Old Guerrier Ain’t What He Used To Be
September 11, 2008

Matthew Olson Guerrier was born 30 years ago in Cleveland. A natural athlete, he excelled as a baseball pitcher at Kent State University and was a 10th round pick in the 1999 Major League Draft by the Chicago White Sox.

Guerrier’s best year in the minor leagues was 2001 when he went 11-3 with the Birmingham Barons and 7-1 with the Charlotte Knights. The following year, he was traded to Pittsburgh for Damaso Marte and Estoban Yan but failed to make the major league club and was sent by the Pirates to Nashville where he posted a disappointing 7-12 record. Then he suffered tendonitis in his pitching arm, floundered on the mound, and was placed on waivers by the Pirates.

Minnesota claimed Guerrier off waivers on November 30, 2003, and placed him on the Twins’ Rochester Red Wings roster. He went 5-10 with a 3.39 ERA and was promoted to the big club with the intent of converting him to a reliever. The experiment worked, and Guerrier has become a fixture in the Twin bullpen ever since.

Once described by Bert Blyleven as possessing the best curveball on the Twins’ staff, Guerrier saw action in 73 games in 2007, posting a 2.35 ERA. Manager Ron Gardenhire has showed no reluctance to use him, and, indeed, Matt has seen action in 69 games this season. However, in August and September, the flame has gone out of Guerrier’s performances. Since July 29, Guerrier has appeared in 19 games. His ERA over that stretch is a whopping 10.80.

There is an old baseball saying that goes: “You can go to the well too often.” On September 11, in the Metrodome against Kansas City, Gardenhire proved the accuracy of that saying. Guerrier came into a tie game in the 10th inning and gave up a pair of singles. He was the losing pitcher – the loss being the eighth of the season for him. When one of your “bullpen dandies” posts an alarming eight losses, he is a dandy no more.

The 3-2 loss to Kansas City was especially vexing in that it cost Minnesota chance to tie the Chicago White Sox for first place in the American League’s Central Division. With a wild card berth now out of the question, Minnesota’s only playoff hopes lie in wresting first place from the Chisox. But next is a road trip that will take the Twins to Baltimore, Cleveland, and Tampa Bay. Baltimore has thrown in the towel, having gone 4-17 since August 17, and Cleveland is below .500, but Tampa Bay is 87-57 and in first place in the AL East. Given the fact, that Minnesota only recently returned from a road trip that resembled the Bataan Death March, the success or failure of the entire season will likely be decided on the road where the Twins have an unimpressive 31 wins against 40 losses this year.

As for Matt Guerrier, he has been a war horse for Minnesota, but even the best of the breed has to be retired to pasture.

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