"He's not a center fielder." (Frank Robinson, via Washington Post, 7/15/2006)
So what was Austin Kearns doing starting in center, with Jose Guillen in right and the Alex Escobar/Luis Matos platoon sitting on the bench last night?
Simple: Jose is being showcased. And he's gonna see as many at bats as humanly possible in the next few weeks in the hopes that he can get hot. To prove, in effect, that his dismal first half numbers (actually, his dismal numbers since last year's All-Star break) were the result of injury, that he's feeling fine now thank you very much, and could be a nice fit for a contender looking for some pop. This much we know: Guillen won't end up with the Angels.
If you're a Nationals fan, you've gotta keep your fingers crossed for two reasons with regard to Jose.
1. You've gotta hope that Jose takes advantage of opening the post-All Star portion of the schedule with six games on the road, and gets hot to help increase his trade value -- hits a few long balls, knocks in a bunch of runs. It's well established that RFK is in his head. Nothing like a few games away from home for Jose to flex his muscles a bit. (Although strangely enough he's hitting 88 points higher at home (.257) than on the road (.169) this season; although 5 of his 9 homers have been hit away from the friendly confines of RFK.)
2. You've gotta hope that Jose doesn't melt down in that special way that only Jose can melt down. Think about it: he's due. The Nationals need Jose on an even keel these next few weeks, and judging by his comments after getting dropped to 7th in the batting order last night in Pittsburgh, the arrival of Kearns, and the possibility of getting shipped out himself, well - it seems that there just might be something boiling under the surface:
"I talked to Frank today. We discussed it. Am I happy? Probably not. He makes the lineup, and I have to go and play. What can I do? I have to start producing." (Jose Guillen, via Nationals dot com, 7/14/2006)
Good Lord let's hope he keeps it all under wraps. The Yankees are reportedly interested, but they're also said to be wary of his reputation:
Nationals outfielder Jose Guillen also has been deemed a possibility, though there is a debate going on within the organization over whether adding Guillen's reportedly acidic personality to the Yankees' clubhouse would be a good idea - early indications are that the Yanks have some reservations about it.
Several Yankee executives, according to sources, believe that Guillen's moodiness and cantankerous edge could ruin the Yanks' camaraderie; others, however, believe Guillen likely could be acquired on the cheap and would be an adequate replacement for the injured Gary Sheffield. (via NY Daily News, 7/15/2006)
So, Jose, we're begging you: Please keep your sh*t together these next few weeks, ok? And while you're at it, you could also start hitting, too.
- It's about time: Patterson likely done for the year. Why is it even a question at this point? Shut him down already!
- Astacio makes start #3 tonight. Let's hope it's more like start #1 than start #2.