Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Where Does Vlad Guerrero Fit In?


By
Image courtesy of Shi Davidi
When the Blue Jays first announced that they signed Vladimir Guerrero to a minor league deal, I thought "this is a square peg in a round hole signing". Quite simply, the way the Blue Jays roster was constructed, it didn't make sense to have Vlad around.

But it's funny how things can change in a few mere days. Early last week, Vlad appeared to have a long road back to the Majors. Now with the demotion of Adam Lind, Guerrero could be in a Blue Jays uniform sooner than we think.

The $1.5 million dollar question is where exactly does Vladimir Guerrero fit in the Toronto Blue Jays roster?

There isn't a firm timetable in when Vlad will be ready, but most guesses are that he'll have to make it through Dunedin, New Hampshire and Las Vegas before getting the call to from the Blue Jays front office.

Even if they're fast tracking Vlad through the ranks, it will still take at least a few weeks to get him back up the Majors. And that would bring Vlad's debut to the beginning of Interleague play, right around the June 8th mark.

At that point, Guerrero would really only be a viable pinch hit option late in the game during that Interleague run. He could get the odd start at DH in those games back under AL rules at the Rogers Centre.

Of course, this is all hinging on what happens with Adam Lind. Not surprisingly, he's been tearing it up in Triple A, and Lind could also be back with the Blue Jays sooner rather than later.

So is there a place where Adam Lind and Vladimir Guerrero can coexist on the roster? It's a possibility ... but a faint one at that. It's likely either one or the other; and frankly I like the prospect of Vlad's bat in the lineup over Lind's.

Even at 37 years old, Vladdy seems like a potent bat in the lineup. He hit 34 doubles last year with the Orioles, which would've been second to only Edwin Encarnacion on the Blue Jays roster.

The problem with Vlad of course is that his glove does not play into the game whatsoever. Perhaps that's why he's been waiting so long to find a contract, because the days of the pure DH in the American League are slowly fading away.

New age managers like John Farrell and Joe Maddon much prefer hitters who can field multiple positions rather than a someone who is strictly a DH, even though they might provide more offensive pop.

So in order to pencil Vladdy into the lineup, John Farrell is undoubtedly going to have to do some defensive shuffling. With the absence of Lind and Guerrero's inability to field, some other players are going to have to pick up the slack in the meantime.

I don't think Edwin Encarnacion is ready to pick up the bulk of the starts at first base, which means Yan Gomes could get a much longer look than originally thought. Gomes provides a lot of infield flexibility, and especially with these Interleague series coming up in June.

Vladdy would be great as a pinch-hitter in those NL rules games, but that's about it. So even if Guerrero manages to crack the roster, don't be surprised to see him relegated to bench duty.

Again, I really like Vlad's bat in the Blue Jays lineup, and we all know the Blue Jays can afford to score some more runs. But until Adam Lind can prove that he's a much more viable option at the plate, I say give Vladimir Guerrero a look and see what he can do.

It might not be very long before we see Vlad's patented pine tar-covered batting helmet in Toronto.

6 comments:

  1. Reports from extended spring training seem to indicate that Vlad may legitimately be able to play left field, as he is no longer bothered by the sore knee that plagued him previously.

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    1. And apparently Vladdy stole a base yesterday, too! It's always a possibility, but personally I'm not a fan of having a 37-year old outfielder ... but if they want his bat in the lineup during those Interleague series, that's what will have to happen.

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  2. I`m betting with Thames looking totally lost at the plate in addition to his being lost in the field you`ll see Vladdy there a few games a week. They`re not going to lose anything defensively and might actually gain with the cannon that Vlad`s still got.

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    1. Thames did leave a lot to be desired defensively, but his bat warranted being left in the lineup. But not that he's cooled off considerably, maybe he will be down to Triple A soon. Davis has been getting an awful lot of starts in left lately.

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  3. Or they could exile Ben Francisco to wherever they're eventually going to put him, since his role is uncertain, and a little bit superfluous with Guerrero there as well.

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    1. Dave, I thought Francisco's bat would play it's way more into the lineup, but that hasn't quite happened yet.

      Compound that with his nagging leg injury, and the Blue Jays could cut bait on him as well. I can't even remember what the Blue Jays gave up to get Benny Fresh,

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