Aaron Guiel is back. Kinda.
The Royals signed Guiel to a minor-league contract recently, the same Aaron Guiel who last played in the Major Leagues in 2006, is now 39, and has spent the last five seasons in Japan. (He's big there.) As mentioned in Baseball America and elsewhere, he hit .234/.357/.472 in the NPB.
Basically, if there's a way you can bet that Mike Aviles will return to the Royals on a minor league contract in 2017, place that bet now.
In Guiel's last game as a Royal, the lineup was:
Shane Costa and Esteban German later entered the game. My heart is melting.
Is there really any walk of life other than baseball -- with Spring Training and the minor leagues -- that does this kind of thing? Imagine that John worked for a very large law firm when he was a young man. John stuck around for a decade, made it all the way up to senior level, before moving on to a new firm because he wanted to move to Seattle or something. Then, adjusting for the baseball time scale, at the very end of his career, he went back to that firm as a paralegal. No promises, no salary, no expectation, but hey, he can help the new guys. Except, you know, really he can't, because he's not going to be around and is already definitively lower in status. I know the exact parallels would have to be worked out here, but that's the point: this is entirely a baseball thing.
Guiel's story is relatively well-known by diehard Royals fans, but bears repeating in summary: he played in the Mexcian leagues before the Royals gave him a shot, he had major vision problems shortly after semi-establishing himself as a late bloomer Lew Ford type, and then he was more or less gone. In Japan, he hit well, especially in his first season, and now he's old.
When I look back at the end of Guiel's career -- and he was a player that guys like me always liked: sorta a find, walked, had some power, was cheap -- I think fondly on those days. I actually hated the 2006 Royals at the time, but the names are tinted in nostalgic memories now. Oh hey, remember when Reggie Sanders was around? It was all of it just a colossal waste of time. But then again, isn't all of it, for all of us, very close to being the same.
Here's the lineup for Guiel's Major League debut in 2002:
- N. Perez
Guiel, like Brandon Berger, PHed in the game. THIS WAS A GAME DAN REICHERT PITCHED IN. I don't know what else to write. It's all just so late 1990s/early 00s Royals and I love thinking about it.
And now, Guiel's back. Kinda.
I want Guiel starting over Francoeur in 2012. The journey starts now.