Vladimir Guerrero has signed a one-year, $8 million contract with the Orioles of Baltimore. According to Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes, the deal includes performance incentives and is still pending a physical.
The Orioles have loaded up on practically every power-hitting free swinger available to them on the free agent market this offseason. The question is where Guerrero will fit into a lineup that has already added Derrek Lee and Mark Reynolds this winter. With Nick Markakis in right and Adam Jones in center, Vlad’s playing destiny will most likely be in left field or as the designated hitter in Luke Scott’s stead.
If you can’t beat ‘em, sign them for $8 million. Guerrero has enjoyed more success against Baltimore than any other team in baseball. Over the last three years, he has nine homers and 30 RBIs in 98 at-bats against the Birds. Both of those numbers were the most Vlad had against any team. He’s no slouch at Camden Yards, either; he’s hit .389 there from 2008 to 2010.
Will Guerrero make the Orioles better? After shattering expectations for him in Texas, Guerrero came back to reality in the second half (.270 average/11 homers/ 45 RBI). He’s no spring chicken, either (he’ll turn 36 Wednesday), so assuming he’ll replicate last year’s 643 plate appearances in 2011 is being way too optimistic. His production is real, and the Orioles will give Vlad some good players to get on base in front of him. But living by “the three run homer” philosophy isn’t always the best strategy, and the Orioles pitching is not ready to compete in the AL East. One must wonder if all these moves are a vain attempt to appease a fan base that is desperate for the days of Cal Ripken
Fantasy impact: Vladimir Guerrero: .288 BA/ 24 HR/ 93 RBI/ 76 R/ 3 SB. Of all the places Vladimir could have landed, Baltimore seems like the best fit. They’ll let him swing until he can swing no more, and who knows, Vlad might surprise again in 2011.