The Angels may end the night tied for first place in the AL West after a 5-3 over the Rangers. However, the main show, the pennant race, is getting upstaged by an ongoing melodrama over the fate of left fielder Jose Guillen. Guillen, if you hadn't heard, has been suspended for the remainder of the regular season and the playoffs by the Angels after an incident on Saturday.
Guillen was lifted for a pinch-hitter and threw a temper tantrum. Here's how ESPN described it:
Guillen walked off the field as the A's changed pitchers, tossed his helmet toward the side of the dugout [manager Mike] Scioscia was standing in and walked to the opposite side of the dugout before entering. He tossed his glove against the wall.
Scioscia downplayed the incident, as did Guillen after the game.
My initial reaction was that the incident didn't sound like that big a deal. Guillen is a wel-known malcontent so maybe that was the last straw, but Frank Francisco it was not. It seemed an especially odd move, for a team fighting for its playoff life to eliminate one of its better players.
And it unfolded oddly. First, Guillen was merely benched for Sunday's game (the same game that saw Vlad Guerrero win the team MVP with a week left in the season(?)). Scioscia spoke to Guillen after the Sunday game said that he expressed an understanding of "the magnitude of his actions" though he did not "initiate an apology".
Then suddenly the benching became permanent, at least for 2004. As of this morning the suspension (without pay) was just for the regular season leaving Guillen possibly and oddly still available for any perspective playoff games. Then the Angels extended the suspension this afternoon to include the playoffs.
Now, the players union is getting involved filing a grievance in Guillen's behalf tonight. An arbitrator will hear the case Friday. Keep in mind that Guillen still has a year left on his contract.
After hearing all of that, I had to see the play—I hadn't sent the game. I brought up the replay on MLB.tv and went to the play. Here's what I saw: Guillen led off the bottom of the eighth inning of a 3-3 tie with the A's. He was hit on the calf by an 0-1 pitch and trotted done to first. He appeared to be anything but angry. Next, he was lifted for pinch-runner Alfredo Amezaga. The announcers mentioned this as if it were a matter of course, perhaps due to being hit on the leg. The A's chose that moment to make a pitching change and as the broadcast went to commercial, they had a closeup of Guillen's perplexed face. When they returned from commercial, all seemed normal. The announcers made no mention of anything untoward occurring during the break. Now, whether this was done so as not to give Guillen attention, sort of like not airing a fan that runs on the field, or because the incident was so minor that the announcers chose not to mention it or happened not to see it at all, I couldn't tell. Whatever the case, it's an odd and possibly anticlimactic way to end a player's season.
I still don't get it. The guy's a nit and he should be fined/suspended, but for the entire season and playoffs? H has slumped in the second half but his numbers are not terrible. First half ratios: .301/.368/.509/.877. Second half: .284/.330/.481/.811 (though .241/.277/.329/.606 in Sept.). He's got the third best OPS on the team in the second half. Besides this is a team that has devoted 545 at-bats to David Eckstein (.339 slug and .683 OPS). True, he's not a corner outfielder, but Guillen's replacement, Jeff DaVannon has been far from spectacular (.278/.363/.411/.774) especially in the second half (245/.310/.382/.692).
I'm not Guillen's biggest fan, but I have to think that they're better off with him on the field. Gammons compared it to the Nomah exile to Elba, er, Wrigley. He thinks it can galvanize the team. I guess, if you believe that getting rid of one of their best players helped the Red Sox.
Could Guillen have been that big of a nudnick? The Angels claim that their "decision came after Guillen's third public incident of misconduct this season".
Ah, he was on double-secret probation. The only problem is that I don't recall the other two. I Googled it and couldn't find them. I guess that's the double-secret part. Actually, I lied, I found one. There was a public incident on May 25 in which Guillen felt that his teammates (read pitchers) should have came to his aide (read thrown at opposing batters) after he was hit by a pitch. Guillen apologized to the team the next day. I still can't find the other one though. And to again cite "Animal House" this whole affair seems to be exactly what the collective Delta house coughed into their hands at their trial, B.S.
My hope is that the arbitrator forces the Angels to rescind the suspension and force them to play him (so that he has a chance to hit some milestone like 30 homers; otherwise they'd be stunting his career). The Angels lose the division in the last weekend in Oakland even though Guillen has a great series. There's public outcry over the incident and Guillen is retained for next season. They deserve each other after all.