Free Vladimir Guerrero

Punctuation is so fascist. Throw punctuation on this title and you rob it the statement of its’ many possible meanings. While we can say that Vladimir Guerrero is now a free agent after the Blue Jays granted him his release, to say that Vladimir Guerrero is now free is much more ambiguous. And, in a way, captures more of the essence of what happened today.

For one, Guerrero may have demanded his release. According to Hector Gomez via Dustin Parkes at The Score, Guerrero was unhappy with how he was treated by the Blue Jays. The outfielder went on a rant about it:

Promises made to me were not fulfilled. I am not a child. One day I heard one thing and the next day another. I left the team, right now I am at home in Anaheim. I was not treated as a professional. I am not a boy. I proved that I’m ready, I have nothing more to prove in the minors with the numbers that I put. Last night after the game I sent my letter of resignation to the organization. I am not a boy. I demand respect. Let me make it clear I did not take this decision lightly, and had warned it would if I was not satisfied.

This rant came despite Alex Anthopoulos saying that there were “no guarantees on behalf of the club” when he spoke to the press about his signing. But a contract is a contract, even a minor league one, and Guerrero felt shackled by it. So now he’s free from that commitment and able to court with any team. Despite rumors that he would hang it up for good, it looks like he wants a job.

And of course, here’s the second meaning of free. Because Vlad Guerrero is now available for practically nothing. Could a contending team use a right-handed designated hitter for the second half? The Athletics often partake in reclamation projects like this for their DH spot, but they have Manny Ramirez banging around in the minor leagues right now. The Rangers use Mike Napoli and Michael Young in that spot, so they seem set. The Angels have too many DHs. Cleveland could use some thump, but Shelley Duncan is a decent right-handed DH bat. The Tigers signing a DH would be pretty funny, given their defensive situation now. In the East, the Orioles have already moved on, the older Red Sox and Yankee teams don’t need a DH.

Could the Rays give Guerrero a shot? They have Luke Scott for righties, but they could platoon him with Guerrero against lefties. Right now it’s an underwhelming merry-go-round of Jeff Keppinger and Hideki Matsui, and even Scott from time to time despite his bad platoon splits. The 37-year old Matsui is eight months older than Guerrero, coming off a lower peak, and currently having more trouble making contact than he ever has before. Matsui was bad on his 52-plate-appearance minor league jaunt (.170/.231/.213) and is now bad in the majors (.160/.160/.440 without a walk, and with a 12.5% swinging strike rate). Is there a chance Guerrero could be better? It would only cost a minor league contract — he’d be almost free.

And there’s one last ‘meaning’ of the word that has come out of FanGraphs posts of the past. Sometimes, it seems a player doesn’t get the shot they deserve. Guerrero would agree with the fact that he still has something left and that someone should give him a shot. Do we start a “Free Vladimir Guerrero” movement for him, then?

Probably not. Even if he’s more useful against lefties, the trend in his statistics is clear. The post-peak hitter has steadily walked less and hit for less power every year since 2007 save the Texas-aided resurgence in 2010. That trend continued in Triple-A, where he didn’t take a walk and hit for a .126 ISO in 30 at-bats. And didn’t look good, according to reports. And the market for a righty platoon designated hitter who can’t play the field, doesn’t run well on the bases, won’t take a walk, and has unclear power — let’s just say it’s not robust.

Vladimir Guerrero is now free in every sense of the word. He probably won’t like the feeling.




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


40 Responses to “Free Vladimir Guerrero”

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  1. Luke M. says:

    We’ll see you in Cooperstown, Vlad. You’ve got nothing left to prove.

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  2. KJ says:

    I dont know if batting .215 in AAA is proving yourself, but he’s got a good enough track record that I’m sure someone will take him. Guess this means the Jays have decided to stick to Snider then?

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  3. Radivel says:

    Being outperformed badly by Adam Lind does not bode well for your future prospects as a desirable commodity.

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  4. Sandy Kazmir says:

    That quote seems like something manufactured in OOTP

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  5. whocarestom says:

    I’d love to see some team give him one more shot. Vlad is, or was, a great ball player and he definitely deserves a better send-off than this.

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    • Jay Levin says:

      This is the customary send-off for great players who don’t know when to hang it up. Quite a few greater players than Vlad have had worse send-offs than this.

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  6. DSC says:

    True. Baseball does not need players who can hit. Guys who can’t make contact but are “willing”” to take a walk, that’s what winning teams want and fans desire to see. Good luck to him, I’m sure he’ll be in the majors before the year is out; or do most GM’s prefer Felix Pie, Endy Chavez, Don Kelly, Jack Wilson, Henry Blanco?

    Guerrero proved he can still hit and, surprisingly, proved he can field. But I suppose Pie and Chavez are so much better, right, they might as well punch their tickets to the HoF. The way hitting keeps falling, soon enogh guys like them will be all-stars.

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    • prankmunky says:

      Yikes?!

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    • steex says:

      I don’t think I’m ready to proclaim that appearing in LF in three minor league games after zero games in the OF in 2011 proves Guerrero can field, especially given the condition of his knees.

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    • walt526 says:

      Mr. DSC, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever read. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone reading this page is now dumber for having read it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

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      • DodgersKingsoftheGalaxy says:

        bahhh that’s like the 5th time in the last week i’ve seen someone use the Billy Madison line on the interwebs :P

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    • CharlieW says:

      Wait, Henry Blanco? You want him to catch for the Dbacks?

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      • B N says:

        Vlad should definitely be catching. It’s his natural position!

        Just seeing him out there in a crouch, showing his defensive prowess… you’ll never forget it.

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  7. Lee says:

    Jeff Keppinger hasn’t played in a while…and likely will not be back until post-All-Star break. Matsui barely has a role. It could only increase if Scott tanks, or is healthy and takes some time at first in place of Carlos Pena. Matsui certainly isn’t going to take time from a Desmond Jennings/B.J. Upton/Matt Joyce outfield.

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    • Eno Sarris says:

      Three-to-four weeks for Kepp three weeks ago, and I heard he’s ready to start his rehab. Point wasn’t really about him anyway. And Matsui barely has a role, yes, as the righty half of a platoon DH, but that’s the role that Guerrero would take. Unsure what any of this has to do with the outfield.

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  8. drewcorb says:

    Is Shelley Duncan a better option than Vlad? His numbers are pretty bad this year (76 wRC+) and he doesn’t exactly have much upside, in my opinion. I think the Indians are a pretty good fit for Vlad, at least if Duncan actually is the right-handed DH option.

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  9. OzzieGuillen says:

    You have to think some team would sign him just because future Hall of Famers still generate interest and ticket sales long after their skills have eroded. Guerrero has also never hit below .290. He could at least be a quality pinch hitter, where defense, walks, and baserunning are not quite as important.

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    • Marcus Thames says:

      I would think he could fill that role for a Tiger’s team with zero pop on its bench.

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    • Jason B says:

      “just because future Hall of Famers still generate interest and ticket sales”

      Is that a given, beyond anecdotal evidence? (Legitimately wondering if a thorough analysis has been conducted.) Even if there is some attendance bump provided by HOF’ers, I would imagine it comes largely from the beloved single-organization, longtime favorites that are sure-fire HOF’ers (Tony Gwynn, Cal Ripken, and the like) and not the marginal HOF’ers and/or hired guns on the downside of their career (the Vlads, Jim Thomes, and Jim Edmondses of the world that bounce from one organization to the next and play only sporadically in their twilight years). I would think the ‘box office draw’ that Vladimir Guerrero would provide at this point in his career is nil (if it was ever anything to begin with).

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  10. STUMP says:

    Anybody that is familiar with AA (the Blue Jays GM) would know that he would have been straight up with Vlad.

    Having said that, it would have made no sense to bring Vlad up before the Blue Jays finished their inter-league games.

    He can’t play an outfield position anymore and the Jays have a much better hitter
    at 1st base in Edwin Encarnacion.

    It would only make sense when the Jays return to their AL schedule and then you could DH Guerrero against LHP.

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  11. Dude3000 says:

    Punctuation is so fascist. Throw punctuation on this title and you rob it the statement of its’ many possible meanings.

    Punctuation’s a real dick sometimes.

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  12. Jeff Mathis does steroids says:

    I hate to be that guy, but I was really disappointed in this article. I came in here under the impression that it was self evident that Vlad is over the hill, and that whether or not he plays in the big leagues again is a non issue. Then freaking Eno Sarris puts up a header that implies that there is a case to be made in favor of playing Vlad on a big league team. But it doesn’t make that case. It just says that there is no case to be made.

    And we all thought that coming in.

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    • Eno Sarris says:

      Damn. Was hoping to avoid this sentiment by talking about the meanings of free. My response would be that you could read that as “Free Vladimir Guerrero” like it was something you got when you signed up for some web site as a parting gift. That he’s free for anyone who wants him. But I did write about that already, and you didn’t buy it.

      Looks like our “Free Brandon Allen” type headlines have cemented the meaning of ‘free’ in a headline — free him from unwarranted restraints on his playing time.

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  13. Ryan says:

    How about Seattle? Miguel Olivo has been craptacular thus far this season. Plus, Jesus Montero has absolutely racked it when put at catcher this season.

    Catcher: 30 for 89 5 doubles, 5 hr, 14RBI, 11 runs, .337/.375/.562
    DH: 24 for 120, 6 doubles, 2 HR, 13 RBI, 12 runs, .200/.240/.300

    Some guys just can’t DH. It’s too hard to stay engaged in the game since you’re basically pinch hitting 4 or 5 times a night. If Seattle signs Vlad they could give him 75 to 80% of the ABs at DH, and then Montero the remaining 25 to 20%.

    If Vlad could give Seattle a happy medium between his 2010 and 2011 numbers then they turn into a .500 ball club. Hell, even 2011 Vlad is much better then any other options they have. I mean, they literally have nothing to lose. Best of all, he’s like ready to go right this instant since he’s already gotten more than enough PAs in the Blue Jays minor league system.

    If not Seattle, then the only other places which make sense are Cleveland and Tampa Bay. Tampa probably should have signed him in the first place seeing as how they have absolutely no use for Matsui with Joyce and Scott already on the roster.

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    • Steve says:

      He could help, but that win improvement would be essentially meaningless unless he could draw more fans (which he definitely could). The Mariners would probably view the move as inconsequential.

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      • Jason B says:

        “unless he could draw more fans (which he definitely could).”

        Again, I have to wonder – is this a given? Would anyone who wasn’t planning to attend a game suddenly pay to come watch Vlad play for a sub-.500 team when the odds that he will play on any given night are maybe 50/50, and the odds that he will look like anything other than a shell of his former self be less than that?

        I have to believe that the more hardcore baseball fans are probably coming out to watch most games regardless, the casual fan isn’t going to be wooed to the ballpark by Vlad Guerrero, and the non-fan says “Who?? Let’s go play some frisbee golf!”

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      • Ryan says:

        I disagree somewhat, Jason.

        If Vlad could post numbers halfway in between his 2010 and 2011 seasons then I know I would definitely fork over some cash on a boring summer weeknight for a left field bleachers seat to have the chance to see or even catch a signature Vlad bomb that he hit on an ankles-high pitch.

        Plus, with him taking over full-time DH duties that not only moves Montero to catcher, where he is a much better offensive player, but it also gives Montero some more protection in the line up. Even in his old age, Vlad is still more intimidating than Justin Smoak based on reputation alone.

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    • David G says:

      A RF who doesn’t walk and has no power, with a big arm and a bigger ego? The M’s already pay that guy $18 mil…

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      • Ryan says:

        Except, the difference is Vlad will be next to free and still managed to hit 13 HR last season despite having no power.

        Plus, one of, if not the biggest assets of signing Vlad is that it moves Montero to be the primary catcher where his numbers are infinitely better than when he is at DH. I mean, even a washed up Vlad is better then having to put Miguel Olivo in the line up or having John Jaso, who is a pretty solid hitter against righties, be your DH. I mean, it’s hard to take a ball club seriously who does that.

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    • Josh says:

      Montero DHing is about his abilities as catcher, or lack thereof, and not about which potion he hits better in. Not many see Montero as a major league catcher. That’s why he DHs.

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  14. JDub says:

    I would love to see you down here in Tampa Vlad’o. They are giving Matsui every chance but he just looks washed up.

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  15. Bubbeh says:

    Thanks for the memories. Montreal will never forget.

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