Blue Jays Add Vlad

The Blue Jays signed 37-year-old Vladimir Guerrero to a minor league deal Thursday. Though the upside may seem muted, it’s a beautiful idea.

First, the cost is minute. Ken Rosenthal suggests that the Jays will pay Guerrero $1.3 million, pro-rated to the amount of time he spends in the majors. Above .500 and just three games out of first isn’t such a big deal in May, but it does suggest the team has a chance to make the postseason at the very least. At the cost of a quarter of a win, there’s no reason not to do this.

Then again, there are opportunity costs that the team has brought on themselves with this deal. Adam Lind, most likely to see his playing time cut, could be seen as a young player that will see his development time cut. On the other hand, Lind is 28 and has over 2500 plate appearances under his belt. More probably, the team knows what he is. Travis Snider, on the other hand, could use some development time — but the team had already decided that time should come in Triple-A, where he can work on his contact skills out of the bright lights. The roster spots most in jeopardy are probably those of Ben Francisco or Rajai Davis, both role players that have established flaws and are over 30. Guerrero won’t affect the team’s long-term plans negatively.

What is his role most likely going to be? Right-handed bench bat and perhaps part of a platoon with Adam Lind seems the best bet. Lind has been serviceable against right-handers over his career (.280/.333/.502, 119 wRC+) but the left-hander hasn’t been able to figure out lefties (.219/.263/.345, 58 wRC+). Of course, that number only comes in 638 plate appearances, but even regressed against the norm, it’s not good. And the team has begun sitting him against left-handers.

Vlad brings hefty lefty-killing lumber to the plate. His career split is .322/.403/.561 against lefties (147 wRC+). He’s obviously slowed down recently, but his offense against lefties has at least hovered around league-average over the past three years, which is more than Lind can say.

Can Vlad return to greatness in a limited role? The vaunted athleticism upon which parts of his game were based are gone. He lumbers around the bases and his bat was below league average last year. On the other hand, the list of designated hitters with great seasons that came after the age of 37 is actually fairly impressive. DHs in the free agency era have managed to accrue two wins or better in 28 seasons. 57 seasons were above replacement. Of course, Edgar Martinez, Darrell Evans and Paul Molitor account for ten of those above-average seasons, so the list is a little top-heavy, but the point is that history shows us that the DH is where the aging bat goes to remain productive.

Guerrero himself will have to regain some his old power to be that useful to his team, and that’s no lock, given that he was in a decent park for power last year with the Orioles and showed an isolated slugging percentage below league average (.126) for the first time since his rookie year. But his new park is just as friendly, his new lineup is better, and his new team is more competitive. It could be a good situation for him.

Of course, there’s just as much likelihood that it doesn’t work out for him in the minors and the team parts ways him. And even if he does show something, the Blue Jays will face a difficult decision in cutting Francisco or Davis — especially since Davis is the team’s backup center fielder and Francisco is playing reasonably well. The sparsely-used Omar Vizquel could be a candidate for cutting, but there isn’t a great backup shortstop elsewhere on the roster.

Jays fans might not want to dreamcast the 2010 version of Guerrero into their lineup just yet. But, at the cost, and with the way that Guerrero could boost the Jays’ offense against left-handers, this is a great little deal.




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Graphs: Baseball, Roto, Beer, brats (OK, no graphs for that...yet), repeat. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris.


21 Responses to “Blue Jays Add Vlad”

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  1. Pete says:

    Good PR move though, bringing in a famous former Expo. Should help in their “Canada’s team” campaign.

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  2. Matty Brown says:

    I think that a 119wrc is better than “serviceable”. Just a nitpick, I see serviceable as a 105.

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    • counter nitpick says:

      Because Lind is a left handed hitting 1B, one would hope for more than a 119 wrc+ v righties. Mashing first baseman James Loney has a career 115 wrc+ v. righties.

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  3. stoeten says:

    Lind is 28, and will turn 29 in July.

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  4. DSC says:

    Good move. He can hit RHP and LHP well. Funny how people assume he can’t succeed or play any field role; look around MLB and you see quite a few guys hitting under .220 and not doing anyone any favours on defence. Hard to believe a motivated, in shape Guerrero would be as bad as so many sops are.

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    • CJ says:

      He has no chance of playing the field. Being in shape =/= having his good knees back, especially on the turf at Rogers Centre.

      That said, I would be completely happy if he can hit reasonably well. In that case, he can DH and E5 can go play 1st.

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      • AA says:

        SkyDome’s turf isn’t nearly as bad as the rock at Stade Olympique. Indeed, when they went to AstroPlay, that helped things substantially.

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  5. “Jays fans might not want to dreamcast the 2010 version of Guerrero into their lineup just yet.”

    Methinks the Jays are best served by Guerrerro’s skills as represented on SEGA Dreamcast.

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  6. Preston says:

    Vlad the Impailer should now be called the Maple Leaf Mauler.

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  7. Calzone says:

    Would this affect Encarnacion? I doubt it would take any ABs away from him seeing as he’s been the Blue Jays best hitter since July last season. But the question I have is if they play Encarnacion at 1st base vs. LHP, how do Edwin’s numbers look while playing in the field as opposed to strictly DH?

    He DHed most of the 2nd half last season and DHed almost every game this season, could DHing rather than playing in the field actually make Edwin a better hitter? I’d be curious to see.

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  8. Grant says:

    It’s worth noting that the Blue Jays are in a playoff spot, not on the outside looking in as suggested in the first couple of paragraphs.

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  9. meiselsarle says:

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    • Jason B says:

      Yeah, I gave it a thumbs down, but candidly it was at least as entertaining as a lot of the posts here (and similarly coherent!).

      I wish him nothing but continued success in “seducing cash from online stores.” While I’ve never had an intimate relationship with money, I may now consider it. Otherwise, “I is not finding much” to do with it, other than save or spend it. That may be hard for many of you to accept, but I post this in the hopes that “you can swallow truth.”

      I’m not sure if I’ve just read an advertisement or the opening paragraphs of “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

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    • Phrozen says:

      But is that really a good long-term solution? Sure, eco tea’s health benefits thousand dollars is a useful trade chip, but is he really going to bring back Vlad Guerrero? I mean, granted, Vlad’s speed and glove are gone, but, as the article mentioned, he swings a servicable bat. What you might try is sending eco tea’s health benefits thousand dollars to the Dodgers, and try to pry James Loney away. Not only are they in SoCal, and thus interested in things named “eco,” they are also looking for an upgrade in the break room.

      The real question, though, is MY SPOUSE AND I. Can he still hit? If not, you’re going to have a real dead zone on the left side of the diamond, especially long-term. I suggest trying to package MY SPOUSE AND I with one of your B-grade prospects, like .I bought scammed as many as my eyeballs or also seducing cash from online stores (whose been in the system since ’05 and hasn’t blossomed yet); in a deal for Jeff Francoeur. The Royals aren’t going anywhere, and can use the prospects, and Frenchy will help solidify your outfield.

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    • adohaj says:

      Who makes spam that is this long?

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      • joser says:

        Programs do. The spammers have scripts that scrape this stuff from other sites. Though who knows, there may be gold-farmer type drones in China grinding this stuff out by hand, but I doubt it.

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    • Expos67 says:

      WTF did I just read?

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  10. EdwardM says:

    ” On the other hand, Lind is 28 and has over 2500 plate appearances under his belt. More probably, the team knows what he is.” … and are a little sad about the answer.

    BTW, why no ’93 Molitor on your list. Only 23 gms at first.

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  11. Vlad’s no spring chicken – as his age has climbs, his numbers have fallen, sure. But we’ve seen Derek Jeter put up steller numbers after many said it was time for him to bow out gracefully, and some guy named Jaromir Jagr looked pretty good in his return to the NHL.

    Don’t count out the old guys just ’cause they’re old. This could be a great addition.

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