Alex Guerrero‘s walk-off hit last night was awesome. His home run on Sunday was legitimate. And yet, it wasn’t long ago many (including yours truly) thought he was mostly a lost cause and not long for the Dodger organization.
But here we are on April 14 and Guerrero has fans clamoring for him to be the Dodgers’ starting third baseman ahead of Juan Uribe (or even Justin Turner). That’s just not going to happen, but the fact he’s gotten some — admittedly — limited playing time early this season helps his chances of getting more going forward.
The season began on April 6. Guerrero has been on the roster the entire time, yet didn’t make his first appearance until April 11. There’s a reason for that: He was literally the 25th man on the roster. Because of the provision in his deal that allows him to refuse a minor-league assignment, the Dodgers were forced to keep him on the roster. But now, (and yes, it’s only two games) at least Guerrero might actually have some value to the Dodgers.
Uribe wasn’t ever going to play 140 games. Odds are, he wouldn’t have hit well enough to justify that many games, no matter how good his glove was. And, that isn’t even factoring in his age. Turner is a much more valuable player the less he plays. His 322 plate appearances in 2014 is a good number for him (and probably less, if he can’t maintain last year’s insane production). Turner will not be an everyday player for a first-division team. That’s where Guerrero comes in. While he should be more of a utility player, he might see the bulk of his time at the hot corner, especially if Uribe has trouble staying healthy. He could even get out to left field, but that’s also Scott Van Slyke‘s primary position. We’ll see how Don Mattingly handles it. One thing is for sure: It’s unlikely Guerrero will ever be a middle infielder in the majors. If he’s playing there, something has gone terribly wrong (and probably means Yasiel Puig is actually playing third base).
Let’s not get too crazy, though. Like I said, it’s only been two games. This is an example of the depth the Dodgers have in the organization. Guys like Enrique Hernandez and Chris Heisey would be on 75 percent of MLB rosters, yet they’re toiling in Triple-A. A bench of Darwin Barney (for now), A.J. Ellis (yes, he is the backup), Andre Ethier, Guerrero, Turner and Van Slyke is really tough to beat. Those guys could all start on any given day for almost any other team, yet they’re firmly planted as backups.
The real test for Guerrero will come when he struggles. The only time he’s ever struggled (offensively) in professional career was in his 13 MLB plate appearances last year, which isn’t much of a sample (as isn’t his 12 PAs this season). If he gets the chance to show his value, that could either facilitate a trade (if the parties can get around that whole “I can become a free agent the season immediately after I’m traded” clause) or make himself a potentially valuable piece to the Dodgers.
I don’t think Guerrero is going to make us say, “Who needs Hector Olivera?” But, he was brought over primarily for his bat, and if he gets a chance to showcase, maybe it will show the international scouting staff wasn’t completely off on this Cuban player.