2010 Free agent profile: Vladimir Guerrero

The Red Sox definitely need a contingency plan in case they can’t land Matt Holliday or Jason Bay this offseason. Theo Epstein and company have been thinking outside of the box, even looking at acquiring Dan Uggla to play in left. A right-handed OF with some power who could play left field in Fenway. Hmm, let’s see. How about asking Vladimir Guerrero to move to left?

A power bat

As far as offensive numbers go, there’s a lot to like about Guerrero, though at age 35 he’s definitely on the way down. Despite significant injuries in 2009, Vladdy still managed to hit .300/.347/.498 in the second half and post a .343 wOBA for the year. His walk rate was horrible this year, but it was not bad the three years before that. If there’s a replacement for Manny Ramirez out there, Guerrero could be it. And as a righty corner OF, he’s got the flexibility to play in LF, RF or DH as matchups and/or injuries dictate. Guerrero makes his living off of smacking fastballs and breaking pitches, and can knock any curve in the dirt out of the park. That’s dangerous. He’s also expected to be available for a 1-2 year deal far cheaper than Holliday or Bay.

Over the hill?

Of course, there’s a couple of major hurdles to be overcome with signing Guerrero. First, he’s only ever played right field, and he may have a problem with changing after a long and productive career there. Ballplayers can be particular that way. Secondly, Guerrero’s swing first, ask questions later approach is the exact opposite of the Red Sox way. And believe it or not, the problem could be getting worse:

Season O-Swing% Z-Swing% Swing% O-Contact% Z-Contact% Contact%
2006 40.30% 86.60% 61.60% 68.20% 91.40% 83.20%
2007 45.30% 82.30% 57.40% 71.30% 90.10% 80.10%
2008 45.50% 81.70% 60.30% 69.70% 91.40% 81.70%
2009 44.10% 82.20% 60.50% 72.40% 87.10% 81.00%
Career 38.40% 85.10% 58.70% 65.70% 89.10% 80.50%

Guerrero is swinging at more bad pitches than ever, and not by a small margin. He saw just 3.24 pitches/PA last season, which the brass have a big problem with. His ability to catch up to the fastball is not what it once was, and I saw him look very bad at the plate more than once during the playoffs. But he is Vladimir Guerrero, adn he’s still projected to hit .291/.351/.476 (.367 wOBA) with 19 HR in 498 PA next year (Bill James has him doing even better at .305/.369/.508).


My guess is that the Sox will pass on Guerrero, unless his price drops significantly. Should he fall into the $8M range, I think we will jump all over him, and with good reason.

So what do you think, Sox fans? Is there room for Guerrero on this club next year?


7 Responses to 2010 Free agent profile: Vladimir Guerrero

  1. Jeff Carini says:

    I don’t think he can play the field anymore. Watching him run from home to first was painful this past season and I can’t imagine he can cover much ground in the outfield. Vlad looks like a DH and DH only at this point in his career. I hope this is not a consideration.

    If they can’t re-sign Jason Bay or sign Matt Holliday to play left, then they should consider going after Josh Willingham to platoon with Hermida in left and also help out at 1st base when Ortiz or Lowell need a day off.

    We’ve yet to talk much about the shortstop situation here either and with Cincinnati looking to cut payroll, Brandon Phillips becomes an intriguing name. The Reds had been talking about moving Phillips back to shortstop to make room for one of their second base prospects and Phillips seems excited about the idea. Now, they may look to trade him to cut payroll. He certainly has the range and arm strenght to move back to short and if he’s available, could fill the Sox need at that position. He’s due to make $6.75M in 2010 and $11M in 2011.

  2. redsoxtalk says:

    Guerrero’s running shouldn’t come as a surprise, since he strained his left knee in July and then bruised his ribs in September. Neither of those injuries really went away fully. Hopefully an offseason will help remedy that. I’m not saying he’ll be Speedy Gonzales or anything, but he’ll be more mobile than, say, Mike Lowell last year.

    I’m not a huge Willingham fan, but the numbers do seem pretty okay. I have him down for .260/.365/.474 next season. Of course, that projection is looking at his numbers in the NL only. I’m interested by the idea of trading for Phillips, but his line projects as a fairly pedestrian .273/.328/.443. Would still be pretty good if he can play defense at short.

  3. Jeff Carini says:

    Guerrerro’s knee problems date back to when he was playing on turf in Montreal and have gotten progressively worse. He has had significant knee issues from 2006 until now and I don’t think an offseason at the age of 35 will remedy that. It’s clear that he has very limited moblity and it goes deeper than thestrained left knee he sustained in July. He is no more than a DH at this point in his career.

  4. john jones says:

    He’s gotta be better than “Big Popout” at this point…

  5. Tony Herman says:

    I hope the Red Sox get Vladdy and put him in Left Field Mike Cameron in Right and have J.D Drew as a utillity player or have Vladimir DH when Vladdy wins the mach up over the picture. PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Theo sign the big horse to a 2 year deal 8.5million dollars.

  6. redsoxtalk says:

    Guerrero would make for a great RH DH, but he plays very poor defense at this point. Basically, he runs like 2009 Mike Lowell. Carrying two DHs on the roster just doesn’t seem like a good idea.

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