|Vladimir Guerrero helped take the Texas Rangers to the World Series in 2010 batting .300 with 29 HR and 115 RBI on the season|
Guerrero, 35, figures to fit in as a designated hitter joining the O's already studded outfield that plays great defense lead by two young stars, Adam Jones and Nick Markakis. Jones and Markakis combined for 31 homers and 129 RBI's last season and both eclipsed .285 batting averages. With those two progressing and the emergence of young outfielders Felix Pie and Luke Scott, who lead the team with 29 homers at a career best .284 batting average from the DH spot that Guerrero will fill, the Orioles will have plenty of depth at the outfield position and plenty of good and powerful bats to put up in the first half of the lineup in 2011. Will it help them overcome the Rays, Red Sox and Yankees in baseball's toughest division?
I still have them finishing in a close race for third place with the Rays who clearly took a step back with off-season losses of team statistical leaders Carl Crawford and Rafael Soriano. The Red Sox and Yankees, who picked up Crawford and Soriano, will duke it out in a classic Sox-Yanks division race and I think ultimately the Red Sox will win it for picking up Crawford and the fact that the Yankees have very serious concerns at their 4th and 5th spots in the pitching rotation.
|Nick Markakis(left) and Adam Jones provided a lot of offense and even more defense for the Baltimore Orioles in 2010|
|Luke Scott lead the team with 29 homeruns and batted .284 from the DH spot in 2010. He'll likely find a place in the outfield with the signing of Guerrero|
The Orioles are not necessarily the story here though. The story is Vlad Guerrero. How do the Orioles land a future Hall of Famer still playing at a prime level for a mere $8 Million dollars on a one year commitment? The market just wouldn't seem to support such an inexpensive contract for a player with the recent and historical statistics of a Vladimir Guerrero. Compare Guerrero's season to Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, Cubs outfielder Alphonso Soriano and Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez.
2010 Statistics AVG. HR RBI SLG% OPS%
Alex Rodriguez .270 30 125 .506 .846
Vladimir Guerrero .300 29 115 .496 .841
Alphonso Soriano .258 24 79 .496 .818
Aramis Ramirez .241 25 83 .452 .745
-Stat leader numbers in bold
When looking at their numbers in a comparative analysis, an argument can be made that Guerrero had just as productive a season as Rodriguez and outplayed fellow outfielder Soriano and 3B Ramirez. Now when you look at that production consider the 2011 salaries and Guerrero's new 2011 deal with Baltimore.
Alex Rodriguez $33.0 Million per year
Alphonso Soriano $19.0 Million per year
Aramis Ramirez $17.0 Million per year
Vladimir Guerrero $8.0 Million per year
Considering his production from 2010, Guerrero seems grossly undervalued in this free agent market. The real question is, if Guerrero is going for just $8 Million, why wouldn't the Rangers have him return to the team at such a small price tag for such a high value talent? Why wouldn't any other teams outside of the Orioles, not exactly known for making a splash in free agency traditionally, go get Vlad to boost a weak offense? Where were the World Series Champion, San Francisco Giants to sign him to their team? The Giants were 17th in runs scored in the Majors last season and were lucky to even get in to the playoffs riding the coat-tails of one of Major League's best pitching staffs from starter to closer. They could have sorely used a big bat like Guerrero's this upcoming season and he is worth an $8 Million dollar tag, even though he isn't the best defender, which he would have to be playing in the National League. He still does have arguably the strongest arm in the Majors and is still a threat to throw out base-runners trying to extend to the extra base.
Instead of making big waves in a division race, Guerrero will be putting up numbers for a team that is likely to be out of the division race by the end of August this year. It's a shame to see such a legendary hitter, who has carried teams to postseasons, marked most notably by a World Series Championship for the Los Angeles Angels in 2000 and a World Series appearance for the Texas Rangers last season, disappear into obscurity in Baltimore. He will make the Orioles better, but it won't be enough to make them relevant.