With all of these Quad-A outfielders being thrown around (Greg Halman, Mike Carp, Carlos Peguero, Mike Wilson, Michael Saunders, the newly acquired Casper Wells, Wily Mo Pena, and Trayvon Robinson), there’s been talk that Franklin Gutierrez needs to step it up or risk losing significant playing time (even talk of him being traded and becoming the next great defensive 4th outfielder).
I will grant you, Guti has been a huge disappointment. From whenever this stomach ailment first kicked in around midseason of last year, through the present, Guti has been very un-Guti at the plate (“Guti” being synonymous with all things awesome). But, if you’re thinking that this is the perfect time to unload a troublesome bat, I would pray you reconsider.
History is riddled with guys whose teams gave up on them too soon. Hell, right off the top of my head I can think of any number of Mariners – David Ortiz, Shin Soo Choo, Asdrubal Cabrera, Raul Ibanez (the first time we let him go in free agency), Carlos Guillen, Mike Morse – ALL of those guys have gone on to bigger and better things for other teams. I fear, if we end up trading Guti this offseason, he’s going to bulk up, get stronger, and be a better-than-average-at-the-plate centerfielder (to go along with his top-of-the-line defense). I DON’T want to see that happen.
I’m no doctor, but I gotta think that these stomach things (IBS or Crohn’s Disease or whatever) don’t just fix themselves overnight. Not only do you have to overhaul your entire dietary way of life, but you have to give these changes time to stick. You don’t go from feeling like utter shit, to feeling like a .300-hitting Major Leaguer just like THAT. And, I imagine, making all these changes during the middle of a baseball season isn’t exactly conducive towards a speedy recovery.
Like, imagine if you’re a baseball pitcher, and you find out just before the season starts that you’ve got diabetes … are you REALLY going to snap back to being a Cy Young candidate just because you have your illness diagnosed? Of course not. Shit like that takes time to come to grips with! Then, after you’ve mentally girded yourself, you’ve still got the long process of normalizing how you feel. So you can go out there every day and play the game of baseball!
Guti is a huge talent. He’s shown that he’s able to handle American League pitching. He’s CERTAINLY shown he’s a better hitter than what he’s been so far THIS year! He’s not old, he’s not fat, so you can’t say he’s simply losing his ability like every Major Leaguer eventually will. He’s just been weakened by this debilitating disease and it’s going to take him some time to get back to full strength.
If he’s not already turning it around in the month of September, then I would fully expect him to bounce back better than ever by next spring. He knows what he has to do to get better and get stronger, he will have survived this punishing 2011 campaign, and I bet he’ll be more motivated than ever to turn it all around and give this team the centerfielder it deserves!
Besides, there are defensive 4th outfielders, and then there’s Guti. His defense is special. His defense is something you don’t give up on just because of some woes at the plate. He’ll turn it around. You’ll see.
I just hope he’ll turn it around while he’s still a member of this team.