Not too long ago, I was going through pictures from spring training last season. At one point I happened upon a picture of Jody Gerut, who I had completely forgotten about. Gerut somewhat surprisingly announced his retirement at the end of February, saying that his heart was no longer into the game. In spring training 2012, we've had another somewhat surprising retirement announcement. This time it's Carlos Guillen, who's hanging 'em up mostly because his legs are no longer into the game.
If you were paying close attention, you would've noticed that Guillen had yet to suit up. There was a reason. His knees had been bothering him, possibly as a consequence of his fairly recent surgery. Guillen could've tried to tough it out - easy for me to say, from here - but at 36, with a history of injuries, Guillen took this as a sign and chose to leave on his own terms, kind of.
It's not too hard to figure out what this means for the Kyle Seager, unless the Mariners decide they'd really like to have both Munenori Kawasaki and Luis Rodriguez. You could argue that maybe Seager ought to be somewhere he can play every day, and it wouldn't do him much good to sit on a bench, but if he does make the team, I expect that Eric Wedge will find a way to use him.in the short term. If healthy, Guillen was expected to land a job on the bench. He doesn't feel healthy and has retired, leaving an opening. That opening is most likely to be filled by
Guillen had signed a minor league contract, so this doesn't open a spot on the 40-man roster. However, had Guillen made the team, he would've forced somebody else off the 40-man roster, so, good news, Cesar Jimenez. If you believed in Guillen's upside, his retirement is kind of a bummer, but if his body is any indication, he wasn't going to reach his upside.
I guess I'm done making tuberculosis jokes, which is just as well because it's March 6th and I don't have any fresh material. For Guillen, he did have a Major League career affected in a significant way by injuries. He exceeded 150 games just twice, in consecutive seasons. He was a regular guest on the DL, and he had a reputation for fragility. It wasn't necessarily fair, but it wasn't undeserved.
Yet overall he posted a 111 OPS+ over more than 5,000 trips to the plate, and he did that mainly as a shortstop. Derek Jeter has a career 117 OPS+. Jose Reyes so far has a career 106 OPS+. Guillen was never renowned for his range or defensive wizardry, but he developed into a quality hitter, and if you believe in FanGraphs' WAR, between 2004-2008 Guillen was more valuable than guys like Bobby Abreu, Manny Ramirez, Victor Martinez, and Michael Young. Guillen had himself a peak. He also went to three All-Star Games and advanced to the World Series with the Tigers in 2006. Guillen had a .978 playoff OPS and of course dropped down that questionable bunt that allowed the Mariners to advance in 2000. That bunt came in Guillen's only plate appearance of the series.
Carlos Guillen surely doesn't want to be done, but now that he is done, he can reflect on what was a successful career, if a career maybe a little less than it could've been. But ifs and buts and everything. Guillen did a lot. He hit a lot of doubles. He hit a lot of homers. He went to a lot of All-Star Games. He made a lot of money. He got traded for Randy Johnson. Not bad for a guy who signed with the as a 16-year-old in 1992. That's two decades of professional baseball, setting Guillen up well for decades of leisure to come.