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Scouting the market

I’m a stats guy. I’m a scouting guy. Love ‘em both. Both disciplines complement each other. I’m like Spencer Tracy at the end of "Inherit the Wind" – except instead of slapping together a Bible and The Origin of the Species, I’m slapping together a Baseball Prospectus and a Baseball America Prospect Handbook. I’m not too bright, and I’m not exactly competent in either discipline, but I try.

With that written, I always have the same question when I read something like this:

#giants have been heavily scouting jose guillen.


What could a scout possibly say about Jose Guillen that 6238 plate appearances couldn’t? What could a Giants scout possibly discern over a series or two that would trump the data that have already been collected? I could scout Guillen for free – even better, I’ll just say that I scouted him and hang out in a bar all day.

Guillen has pretty good raw power, but his approach is a little lacking. He’s prone to striking out, and he doesn’t work the count especially well. At his peak, he was able to hit enough line drives to keep his average up – but that hasn’t been the case for three years now, and he isn’t getting younger.

As a fielder, he’s a fine DH. His arm is strong, but his range is lacking.

I’ll be in the bar if you need me.

I can understand scouting minor league prospects. I can also understand scouting guys like Nate Schierholtz, who still doesn’t have a ton of big-league experience. But Jose Guillen? Why waste the airfare? If a scout sees something he doesn’t like, well, there shouldn’t be a reason to like Guillen less. He has a .333 on-base percentage and limited range. His power is okay, but it’s 20- 25-homer power, which isn’t anything super special to write home about.

If a scout sees something he likes, there’s no way it should be important enough for a GM to think differently. There isn’t anything a scout can see in a series or two that should make anyone think with certainty, "Oh, this guy is better than his numbers indicate." For a prospect? Sure, I can buy that. For Jose Guillen? Not so much.

This isn’t specific to the Giants, who might not have even sent scouts to watch Guillen. Just because a tweet was twote doesn’t make it so. But you always read that scouts are being sent places to watch established players. I’m just not sure why. A reasonable answer might exist. Unreasonable answers and attempts at comedy will also be accepted in the comments section.