Would a Frozen Out Vladimir Guerrero Make Sense? | The Process Report

Would a Frozen Out Vladimir Guerrero Make Sense?

The signing of Adrian Beltre has effectively pushed another potential suitor from Vladimir Guerrero’s market. Anthony Andro has since confirmed that the Texas Rangers are out on Guerrero, meaning the DH market now has a handful of teams looking for one and more than a handful of options out there. Tommy covered Andruw Jones on Monday and there are some parallels. Like Jones, Guerrero played last season within an offensive paradise and hit .315/.354/.527 in Arlington. Guerrero did not fare as well on the road, hitting .284/.336/.461 while hitting 13 of his 29 home runs.

While that kind of split is concerning, it does not mean Guerrero is necessarily closer to being the guy who showed up on the road rather than at home. In fact, Guerrero’s away numbers overshadowed his home numbers as recently as 2009 (he hit .317/.363/.515 on the road that season) and his road numbers were even better in 2008 and 2007 (.312/.392/.549 and .316/.400/.546 respectively). Guerrero resided with the Angels during those seasons and managed an OPS over .900 only once, with that coming in 2007. Otherwise, his overall numbers were aided – not hurt – by his road performances.

The more pressing concern about Guerrero might be his age. It’s not a good idea to look for patterns in performance and attempt to extrapolate narratives after the fact, but after three red-hot months, Guerrero cooled to a frost until a solid finish in September. Whether that slowdown means he grow tired and cannot be counted on for 500-plus plate appearances anymore is beyond an outsider’s means, but it’s something the team will have to think about before committing dollars and playing time.

Guerrero’s defensive skills are severely eroded and he’s a designated hitter by default, although a few innings here and there would not diminish his value added offensively. Much in the same way that playing Pat Burrell in the field every other week wouldn’t have killed the Rays in 2009.

Of course, Guerrero is best known for his plate coverage – nay, cutout coverage. If it’s thrown in his direction he can make contact with it. His ability to hit just about anything is so elite that it keeps Guerrero away from taking walks and leads to frustration when he hits into double plays after hitting a breaking ball in the dirt. Nevertheless, Guerrero would add some diversification to lineup that is all about working the count. There’s no proof that adding an aggressive bat to a passive lineup is necessarily good or bad, but it probably can’t hurt.

The common refrain about the Rays and potential designated hitter options that applies here is this: it all depends on the price.

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