Jim Leyland has made all the speculation a bit more official today by stating that the team intends to spot Carlos Guillen at first base full-time next year. 2008 will be the first year of Guillen’s 4-year contract extension that was reached before this season that will have him earning $48M.
According to Jason Beck, Leyland convinced Guillen that this change provides him with the best chance to stay healthy and contribute throughout the year:
Leyland said it first on radio this morning and confirmed it later today that he plans on Guillen being his regular first baseman next season. He talked with Guillen about it Wednesday and convinced him that it was best for the team and would give him the best chance to stay healthy and play every day. They’ll look for a shortstop this winter.
While Guillen’s knee’s, in particular, have been an issue; this is a good move on the Tigers part for many other reasons. Carlos will provide more power at first base which is a traditional power position. Sean Casey has provided solid defense and had a hot September but hasn’t had any power and was all but pulled from his starting role as Leyland tried to get the team back on track.
Additionally, Carlos Guillen’s defense at first has been steadily declining the past few years. He has been well below league average the last two years and racked up errors at an annoying rate. By getting this move over with so quickly Leyland has allowed the team to openly look for a new top rated shortstop immediately. This move was going to happen and the only remaining question was “when?” which makes you think that Dombrowski has already closed in on his choice to fill shortstop in 2008 and beyond.
This could also be what Carlos eludes to in this statement:
`I know they’ll bring in a good (shortstop),” Guillen said. “I know it’s going to be a good one. I don’t know who it’s going to be, but I know it’s going to be a good one.”
We will likely find out quickly this off season. Billfer has some more thoughts what this could mean at The Detroit Tiger Weblog.