Hey Alex! With all the hoopla surrounding the Matt Kemp trade, the flurry of offseason roster moves by the new front office, the early season injuries and spotlight on rookie Joc Pederson, Alex Guerrero‘s story this season has been a bit overlooked. That all changed on Monday night when the Cuban infielder’s walk-off single suddenly made Guerrero extremely relevant and rightfully discussed as possibly a rent-to-own third baseman for the Dodgers.
I have been following Alex Guerrero’s path to the majors since Spring Training 2014 when Dee Gordon beat out Alex for the starting second base job. Guerrero’s questionable defense wasn’t really a concern to me, and his improvements in the field over his first season in the Dodgers organization was apparent this Spring when he put in the work at third base and in the cages.
Of course Guerrero is no Juan Uribe at third base. Not many are. I have come to really love Uribe, but unfortunately he is sidelined with a tight hamstring already this April. Uribe is in the final year of his contract, and with Hector Olivera hopefully making his way to the Dodgers eventually, Uribe’s starting job could be transitioned to a spot on the bench this season.
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Who knows when Olivera will be ready since he is still delayed with VISA issues, but luckily for the Dodgers they have Alex Guerrero to play some third base (or even left field) as needed. Justin Turner, who is recovering from being cleated on his left hand, will be getting some time at third base as well. Turner, who was an integral part of the Dodgers success last season, is not exactly a Gold Glove defensive player at third base either.
The Dodgers bench is the best it has been in many years. Justin Turner, A.J. Ellis, Alex Guerrero, Darwin Barney (who may be optioned down to AAA at some point), Scott Van Slyke and Andre Ethier offer power off the bench. Ethier delivered with a double to begin the tenth inning walk-off rally on Monday night, and Darwin Barney offers late inning defensive prowess, but there is one member of the Dodger bench who has made the biggest impact so far during the early goings of this season: Alex Guerrero.
Alex Guerrero and Juan Uribe chat during Spring Training at Camelback Ranch. Photo: Stacie Wheeler
Yasiel Puig celebrated the walk-off win versus the Mariners on Monday by dumping Gatorade over his fellow Cuban teammate Alex Guerrero. Guerrero, who only collected one hit for the Dodgers during his September call up last season, is making his name known during this early part of April with his bat. Guerrero is hitting .364/.333/.727 with a homerun, 6 RBI, 7 strikeouts and no walks in 12 plate appearances. That’s a small sample size, but his offense has really never been the issue.
Guerrero can flat out hit. He hit as many as 22 homeruns in Cuba in 2010 with the Lenadores de Las Tunas. The $28 million the Dodgers gave him with the inclusion of the veto power to nix a minor league assignment this year in his contract was not a mistake. The Dodgers might need Guerrero this season more than they thought they would.
Guerrero told Ken Gurnick that he never doubted that he could play at the major league level.
"“There’s never been a doubt in my mind I could play in the Major Leagues,” he said. “There is always an adjustment when you come to a new country and are switched to a new position [from shortstop to second base]. But I never doubted that.”"
I didn’t doubt Guerrero either. He wasn’t nearly as terrible defensively as some scouts suggested when he began his Dodger career. Sometimes his defense is a bit unrefined, and his path to catch up to a big pop-up in the infield in Monday’s game was reminiscent of Carl Crawford‘s adventures in left field, but he caught it. In his two starts at third base, Guerrero hasn’t make a mistake. Jimmy Rollins, at shortstop, has me more nervous surprisingly.
Even though Guerrero had to make the team because of his contract, he actually earned his spot equitably after his excellent Spring Training. Hector Olivera’s elbow concerns and his immigration issues make Guerrero that much more important this season for the Dodgers. While I’m still looking forward to Juan Uribe’s jazz handed homeruns in his final season with the Dodgers, Guerrero’s offensive spark and improvements defensively give the Dodgers a valid option at third base should Uribe continue to battle injuries.
Dustin Nosler over at Dodgers Digest feels that Guerrero is valuable off the bench and not so much in a starting role, but I disagree somewhat. Guerrero could absolutely be a starting third base man for the Dodgers at least until the Olivera situation is sorted out and he’s healthy and prepared to play. Uribe is of course the king of third for now, but should his hamstring flare up one too many times, Guerrero should be the next in line for the starting role.
I realize it’s early in the season, and Guerrero is sure to slump like anyone else, but Don Mattingly should try to incorporate his hot bat when he can. If it hadn’t been for Miguel Olivo‘s appetite for Guerrero’s ear last season, Alex’s story line may have been much different. Watching Joc Pederson’s rookie season is exciting, but Guerrero’s “rookie” season may be the unexpected narrative for the Dodgers this year.
That was fun last night. Let’s do this again soon, Alex.