A couple of days ago, MCB writer Chris Hannum took a look at the Tigers roster construction, and the potential need for a RH bat to DH. Hannum suggested that the current construction didn’t offer much for late inning pinch hitting, or for much pop when a lefty toed the slab against the Tigers. With guys like Brandon Inge and Danny Worth vying for bench spots, along with Don Kelly, Gerald Laird, and Andy Dirks, there isn’t a lot of thump in that group. Especially against lefties, so I have to agree with Hannum. He briefly mentioned Ryan Strieby, and the recently released Conor Jackson could be a candidate, but there is a veteran out there that could be worth a look.
And that is Vladimir Guerrero.
As is the case with ex-Tigers right handed bat Magglio Ordonez, Guerrero has found the market for his services a little bit soft this year. Unlike Magglio however, Guerrero isn’t coming off of a major injury. He didn’t have the kind of season that he is used to last year with the Baltimore Orioles. Guerrero posted an OPS of .733 with the birds last season, but is two years removed from a fantastic season with the Texas Rangers in which he finished 11th in the MVP voting.
Guerrero, who is 37 years old, would provide the Tigers with a right handed bat in the late innings that would still be feared, if not for his past successes as much as his free swinging attitude and ability to possibly run into one. He could also provide a DH against lefty starters, allowing the Tigers to field an offensive lineup that includes Ryan Raburn at 2nd base, and Delmon Young in LF.
It could be a risk, given that Guerrero’s numbers took a pretty steep decline, but if it’s at 5M dollars or less for one year, it certainly could be one worth taking. With the exception of Cabrera and Peralta, the Tigers are a little bit weak from the right side of the plate. Over the course of his career, Guerrero has posted an OPS of .972 against lefty pitchers, although it was barely over .700 last season.
With Guerrero’s advancing age, it’s tough to say that last year was an anomaly. It could just be the start of his decline. However, it could just be that the team he was playing for had no chance for the playoffs, and it was difficult to go to the park every day and produce. Players are human, and maybe a pennant race returns Guerrero to his 2010 form with Texas.
Word is that the Indians have been sniffing around. It wouldn’t scare me if they got Guerrero, but he could be an asset since the Tigers are going all in.
The question is, are the Tigers okay with having Brandon Inge, Danny Worth or Ryan Raburn being their guy off the bench or DH on any given day versus lefties? Me? I’m not too sure the Tigers should be satisfied with that. At the very least, if I am the Tigers, I am picking up the phone and seeing what Guerrero would play for.