What is the only thing more depressing about seeing someone other than the Angels atop the AL West? Seeing that team being led by Angel castoff Vladimir Guerrero.
Seeing Vlad so happy in Texas makes me sad.
Watching Vladimir Guerrero slugging the Texas Rangers to the top of the AL West standings thus far this year hurts on so many levels. What happened to the slowly rotting corpse that had been wearing an Angel uniform the last two seasons? How did he find new life? Why did he have to go and do it for the Rangers?
The last time we saw Guerrero sporting an Angel uniform, he was scratching his way to a career-low .794 OPS and his first ever season with a batting average below .300. The Super Vlad that Angel fans fell in love with hadn’t been seen since 2007 and Guerrero’s injury-riddled 2009 campaign put the writing all over the wall that his days in Anaheim simply had to come to an end.
Just ask any Angel fan, Vlad was done with a capital “D.” His bat speed had been declining for years and his balky knees made him look like someone let a geriatric patient in a dreadlocks wig loose in right field of Angel Stadium. Worst of all, his ability to consistently produce runs was slowly leaving his body but Mike Scioscia simply refused to admit it, stubbornly keeping him entrenched in the middle of the order until the bitter end out of sheer loyalty. Heck, Guerrero needed to leave Anaheim if only just to save Mike Scioscia from himself, fans weren’t going to put up with another season of Vlad dragging the rest of the Angel line-up down around him as he continued his fade into baseball oblivion.
That was the theory anyway. Too bad nobody mentioned it to Vlad Guerrero.
Fast forward to the end of June and Texas is about to come to town sitting on a 4.5 game cushion over the Angels and Guerrero is smiling that trademark big grin of his as he enters the series with a cushy stat line of .326 AVG, 46 R, 15 HR, 60 RBI, .374 OBP, 538 SLG. Those are positively MVP-like numbers for Vlad as he is currently in the top ten of each of the Triple Crown categories in the American League. Gee, you think the Angel offense could use a little bit of that?
I could be petty and point out that Guerrero does much of his damage back in Arlington (just like he did when he was an Angel) as his OPS is a pedestrian .728 on the road. But that shouldn’t really matter all that much, big numbers are big numbers and you take them where you can get them. On a personal level, I am happy to see Vlad find some redemption. He was really the first Angel superstar of my lifetime and was always so confident and silently gregarious even in the face of the criticism he faced for his post-season failure. The scorn (some of which admittedly came from me) he saw during his last year in Anaheim was hard to watch even though it was probably deserved. But with this rejuvenation, he gets his redemption, even if it is short-lived. He was right all along, he did have more to give this game and the Angels shouldn’t have let him go, especially given his popularity.
What really burns though is that Vlad was shoved out the door and then be so quickly replaced by Hideki Matsui, a man who has gone on to be nothing more than a mediocre stand in for what Guerrero brought to the table, even in his later years. Heck, Matsui’s bad knees aren’t even as bad as Vlad’s. Can’t you mix in painful looking limp just for entertainment, Hideki? Is that too much to ask? Guerrero has somehow found the fountain of youth, while Hideki decided to step in and not only fill in for Vlad as DH but also as former great player who’s skills are quickly slipping away. That certainly wasn’t Tony Reagins had in mind.
I probably could have lived with the Angels making the wrong decision on Guerrero if only he weren’t rejuvenating his career for the damned Texas Rangers. Any other team would have been just fine, any other team except the up and coming contenders in the AL West with their Angel clone uniforms in tow.
Now Vlad gets a chance to have his cake and eat it to. Though Guerrero never seemed to have a vengeful hair on his head, part of him, deep down, has to want to take the opportunity this week to not only beat the Angels in Anaheim and greatly hurt their chances of chasing Texas down in the divisional race but to also show what a huge mistake the Angel front office made in the first place by kicking him to the curb to make way for Godzilla.