Alright, over the weekend, news started coming out about how good of a fit Vlad Guerrero would be for the Tigers. At first I dismissed it as just speculation on a day where there’s no news, but then yesterday, someone told me that Vlad was in for a physical. I still haven’t confirmed that yet, but that still leaves the question as to whether Vlad Guerrero would make a nice fit with the team or not.
After an injury filled season in 2009, Vlad stormed back onto the scene with a very solid season for the Texas Rangers. He made an All Star appearance, won the Silver Slugger as a DH and he even earned some MVP votes as the second best hitter on a team that saw Josh Hamilton win the award. And even though Vlad hasn’t put up the monster numbers like he did earlier in his career, if you carve out his 2009 season, he’s had an OPS+ of over 130 every year except for 2009 and 2010 and even in 2010 he stood at 122. With a career .320 batting average, unless Vlad regresses quickly, he’s going to help our lineup.
Of course the casualty will be Alex Avila. If Guerrero is the team’s DH, then Victor Martinez will get most of his time at catcher which leave Avila short on playing time. It also means defense behind the plate could take a step back although Avila hasn’t established himself as a defensive superstar yet. It also means from a long term perspective, the guy you’ve pegged as your catcher of the future rides the pine for another year and doesn’t develop.
And there’s also the cynic in me. Both Dave Dombrowski and Jim Leyland are basically playing for their jobs. I know it’s always best to win now and take your chances later, but with the rotation still less then solid, I’d think that would be the focus although that could simply be a matter of there not being another guy out there that they want to take a chance on. Vlad Guerrero is also another Type A free agent. I’ve never studied up on this enough to know what happens once you’ve already lost your first round pick but there has to be some kind of compensation.
It also takes away some of your flexibility. What if Carlos Guillen comes back and he’s raking but he’s horrible in the field? Now you’ve locked him out of the lineup. It also means Victor Martinez will start more behind the plate and that might wear on him by season’s end. Of course at the end, it’s not my money and if it’s a one year deal, it might be worth the risk and if doesn’t work, you just adjust.