GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Alex Guerrero has an uphill battle this spring, trying to fight his way on to the roster by proving his defensive worth. But if he's not careful he could also have another battle to wage, this one musically.
"The team does not know what they are going to do, but all I can control is keep working hard and they will get the final word," Guerrero told Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com on Sunday. "I don't want to go down. I'm not going down. I feel like I can get better here at this level and play every day. I think that's what every player wants. You want to be in the Major Leagues and play as much as you can."
Some have zeroed in on the key sentence of that quote:
This is trouble: Dodgers' Alex Guerrero says 'I'm not going down' http://t.co/SPi3zO7Zyz And should they sign Hector Olivera...?— Peter Gammons (@pgammo) March 2, 2015
Alex Guerrero does not want to go to the minor leagues. And he actually has a choice about that. http://t.co/nNsSfNPssB— HardballTalk (@HardballTalk) March 2, 2015
But any thought that this is some sort of problem misses the point or at the very least isn't relevant. The Dodgers are well aware of Guerrero's situation, and it is his contractual right to not be sent to the minors. If there is ever any doubt about the acumen of Scott Boras as an agent, just remember that in addition to getting $28 million guaranteed for Guerrero also got these three key clauses built in:
- Guerrero is a free agent after four years, not the normal six years of major league service time
- Guerrero can't be sent to the minors after his first year (2014)
- If Guerrero is traded, he can reportedly opt out at the end of that season and become a free agent
While the 28-year-old might benefit from another stint in the minors, that was never going to be a realistic option. And sending Guerrero back to Triple-A isn't necessarily going to make him a better fielder. After all, the Dodgers like his bat.
"I think this year is going to be a big year for him. That first year was asking a lot. Just talking to guys like Juan Castro, when you come from another country that first year is a huge adjustment, trying to learn the language," manager Don Mattingly said on Sunday. "Everyone is throwing new things at you. He seems a lot more relaxed this year."
Mattingly said the Dodgers will use Guerrero at multiple positions this spring including the outfield. Guerrero's problem is that at the positions he is most likely to play (second base, third base, outfield - presumably corner spots) the Dodgers already have a capable bench player, with Justin Turner and Scott Van Slyke.
Guerrero wants to play in the major leagues. This is not a bad thing. It is very likely there are other major league teams with a bench spot more suited for his skills, but for now the Dodgers can keep him for insurance at the very least, or hope he plays well enough to actually win a spot in Los Angeles.
Alex Guerrero was confident, not cocky, @collegefan03. He knows what's at stake & is determined to make team. We will see how it plays out.— Jesse Sanchez (@JesseSanchezMLB) March 2, 2015
I'm more concerned with the quote Guerrero gave Sanchez.
"I'm not going down," Guerrero said.
That sounds an awful lot like Tom Petty in 1988, the last year the Dodgers won the World Series. Coincidence? Yes, of course!
"I'm not going down."
"I won't back down."
Guerrero can try to keep this world from dragging him down, but he might not be able to stop Petty and Jeff Lynne, writers of "I Won't Back Down," for pursuing yet another claim.
Just ask Sam Smith, who won a Grammy this year for "Stay With Me," a song that was eerily close in composition to "I Won't Back Down," so much so that Smith settled by giving Petty and Lynne writing credits on the song, which bring with them royalties.
"Let me say I have never had any hard feelings toward Sam. All my years of songwriting have shown me these things can happen," Petty said in a statement. "Most times you catch it before it gets out the studio door but in this case it got by. Sam’s people were very understanding of our predicament and we easily came to an agreement."
Perhaps Guerrero and the Dodgers can easily come to an agreement of sorts at some point in the next five weeks. If not, he could live out another song co-written by Petty and Lynne, "The End of the Line" in Los Angeles.