So, that thing we talked about? It happened just as expected. The Orioles won a vigorous negotiation against themselves to acquire the services of Vladimir Guerrero. To put the cherry on it, it only took 8 million dollars to do it.
Sarcasm aside, this move definitely takes the Orioles offseason down a letter grade in my opinion.
As stated before, I was on-board with signing an aging DH to a cheap contract if available. However, Vlad was probably at the bottom of my list of the 3 available. I would have preferred Jim Thome or Manny Ramirez before Guerrero. Both Thome and Ramirez put up a better OPS than Guerrero last year, granted, in smaller sample sizes. The thing I like about them both however is that they you know, take pitches occasionally. All of Bill James, Marcel, and Fangraphs project Thome and Ramirez to be better than Guerrero next year. So, what did they get paid? Manny got 2 million dollars from the Rays, and Thome got 3 million dollars from the Twins. Yup, 2 and 3 million dollars for players likely to be better than Baltimore’s new 8 million dollar player. Teams with relatively limited resources should definitely be paying free agents 3 to 4 times the market value, that’s the way to build a winner. This is a pretty significant overpayment in my opinion. To make matters worse, almost all of Guerrero’s salary is being deferred due to the fact that Orioles are now way over their payroll budget for 2011. Tapping out your payroll this year and committing extra money to next year’s expenses for a player not going to be on the roster doesn’t seem like a good move for a team slated to come in 4th.
That’s the real issue here. I know so many Oriole fans are happy with this move and super excited about it. Some are even looking at playoff possibilities and discussing scenarios where the Orioles could really make some noise. I admit this will probably improve our lineup but I’m not so sure it makes our team much better. Aside from that, there is a good chance that Vlad’s second half and postseason were no fluke. What if he is done? It will be tough to bench a future Hall of Famer getting paid 8 million even if he does suck. Remember Sammy Sosa? That was great wasn’t it? Even if Guerrero does perform similarly to last season, which I doubt, we’re still probably the 4th best team in the division. It doesn’t make sense to me to spend a lot of money in a place where we already may have comparable younger and cheaper options on the roster. I just don’t see how it is wise to block talented players and go over budget in a year where you aren’t going to contend. Make no mistake, we are still clearly behind Boston, New York, and Tampa.
Alas, I don’t wish to keep pissing on the parade, I’m excited as hell about baseball season too. Hopefully Vlad goes all first half of 2010 on everyone’s ass, and the starting pitchers prove me and every analyst ever wrong and the Orioles really do go to the postseason. I just don’t see it as likely, but you bet your ass we will be at the games either way.