5 Benefits Vladimir Guerrero Could Provide the Blue Jays in a Pennant Race
The signing of Vladimir Guerrero comes as a low-risk/high-reward move for the Toronto Blue Jays. He was signed to a one-year deal worth $1.3 million, which will be prorated based on his time with the club this season.
At 37 years of age, it remains to be seen how much Vladdy has to offer.
He is probably Hall of Fame bound as he is a career .318 hitter with 449 home runs and 1,496 RBI.
Adam Lind will likely be most affected if Guerrero can play his way onto the Blue Jays’ roster. As of May 15, he is batting just .184 with three homers and 11 RBI in 31 games.
5. He Can Still Play
Last season with the Baltimore Orioles, Guerrero batted .290 with 13 home runs and 63 RBI in 145 games. He was an All-Star and won the Silver Slugger award in 2010 with the Texas Rangers, as he finished with a .300 average, 29 home runs and 115 RBI.
He’s also hit well at the Rogers Centre throughout his career. In 58 games (223 at-bats), he’s hit for a .359 average with 12 home runs and 36 RBI.
In 9 games last season, he batted .361 (13-for-36) with one homer and five RBI.
4. Veteran Leadership
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Omar Vizquel (45) is the only position player over 31 years of age. Currently, the Jays have just five position players aged 30 or older: Jose Bautista (31), Rajai Davis (31), Ben Francisco (30) and Kelly Johnson (30).
Although his best days are likely behind him, the 16-year veteran has seen just about everything, and his presence both on and off the field could be invaluable to players such as Brett Lawrie (22), Colby Rasmus, Eric Thames (25) and J.P. Arencibia (26).
3. Sit Adam Lind Against Southpaws
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It is no secret that Adam Lind struggles against left-handed pitchers. In 2010, he hit just .117 in 137 at-bats. In 2011, he batted .243 in 140 at-bats. So far this season, he’s been held to a .133 average in 30 at-bats.
In the past three seasons, he's had 307 at-bats against lefties and has been held to six home runs and 32 RBI, while striking out 87 times.
On the flip side, Guerrero hits southpaws very well. In 2010, he hit .338 with seven homers and 31 RBI in 151 at-bats. Last season, he hit .288 with two homers and 13 RBI in 153 at-bats.
2. Just a Piece of the Puzzle
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He was generally utilized as the cleanup hitter by the Montreal Expos, Los Angeles Angels, Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles. If he can play his way onto the Blue Jays’ roster, he likely will not be used in that capacity, as Edwin Encarnacion appears to have a firm grip as the club’s No. 4 hitter.
Given his ability to put the ball in play (he's never struck out 100 times in any season), one option the Jays could use is to move the speedy Brett Lawrie into the No. 5 spot and slot Guerrero behind him, giving manager John Farrell the option to play hit-and-run.
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He’s not coming back for money, as he’s already earned $125,541,455 according to BaseballReference.com.
Toronto Blue Jays home-run king Jose Bautista believes Guerrero still has the desire to compete at a high level.
"'I think he will be a productive player, and I think he didn’t sign that contract just to play this season,'” he said via the Toronto Star. "'I think he is looking at next year as well, I think he will want to prove himself. He will play with a chip on his shoulder, to play for next year and show everyone he can still play.'”
He also hasn’t won a championship, and the Jays might be his best chance at a World Series title. The Blue Jays have a legitimate shot at making the postseason, and if they can make the playoffs you just never know how far a team can go. A Wild Card team played in the World Series in six consecutive seasons from 2002 to 2007, while the St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series last season as a Wild Card winner.