A Poor Man’s Casper Wells?
By John Verburg
While the Tigers have been playing better as of late, word is that General Manager David Dombrowski is taking a look at potentially adding a right handed bat to the Tigers lineup. The name that has popped up the most is the San Diego Padres’ outfielder Carlos Quentin. Detroit fans should be pretty familiar with Carlos Quentin given that he has played for the rival Chicago White Sox the last few seasons. And while Quentin is undoubtedly an upgrade offensively to both Brennan Boesch and Delmon Young, he isn’t going to come cheap. Especially with a hot start in San Diego this season.
On the free agent market, there are two veteran sticks available from the right side, though no one knows what to expect from either of them. Vladimir Guerrero could potentially be an option after being released by the Toronto Blue Jays a while ago. Manny Ramirez, the enigmatic steroid user, is also available. Neither of those options is particularly inviting, though if desperate, they might be worth a flier.
Victor Martinez is another option for Tigers management. If he looks like he is coming back for sure, the Tigers could just wait on him. It’s not like anyone appears to be running away with the division at this point.
But what about the Tigers options from within? Well, that depends on what they are looking for. If the Tigers are looking for an every day bat, then there really is nothing in the system at this point from the right hand side to help bring punch to the lineup. But if they are looking for an option to hit against lefties, they might have someone in their system that is flying under the radar that could help ala Casper Wells. His name is Ben Guez.
It appears that the right handed bats the Tigers are looking for are of the outfield or designated hitter variety. While that could be debated if that is the area of the team that needs improvement, there doesn’t seem to be much available in the market for a good right handed hitting second baseman.
Given that scenario, could the Tigers get some help from a Casper Wells type outfielder against left-handed pitching? I think it is fair to say that they could. The Tigers are hitting .249 against left-handed pitching on the season, with an OPS of .712. Not terrible, but not great either. The real problem comes from the defensive alignment against left handed starters. Austin Jackson is good in CF, but that leaves Delmon Young in LF, and either Brennan Boesch or Ryan Raburn in RF. Neither of those options at the plate is very good right now, despite Boesch showing a proclivity in the past to handle lefties. And defensively? Let’s just say that the Tigers should hide Delmon Young’s and Brennan Boesch’s gloves from them for the rest of the year.
As I mentioned, an option could be Toledo Mud Hen, Ben Guez. Guez certainly isn’t a stellar prospect by any means, he didn’t even make the Tigers top 50 prospect list that we did in the preseason. However, I did do a profile on him.
This season in the minors between Erie and Toledo, Guez has posted respectable numbers, hitting .297 with an OBP of .432 and an OPS of .929. There isn’t any standout tool, or any part of Guez’ game that is going to make you say wow, but he hits lefties well, and can play all three outfield spots at a solid, if not good, level. Given the struggles of Boesch at the plate and in the outfield, and the inability of Young to play defensively, Guez as a right handed platoon outfielder starts looking like a realistic option.
Comparing Guez to Wells does have some inaccuracies. Wells is a better defender, especially on the corners because of his arm. Plus Wells has a little bit more pop. Guez doesn’t strike out as much though, and runs well enough to compare, if not be a little bit better.
Ben Guez probably isn’t a realistic option at this point, but in the right circumstances, and with the right usage, he could potentially provide the Tigers with a quality right handed option. He is nothing more than a fourth or fifth outfielder at this point, but maybe that is all the Tigers need.