As if the Dodgers hadn’t made enough splashes in the international market, last October they agreed to a four-year, $28 million deal with Cuban shortstop Alex Guerrero. The deal had been rumored for months, finally culminating shortly after the team’s season ended. It appeared the Dodgers had found their second baseman of the future.
However, it hasn’t been that cut and dry. First, injuries plagued Guerrero during a winter league stint in the Dominican Winter League after straining his hamstring. Then, an up-and-down performance in Spring Training was cut short by an oblique injury. Now, fully healthy and hitting well in the minors, manager Don Mattingly cautioned Guerrero still needs time to improve defensively, via Ken Gurnick of Dodgers.com:
That kind of stuff doesn’t happen overnight,” he said. “Eight games, you’re not going to see much difference in that amount of time.”
The questions about Guerrero certainly aren’t about his bat. In Spring Training, though he didn’t get consistent playing time, he hit .300 with a .900 OPS in 30 at-bats. So far, through nine games with the Albuquerque Isotopes, he’s been even better, batting .467 (14-for-30) with three doubles, two triples, two home runs, five walks and just one strikeout.
As Mattingly implied, the concerns lie with his glove. Guerrero played shortstop in Cuba’s top league, and the general thinking is that a player who plays short can play any other infield position with ease. But such is not the case with Guerrero, who’s had his defense questioned by the likes of ESPN’s Keith Law, saying he’s looked stiff in the field.
Chris Jackson, who covers the Isotopes for Examiner.com, corroborates the concerns with Guerrero’s defense. Jackson told me that Guerrero’s range isn’t great and, like Law said, he looks stiff. Jackson further went on to state that the biggest concern is Guerrero’s arm. He double-clutches a lot, which shows a lack of confidence, and lacks accuracy. It seems as though the second baseman’s issues are more mental than mechanical, which could take more time to straighten out.
Despite the concerns over Guerrero’s defense, if he keeps maintains his hot hitting, the Dodgers are going to have a hard time keeping him off of the roster, even with how well Dee Gordon has been playing thus far. A platoon between the two seems inevitable.
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