe, just maybe, Don Mattingly should give him the chance on Rollins’ day off rather than Justin Turner.
This day was about Guerrero. This was the entirety of his defensive day:
…and whomp. That’s it. One grounder about three minutes into the game, a very easy one at that, and one that didn’t even require a throw across the diamond. Pretty anti-climactic, you might say. Nothing at all proven, you might also say. We mostly didn’t think Guerrero could play short before, and there’s no reason to think that’s changed.
Of course, this isn’t why Guerrero’s here. This is why he’s here:
I’m not going to quote his stats in the spring because I don’t care, but it’s easy to say that he’s been looking really, really good at the plate so far. (Yes, that was off of Andrew Heaney, who turned into Howie Kendrick.) Guerrero’s going to make the team because his contract demands that he does — sorry, Darwin Barney — but he’s done his part to show that he should, too. I’m still not sure how he fits in, or how the defense is going to play when it’s for more than four innings here and there.
I do know that I’ve never lost faith in the bat, and the way baseball is these days, you never give up on offense. If there’s even a sliver of a prayer that he turns into a useful bench bat, well, then that’s a chance you need to take. The payoff, potentially, could be baseball’s best bench, with Scott Van Slyke / Turner / Andre Ethier / Guerrero representing a fascinating foursome, and Enrique Hernandez / Chris Heisey / Barney a mere phone call away. When we talk about the less-flashy moves the new front office has made, this is the kind of thing — solid depth — I’m talking about. Remember benches of Mark Sweeney and Garret Anderson and Skip Schumaker? This, well, this is better.