Vlad Guerrero has been back for a few weeks now but still hasn’t shown that he is even close to returning to being an MVP-caliber player. The more games he goes without showing any power, the more Angel fans can’t help but wonder if the old Vlad will ever come back. So let’s turn it over to Good and Evil to debate this matter between themselves and figure out if Big Bad Vlad will re-emerge or if he is just plain bad:
Good: I certainly understand the concern over Guerrero’s performance thus far, but I think we need to cut him a little slack, he’s only had 92 at-bats this year, many of which came while he had an injured pectoral muscle. He only spent two games rehabbing the injury, so it is unreasonable to expect him to come back at full force so soon.
Evil: Awwww, poor Vladi. He’s got a little boo-boo. Well you know what, that is the exact freaking problem. Guerrero’s body has been deteriorating faster than the American auto industry and it is sapping his abilities. The pec injury is just the latest thing to go wrong with him. Do you really buy he is only DHing because his arm can’t handle throwing? Surely it has nothing to do with him limping around on a bum knee. Please.
Good: But Vlad is a natural hitter, he doesn’t need much to be able to hit, once he is feeling right he should be back to terrifying pitchers across the league. It isn’t like he is just going to turn into a bum overnight. You can see right now that he is already starting come around. He’s hit safely in nine of his last ten games, including six multi-hit games. What’s so decrepit about that?
Evil: Sluggers don’t turn into bums overnight? David Ortiz begs to differ. And yes, he has had hits in nine of the last 10 games. You know what else he has done in nine of the last ten games? Stirke out. He used to be tough to fan; now he suddenly is like Adam Dunn only without the power. Let’s not forget that homeboy still has just one homer and five total extra-base hits this year. Congrats ,Angel fans, you now essentially have Erick Aybar batting clean-up for you. Let me know how that works out for you.
Good: Cut the guy some slack, he hasn’t even had 100 at-bats yet. Everyone started panicking about him when he slumped last year as well. That turned out to just be a bunch of fretting for nothing. Guerrero still hit .303 and belted 27 homers. He’s missed too much time to match those numbers this year, but that doesn’t mean he can’t perform at that level the rest of the way. The man was made to hit and he just won’t be kept down for long.
Evil: Take your numbers and shove ’em. On the surface those numbers are nice, but by Vlad standards he had a bad year. His .303 average and .886 OPS were his lowest since his rookie season. The 27 homers he hit tied-a career low (which he set the year before that). Now he is ever worse this year. That isn’t just a fluke, that is what is called a trend and it ain’t a good one. He may be made to hit but the machinery is breaking down. Just watch him swing he has no bat speed anymore. Anyone with a good fastball can beat Vladi now. Without that bat speed he is just an OK hitter with terrible plate discipline.
Good: You forget that Guerrero was injured last year as well, which held down his otherwise fine numbers. His knee was giving him major problems last year but he still got over it and had a strong season. I know you will just say this is part of him decaying, but he actually had the knee repaired this off-season. So, once he gets his chest fully healthy he should actually be as healthy as he has been in years and ready to take off.
Evil: Right, only to have another one of his body part breakdown. His shoulder hasn’t acted up for awhile, I’m sure that won’t take long. It’s always something with him now. He’s 34 years old (which probably means he is really 37). There is a reason that teams are actually pitching around Abreu to get to Vlad now, not to mention having the strategy work. I have a hard time believing that all the pro scouts who are telling all their pitchers to just pound him with heat in on his hands because he can’t catch up to it are wrong and the Angel apologists are right.
Good: You’re just bitter. Try some positive thinking. It is so much easier to hate on Vlad because he never talks to the press. He’s not out there explaining how he is feeling and what is going on with him so everyone just assumes the worst. Check in again at the end of the season and we’ll see who is really right.