Monday, February 14, 2011

What Vlad Has Wrought, Part 2

This series was going to be a sprawling 3 or 4 part epic in which I tried to meticulously break down all the reactions to the Vladimir Guerrero deal but, quite frankly, I am sick of writing about Vlad, so this will be it.

In my first post, I looked at what Vlad Guerrero brings to the table for the 2011 Baltimore Orioles. In this post, we're going to look at what he does not bring.

A post over at opines that Vlad brings some things to the Oriole lineup that it was lacking. Here's something he doesn't bring: on base percentage.

The Orioles have been ranked in the lower half of the league in terms of OBP for the past 5 seasons and 2010 was especially bad in that respect. Guerrero, free swinger that he is, only got on base at a .345 clip in 2010 despite hitting .300. His walk rates for 2009 and 2010 were the worst of his career and that's saying something. I can't find a projection that puts his OBP for 2011 any higher than .335.

But that's not why the Orioles brought him to town.

This is true. Get people on base and Vlad can drive them in. The problem is, as I stated above, that the Orioles have trouble getting guys on base. The team had a .316 OBP in 2010. I don't think there are many hitters in baseball who can knock in 100 runs when his fellow hitters aren't getting on base.

"Oh, but Vlad had 115 RBI last season! Nobody on the Orioles had more than 76!" Allow me to respond to the RBI argument.

RBI, schmar-bee-aye.

You put Luke Scott in the Rangers last season and he gets 100 RBI too. Guaranteed.

Even among his supporters, I can't find anybody who will admit to thinking that Vlad will make a big impact in the win column:

Mark - 

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.

This is desperation talking. A fan who is happy to be thrown a bone. To be pandered to as the team makes a move that might be worth two or three wins if things break right. Sure, I would love for this team to win in 2011. I will be hoping for it. But this team ain't there yet. It's not. So you've relegated a viable lineup option in Nolan Reimold to Norfolk? I don't care what anybody says, I've made my case for him and I would rather watch a healthy Reimold crash and burn all season long than to watch Vlad take his hacks.

Ladies and gentlemen, the formula is clear. You have to get younger and you have to let those guys play if you ever hope to build a core of players to compete. The Yanks did it, the Red Sox did it, the Rays did it. The Orioles need to commit to it and just do it. I don't mind the Derrek Lee signing...there are no real options in AAA ready to play first base. I don't mind the Mark Reynolds trade...Josh Bell is clearly not ready and when he is, Reynolds can be moved across the diamond. But this signing blocks a couple younger guys and does nothing to advance the team beyond 2011. Given his recent stats, injury history and age, it is even questionable that he helps much this season either.

Wow, sounds like a great investment of your $8 million, huh?

And he is certainly not a bargain. The Orioles will pay him a total of $8 million which is way more than they needed to. I just don't get it. He seems to have been icing on the cake for this team, not a necessity but they moved off their initial $3-4 million offer even though there were few alternatives (if any) for Guerrero at that point. But ultimately, I can't get too upset over the money. It's an overpay, it's not good but as I always say, it's really hard for a one-year deal to be that bad for a team.

However, Daniel of Camden Crazies lays out a few reasons why we should care about the money and he might be changing my mind.

So, what we have is an aging DH, one that no longer resembles the perennial MVP candidate that he once was, who pushes a lesser defender out to left field, thus blocking the path of a guy who could put up numbers close to what Vlad will post anyway?

It not Vlad that bothers's the philosophy that got him here.


Tom M said...

I agree with almost everything point you made. I beg to differ on this notion that Luke is somehow worse in the field than Pie. Pie was horrible last year. First time in my whole life watching the O's I cringed every time the ball was hit in the air to left. I don't know if Pie doesn't see the ball off the bat but he takes some of the worst routes to the ball I have ever seen in the Major Leagues. Luke might not get to every ball but he makes all the plays a MLB regular should make.

The other point I'd argue is worrying about Nolan playing in AAA. We have watched player after player this past decade given a spot on the O's because they were not any other viable options in the system. Nolan was dreadful last season. If he tears it up in AAA the O's can always flip Vlad for a prospect or two to make room for him. It would be nice to see players having to earn a spot on the team. Same goes for Bell, if he comes in and tears it up they can flip Lee and move Reynolds. Competition is a good thing

DempseysArmy said...

Luke won't be bad in the field but last season, Pie was an elite defender when he was healthy. Not in 2009, mind you, but last year he got the job done, even if he didn't always look great doing it.

As for Reimold, I guess I think that a team should do what's in their best interests sometimes. This team would benefit from finding out what Reimold can do in the majors. He may get that chance anyway but to spend $8 mil on a guy when you have another viable option (we can't forget about Reimold's 2009 no matter how much everyone wants to) seemed a bit unnecessary for a team that is not close to contention in 2011.

Ross said...

I agree with almost all of this post - well said. As for the overpay I'em with Daniel. In my opinion to be a fan of and analyze includes being a fan of and analyzing the front office. Money is a finite resource and spending it when it isn't necessary shortens the pool when it is needed.

DempseysArmy said...

Agreed. A lot of people who cover baseball (OK, maybe just a few) defended the Angels taking on the Vernon Wells contract because Angels GM Tony Reagins has said that he has no budget limits from owner Arte Moreno. But every team has a limit so it does matter for the future of the club, tying its hands when better FA are available later.