Two fringe benefits of the Orioles’ addition of Vladimir Guerrero are that it should bring more media attention to the club and it might help the O’s sell a few more tickets.
The O’s pickup of Guerrero produced airtime for the club on MLB Network and a live appearance by Buck Showalter on “SportsCenter” this weekend - time the club would not otherwise have gotten.
To many that won’t be a big deal, and I agree with those of you who think that way, but it’s still nice to see ESPN mention the Orioles and not just because they played the Yankees.
Another area this will help the club is this matter of protection in the lineup. I hear a lot of fans talk about this concept and I don’t think you can put a stat on it - either old school or new metric.
I have heard Buck Showalter asked about this a few times since he took over the Orioles and he always seems to downplay it and say lineup protection is not that big of a deal.
When I interviewed Luke Scott about the Guerrero addition, he said it is very important in his mind.
“It’s extremely important to protect each other,” he said. “We can protect each other and we can have guys put fear into opposing pitchers. If they pitch around one guy, they put more guys on base and there’s the possibility of giving up more runs which is always a plus for us as a group.
“He’s like a freak of nature in a good way. He’s the best bad ball hitter I’ve seen. He hits pitches that most people have a hard time fouling off. He’s a very, very dangerous hitter.”
While I don’t think many pitchers truly fear any hitters, they are wary of putting runners on base for the big boppers. You can bet in a close game that if a pitcher is working to the O’s leadoff or number two hitters, he will be aware that Guerrero is looming not far down the road.
I’m sure managers, when they play the Yankees, are always thinking ‘OK, A-Rod is five hitters away, now four, now three.’
Another benefit is how guys like Adam Jones and Matt Wieters seem to be much less of a focal point in this offense suddenly. Now we look for a healthy Brian Roberts, a power hitter like Mark Reynolds, a steady Markakis and a veteran like Lee to carry the load.
Maybe Jones and Wieters will have breakout years now that others are more counted on to carry the offense.
One final thought: Does it seem strange that for so long, fans have said the Orioles may have to overpay to get a quality free agent, then when they do it, some are still critical?
I’m a little surprised at how so many people are worked up over the $8 million deal. If they overpaid by a few million dollars, I don’t think it will break the team or any of its future plans.
Teams get hurt by long-range contracts that can financially handcuff them over several years. My guess is this one-year deal will not set this club back a bit, this year or beyond.
As the song goes, “don’t worry, be happy.”