I hope everyone is cozy in their Maryland (or D.C.) homes this evening. For some reason, Mother Nature just won’t cut us a break in Charm City. Yes, more snow, more rain and more sleet. But while it’s cold and miserable outside, things seem to be warm and fuzzy for the Orioles. And it just happens to be the eve of the team’s FanFest.
The latest free agent rumored to be coming to the Orioles is the one and only Vladimir Guerrero, also known in just four letters as “Vlad.” In my opinion, any player who can be identified solely by his first name still holds some serious street cred. Can we still call Guerrero a monster? A beast? Absolutely.
Whether you want to admit it or not,the Orioles still need that big bat in their lineup. They do not have a certified cleanup hitter or major offensive threat that can scare the jock off a pitcher. Hey, that’s not to say the Orioles’ lineup isn’t talented - because it most certainly is. But, seriously, who from top to bottom really scares you?
While the Orioles confirmed they made an official offer to Guerrero, according to published reports, the offer was between $3-$5 million but most likely in the $3-$4 million range. With that being said, rumor has it Guerrero is unhappy with the Orioles’ low offer. Should he be? (Reminder: Garrett Atkins made $4.5 million last year.)
Let’s take a look:
Last year with the Texas Rangers, the 35-year-old Guerrero made $5.5 million, which was a whopping $10 million decrease from 2009, the final year of his six-year run with the Angels. In that contract year with the Angels (when he had a $15.5 million salary), Guerrero hit .295 with 50 RBIs and 15 home runs - the lowest in his career since he hit 11 homers in 1997 with the Montreal Expos. He did so, however, in just 100 games (407 at-bats) due to injury. After leaving the Angels via free agency to sign with the Rangers in 2010, a healthy Guerrero (with a lighter wallet) hit .300 with 29 home runs and 115 RBIs, just 10 less than the 125 he recorded in 2007 when he batted .324. So he still produced even though he was paid much less - and reached the World Series for the first time.
Guerrero, now a primary designated hitter, hasn’t been a true outfielder since 2008 when he played 99 games in right field (hitting .297) and 44 as the Angels’ DH (batting .317). What was more impressive, however, was the fact that he hit .349 as the cleanup hitter and just .240 in the three-hole. Monster. Beast.
Last season with the Rangers, Guerrero once again found most of his success at cleanup, where he had 587 at-bats.
With spring training just around the corner, and designated hitter/outfielders Johnny Damon, Manny Ramirez and Vernon Wells finding new homes and Bobby Abreu now set to be the primary DH in Anaheim, Guerrero is quickly running out of options. But, hey, who cares if he signs with the Orioles due to lack of interest from other clubs? It really shouldn’t matter how he got here, as long as he arrives.
“He’s one of the best hitters I’ve had the chance to be teammates with,” said Mike Napoli, Guerrero’s teammate with the Angels. “All day long. He’s also a leader. He’s a silent one, but he leads by example.”
The grass could be Green-er
Earlier today, Nick Green signed a minor league deal with the Orioles, per his agent, Tom O’Connell. Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail then confirmed the deal with my co-worker, Roch Kubatko. I had a chance to speak with Green.
“I’m excited for the opportunity to play in Baltimore,” Green told me. “I know (Cesar) Izturis is there, but I’ll do everything possible to make the team. We’ll see how it all works out.”
Green has spent time with the rest of the AL East teams in his career: the Rays in2005-06, the 2009 Red Sox, the 2006 Yankees and the Blue Jays last year. A career .237 hitter, Green hit .240 (18-for-75) in New York with five doubles and two home runs and .236 (65-for-276) in Boston with 18 doubles, six home runs and 35 RBIs when he filled in for the injured Jed Lowrie and ex-Oriole Julio Lugo. Green, known more for his speed and defense, will be vying for the backup utility infield position on the major league roster along with Brendan Harris and Izturis. J.J. Hardy, acquired with Harris from the Minnesota Twins in the offseason, is currently slated to be the starting shortstop.