Thursday, March 11, 2010
Eddie Guardado Released by Washington. Is a Minnesota Homecoming Next?
The Washington Nationals released the veteran Southpaw after two less-than-stellar exhibition performances. Guardado posted an ERA of 18.00 in just two innings of work this spring.
Guardado, 39, is best-known for his tenure as closer for the Minnesota Twins.
He was christened “Everyday Eddie” by Twins fans and sportswriters for his willingness to take the ball whenever he was asked.
Guardado began his career as an unsuccessful starter way back in 1993 and was eventually transitioned to a full-time relief role after stints as an equally-unsuccessful spot starter.
He was a serviceable middle reliever for most of the ‘90s, but “Everyday Eddie” really hit his stride in the 2000s.
Guardado lopped nearly a full point off of his ERA and became an effective late-inning weapon.
During the 2001 season, Guardado seized the closer role from the struggling LaTroy Hawkins and never looked back.
From 2001 to 2003, “Everyday Eddie” notched 98 saves with a 3.11 ERA, a 1.03 WHIP, an 11-9 record, and 197 strikeouts in 199.2 innings pitched.
Guardado left the Twins after the 2003 season to sign a big money contract with the Seattle Mariners.
In Guardado’s absence the Twins decided let a no-name middle-reliever they’d acquired from the San Francisco Giants in the infamous AJ Pierzynski trade have a run at the closer’s role.
That no-name middle-reliever was Joe Nathan, undoubtedly the greatest closer in club history.
Nathan, however, may be finished for the year—and perhaps his career—after the announcement that he has a torn ligament in his arm that may require Tommy John surgery.
As such, one has to wonder whether or not the front office will look to “Everyday Eddie” as a potential solution to the projected vacancy at the backend of the club’s bullpen.
There is certainly an emotional attachment to Guardado among Twins fans and players. After all, he ranks third on the club’s all-time saves list with 116 and is remembered as a big part of the club’s renaissance early in the early 2000s.
The front office is known for making decisions based on emotion rather than practicality (see: Jones, Jacque and LeCroy, Matt) and it isn’t entirely out of the question to worry it could happen again with Guardado.
The big difference here is that Guardado would—in theory—be expected to fill a major role. Jones and LeCroy were both brought back on minor league deals intended to give both a chance to jump-start their fledgling careers.
Guardado’s days as an effective late-inning weapon are clearly behind him.
He hasn’t posted an ERA under 4.15 or served as a full-time closer since 2006 with Seattle. That same season he lost the closer’s role to J.J. Putz and was jettisoned to Cincinnati in a mid-season trade.
He showed signs of returning to form in early 2008 with Texas when we went 3-3 with a 3.65 ERA, a 1.12 WHIP, and 23 holds. All the while Guardado held opponents to a stingy .220 batting average.
So impressive were those numbers that the Twins brought the lefty back to Minnesota prior to the August 31st trade deadline to bolster the bullpen down the stretch.
Guardado responded by going 1-1 with a 7.71 ERA, and a 2.00 WHIP over seven innings. The only ones basking in Guardado’s homecoming were opposing hitters who raked to the tune of a .387 batting average off of the lefty.
In a season that required the Twins and Chicago White Sox to play a 163rd game to determine the division winner, one has to think that had Guardado stayed in Texas, the Twins would be bringing an extra pennant to Target Field this season.
Long story short, Guardado is toast.
He posted an abysmal 4.46 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, and a .267 BAA last season after returning to Texas. At season’s end, the Rangers—who had obviously been looking to catch lightning in a bottle for a second-time—wisely parted ways with Guardado.
Despite his history with the Twins, the club would be wise to follow the Ranger’s example and let “Everyday Eddie” ply his trade elsewhere.