Guerrero’s days as Orioles’ cleanup hitter could be numbered

You have to wonder if Vlad Guerrero’s time as the Orioles’ cleanup hitter is coming to an end.

Manager Buck Showalter talked about his concern over Guerrero during the O’s last homestand and made similar comments to reporters in Texas yesterday, indicating that if he needs to make an adjustment there, he will.

The time has pretty much come for that.

I still remember the excitement around Baltimore when Guerrero was signed and the message boards leading up to that were buzzing with how the O’s simply had to sign this player. It created excitement among the fan base when Vlad hit four April homers and drove in some keys runs early on, but as the season has marched on, his production has not.

We all knew Guerrero’s bat fell off in the second half last year. In 270 at-bats then, he hit .278 with nine homers and 40 RBIs with a slugging of .426 and OPS of .748.

If he could even produce those stats, it would be a help. But in about the same number of at-bats, actually a few more at 290, he is now batting .276 with six homers and 28 RBIs. He is now slugging .376 with an OPS of .689.

Last year, Vlad hit .320 with runners in scoring position and averaged an RBI every 6.8 at bats. Now those figures are .219 and 10.4.

After the four homers he hit in April, he now has just two over his past 54 games and 195 at-bats.

I remember the outrage on this blog when ESPN’s Keith Law said of Guerrero, “If he’s not toast, he’s in the toaster.” That was a harsh assesment, but maybe also an accurate one, looking back now.

Yes, I went there.

Barring a flurry from Vlad’s bat, which would be most welcome, I think the O’s have to start the second half, if not sooner, with someone else in the cleanup spot.

It is clear that Showalter has tremendous respect for Guerrero and his amazing career. I think a lot of fans have that same respect for what he has accomplished. Showalter has given him every chance to come through and he just hasn’t been able to do it.

If someone would take Guerrero in a trade, perhaps the Orioles have to eat his salary and move him to open at-bats for someone else.

The O’s took an $8 million dollar shot with Vlad and the fans were excited. But Vlad doesn’t drive the ball anymore and the Orioles can no longer afford to bat him fourth.

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