Final Thoughts About Vlad…For Now

Rumors have been swirling that the Orioles and their fans will soon know whether or not free agent DH Vladimir Guerrero will be joining the club.  I have found it interesting that the debate over signing Vlad has been so polarizing.  In reading some articles in the  Orioles blogosphere you would think that Orioles fans are generally not in favor of signing Vlad, or at least pursuing him more aggressively than they have.  Camden Crazies, Dempsey’s Army and Camden Chat all wrote articles recently and more or less came to the same conclusion….signing Vlad would not significantly improve the Orioles.  But if you were at the Orioles Fanfest on Saturday most fans were in favor of getting a deal done for Vlad.  While I do not believe that Guerrero is by any means the missing piece between a run at the wild card and finishing in 4th place, not do I believe he is likely to reach or exceed his numbers from 2010.  I do believe that signing Vlad makes the Orioles a better offense, it increases the optimism of a starving fanbase and it creates greater depth for a team that has seen lots of injuries among the positions that will be affected most.

Why would the Orioles not add Guerrero?  Certainly there are financial concerns and I agree the club should not bid against themselves.  They are the only likely option for Vlad right now and I do not have a problem if they have made their best offer for Vlad.  There are also concerns that Vlad does not have much left, despite his good numbers of a season ago.  Guerrero’s knees are reported to be in bad shape, he can no longer play in the field and is a liability on the bases.  Camden Chat felt signing Vlad would not be a good idea because he would destroy any chance that Nolan Reimold receives significant playing time with the O’s.

So who is Nolan Reimold, besides a bunch of what-ifs and excuses? I can’t tell you, and that’s the point. Nobody knows what kind of ballplayer Reimold is going to be in his career. What we do know, though, is that he has the ability to be a solid piece of the puzzle here in Baltimore. Not a star, cornerstone kind of guy, but an above average everyday starter. He already showed that with a good combination of power, patience, and even a little speed.

But isn’t that the point to adding a guy like Guerrero?  The Orioles know he can contribute and possibly be a significant piece of their offense.  As much as I would like to see Reimold perform well and stick, based on last year’s performance we are no more likely to conclude that 2010 was the fluke as opposed to 2009 for Reimold.

Camden Crazies, as they often do, took a heavily statistical approach in their analysis of Guerrero’s impact on the O’s line-up.  The argument is that whatever value Vlad adds to the offense, he takes away value defensively by forcing current Orioles DH Luke Scott to the outfield.

How much does a 1 win DH help the Orioles? Since Luke Scott isn’t likely to get traded at the moment, he’d probably move to left-field. The difference between DH and left-field (positional adjustment) is about 10 runs, so Luke would pick up that value (well, scaled down for playing time). Then he’d lose a little based on his fielding. Luke has a career +6 UZR/150 in left-field, but he’s only seen limited time out there in the last couple years (and his numbers were below average). He’s probably still a better fielder than many people think, but somewhere between a tad and solidly below average wouldn’t be surprising from him at some point (say, -3 runs). So we add 1 win for Vlad and another 5 runs or so for Luke switching positions. 

I do agree that making Scott your everyday left fielder does diminish the value Guerrero would add to the team, but I do not necessarily think the Orioles will make it through the season without Guerrero, Scott, Felix Pie, Adam Jones or even Derek Lee seeing time on the disabled list.  Signing Guerrero gives the Orioles added depth when an injury occurs and it is not inconceivable that Buck Showalter will find AB’s for Scott as a lefty DH, in LF and backing up Lee at first.  That creates AB’s and more time in left for Pie where he is a good defender, plus you can get AB’s for Pie backing up Jones 3-4 games a month.  Also, the more you run Vlad out their against lefties and Scott against righties the better their numbers are.

One of the arguments posed by Dempsey’s Army was that Vlad takes away AB’s from younger players and that he does nothing to help the Orioles win in the future.

This team isn’t going to win or lose because of Vlad Guerrero. Its fortune ride on the offensive development of Matt Wieters, Adam Jones, Felix Pie and Nolan Reimold and on the advances Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman, Jake Arrieta and (possibly) Zach Britton make on the mound. An aging DH isn’t going to make or break this team. So leave him alone and let the guys who are a decade younger play ball.

I agree that Vlad is nothing more than a 1 year fix.  But at what point do the Orioles say enough building for the future, we are going to put the team on the field that helps us win the most games now?  It seemed like that was the attitude that Showalter hammered home for the last third of 2010 and to me the Orioles owe it to the fans to put as much talent on the field as they can in 2011.  Vlad may block some younger players from getting more AB’s in the coming season, but he is also likely to be a presence in the middle of the Orioles line-up that causes other players to see better pitches and he increases the ability of the Orioles to score runs. 

The Orioles have signed their share of bad contracts with washed up players (see Mark’s comments re: Atkins, Garrett).  Guerrero can be had for a reasonable amount of money and he makes the Orioles a better team.  How much better, I will leave for the statisticians to debate, but I do know this the current Orioles would like his bat in the middle of the line-up and the majority of fans want this deal done.

33 Comments

  1. Bill in Va Beach

    February 3, 2011 at 11:07 am

    I hope Guererro comes to Baltimore. Riemold has not given any evidence that he is going to hit well again. Installing him as the starting LF (w/ Pie) is optimistic thinking at best. Also, Luke Scott in LF can't be that bad defensively. He's no worse than Manny in LF in Boston for all those years.

    So, bring in VG, platoon Scott and Pie and send Riemold to Norfolk. If in July the Orioles are out of the race and Riemold is hitting then trade VG (he doesn't want to be in Baltimore anyway). Bringing him in doesn't even need to be a one-year solution. It could be much less if Riemold begins to hit again in AAA. But we should not count the O's out before the season starts. They did play .596 (the equivalent of 96 wins) down the stretch last year against contending clubs. Get the best players on the field and make a serious run at the playoffs because maybe last year wasn't a fluke after all. The days of putting up with poor performance for the sake of the future are over.

    • JeffPilson

      February 3, 2011 at 11:16 am

      Well said Bill. Why not put the best team on the field possible? I think Vlad makes the O's better.

      And I wish I had your optimism. It was s strong finish, but a lot of things need to break right for the O's to be in play-off contention.

      • Zach

        February 3, 2011 at 2:43 pm

        I agree. Put out the best guys you possibly can. Vlad offers quite a bit to this team, hopefully they can get it done.

    • Bob

      February 3, 2011 at 5:26 pm

      Bill, saying Luke Scott can't be worse defensively than a future HOF'er is not a reasonable comparison at all. While the basic point you make about their defense might be true, Manny's offense was much better over the course of those years than Luke's career year this past season. It was the first season in which he hit the ball well all year long, not just for the few weeks here and there when he was hot.

  2. Duke407 in FL

    February 3, 2011 at 11:26 am

    Since he's been with the O's, Scott has recorded a .993 fielding average in LF and made only 2 errors in that position. Pie seems to have trouble judging the ball in LF. He's a CF not a LF. Reimold isn't much better either. Keep Scott in LF whether or not Vlad comes to town. Scott's an every day player and we need his bat in the lineup. And, if needed, he can play 1B if to give Lee a breather. If the O's don't want to play Scott full-time in Baltimore, trade him to Tampa Bay. We'd be happy to have him down here. We still don't have a real LF.

  3. Dempsey's Army

    February 3, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    This whole discussion comes down to whether you view 2011 in a vacuum or not. Will Vlad make the team better in 2011? He probably will. Does that help the overall growth of this team? I don't think so and it could even impede it. If I thought his presence would help the O's contend, I would feel differently. But I don't think Vlad alone makes this team a winner.

    And Pie was a spectacular left fielder last season, one of the best in baseball. When he was on the field. Which is a legitimate concern. As is his bat.

    • JeffPilson

      February 3, 2011 at 9:09 pm

      I agree with you that Pie is a very good LF'er and that I would like him out there as much as possible, but I cannot get behind the logic that Vlad some how "impedes" the growth of the Orioles. I think many Orioles fans have adopted this mentality that if the team is not ready to compete you might as well go with lesser, unproven talent. The time for that thinking is passed. The Orioles are a major league team, they should put the best talent they can on the field and win as many games in a given year that they possibly can. They owe that to the paying customer. Does Vlad take the O's from not contending to a wild card, no. But I don't think one player over the course of a season does.

      The only way signing Vlad impedes the O's beyond 2011 is if the money spent on him would cause the powers that be to tighten their purse strings when it comes to the amatuer budget.

      • Daniel

        February 3, 2011 at 9:18 pm

        Don't want to get into to lengthy of a comment, so I'll just say I agree with Dempsey's Army's arguments (both this one, and likely any future ones on this thread). I'd much rather see what Felix/Reimold can do in a full season than win between 0 and 1 more game.

  4. Willo

    February 3, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    Signing Vlad gives the O's a legitimate clean up hitter which the Orioles have NOT had since Palmero. Will Vlad make the O's better- I think so even if he puts up second half numbers. Quite honestly I do not see Vlad in an O's uniform this year unless this is the ONLY offer on the table. IF this is the end of his career would you want to go out playing for a contender or a team that is years away from being competitive? That said bring it on Vlad we'd love to see your free swinging self seated at the four hole and swinging for the cheap seats in left.

    • MGW, The Agenda

      February 3, 2011 at 9:24 pm

      This IS his only offer, Willo. If he has an $8m on the table from a "mystery team" and the O's 3 mil offer, he'd have to be a complete moron not to just go ahead a sign the $8 mil offer. I mean, who's worse in the AL than the Os? And no NL team wants him. He's holding out for more money when the Orioles are the only team interested. Doesn't exactly put him in a prime negotiating spot.

  5. dempseys army

    February 3, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    We had a legitimate cleanup hitter last year. Luke Scott had a better year than Vlad. Where did that get us? It could make 2011 more fun, but it won't make the O's winners.

    • Mark

      February 3, 2011 at 10:32 pm

      Luke Scott had a better year than Vlad?

      Not only did Vlad have a better year but check out these eye opening stats that show EXACTLY why we need a bat like his.

      Luke w/ RISP – .214 avg., .307 OBP, .682 OPS, 43 RBI
      RISP w/ 2 outs – .151 avg., .274 OBP, .538 OPS, 10 RBI

      Vlad w/ RISP – .320 avg., .356 OBP, .848 OPS, 76 RBI
      RISP w/ 2 outs – .291 avg., .371 OBP, .814 OPS, 33 RBI

      Another Oriole with hollow numbers who rarely came through in the clutch.

      Nolan Reimold has no business being assured a spot on the 25 man roster, let alone being assured regular playing time. He's another overvalued prospect that has shown very little and is often injured. Pie is injured quite a bit as well.

      Look, this team has been (and still is IMO but that's another story) in dire straits. Even if Vlad comes in and gives up 75 to 80% of last year's production it's still an improvement.

      Your line of thinking leaves this team in a lifetime funk. Hell, even I think you gotta try to win games. All I hear is about this team needs to start winning before it can bring in the big boys. Well Vlad gives us a better chance of winning more games than what is currently on the roster.

      I'm sick and tired of going into every year with the mindset of "well, so and so won't make them winners".

      Three years ago people were saying the same thing. Forget wins and losses and just look for improvement. Then last year Trembley and McPhail said it's about wins and losses and the team proceeded to look like the 62 Mets for 4 months.

      That nonsense has got to stop.

      Everyone talks about the process of becoming a winner. Well, it's gotta start at some point, even if it's a 6 or 8 game improvement. And Vlad can help with that.

      Of course he won't put is in contention for anything. If you keep that mindset year in and year out you basically run in place. This organization used up it's goodwill with the fans years and years ago.

      "One season doesn't mean anything" is the reason we are still fighting to get out of 5th place. Until a season DOES matter we will be where we've been for the last decade plus.

      • MGW, The Agenda

        February 3, 2011 at 10:47 pm

        Wasn't sure where I stood on Vladimir until reading your post.

        You're absolutely right. This crap has to end sometime. Get him in here.

      • Dempsey's Army

        February 4, 2011 at 2:11 pm

        Scott 2010

        Late & Close: .286 AVG, .366 OBP .933 OPS
        Tie Game: .300 AVG, .396 OBP, .892 OPS

        Vlad 2010

        Late & Close: .263 AVG, .305 OBP .668 OPS
        Tie Game: .305 AVG, .352 OBP, .879 OPS

        We could cherry-pick clutch stats all day long.

        But the original quesiton of a "legitimate cleanup" hitter has already been answered. Scott had the better year offensively, especially in terms of what you look for in a cleanup hitter. He outslugged Vlad, he outperformed him as a complete hitter. And where did that get us? The cellar.

        No one player is going to change this lineup that much. "Oh, Nick will hit better if he has protection." Well, he had protection and he was what he was. On the off chance that Vlad makes the O's winners in 2011 but they go back to losing afterwards…not sure what that accomplishes really. This is really less about Pie (who I think could be a really solid LF but if probably destined to be a 4th outfielder) and more about Reimold. Everybody seems to forget that he OPS'ed .831 during his rookie campaign…just 10 points lower than Vlad did last year. I want to see that kid hit while fully healthy, with a full MLB season under his belt. This is not about who "deserves" a roster spot, it's about seeing what a guy can be, if he can help the team going forward. That's more important than breaking the losing streak to me. Vlad won't help beyond 2011 (if at all). Reimold (and Pie to a lesser extent) could.

        Even you admit Vlad won't put the O's in contention. Stunt a kid's development over a cheap pander toward the fan base? You swallow that mess….I won't.

        Until this org starts looking at more than the upcoming season, we're doomed to stay in this cycle.

        • Sheila

          February 4, 2011 at 2:42 pm

          Agreed, 100%. If Guerrero isn't going to put the Orioles into the playoffs and they have young players who are capable of playing in the majors, why add him for one season?

          • JeffPilson

            February 4, 2011 at 3:40 pm

            We do not know if there is a young player who is capable. Why not put a proven player on the field who even at 36 and with bad knees is capable of producing a similar, if not better, season to the best power bat the Orioles had last year.

        • JeffPilson

          February 4, 2011 at 3:51 pm

          I think we are way over-valuing Luke Scott. He is a good player, coming off a career year, who tends to do his best work against lesser competition (hence his stellar numbers against the AL Central). Luke is by not means a "legitimate clean-up hitter" for a good team and there is no gaurantee he can duplicate last season, as opposed to reverting to the streaky hitter of previous seasons. On most contenders he would be a no. 7 hitter and not necessarily a regular starter. Scott is younger than Vlad, but he did not significantly outperform Vlad last year. Vlad has a greater track record as well.

          And to the issue of stuting development, how many AB's was Reimold going to get this year? 200? He is not even a lock to make the OD roster. If he is talented enough to be a big league player, Vlad will not side track his career.

          • Dempsey's Army

            February 4, 2011 at 6:34 pm

            Over the past 3 years, Scott has out-homered, out-slugged and has an identical OPS to Vlad Guerrero. I think we're overvaluing Vlad, not the other way around. And again, Vlad didn't hit much better than Reimold did during his rookie season. Proven is one thing but what he's proven is not a great as everybody thinks. Not in recent seasons. (I'm not even bringing up risk of decline due to age…) You're falling in love with a name on a uniform but not looking at the production.

            If Vlad doesn't sign with Baltimore, Reimold will definitely be on this roster sometime early in 2011. If healthy, he should get 400 ABs. More if he's playing really well.

          • Dempsey's Army

            February 4, 2011 at 6:38 pm

            Though I will agree with you on this point…Vlad's not going to derail his career if he's a true big leaguer. I'd just rather know if Nolan's going to be a big leaguer in 2011, not 2012.

  6. Zach

    February 4, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    I'd be curious to hear Mark's thoughts on Vlad. In my opinion, you always try to put the best team on the field possible.

    • Dempsey's Army

      February 4, 2011 at 3:25 pm

      Unless…(see my arguments above and at the blog)

      I think the O's have put the best team on the field for 2011. Adding Vlad could make them a bit better. But to what end? 72 wins? 78? 80?

    • JeffPilson

      February 4, 2011 at 3:59 pm

      I agree Zach. There is nothing wrong with adding talent for just one year. The young players we have been told would be the future are, for the most part, in Baltimore. Why not surround them with as many good players as possible.

      Plus, with the injury history of the primary players in LF, CF and 1B having depth is not a bad thing. I think it would be better for the Orioles to semi-platoon LF, DH and to an extent 1B. It allows Showalter to put the best righty/lefty match-ups out there and keeps guys like Vlad, Scott, Pie and Lee fresh over the whole season. Plus, with Vlad, the O's have can have a legit bat on the bench for late game hitting. Even Adam Jones can be protected some by working Pie in as CF a few times a month.

      • Sadler

        February 4, 2011 at 4:10 pm

        I think the debate comes down to whether any of believe that Pie or Reimold can actually develop into anything worthwhile.

        • JeffPilson

          February 4, 2011 at 6:04 pm

          Not to me. I think it comes down to adding a player who can improve the club and trying to win as many games as possible in 2011. It may all be moot like Mark and screaming CARL said, because it seems Vlad wants nothing to do with Baltimore.

          I just don't feel many teams, who intend to win, would not sign a productive hitter because they are worried about how it affects the progress of a couple of platoon OF'ers.

          • Dempsey's Army

            February 4, 2011 at 6:40 pm

            So answer me this: How many games will Vlad gain for the O's in the win column? 2? 4? 10?

            If the O's win 72 or 79, will the fan base really feel differently about this team either way? Where's the big upside here?

  7. Giroux Forsberg

    February 4, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    Zach and those that share his pov are right. Guerrero makes us a better team TODAY, and the fans deserve that. Every win that we improve this season is another win closer to being an attractive destination next season for someone like P. Fielder (I know, I know, he's fat, etc. I just used him as an example) next season. It is imperative that the Orioles start winning as many games as possible every year. Any marginal improvement from either of the "kids" (both are on the wrong side of 25, with Reimold being closer to 30) does not have the same potential to boost both the win total and the attractiveness of the Orioles to free agents that bringing in a (still) productive name like Guerrero does. Plus, if Guerrero tears the cover off all year and we are still nowhere near contention (the latter obviously being likely) he can be traded at the deadline to a team making a run at it. This might actually be the best-case scenario, because he can be parlayed into a prospect (ideally infield) that we are sorely lacking on the farm. The only way this move would be a bust is if Guerrero gets hurt or has a terrible season, but that's a gamble you take when you sign anybody, not just an aging DH. The potential payoff is well worth it.

  8. CARL

    February 4, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    (BmoreCarl) ALL YOU PEOPLE DON'T KNOW WHAT THAT BUM BRINGS TO YHE CLUBHOUSE DO YOU ?? READ ABOUT LAST YEAR !!! YOU WANT A CANCER ON OUR TEAM GO AHEAD AND SIGN HIM !!! ALSO WHY BRING SOMEONE IN WHO DOESNT WANT TO BE HERE??? SMARTEN UP O'S FANS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. Dempsey's Army

    February 4, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    Ah, glad you asked.

    Because Snyder is not really a prospect at this point. Has shown nothing at AAA. Reimold has succeeded there and in the bigs. Lee blocks no one. Vlad just might.

    And it certainly matters now that Vlad is reportedly an Oriole. We will see all the fans start to care about the Orioles again and they will attract lots if free agents in 2012.

    All because they signed Vlad. We'll see.

    • Mark

      February 4, 2011 at 7:55 pm

      You don't get it.

      Nobody is saying Vlad is some magic bullet that all of a sudden changes the entire organization.

      Stop with the exaggeration and hyperbole. Nobody insinuated what you just posted. Not even close.

      I can tell you one thing for sure. Being the worst team in baseball for the first 4 months will not only keep the novice fans away, it'll keep everyone way.

      • Dempsey's Army

        February 4, 2011 at 8:36 pm

        Your reasons to sign Vlad:

        1. Getting people to care.

        2. If the Orioles have another 95 plus loss season it just stains their appeal to future free agents.

        Sorry I misunderstood.

        • MGW, The Agenda

          February 4, 2011 at 8:43 pm

          Remold is the 24th or 25th man on the bench on a contending team, if that. This move blocks No One.

        • Mark

          February 4, 2011 at 8:45 pm

          Signing Vlad makes them better.

          Sorry that Reimold loses out on playing time.

          Maybe he can improve on that .249 avg he put up down at Norfolk while he's back in Norfolk.

          Reimold and Snyder had very similar numbers at AAA last year.

          If the Orioles actually had a legit LF prospect being blocked, I'd see your point.

          But they don't.

          Even though you wouldn't know it from the past 13 years, this is a MLB team and at some point you've gotta start winning games.

          How many more years of "well, player x won't get us into the playoffs" do you want to go through?

          If you've noticed, the Orioles keep having awful years and have gone with that exact mindset.

          Do you think it's been productive?