Matt Guerrier (Photo: Jon SooHoo | LA Dodgers)
If you're like me, you probably didn't know a whole lot about Matt Guerrier when he signed with the Dodgers this past offseason. I of course had heard of him, but there are just so many middle relievers in the MLB that it is hard to keep track of all of them. So let me introduce you to Mr. Guerrier who pronounces his name as gur-REAR, or "Career with a G". Guerrier was drafted by the White Sox in the 10th round of the 1999 draft out of Kent State University. He signed quickly and made it up to HiA in his first professional season. After a stellar year in 2000 out of the bullpen, Guerrier was moved to the rotation in 2001 and made it all the way up to AAA in just his second full professional season. He was added to the White Sox 40 man roster in November of 2001, however the following spring Matt was traded to the Pirates for Damaso Marte. Guerrier spent the next two seasons posting mediocre stats for the Pirates AAA affiliate, and was finally removed from their 40 man roster in November of 2003. At that point Minnesota claimed Matt off waivers, and he spent the next 7 years in the Twins organization. So far in his major league career, Guerrier has posted a 3.38 ERA, a 1.24 WHIP, a 4.44 FIP, and a 5.9 K/9. In addition, Guerrier led the American League in appearances in both the 2008 and 2009 seasons.
Guerrier was a free agent for the first time after the 2010 season, and like most players in their early 30's he wanted a little bit of financial security. The Dodgers were also looking for security this offseason; bullpen security. After ranking 3rd in bullpen ERA in 2008 and 1st in 2009, Dodgers relievers placed 20th in ERA last season. So instead of trying to find a NRI in spring training to fill a spot in the bullpen or signing a guy like Jeff Weaver to another one year deal, the Dodgers decided it was time to get an established bullpen arm, even if it was going to cost them more. On December 16th, the Dodgers and Guerrier found common ground and agreed to a 3 year deal. This gave Matt the type of money that should allow him to be set for the life, and the Dodgers the veteran bullpen arm they were looking for.
Matt Guerrier has exactly one save in each of the last 5 seasons. Also, according to a 2006 Sports Illustrated article,
"In the midst of (the 2006) pennant race, Twins Nick Punto and Matt Guerrier tied the knot -- not with each other -- in a double wedding before a judge. Why the rush? Certainly not so their brides could fly on the team's spouses-only playoff charter, as was speculated. "We were going to get married this off-season," said Natalie Punto. "We just moved up the date."
Guerrier signed a 3 year, $12M deal with the Dodgers this past December, but contract is somewhat backloaded since Matt will only received $1.5M in 2011. The annual salary balloons to $4.75M in both 2012 and 2013 (including bonus payments), and in 2014 Guerrier will receive the final $1M installment of his deferred bonus. When Guerrier's contract was first announced, the length and dollar amount was criticized by most Dodger fans. However, as the offseason progressed and more relievers signed similar contracts (Joaquin Benoit - 3 years $16.5M, Scott Downs - 3 years $15M, Jesse Crain - 3 years $13M, Matt Thornton - 2 years $12M, Kevin Gregg - 2 years $10M), Guerrier's contract didn't seem quite so bad.
|2011 Projections - Age 32 Season|
With the recent injury to Padilla and the continued visa problems of Ronald Belisario, Guerrier has become an even more important part of the Dodgers 2011 bullpen. While Matt will never put up big strikeout numbers, he seems to be the type of guy that you can pencil in for 70 innings with an ERA in the mid 3's. Along with Jansen, Guerreir figures to be one of our main 7th inning relievers, although I'm sure he'll occasionally serve as the 8th inning step up man.
My prediction for his 2011 season is very similar to the above 2011 projections, and I guess he'll throw 68 innings with a 3.38 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP. What's your prediction? Give us your guess for ERA, WHIP, and innings pitched in the comments, and feel free to add any other predictions you have as well.