A little bit about Freddy Guzman

Yanks win 5-3 to sweep Angels
The Kevin Long Appreciation Thread

There’s a new member of the New York Yankees, so let’s introduce him. Before yesterday’s game, the Yankees added OF Freddy Guzman to the 40-man roster and summoned him to the majors. The 28-year-old switch-hitter hadn’t appeared in a major league game since September 30, 2007, before he pinch ran for Jorge Posada in the eighth inning last night. Now, according to the Yankees, he’s in consideration for a postseason roster spot.

It’s been a long journey for Guzman, not just throughout his nine-year pro career, but also this season alone. The Bronx is his fifth stop in 2009 after stints with AAA teams in four organizations. He’s stayed employed through the years because of his speed, which, to paraphrase Mike, can be rated as “really fast” on the 20-80 scale. He got on base at a decent clip in the minors for a guy with no pop, but he’s not expected to maintain that in the majors. If he was, another team would have given him a longer look.

(I also found out, just after publishing this, that Guzman had at one point falsified his identification. He was previously known as Pedro De Los Santos, and had listed his birth date as August 8, 1983. His actual birthday is January 20, 1981 — the day Reagan was inaugurated.)

The Padres signed Guzman as an undrafted free agent in 2000, but apparently held him back from playing that year. The first recorded stats I see for him are with short-season Idaho Falls, San Diego’s rookie-level team, in 2001. He performed quite well in a small sample at that level, putting up a .866 OPS while playing against guys mostly younger than him. It’s tough to project under those circumstances, but success is success. For him to fail at that level might have derailed his career early.

Guzman hit three levels in 2002, starting at low-A ball and moving up to short-season and advanced-A. He posted a .341 OBP with low-A, but markedly dropped off as he faced tougher competition. Still, it was enough to earn him the No. 3 spot on San Diego’s prospect list, according to Baseball America. He started 2004 off with a bang, posting a .375 OBP at advanced-A and earning himself a promotion to AA. There he tallied a .368 OBP in 205 plate appearances. It was enough for the Padres to give him a shot, and he made his major league debut on August 17.

Things didn’t go so well for Guzman, who saw less and less playing time in September, though he did get two hits in each of the Padres final two games. Unfortunately, it would be more than a year until Guzman would play in a game that counted, at any level. He suffered an elbow injury which kept him out for the entire 2005 season.

After success in his brief return, to the tune of a .348 OBP, the Padres traded him to the Rangers in what amounted to a nothing deal. Cesar Rojas went with him, and the Padres received John Hudgins and Vince Sinisi in return. None of those players have been of any consequence. Guzman took to his new environment, hitting .282/.375/.345 Oklahoma, Texas’s AAA affiliate in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. He was rewarded with eight plate appearances at the end of the season for the Rangers.

Another decent season followed in Oklahoma, .269/.358/.363. The Rangers again rewarded him with a call-up, this time involving six plate appearances. At this point it was clear what kind of production you could expect from Guzman: not much. He had only 98 major league plate appearances, but Guzman’s type has floated around pro baseball for ages. He has seductive speed, but not enough power. Without power he has trouble drawing walks at the major league level, which depress his OBP. Guys with speed don’t do much good unless they’re getting on base.

In December of 2007, the Rangers dished Guzman to the Tigers for 1B Chris Shelton, who is most famous for hitting 10 home runs in April 2005 and doing nothing much since. After deciding he’d not make the Opening Day roster, the Tigers placed him on outright waivers, but no one claimed him. The Tigers put him in AA. After tearing up Erie of the Eastern League (.281/.362/.446), Detroit moved him up to AAA Toldeo, where he fell back into line with expectations, .270/.329/.378.

After the season Guzman became a minor league free agent and signed with the Mariners. His 2009 journey began with Tacoma of the PCL, but after disastrous results — .214/.244/.310 in 45 PA — the Mariners released him in early May. The Red Sox snapped him up later that month, but the results were similar with AAA Pawtucket. From there was onto Norfolk, Baltimore’s AAA team, where he experienced even worse results. The Orioles, obviously having no use for the outfielder, dished him to the Yanks on August 31 for cash and a player to be named later.

Strangely, after releasing Guzman, the Red Sox acquired Joey Gathright. The latter might have more major league experience than Guzman, but it’s difficult to discern a difference between the two speedsters. Yet it’s their speed, and their speed alone, which might earn them postseason roster spots. That’s what Joe Girardi said yesterday. The Yankees, needing only 11 pitchers on the postseason roster (probably using 10 tops), could add a second speed threat to the bench with their extra spot.

A speed threat on the bench is a luxury in October, and one the Yankees can certainly afford. But can they spare two spots to speedsters? It seems as though Melky Cabrera is the starting center fielder, with Gardner coming in every once in a while, rather than any kind of set platoon. He’s one guy who can pinch run in close and late situations. Do the Yankees need another?

Right now, the odds are against Guzman making the roster, but things can change between now and October 7. If Melky starts to falter and Gardner starts more in center, perhaps the Yankees will think it worthy to have a speeders for whom they can pick spots. If Gardner’s starting, the Yanks obviously can’t use him to pinch run for Posada or Matsui in a difficult spot. The presence of Guzman would afford them that luxury. I guess it will come down to how the team plays down the stretch, and how the Yankees think they can best use their extra position player.

Photo 1 credit: Lauren Long / The Post-Standard

Photo 2 credit: Robin Buckson / The Detroit News

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Yanks win 5-3 to sweep Angels
The Kevin Long Appreciation Thread
  • Doug

    Joe, had similar thinking in that maybe the Yanks infatuation with Guzman is due to them with the idea of starting Gardner in CF in October.

    Guzman would then be the designated pinchrunner for well, everyone not named jeter and damon, late in games.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68http://riveraveblues.com/2009/09/assessing-brackmans-season-part-i-16790/#comment-579681 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Guzman would then be the designated pinchrunner for well, everyone not named jeter and damon, late in games.

      Two words: Hideki Matsui.

    • Dan

      Umm… Damon runs like he has broken glass in his shoes.

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68http://riveraveblues.com/2009/09/assessing-brackmans-season-part-i-16790/#comment-579681 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

    Janet Guzman??!? … looks more like FREDDY Guzman.

    • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

      Just as long as you don’t EVER everevereverever EVER come by here.

    • rafael

      She don’t like a lot of people with me when I go get her.

  • jsbrendog

    david roberts?

  • Bo

    All the relief pitchers on the bubbles just got a little more worried.

  • Makavelli

    Who’s better?

    Freddy Guzman or Luis Guzman?

    You decide…

  • Moshe Mandel

    I don’t know that it has anything to do with Gardner. Whoever is the 25th man will be the last person off the bench, used after Gardner. The question is, would you prefer that last guy be a versatile player or a basestealer- I would prefer Guzman, as I see no instance where Pena’s defense will come into play.

    • Doug

      yeah, but it’s very rare that you’ll use two roster spots for guys who are essentially only there to pinch run. though gardner would be a late inning defensive replacement for damon too.

      • http://assets.nydailynews.com/img/2009/07/23/alg_burnett.jpg Mike Pop

        Guzman is a beast defensively too!

        http://www.fangraphs.com/stats.....F#fielding

        • Doug

          yeah, but super small sample sizes

      • Bill

        conventionally speaking sure you don’t NEED 2 pinch runners. However the thing with Gardner is that he is more than just a pinch runner. He arguably should be the starting CF, but probably won’t start many games because of his value off the bench and because Melky has held the job for most of the year.

        The advantage of having a guy like Garnder AND Guzman is that you can put Gardner in the game earlier if a potentially key pinch running situation arises in let’s say the 5th, 6th, or 7th inning because Gardner is good enough to stay in the rest of the game after pinch running. I would even pinch run him for Melky who isn’t a bad baserunner, but if Melky gets on base fairly late in the game you can go to Gardner on the basepath and in CF the rest of the game. And you’d still have Guzman available if another pinch running opportunity presents itself. It definitely seems to make a lot of sense especially for that first series where we won’t need many pitchers and a guy like Pena adds virtually nothing as Hairston can backup all of our infield positions except 1B. Another backup INF or another pitcher that won’t be used are less valuable than an extra pinch runner that could be used and could allow us to change the gameplan (i.e. sub Gardner in earlier)

  • A.D.

    Interesting figuring they have Hariston as a pinch runner too, while he won’t be the pure steal threat that these two would be.

  • matthaggs

    Adding Guzman too will just give Girardi an additional opportunity to do something dumb – like steal a base at the wrong time or pinch run for a big bat too soon.

    Let’s not give Girardi too many buttons to push.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68http://riveraveblues.com/2009/09/assessing-brackmans-season-part-i-16790/#comment-579681 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      …do something dumb – like steal a base at the wrong time…

      Impossible. It’s possible to get caught stealing at the wrong time, but it’s never a wrong time to steal a base successfully.

      Freddy Guzman is really, really good at stealing bases successfully.

      • matthaggs

        But so is Gardner. Take one or the other, but not both.

        If, for example you successfully steal second base while Swisher is batting, and as a result Swisher is given first base so they could pitch to Cabrera, I would consider that stolen base not the greatest idea. Not a bad idea, but not a really good idea either.

        Plus you lose whoever you pinch ran for should that spot come up again.

        • Bill

          But it allows you to use Gardner differently. Gardner is more than just a pinch runner. He is our best defensive OF and probably a better all-around player than Melky.

          Now if the matchup allows us to we can potentially start Gardner in CF or have him pinch run for Melky fairly early in the game. Not that Melky is a bad baserunner, but Garnder is obviously much better. If we need a run in the 5th inning and Melky gets on, why not? With Guzman we don’t need to save Gardner for that late inning situation.

          • matthaggs

            Eh.

            This offense doesn’t need to be running and bunting. If Girardi leaves things alone they’ll be just fine. Giving him another toy to play with could possibly work out well, but it could also possibly cost the team a game or a chance to win a game at least.

            Gardner was lucky to be safe last night.

            • Bill

              Ok, but fear of how the manager will use a guy shouldn’t be reason enough to keep him off the roster if he could potentially be more valuable than other guys. That seems to be the only arugment people have about keeping Guzman over the likes of Pena or a 12th pitcher.

              Also against pitchers like Verlander we may need to put extra emphasis on base running and moving runners as our base runners could potentially be few and far between.

              In a close game if Melky gets on base in the 5th inning or later there should be no hesitation to pull him for Gardner and there won’t be if we have Guzman on the bench.

              • matthaggs

                Fair enough. But your example on why it might be a good idea to take both would never happen.

                It makes sense to swap Melky for Gardner early-ish as you described, but the odds of Girardi doing something like that are about a zillion to one.

                I think having Guzman would tempt Girardi to run for someone like Matsui in the 6th innning. I guess you could then use Hinkse to bat in Matsui’s spot but to me the potential risk outweighs the potential reward.

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68http://riveraveblues.com/2009/09/assessing-brackmans-season-part-i-16790/#comment-579681 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

    Fun facts of the day:

    Stolen Bases-Caught Stealing:
    Freddy Guzman, MLB: 5-3 in 38 games
    Freddy Guzman, minors: 443-85 in 784 games
    Brett Gardner, MLB: 34-6 in 134 games
    Brett Gardner, minors: 156-31 in 388 games

    Combined total: 638-125 in 1344 games

    That’s an aggregate 83.6% success rate, and 0.47 steals per game.

    (For shits and giggles, Rickey’s MLB numbers are 80.7% and 0.45 steals per game.)

    • Doug

      very loud giggles :-)

    • The Lodge

      443 out of 528 in 784 games is indescribably beautiful.

    • king of fruitless hypotheticals

      so again, why dont we run everybody against the sox on the first pitch? (well, everyone who’s name doesnt rhyme with hideki matsui or jose molina that is)

  • Sweet Lou

    If Guzman makes the playoff roster, then they’ll carry 10 pitchers for the opening round.

    CC
    AJ
    Pettite
    Joba
    Mo
    Hughes
    Ace
    Coke
    Marte
    Gaudin/Robertson/Mitre

    • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

      I’d rather leave Guzman off and have Robertson AND Gaudin, unless D-Rob is still hurt.

      • Sweet Lou

        I guess that their line of thinking is since they’ll only need three starters in the ALDS (two days off), they don’t need 8 guys in the bullpen.

        If last night’s game is any indicator, it’s that Girardi in the playoffs will run us in or out of a win.

        • AndrewYF

          Except when, you know, the Yankees win because they ran.

          • http://z.about.com/d/tvcomedies/1/0/F/-/-/-/judge310_72.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

            Too quick on the snark-trigger… He said “Girardi in the playoffs will run us in or out of a win.”

    • Chris

      They would probably carry 11 pitchers:

      Starters:
      Jeter
      Damon
      Tex
      A-Rod
      Matsui
      Posada
      Cano
      Swisher
      Cabrera

      Bench:
      Gardner
      Hinske
      Hairston
      Molina
      Guzman

      Starters:
      CC
      AJ
      Pettitte

      Bullpen:
      Mo
      Hughes
      Joba
      Ace
      Coke
      Marte
      Robertson
      Gaudin/Mitre/Bruney

      • Doug

        so guzman instead of pena?

    • ADam

      Totally agree… but if all goes well with DROB and you only need 10 pitchers…. no need for gaudin or mitre… you already have ace and joba for L.R

    • Bill

      We’d still carry 11 pitchers.

      9 regular starting position players
      +
      5 Bench: Molina, Hairston, Gardner, Hinske, Guzman

      That’s 14 position players and 11 pitchers.

      Robertson if healthy is a shoe-in. Then the last spot would be between Bruney and Gaudin. Probably Bruney.

  • ADam

    I was sitting in right field last night… And was unsure who the PA said the P.R was… But saw #87 Guzman.. And then cano hit a decent base hit to center… and man.. that guy flew from 1st to 3rd… at impressive speed. Could be dangerous in the playoffs… BTW that center fielders name was Torri Hunter.. so not exactly a slouch out there… again impressive speed

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

    I just don’t see the point of ANOTHER pinch runner. I’d rather see them bring another bat like Shelley before another guy just to run.

    Bringing Guzman along is just asking for Girardi to try something stupid.

    • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

      This.

    • AndrewYF

      Um, who would Shelley Duncan pinch-hit for?

      I would much rather have a guy who can run than a guy who can hit worse than anyone on the bench besides Molina.

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

        Melky? Gardner? Hairston?

        I just used Shelley as an example. I’d rather have Pena than Guzman.

        • http://z.about.com/d/tvcomedies/1/0/F/-/-/-/judge310_72.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          When is Pena actually getting into a game, though?

        • AndrewYF

          You can’t honestly tell me Shelley Duncan is a better hitter than any of those guys. Even Gardner.

          And Pena is essentially useless with Hairston on the team.

          Are you telling me you’re going to replace Jeter in the later innings of a playoff game for defensive purposes?

          You’re out of your mind, Axisa.

          • http://z.about.com/d/tvcomedies/1/0/F/-/-/-/judge310_72.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

            I don’t know that he’s out of his mind, but he does seem to be looking for reasons to keep Guzman off the first-round roster, which gives the appearance of digging in his heels to defend a stated position.

            Guzman on the first-round roster isn’t nearly as crazy an idea as it was made out to be when it was first discussed.

        • Bill

          I’d prefer any of those three hitting to Shelley. Besides Hinske is a much better PH option.

          Why Pena? The infield has been pretty good defensively and Hairston is a great backup.

          A 2nd pinch runner is more useful than a 2nd utility infielder. Plus Guzman in addition to PR is a pretty good defender. Not that we’d ever really do this but defensively our best defensive OF is probably Gardner, Guzman, and Melky.

    • http://z.about.com/d/tvcomedies/1/0/F/-/-/-/judge310_72.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      I’m honestly undecided on this issue, I’ve been watching your conversations with Moshe/steve(different one) and everyone else and going back and forth on it and I haven’t decided how I feel about it. (Which I think, in the end, means I’m fine with them bringing Guzman and I’m fine with them sending him home.) But here’s the response to your statement that you “just don’t see the point of ANOTHER pinch runner” and that you’d “rather see them bring another bat like Shelley before another guy just to run.” Who is more likely to actually make an impact in a short playoff series? I think you can make a pretty convincing case that the answer is Guzman and not Shelley Duncan or a ninth reliever. Who in the Yankees lineup is Shelley Duncan pinch hitting for in the playoffs? If someone like Shelley is on the postseason roster he’s likely only there to spell a starter in case of a ridiculous blow-out. Guzman, though? He’s someone who actually has a chance to get into a game that’s not a blow-out, and he has a chance to be a weapon for the Yankees in a game like that. He doesn’t have to get a perpetual green light to attempt steals to be a weapon, he’d be a weapon just in running the bases, running on hit and runs, etc.

      So… To put it more briefly, Guzman could be a value-add in situations that actually matter, as opposed to someone like Shelley who will likely only be a value-add in the lowest levereage situations possible.

      • Joe R

        +1

      • A.D.

        I agree, why would Shelly play in a playoff game. You don’t want him out there defensively, and he shouldn’t be DHing instead of Matsui.

        Pena provides more versatility since he can play more positions than Guzman, and provides a nice pinch runner, but not a SB threat.

        Extra BP arm gives some safety but may/hopefully is unnecessary

        Guzman provides them the option to go with a redic defensive outfield late (Guzman/Gardner/Melk), and/or to pinch run for Matsui & Posada every game, or anyone in a spot where they need a SB.

        • http://z.about.com/d/tvcomedies/1/0/F/-/-/-/judge310_72.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          The issue with Pena is that he’s likely not going to play unless there’s a huge blow-out or a middle infielder gets hurt (and even then he’s probably behind Hairston in the pecking order). So, again, like the conversation about Shelley, it’s a decision between a guy who likely won’t play in any high-leverage situations and a guy who would actually be a value-add in high-leverage situations.

          Again, like I said above, I really can’t decide either way how I feel about this. But to act like it would be stupid or crazy to add Guzman to the first-round roster is pretty myopic, not to mention pretty nit-picky (we’re talking about Guzman, Shelley, Pena, or a ninth reliever here).

    • Yankee1010

      I agree. This is just asking for another way for “small ball” to cost them a game.

      Between the Jeter bunting stuff, pinch-running for one of the best hitters in a tie game only to have the throw beat him by 5 feet on a steal atttempt, how can one not be worried that it’s going to cost the team a playoff game?

  • Tom Zig

    Question of the day:

    Can Freddy Guzman bunt?

    • Doug

      probably, as he didn’t come up in the yankee farm system

  • Aziz

    Guzman was added to the roster after Sept 1st. How is he going to be added to the post season roster? Someone would have to be DL’ed

    • Doug

      I think it can be worked around since Nady is on the 60-day DL. But someone please clarify if I’m mistaken.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68http://riveraveblues.com/2009/09/assessing-brackmans-season-part-i-16790/#comment-579681 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        That.

        Nady and Wang on the 60-day DL gives us two free exemptions to the August 31st deadline requirement.

        • Chris

          And it’s the 25 man roster that is crucial as of Sept 1 anyway.

  • http://mvn.com/pendingpinstripes Greg F.

    1000 words on Freddy Guzman. Wow, that’s impressive, Joe.

  • CJ

    Is he the next Carlos Pena?

    • king of fruitless hypotheticals

      …he’s not even teh next freddy guzman.

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