It has been mentioned over and over the last several weeks, but the Angels have some tough free agent decisions to make this off-season. Fortunately, MonkeyWithAHalo.com is here to help figure this mess out with a little help from our old friends Good and Evil. Up next for debate is whether or not to keep Vladimir Guerrero:
Good: I am honestly shocked that we are having this conversation. Vladimir Guerrero is the first real household name superstar to don an Angel uniform since Nolan Ryan. Now he fails to hit 25 homers and over .300 for the first time since his rookie season and suddenly he is to be banished? That is unfathomable to me. He is Super Vlad! He is the the face of the Angel franchise and he should not be cast aside because of one subpar season.
Super Vlad isn’t gone yet… or is he?
Bad: Are you serious? The face of the franchise? The guy is a veritable mute! I don’t care if he is well known, the guy is literally falling apart. His knees are basically made of dust at this point and all those years of swinging at balls seven feet outside the strike have left his entire body so fragile that he comes up lame if he plays the field for more than five innings. This isn’t just a one year aberration, his OPS has dropped off big time in each of the last two years. At this point he is barely an above average hitter and c0uld easily fall to below average before the end of next season. Do you really want to spend money on bringing him back just because he was awesome a few years ago?
Good: You assume that Vlad can’t rebound from his struggles last year. He has already shown promising signs in his late season performance in 2009. His August OPS last season was over 1.000 and he came through in several big situations in the playoffs and ended the post-season with a .966 OPS, the second-highest on the team behind Jeff Mathis. What else does he need to do?
Bad: He needs to prove that he can hit a fastball over 93 mph, something he hasn’t done on a consistent basis in two years. The key to Vlad’s success throughout his career is his killer bat speed, but now his bat has gone from lightning fast to shockingly sluggish. He has never been a smart hitter, but that bat speed covered up his deficiencies because he could get around on almost anything. Now he is just an OK hitter with horrible plate discipline that any pitcher with an IQ over 70 can exploit in crucial situations. For God’s sake, people were intentionally walking Torii Hunter to get to Vladimir Guerrero with runners in scoring position. That is how little opponents fear him now. Yeah, please, let’s bring him that guy back.
More injuries for Vlad means less bat speed.
Good: You act like the Angels are going to pay him $15 million again though. You have to think about the economics of bringing him back. I think that a one-year deal worth between $3 million and $5 million would be more than worth it. Give Guerrero an off-season to get healed up and make him full-time DH and he could get that OPS back over .900. At that production and price, he’ll be this year’s best free agent bargain a la Bobby Abreu.
Bad: Silly rabbit, you just don’t get it do you? Vlad is never going to be fully healthy again. All those years playing on the concrete at Olympic Stadium in Montreal have murdered his joints. He is only going to continue to deteriorate physically. Having him DH full-time will slow down that deterioration, but only so much. Besides, if he is at DH every game, that means the Angels are subjecting themselves to another full season of Bobby Abreu bumbling around in right field. I’ll pass, thanks.
Good: But what guarantee is there that the Angels will find anyone to play right field that can make up for the offensive production of losing Guerrero? There aren’t a lot of great option in the free agent market that are going to cost less, improve the defense and hit as well as Vladimir Guerrero. I’d much rather stick with the guy we know than gamble on some free agent that we don’t know.
At least we know that Vlad can’t hit with runners in scoring position.
Bad: At least with a new guy Mike Scioscia won’t insist on blindly batting him third or fourth in the line-up just because the guy was good three years ago. That alone would make the Angels a better offense. Vlad has no business hitting in the middle of anyone’s order anymore and if kicking him to the curb is the only way to get him out of the heart of the Angel line-up, then so be it.
Good: I’m sorry, I just think you are wrong on this one. You don’t kick a superstar to the curb just because he hit one rough patch, especially not when that superstar can be had for such a great bargain. A one year deal isn’t going to hurt anything. Worst case scenario is that he gets hurt and/or declines some more, in which case you can bench him and let him go at the season’s end and all it will cost is a minimal contract. No harm no foul. Best case scenario is he finally gets his body feeling right again and returns to a near-MVP caliber hitter and the Angels easily and cheaply find the big-time bat they need in the middle of their order. This seems like a classic low-risk, high-reward scenario and the Angels would be fools to let it pass them by.