5 Reasons the Toronto Blue Jays Were Smart to Let Vlad Guerrero Go
Vladimir Guerrero may have made his Jays debut by now had he practiced a little more patience. In eight games with the Blue Jays’ Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas, he hit .303 (10-for-33) and drove in four runs.
Following a 4-for-5 performance, he deemed himself ready for a return to the majors and gave the Blue Jays an ultimatum that stipulated he either be called up or released.
With upcoming games against the National League (Milwaukee and Miami) and with no clear roster spot awaiting him, the Jays chose the latter and released the veteran slugger.
"He was getting better slowly," stated Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos via MLB.com. "Timing was better, more hard-hit balls, but [our staff] didn't necessarily feel that he was all the way there yet. They said he was a great worker, a great teammate, played hard, ran ground balls out, did all those things, everything you want."
"Maybe just timing, felt like he just needed a few more at-bats. He didn't agree, and that's fine. But the dialogue with his agent and everything has been outstanding, completely amicable."
Here are five reasons why the Jays might be better off without Guerrero.
5. The Reemergence of Adam Lind
Adam Lind was a mess earlier this season as he batted .186 with three home runs and 11 RBI in 34 games. He was optioned to Triple-A on May 17 and in 31 games returned to the Blue Jays a more confident hitter as he hit .395 with eight homers and 29 RBI.
With Lind tearing up the PCL and due for a call-up, there was no urgency on the Blue Jays’ part to rush Guerrero to the majors.
He also adds a left-handed bat to a predominately right-handed lineup—providing the Jays with a more balanced attack.
The Jays made the right call with Lind and he’s already paid dividends. He's gone 4-for-20 since his return, which includes a pair of home runs on June 29 that helped the Jays defeat the Los Angeles Angels, 7-5.
4. Vlad Is a Station to Station Player
We all remember how painful it was to watch Frank Thomas run the bases during his tenure with the Jays.
Although his base-running abilities are not as bad, Guerrero’s lack of speed would hinder the Jays’ aggressive approach on the base paths and force a station-to-station offensive approach.
Against good pitching, putting three or four hits together could be a difficult task.
If the Jays are to make a run at the postseason, stealing a run early in a game could be the difference between winning and losing.
3. Bigger Role for Rajai Davis
Eric Thames was Toronto’s starting left fielder and Adam Lind was less than a week away from being optioned to Las Vegas when the Blue Jays signed Guerrero on May 10.
As Thames continued to struggle, Blue Jays manager John Farrell hinted that Davis would be utilized more often.
"Rajai brings a different element than anybody else on our roster," he stated via MLB.com. "He's earning and has earned the playing time to get back into the lineup, and that's not to take anything away from Eric."
Davis finished May with a .308 average (12-for-39), three homers, seven RBI, and five stolen bases. He was able to maintain his strong play through June as he hit .284 and swiped 12 bags.
2. Just a Short-Term Solution
Assuming Guerrero had been called up by the Blue Jays, he likely would not have been retained beyond this season.
With Yan Gomes lighting up the opposition in Triple-A (.350 average, eight home runs, 35 RBI) and patiently awaiting another opportunity to rejoin the Jays, passing him over in favor of Guerrero would have been wrong for a pair of reasons.
First, Gomes can play multiple positions (Catcher, 1B, and 3B), giving Jays manager John Farrell greater flexibility to get him into the lineup and rest regulars, whereas Vladdy would have been used strictly as a designated hitter.
Second, what kind of message would it have sent to Gomes and the rest of the organization if the Jays gave into Guerrero’s demands?
Although it would have been nice to see Guerrero reach 450 home runs and 1,500 RBI in a Jay’s uniform (sitting at 449 HR and 1,496 RBI), the fact is he didn’t quite do enough during his limited at-bats in Triple-A to warrant a promotion to the majors.
1. Was He Really Needed?
As of July 2, the Blue Jays have scored 401 runs which rank third in the American League and fourth in all of baseball. Their 119 home runs are good for second in the majors to the New York Yankees’ 124.
Pitching has been the Blue Jays' Achilles’ heel this season as staff ace Ricky Romero has not pitched to his capabilities despite an 8-3 mark.
The bullpen has also been overused as the replacements for Brandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison have not been able to consistently pitch deep into games.