Guerrier an underrated signing

December 17, 2010

By Steve Lyons
FOX Sports West and PRIME TICKET

This time of year it's so easy to get excited and disappointed all at the same time.

There is so much fun to be had during the holidays, but you know the bills will follow.

You want to take that trip to visit grandma, but the hassle of travel awaits. And you have to visit grandma.

It is the same with the free-agent period and offseason trades for a baseball team. Everyone wants Cliff Lee, but it seems nobody can outbid the mighty Yankees,er Phillies, so your team wasn't going to get him. The Dodgers did get two new catchers under the Christmas tree...But Dodgers fans are not sure if they want either of them. (More on that later)

One signing fans should be excited about is the three-year deal given to Matt Guerrier.

The guy can pitch. Or at least he has been able to over the last four years. During that time only one pitcher in all of baseball has made more appearances, averaging just over 75 per season. And no reliever has thrown more innings over that stretch. Nobody. In fact, from 2007-10, he has pitched in 302 games, allowing just 269 hits in 311.2 innings pitched, with a 216 K's and a 3.23 ERA while posting 18 wins out of the pen.

He can set up in the eighth or bridge the gap in the seventh and he clearly has no problem taking the ball when you ask him to, but at 32-years-old now, and with that type of workload behind him, are his best days behind him too?

Dodgers GM Ned Colletti always seems to have something up his sleeve, and that's why I don't believe the Dodgers are going to stand pat with the catching tandem of Rod Barajas and Dioner Navarro. Let's cut to the chase and call both of these guys what they are, backups. As a former player, and an average one at best, you'll never catch me bad mouthing the talent it takes to put on a major league uniform. But I was also realistic enough to understand that if I was playing on a regular basis, our team was lacking talent and the GM should be looking for somebody better.

Barajas is 35-years-old and cannot be expected to catch anywhere near 100 games if you want any kind of production out of him. And that production is a guy who will hit .240, clog up the basepaths and occasionally hit a home run. Defensively he's easy to throw to and calls a good game but does not throw well. Navarro hit under .200 last year in Tampa Bay in less than 50 games which shows he doesn't handle splitting time with another catcher very well. He also walked out on his teammates during the playoffs last year when he found out he was left off the roster. Attitude teams don't need from their star players let alone their bench players.

So I'm thinking Colletti knows the catching situation will change if this team has a chance to make the playoffs, if not sooner.

On a sad note, Bob Feller passed away this week at 92.

Feller was an amazing man. Most knew of him in his older years when the stories were not so flattering. Outspoken, greedy and bitter were words used to describe him. But do yourself a favor and find a bio on Feller. What you'll find is truly a man before his time. He was a proud patriot, who had a fierce belief in his country and his fastball. Of course he was a Hall of Famer, All Star and at the time, the youngest player ever to pitch in the big leagues at just 17. He threw three no hitters, 12 one hitters and led the American League in strikeouts seven times. He threw "faster," as he called it, than anybody else of his generation. He scrapped baseball and enlisted in the Navy the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Then resumed his baseball career after serving four years in World War II.

I got the chance to play in the annual legends game in Cooperstown two years ago. Feller pitched an inning in that game for my team. Afterward, when somebody asked him how he felt he said, "Well, I'm throwin' the ball just as hard as I used to. It's just not goin' as fast!"

Feller was 91 at the time.