For eight years, Vladimir Guerrero tormented the Philadelphia Phillies. The future Hall of Famer could turn that success into a way to help both parties reach the same goal: a World Championship.
Guerrero batted .371 in 91 games (326 at-bats) with 31 homers and 84 RBIs in his entire career against the Phillies. Those are absurd numbers. He’s also 6-for-12 with three homers and five RBIs in Citizens Bank Park. It’s a small sample size but it is par to his success in Philadelphia.
Instead of groaning when Vladdy comes to town, I would like to see him thrive in red pinstripes. There are a number of questions being asked about Guerrero. Can the knees of Guerrero, who will be 36 next month, hold up playing in the National League without the designated hitter? Will he be a good producer for the Phillies or just a liability? Can the Phils afford to spend more money?
To answer the first question, there is no doubt that the answer is “no.” Guerrero’s age and knees cause for great concern for me, especially if considering him to play 150 games in 2011 as a full-time starter. But that is why I have no problem with platooning him with three of the other outfielders.
The Phils currently have spots for the starting eight and five-six hitters on the bench. This could open up doors for a platoon. Raul Ibanez is already on the decline and if Ben Francisco gets to split time with Ibanez, it could benefit both by keeping Raul fresh and allowing Ben-Fran, who was hurt by a lack of at-bats last season, to stay consistent as a hitter. Where Guerrero comes in is platooning with Dom Brown in right. Guerrero is the perfect hitting mentor to Brown. Both are lanky and when in his prime, Guerrero was athletic, stealing over 30 bases twice in his career and at least 10 in four more. Watching Brown play a little last season, it reminded me of a young Guerrero. How perfect it would be to have them both in the same clubhouse.
If the Phillies decide to sign Guerrero, his knees could definitely hold up if he shares a role with Brown or Francisco. This comes to my next question: what can he provide for the Phils? If he splits time with the other outfielders, he could give the Phils a dangerous player off the bench or as a starter to protect Ryan Howard. The Phils relied on consistency in their line up but I think with a different approach to their team’s chemistry – a little thing called pitching – they can afford to mix it up.
He’s never hit below .295 in his career and only hit below 20 homers once in a shortened season. Guerrero can give the Phillies 20+ homers and bat close to .300. He hit .300 last season with 29 homers and 115 RBIs while DHing for the Rangers in 150 games. Guerrero was finally a piece on a contender in Texas last season and I’m sure he would welcome a chance to play for the Phillies and get that elusive ring just like Ibanez is still working on with the Phils.
The last question is if the Phils can afford him. If they sign Guerrero, they would have to trade Joe Blanton. I’m sure if Ruben Amaro offers to pay some of Blanton’s $8.5 million, they could ship him off. I don’t think Guerrero would be demanding more than $6 million to be a role player on a serious competitor.
The Phillies need Guerrero and Guerrero will find out he needs a team like Philly. Ruben, ya gotta make it happen.