Deolis Guerra: A Dark Horse to Land a Bullpen Spot for Minnesota Twins

By Brian Wille
Derick Hingle- USA TODAY Sports

It seems just yesterday that the Minnesota Twins announced they had traded Johan Santana to the New York Mets for essentially a few warm bodies and a bag of baseballs.

It turns out those few warm bodies—Kevin Mulvey, Phillip Humber and the “five tool wonder” Carlos Gomez—didn’t have much of a career with the Twins, with Gomez getting the most playing time out of the bunch. Humber went on to throw a perfect game for the Chicago White Sox but outside of that, he has had an up-and-down career at best. Mulvey was a mediocre journeyman who announced his retirement last May after a final comeback stint with the Mets failed.

Gomez, on the other hand, seems to be finally figuring out a few things as he posted his best season as a big leaguer for the Milwaukee Brewers last year, when he hit .260 with 19 HR and 51 RBI. None of those three have stuck with the Twins, which leaves us with the final piece leftover from the Santana trade: Deolis Guerra.

Guerra’s career seemed destined to follow the paths of the other aforementioned pieces acquired from the Mets as he struggled to find his footing as a starting pitcher for the Twins and annually had an ERA in the low sixes. This prompted the Twins to move Guerra to the bullpen in 2011, where he rediscovered his form and has become an impressive arm at an area of need for the organization.

Last season, Guerra posted a 4-3 record with a 4.11 ERA in 70 innings pitched while striking out 71 in 36 games. Those numbers may indicate a pitcher who still gives up an above average amount of runs, but it also indicates that Guerra has found a way to strike out hitters at an average of one per inning. Granted, these are minor league hitters, but I believe this is a step in the right direction for Guerra in his quest to become a big league bullpen arm.

In a bullpen full of question marks, I believe Guerra is a dark horse to steal a spot out of spring training and become a nice surprise for the Twins this season. A bullpen of Glen Perkins, Jared Burton, Casey Fien, Alex Burnett, Tyler Robertson and Anthony Swarzak seems to have a lot of question marks with Burnett always seeming to be wildly inconsistent and Swarzak being injured to start the season.

I look for Guerra to win a spot out of spring training and end up taking over Burnett’s role in the bullpen moving forward. While this may be a complete shot in the dark on my part, I do see the potential and progress from Guerra and believe he is ready to take the next step. But in all honesty, I also am jaded by the Santana trade and am clinging to hope that at least one player sticks with the Twins and makes the trade look less pathetic than it already does.

Spring training is a time for hope and the thought of Guerra making the Twins bullpen out of spring training is merely a hunch and prediction being clung to by this blogger.

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