On the Padres’ team website, one fan asked San Diego’s beat writer Corey Brock about how the Padres will plan to use Jesus Guzman during the 2012 season. Brock replied that San Diego will have to get very creative in terms of shuffling Guzman around to get him in situations to help the club this season.
The thought of Guzman being constantly moved around and inserted into the lineup got me thinking about where and how Guzman could help the club in 2012. Furthermore, I thought I’d discuss Jesus Guzman the player, his success from last season, and talk about how/where he can help the Padres in 2012.
Guzman emerged as arguably the most pleasant in-season addition to the Padres roster in 2011. In 76 games, Guzman put up this stat line: .312 BA in 271 AB’s, with 5 HR’s, 22 Doubles, 44 RBI’s, and had a .369 OBP. Pretty good in my opinion for a guy that many of us Padres fans didn’t know who he was until he came up to the big leagues at mid season.
Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune mentioned in an article back in 2011 that Guzman’s line-drive swing is perfectly suited for Petco (like Yonder Alonso’s is thought to be), and if he was given a full season to play, he could have put up 45 Doubles and 90 RBIs.
In spite of Guzman’s success in 2011, his bat and swing being Petco conducive, he likely is a guy “without a position” when the 2012 season begins. The numerous moves which San Diego’s Front Office has made in the last couple of months have slotted players (Yonder Alonso and Carlos Quentin) in positions where Guzman has played (First Base and Left Field), and could make it difficult for the Padres to find ample AB’s and P.T. for him in 2012.
Concerns aside, I am particularly interested in seeing how and where Guzman will contribute the most to the club in 2012. With Alonso and Quentin likely to get most of their playing time at First and in Left, and Chase Headley to be the very-day guy at Third Base (a position that Guzman played in the Minors), San Diego as Brock said will have to get creative to find ways to use Jesus this season. This is a sentiment which I totally agree with, and this is how I see Guzman being used and used often in 2012:
Guzman could conceivably fill in at First Base to face Left-Handed pitching if Alonso struggles and the team elects to use Kyle Blanks in the Outfield. In terms of the hot corner, if Headley needs a day off or two, Black could always insert Guzman to play Third Base a couple of times per month. Or if Quentin gets injured in Left Field, Venable falters in Right Field or Orlando Hudson regresses even more at Second Base, I wouldn’t be surprised if Guzman got some playing time at either position just to get his bat in the lineup. Finally, Guzman’s bat will likely be needed so much by San Diego’s anemic Offense that he will likely be the first candidate to DH when Interleague play begins.
In all honesty, Guzman could be the Padres “Utility Fielder” throughout the 2012 season, and surprisingly not have a “position specific home” during the 162 game stretch. It’s odd that the team’s most successful hitter from last season likely won’t be entrenched as as starter at one position, but I personally don’t have much of an issue as long as Guzman performs up to snuff (like he did in 2011) and is rewarded with AB’s and PT for his performance.
So let’s not fret that Guzman may not have a “permanent” home on the diamond. In fact, let’s be happy that San Diego has a guy on their roster that’s versatile enough to fill in at multiple spots throughout the week when he is needed, and who can also bring a solid right-handed bat off the bench late in games.
Now it’s time for you the readers to speak out: Where do you see Guzman playing the most in 2012? Will he eventually find a home with the Padres? If so, where?
Follow me on Twitter (@DominicDiTolla)