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Jose, I Can't See
by Mike Carminati

Tonight the A's picked up Jose Guillen from the Reds for Aaron Harang and a couple of minor-leaguers. On paper it seems like a great trade. The A's need outfielders and Guillen is batting .337 with 23 dingers and only makes half a mil a season. The Reds need young pitching and Harang was not going to be used by the A's.

However, given the A's proclivity towards players with high on-base percentages, I can't see why they would try a player with a lifetime .315 OBP. I guess it boils down to which you think the real Jose Guillen is: The player who couldn't make it with the D-Rays two years ago and in 2002 had an OBP almost 100 points lower than this year's and had an OPS that was only 25 points higher than his slugging percentage this year or the best offensive player on the Cincinnati club.

If I were Billy Beane I would be concerned that a rebuilding team like the Reds would jettison a 27-year-old that only makes $500 K. You could argue that they have three outfielders already. Or that they need pitching more. Or that Guillen's constant grousing tied their hands. Or that they know Guillen will cost them more in arbitration.

But then again, Ken Griffey hasn't played a full season in three years, so an extra outfielder couldn't hurt. And that Harang is by no means the next Mark Prior. And grousing shmousing--his OPS is over 1.000! And arbitration is a half a year away.

I think that Beane is trying to capture lightning in a jar. The needed at least one outfielder. They chased after Brian Giles but couldn't figure out a way to take on Jason Kendall's ill-advised long-term contract, a condition that the Pirates insisted upon (Giles is now said to be heading to the Padres). Guillen was the best he could get. Maybe, given that he's 27, Guillen's having his career year and he can help the A's upend the M's for the division title.

I guess it's worth a shot given the A's apparent distaste for Harang, the overabundance of quality young pitching, their need for an outfielder, and Guillen's low salary. They really can't lose even if Guillen stink: It's a fair but that he'll do better than Terrence Long's .579 OPS and Jermaine Dye's .709 (i.e., the two men who have patrolled right field for the A's this season).

It could be pointed out that Guillen never had an OPS over .750 in the American League. But then again, he never had an OPS over .750 in he majors before this year. This is all uncharted territory.

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