- It has become increasingly unlikely that left fielder Carlos Guillen will return to the Detroit Tigers' lineup any earlier than one month from now. And Guillen's season will be in jeopardy if his right shoulder doesn't improve soon.
Guillen's agent, Peter Greenberg, said Monday that there could be a drop-dead date on the decision to have surgery sometime in July, in order to afford Guillen the best chance at making a full recovery before the 2010 season.
Greenberg acknowledged that off-season surgery is a possibility, even if the 33-year-old returns to action this year.
"He is trying to do everything he can to avoid surgery, especially since it's his throwing shoulder," Greenberg said.
According to that timetable, Tigers officials should have definitive word on Guillen's status before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. A power bat is currently one of the team's biggest needs; Detroit ranks among the bottom third of major league teams in production from both corner outfield spots.
Guillen is among the players who have not maintained their past performance levels since agreeing to long-term extensions with the Tigers. After this season, two years and $26 million will remain on the $48 million deal he signed in 2007.
Yesterday I ran across this discussion of players who will most help their teams when they come back from injuries. Well, Carlos Guillen is sort of the opposite; he sort of falls under the heading, "Players who their clubs will least miss if they don't come back" (Eric Chavez is among the others in that group).
That said, the Tigers do have a fairly gaping hole in left field. Thanks to Guillen and (mostly) Josh Anderson, Detroit's left fielders rank 13th in the American League in OPS. Anderson's really this bad, and it's not at all clear why the Tigers haven't already found someone better. Unfortunately, there's really nobody at hand who can help a great deal. They've got a bunch of guys who can play in left field, but somehow none of them can really hit. Anderson can't. Clete Thomas can't. Don Kelly can't. Ryan Raburn and Marcus Thames can both hit some, but both bat right-handed and neither's much good in the field (with Raburn the better fielder and Thames the better hitter).
Hence, the talk about trading for a "power bat" (though really any sort of bat would do). For now, the Tigers just have to 1) hope that right fielder Magglio Ordonez starts hitting, and 2) cobble together some sort of semi-effective platoon situation in left field. The AL Central is ripe for the plucking. The club won't really miss Guillen. But maybe his longterm absence will spur a necessary action.