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Orioles Sign Guerrero

As has already been discussed a bit in the comments on the last post, reports are out tonight that the Orioles have agreed to terms with Vlad Guerrero. The damage is said to be $8 million for one year.

I’m not going to back off on what I’ve already said: I don’t like the move. I’m not convinced it makes the team better. With that said, I don’t know that it makes them worse, either.

But you know what it feels like to me? 1998. If you recall, that’s the year we took fliers on Joe Carter and Doug Drabek. I realize there’s one huge difference here in that Guerrero had a good year last year while Carter and Drabek were both pretty clearly done when we brought them in. Still, there are echoes. In each case we’re talking about bringing in an aging “name” veteran on a bloated contract and hoping he has enough left to contribute.

Maybe Guerrero does — this is certainly a smarter move than Carter or Drabek were. Maybe it’s even a subtle stroke of genius in that he could be flipped for an upper-tier prospect after a good first half. Hell, maybe he has a fantastic year and the O’s are still in contention for the Wild Card come August. All of these things are possible.

I’m not against being excited by “maybe.” I do it every year with the O’s. But if I’m going on “maybe” I’d rather it take the form of Pie and/or Reimold.

In time, though, I’m sure I’ll grow to be OK with this move. Maybe even embrace it. As I said above, I don’t think it makes the team worse. If I had to bet, though, on whether we look back on this in July and love it, I’m betting we don’t.

11 comments to Orioles Sign Guerrero

  • neal s

    One point worth noting is that the players seem to like this move a lot, at least if this Britt Ghiroli report is any indication. Those opinions matter more than mine so let’s hope they’re right.

  • dan the man

    Honestly, I really do understand your point of view, Neal, and Andrew’s as well.

    @ Andrew real quick… I can see where you think this has something to do with Andy’s contract status. In some regard, I agree – he’s clearly “buying the bats” (and some pitching, too) in a bid to make real, tangible progress in his last contracted year. But you also have to admit that it’s probably the right time to surround the young hitters with some solid veteran bats, and bolster the pitching staff with a couple bullpen additions not named Matt Albers and a potentially very good veteran starter in Duke.

    Here’s my point for the evening, however. Vlad is really the only non-essential aging veteran hitter we’ve acquired. Derrek Lee isn’t blocking anyone (yet) because no one is really ready to step up and play 1B at the Major League level and no one wants to sit through another year of people playing 1B that shouldn’t be playing 1B. Reynolds, likewise, is simply replacing Bell as a slightly older and more Major League-ready third baseman. JJ Hardy is filling the void that is our shortstop position until Machado or some other prospect is ready. These are all pretty necessary moves unless you want to tell your players and fans, “Hey, we’re just going to tank it again this year with Snyder at 1B and Izturis at SS and Bell at 3B”. Vlad, though, is that unnecessary shot in the dark to see if they can’t make the lineup seriously legit. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t.

    But while I agree that Andy’s final contract year has at least a little bit to do with this, I think more than that it’s Buck Showalter’s desire to field a team worthy of the respect of the rest of the AL East. Buck knows the value of rebuilding, sure, but he’s not really trying to lose games in the process. Thus: Vlad. He’s spoken a lot about not giving the rivals too much credit, and maybe this is related. Let’s not make it easy on them, either, at the expense of Pie/Reimold in the lineup instead of a hall-of-famer. We don’t all really agree with that, but there it is.

    Bottom line, it’s all connected. Andy’s desire for progress in his last year, Buck’s desire for progress in his first full year, the middling progression of Reimold and Pie, and Vlad basically falling into our laps. It’s all converged to produce probably the best Orioles lineup on paper since the 90’s, and maybe also the most questions in a long time. Either way, I’m excited. Worst case scenario: 14 losing seasons, right?

  • Ballmer Bruce

    Worst case, they guy is done. They would not have put the $8MM into scouting and/or actually competing for young high ceiling Latin free agents anyway. It would have just been $8MM more in Ange-lose pocket.

    Best case, the O’s actually play some meaningful and/or games worth watching after the All-Star break for the first time since 2005.

  • sci

    I’m fine with the move for the exact reason Ballmer Bruce states above. Worst case, he’s done, and we cut him toward mid-season or so and Angelos has wasted $8 mil (or less based on incentives). Best case, he is good and the O’s lineup is seriously well-balanced. If that doesn’t translate to wins, trade him at the deadline. If the O’s pick up some of his salary, damn right some team that needs that extra bat will pick him up. You may not get much for him in a trade, but you’ll get something if he’s having a good year. Really not a lot to lose here except, I suppose, finally determining whether Reimold is a legit ML player. Let him tear up AAA for a bit first though, and then worry about that.

  • dan the man

    @ sci:
    Yeah I’ve seen a lot of people saying that this sets back player development and that we’re “throwing the rebuild out the window”, but I don’t really buy that. In fact, it’s straight up not correct, in my opinion. It’s fine if you’d rather see Pie/Reimold play and get that figured out, I understand that. But saying that Lee and Vlad = throwing out the rebuilding process is poor logic. For one, there’s no one from the farm to put at 1B. Two, Vlad blocks one position, and that’s LF. There’s is currently one position being blocked from a prospect playing there full time. One. And it’s a position that honestly no one has seized. But just because Pie and Reimold, both no longer prospects, won’t play full time does not equal the Orioles “back to their old ways”.

    The rebuild is still in full effect, more-so than the majority of baseball. Yup there’s a handful of guys over 30. But isn’t a winning baseball team almost always a mix of young guys and veterans? Isn’t that what we have? The majority of our starting rotation is farm-based. There’s still Nick and Wieters and Jones (and Snyder and Bell and Britton). Scott and Guthrie have still never been free agents. And right now, there’s still Pie and Reimold. I just don’t get how signing a couple veterans on 1-year deals means Andy’s caving in on the rebuild. It’s simply not true. The rebuild has to eventually be, you know, BUILT. He’s taking a stab at winning now and not committing to long-term deals for aging players.

    I’m sayin.. you might not like the move and that’s fine, but people need to chill on the “this is hurting player development” thing. It’s not.

  • Big Ben's Motorcycle

    my favorite player when i watched baseball. good, solid move.

  • Ballmer Bruce

    Can’t wait to see Vlady take a one hop low pitch into over center field fence sometime this year. He is also apparently a good clubhouse guy.

  • ryan97ou

    before fanfest i was pretty cold on the idea of this move: he didn’t seem to want to come here, and it didn’t really fit in with the other moves that had been made.

    but starting at fanfest, when i heard buck so strongly say that he wanted vlad, and hear all the other players say the same thing, i started to warm to it. it makes sense to have a surplus and actually have these guys work to get up to the big leagues (pie/reimold) so i guess that’s not a bad thing. the one thing this does make me worry about is how slow our team is gonna be, thus limiting our ability to play small ball…but maybe i’m over thinking that.

    i do have to admit, it is exciting to think of the potential.

  • dan the man

    Speed is overrated, I think. It’s bad base running that’ll kill you. If Brian does his thing (get on base, fuck with the pitcher, and score runs), then I’m not all that worried about being a slow team. Especially when you still have Jones and Markakis who are relatively fast, and Pie and Izturis available to pinch run. I do imagine we’ll cringe watching both Vlad and Wieters chug around the bases, though.

    Also, I have decided I am now firmly in the Jake Fox camp. Whether or not that means at the expense of Craig Tatum, I don’t know yet, because I think they can both exist on the team at the same time. But if it came down to choosing, I’d take Fox for his power (you can’t argue his minor league success or his success as a Cub) and his ability to play 1B/3B/LF at least semi-adequately. Plus it’s not like Tatum is a defensive upgrade over Wieters. I’d rather still have the chance for some power out of the catcher position on Wieters’ day off, PLUS the fact that you could coordinate that Wieters day off against a really tough lefty since Matt didn’t hit a lick against them last year and Fox does in theory. I’m nitpicking, but damnit it’s baseball season.

  • Miles

    dan the man wrote:

    but damnit it’s baseball season.

    What he said.

    Did I mention I’m drinking the Orange Kool Aid so much this off-season that I threw down bank for a 13-game plan?

    And that was before the Vlad signing.

  • ryan97ou

    @miles

    sweet. this will be my 3rd season as a 13-game holder and i am just as excited every year (although i probably would be with or without a season ticket plan).

    i am also taking the plunge this year of heading down to sarasota for a long weekend in mid march to check out the redone ed smith stadium and take a look at the guys before the pitches start counting.

    AM1370 had earl weaver on this morning and they ended the interview with a playing of orioles magic…chills. can’t wait til april.