Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
How will Alex Guerrero do as the Dodgers' new second baseman?
Alex Guerrero's ability to transition into the Dodgers' full-time starter at second base will be one of the biggest stories of the spring. The Dodgers declined to pick up the 2014 option on last year's primary starter, Mark Ellis, leaving Guerrero as the favorite to win the job.
Signed to a four-year, $28 million contract last offseason, Guerrero will be given every opportunity to grow into the job. But given his lack of experience Los Angeles should be prepared to be patient, something the team seems very willing to do.
The 27-year-old Cuban infielder had never played a game in the majors before Wednesday's spring training debut (during which he went 0-2 in his only two plate appearances). Guerrero was also a shortstop during his eight-year career in the Cuban league (2005-2012), so he has the added pressure of learning a new position during an abbreviated exhibition season.
Ellis is one of the best defensive second basemen in baseball. It is not likely that Guerrero will ascend to that level in his first year at the position, if ever.
The Dodgers will be happy if the offensive skills he demonstrated in Cuba translate to the major leagues.
Guerrero averaged 20 home runs and posted at least a .401 on-base percentage during his last four years in Cuba. He also hit over .290 in each of his last six seasons.
Guerrero probably won't deliver that level of production in 2014. However, he won't have much pressure to produce right away as he will likely begin the season batting eighth in the Dodgers lineup.
Guerrero may never emerge as the star that his new teammate—and fellow Cuban—Puig seems destined to become. That would be a tall order for any player to live up to and the Dodgers don't need that level of production from Guerrero.
Los Angeles would gladly accept league-average defense in exchange for above-average offensive production from the second base position.
Just two spring training games into his major league career, we are a long way from knowing what to expect from Guerrero. His development, however, should be fun to watch.