Friday, November 12, 2010

Is Jesus Guzman the Second-Coming of John Bowker?

If anything, there was probably one guy who didn't like the Giants winning the World Series this year. I'm not saying he wasn't happy for the guys or the organization, but rather, he was probably disappointed because their win probably put the lid in terms of him playing next year with the Giants.

That person was Jesus Guzman.

Could Guzman be a good player? I don't know. His minor league numbers (.885 and .886 OPS; 16 home runs and 18 home runs in 2009 and 2010 in Fresno) aren't extremely impressive, but they're solid and he did show improvement from 2009 to 2010 in the Pacific Coast League (his K/9 rate dropped from 18.3 to 15.1 percent and his BB/K ratio improved from 0.45 to 0.56). Of course, Guzman has no Major League numbers to fall back on (.250 average, .500 OPS in 20 plate appearances) and his defense isn't exactly heralded (he played five different positions last year, and the best one for him was DH). Despite this, Guzman still remains an interesting player who is still young enough (he's 26 years old) to have some kind of career at the big league level.

But then again, we said the same thing about John Bowker and Todd Linden.

The comparison between Bowker and Guzman is very interesting. Granted, Guzman broke into professional ball earlier than Bowker (Bowker played college ball at Long Beach State; while Guzman was playing ball in Venezuela at 17 years old), but they are pretty similar career-wise in terms of minor league numbers.

Both had big seasons in Double-A ball (Bowker posted an .886 OPS in Connecticut in 2007; Guzman had a .948 OPS in 2008 for Midland, the A's Double-A affiliate). Both had down initial campaigns in Triple-A (Bowker struggled in his brief time in Fresno in 2008, though that was probably affected by the fact that he played most of the year in the Big Leagues; Guzman struggled down the stretch in 2008 with Sacramento, posting only a .649 OPS in 65 plate appearances). And both rebounded to have solid seasons in Triple-A the following year (Bowker had a ridiculous 1.047 OPS, while Guzman posted a very commendable .885 OPS).

So is Guzman on that Bowker track? (e.g. a prolonged stint in the minors without ever having a solid chance to prove himself at the Major League level?) Most likely. When your team wins the World Series, you don't rebuild and take a waiver on guys like Guzman. You re-load with free agents or stick with the guys who got you there (and the latter is a very strong possibility if I know Brian Sabean).

That being said, I think Guzman has a bit more upside than Bowker simply because he has had a better history in terms of plate patience. Guzman has only posted a BB/K ratio under 0.45 once in his career (his 2008 in Sacramento). As for Bowker, sans his ridiculous 1.16 BB/K ratio in 2009, plate patience was always an issue for him (he never had a BB/K ratio above 0.40 at any level prior to 2009). Yes, Bowker showed more power in the minors (only 11 less home runs than Guzman in almost 1000 fewer at-bats), but I'll take a guy with better plate discipline any day. Don't get me wrong. I liked Bowker. I rooted for him to succeed with the Giants hard. But, unlike Bowker, I think a decent Major League career isn't a stretch for Guzman.

It just won't be with the Giants.


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