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February 4, 2011

Orioles agree to terms with Guerrero

In a move that will certainly please their long-suffering fan base and at least, on paper, give them one of the better lineups in the American League, the Orioles today have reached agreement on a one-year, $8 million deal with Vladimir Guerrero, according to sources.

The deal for the veteran slugger, who has 436 career home runs, is pending a physical. If Guerrero passes it, the Orioles will install him as their everyday designated hitter and move last year’s DH, Luke Scott, the club’s leading returning home run hitter, to left field. Felix Pie and Nolan Reimold are expected to compete for the fourth outfielder’s role. first reported that the two sides had agreed to a deal.

Guerrero, who will be 36 on Wednesday, batted .300 with 29 homers and 115 RBIs for the AL-champion Texas Rangers in 2010.

The Orioles had expressed interest in Guerrero earlier this offseason as a contingency plan had they been unable to sign a first baseman and needed to play Scott at that position, thus opening the DH spot. However, they signed veteran Derrek Lee to play first and essentially cut off negotiations with Guerrero’s representatives -- Fern Cuza and Diego Bentz -- at that point.

They resumed talks just a couple of days after the Tampa Bay Rays agreed to terms with Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez on Jan. 21, eliminating what was believed to be Guerrero’s top suitor. The Los Angeles Angels, whom Guerrero starred for from 2004 to 2009, also were essentially eliminated from the picture when they acquired outfielder Vernon Wells, a move that shifted Bobby Abreu to DH.

The Rangers also discussed a potential return for Guerrero, but they didn’t have enough at-bats available after signing third baseman Adrian Beltre, moving Michael Young to a utility/DH role and acquiring first baseman-catcher Mike Napoli.

Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail had said on multiple occasions that the club was likely done with any significant spending as its 2011 payroll -- now about $92 million -- had already exceeded what they hoped it would be.

However, Guerrero, who was initially seeking a two-year deal worth between $18 million and $20 million, proved too good to pass up.

The nine-time All-Star is a career .320 hitter and has driven in 100 runs or in 10 seasons. A notorious free swinger who likes the ball anywhere and everywhere but rarely strikes out (he fanned just 60 times in 593 at-bats last year), Guerrero has also bashed 27 or more home runs in 11 of the past 13 seasons.

His bad knees make him exclusively a designated hitter, and there’s some concern that his numbers tailed off so significantly in 2010. Guerrero hit .319 with 20 home runs and 75 RBIs in 83 games before the All-Star break. In the second half, he batted .278 with nine homers and 40 RBIs in 69 contests. He also struggled during the Rangers’ run to the World Series, batting .220 (13-for-59) with no homers, six RBIs and 16 strikeouts.

Still, Guerrero, who is rarely cheated, remains a big-time presence in the batter’s box, and he’ll likely hit cleanup for the Orioles, adding even more depth to a lineup that also includes Lee, third baseman Mark Reynolds and shortstop J.J. Hardy.

Reynolds, acquired in a December trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks, batted just .198 last year, but he still put up 32 homers and 85 RBIs and has averaged 35 homers and 95 RBIs over the past three seasons. Lee, a free-agent signing, is also coming off a poor season (.260, 19 homers, 80 RBIs), but he’s just one year removed from recording a .306 average, 35 homers and 111 RBIs for the Chicago Cubs.

Hardy, acquired in a December trade with the Minnesota Twins, hit .268 with six homers and 38 RBIs in 101 games in 2010. However, he’s considered a significance offensive upgrade over former Orioles shortstop Cesar Izturis, who was re-signed to fill a utility role.

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Posted by Jeff Zrebiec at 6:35 PM | | Comments (81)


About time... I still remember watching Guerrero hit balls that were like an inch off the ground and getting XBH's against us, now hopefully he can do that for us. Do wish they hadn't caved on the 8 mil/year, but let's party like it's 2004 (with Lee and Guerrero in the fold) now :)


OK, all you wimpy so called fans who just today blew this off as not happening, better give PA all the credit here for opening the wallet(as he should have 3 weeks ago) and allow the guy to sign for what last year should have brought him. This way, Vladdy comes in pumped up and ready to roll from day one. There is something to be said about giving your SUPERSTARS what they deserve so you have them as mentally ready as they will be physically.

Ironically, this happens on the day when the Spankees just got weaker. Look at that starting rotation and the division has gotten even more competitive. Can the Spankees finish last in the division? Probably not, but it's going to fun to watch.

NOW...HERE WE GO, BOYS!!! It's going to be fun at THE YARDS this year and I'm psyched.

Way to go AM and PA!!

I MUST get tickets. MacPhail, you've won me over. Thank you.

Jeff-with all the talk about us not offering more than 5 mil. how did it actually get to 8. Also, any thoughts on the lineup?

Holy Moly they actually pulled the trigger. I couldn't be happier with what this club has done in the offseason. Worse case scenario is we aren't doing well at the all star break and trade away our one year contracts for depth in the minors. One more minor league contract for a starter I think and then we are done beyond some small ML signings.

What a lineup:


If we can have any decent pitching for the year and these guys the way the have in the past (especially at home like Vlad has done in the past) we will atleast compete and hurt some clubs that walked all over us in the past. This reminds me of the mid 90s with Davey Johnson and Bonilla, BJ and so forth. Remember how exciting that was???

Jeff Z's reply: I've answered the size of the contract question in a couple of other posts, but as for the lineup, I'd go with: Roberts, Markakis, Lee, Vlad, Luke, Reynolds, Jones, Wieters and Hardy. A case obviously could be made for sliding Jones into second and moving Lee 5th as well.

Great move. Looking good on paper. Doesn't mean much, but it's been a while since I've been so ready for opening day.

Sorry, Reimold! You now have to actually earn playing time to break into this stellar line up.

Let's hope this begins a trend, the young pitching relaxes just a bit more knowing they'll have the offensive support and people support this team like they did in 97'. GO BIRDS!

My unending support of the moves made by AM this year has just reached mammoth proportions. The nay-sayers better hurry up before the tickets are gone.

This could be a devastating line up. I'm a little more interested now.

If I were a pitcher, I wouldn't want to face a healthy Orioles lineup.

This is potentially the most significant signing in a looooong time. And, in my opinion, considering the possible ripple effect it might have on the other young players, yes, even moreso than acquiring Tejada at the start of the last decade.

Every once in a while, local sports teams need to listen and pay attention to their fan base and try to please them when they so overwhelmingly wanted a particular player.

In this case, it was Vlad.

Good move, Andy McPhail and the front office.

You did the right thing.


Finally! 8 mil is more than they wanted to pay but hey, we paid Millwood $12mil last year and he didn't put butts in the seats. Granted the O's still have no shot at even 2nd but at least it will be entertaining to watch them slug it out with the Yankees and Sox.

I expect this team to be like Rangers teams of the past where they would score 10 runs and still lose on a nightly basis.

At least it should be fun to watch while our pitching staff matures.


1) Roberts - 2b S
2) Markakis - rf L
3) Reynolds - 3b R (bat him here for fastballs)
4) Guerrero - dh R
5) Scott - lf L
6) Lee - 1b R
7) Jones - cf R
8) Weiters - c S
9) Hardy - ss R

Prediction: 200 HR and finishing in front of Yankees

Now this will make me go to more than one home game this season. Go O's.

We've got the lineup Billy Beane wishes he could have assembled in Oakland. Little speed but lots of power and a high team OPS.

I still don't think we can pass Boston, but this is going to make the AL East that much more competitive.

So, the Orioles were the $8MM mystery team all along...?


is this report accurate? $8 millions?? i think that's way too much for a one year deal for a 36 yr old on decline....especially looking at the deals Damon and Manny got....don't you think?

Jeff Z's reply: Yes surprised me. O's had initially offered around $3.5-$4 plus incentives and to double that so suddenly, when no other suitor had emerged, is pretty stunning. Oriole officials aren't commenting yet because physical is not done so MacPhail isn't fielding that question yet. Apparently, some of the money is deferred as well.

I like it.

Holy Crap! It really happened? Glad to see the O's gave him what he wanted. This is very happy news...

I think the O's just became contenders.

hell to the yeah!

1570am can eat dirt, 93 million dollar payroll!

This changes things a bit. Not only are there few weaknesses in this line-up, but there is significant depth to this offfense. The possibilities!! The O's just might have had one of the better offseasons this winter considering the degree of potential improvement.

I've always been a staunch Orioles fan, but now I can exclaim How bout tehm O's with warranted optimism...let's get spring training going!!

Well done FO....and...

How bout them O's?!?

I don't know how anyone who's an O's fan isn't happy with Vlad signing?

This is the best lineup the O's have since the 1997 season. They have the power, experience to go along with the young core and they have depth. We now have an excellent defensive SS/2B on the bench in Izzy, a young CF/LF in Pie to spell Luke in LF and Adam in CF, a very good defensive catcher with some pop in Tatum and a battle for the 4th spot between Harris, Fox and Andino. The difference for me is that this bench in the past would have been our starters so my expectations are pretty high for the 2011 O's.

We have two guys who are respected throughout baseball in Lee and Vlad that will mentor the young core and also they have chips on their shoulder plus that chip might be a boulder for Vlad.

Buck has the nuggets he needs and this is will be a fun year!

Love it

Absolutely sick, outside of a major injury our lineup is stacked compared to years past

This solidifies a solid off-season for the Birds. The Orioles now have a dangerous hitting line-up if everyone can play close to their potential. With this line-up, they will win many more games than last season. This line-up will definitely help our young but very promising piching rotation on those days when they're not piching great.Our bats shoud be able to keep us in those games where our back-end bullpen can hold the line. Last season, these were the games that we could not come back and win.

We should score some runs this year';

maybe we can compete with the big boys.



Platoon the DH and left fielders

Are you kidding? Vlad has no other team interested and the O's end up doubling their offer?!?! What gives??

Jeff Z's reply: Oriole officials obviously had a late change of heart or got proof that another team did indeed have an offer out to Guerrero. Perhaps, they saw the reports that Michael Young could get traded and figured the Rangers would jump in the mix real quick. I'm not sure and team officials aren't commenting until the physical is complete. But I'm as surprised as anyone that they went up to $8 mill even though a "significant" portion of it is reportedly deferred.

Welcome to Baltimore Vlad. Gotta get my tickets for opening day!

Dreams do come true! I've been lobbying for Vladdy since 2004. I love this guy! I'm finally excited/proud for O's baseball again!!!


Remind us who of Pie and Riemold has minor league options left?

Who do you believe will make the team of those 2 or is there any possibilty that both make it if Reimold is worked in at 1B.

Do you think they will trade Reimold or Pie and if so what type of returns are we looking at? Garbage relief pitcher, Low a ball prospect or better?

Jeff Z's reply: Pie is out of options, Reimold isn't so he can be sent down without the risk of losing him. I think Pie starting the season as fourth outfielder and Scott's late-game defensive replacement, and Reimold heading to Triple-A Norfolk is likely, but not set in stone. I doubt both make the team. I think the Orioles could move one, more likely Pie, but they'd probably wait until late in the spring. If you package Pie with maybe a decent pitching prospect or two, I think you could probably get a middle of the rotation starter. Problem is few teams are trading those types in early February.

ok it's official. this is the best offseason that i can remember. Let's give Andy some bigtime creds for making us a far better team. If the new kiddie korp can pick up where they left off from last September, we could make some waves in the division This year. If only one or two guys have a career year, and the rest of the lineup hits close to their averages, we could be tough 1-9. With Pie and Izzy being good defensive replacements in the late innings, and a much better and deeper bullpen, this could be the team that really turns it around. I know I sound like a broken record, but the New coaching staff will also be a very positive force this season. These are guys that Buck obviously respects and who, as a group, probably look at the game of baseball in much the same way that Buck does. Vlad's signing and Justin D. passing his physical are icing on a big happy birthday cake to all the Oriole fans, and especially to a lot of us that have been there since 1954 on 33rd and Ellerslie.

Okay okay! I give up! I'm on the bandwagon! GO O's!


This was my far the biggest offseason signing. Together with what we've already done, I give Andy an A for this offseason. Vlad is the premier catch and for this longsuffering fan who has stayed loyal through all these losing season, NOW I am pumped!

Great. We may get over 72 wins this year. Hooray!

When does Ravens training camp start?

GLAD to see VLAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I was happy with Pie/Reimold in left but I'm sure not going to complain! Baseball has gotten real interesting in B'More since Buck arrived and AM went shopping this off-season. Thanks PA and the Os!

Wow. Best lineup since '96, '97, '98.

Can't believe we got Vlad... INCREDIBLE.

Anyone still hating on the O's: you're either A) not a real fan B) a loser C) you don't understand baseball or D) all of the above. Negative nancies

I must say I'm surprised. Thought this deal was dead in the water.

Good on AM for a great offseason for this team. We might just get above .500 this year, which could spur on some stronger free agent signings next year.

From a long time fan down in VA... way to go O's! We will be over .500 this year and that makes for a fun summer in Baltimore!

Great lineup, but it's gonna come down to the pitching. Hope the second 1/2 pitching wise carries into this year.

Good signing. Great lineup. It will all come down to the pitching. Need to carryover the same/comparable pitching stats as last years 57 games with Buck last year.

Congratulations to Andy MacPhail who has made this organization better from top to bottom. With Showalter and this new crew, the playing field is leveling for the first time in more than a decade. I'm really going to enjoy watching this year.

As someone who thinks the O's are the worst major league franchise in ALL sports, I like this move, other than it being only a one yr deal, which pretty much guarantees that Vlad will be gone after this season. But now I'll go to a game for the 1st time in 4 years!

WOW! Please, let us win some games this year, so we can shut up these Red Sox fans.

Someone do the homework! Let's see the current O's, Sox, and Yanks line-ups, side-by-side, with last years stats. I want to compare!


For all those worried about the cost, the $8 million is reported to include incentives. See >.

pinch me time for some paybacks O'S

Ironic those who blasted MacPhail and Angelos all of a sudden change their names and tunes. Stay off the band wagon whiners. Especially Nestor the bleached blond with the 5-watt station and his two or three followers.

41 games lost by 1 or 2 runs without we should be a lot better and take the pressure off these young pitchers who had to be nearly perfect EVERY game. On paper, we look to have much better offense. Fans should start coming back to see this exciting team. Nothing better than the buzz at the Park.....go O's.

Good news. Suddenly the lineup tilts to right-handed hitters over LH of last year. Good news for Scott too who will get to show that he can play the field, a useful element to his game in light of how the DH-only players have done on the market this year. He is a free agent next year, right?

Jeff Z"s reply: Scott is a free agent after 2012 season.

Finally O's fans get something to get excited about. It would be nice to put a little pressure on our precious Ravens - maybe it's time for the O's and time for the Ravens to put up!

For the first time in many years I am looking into buying tickets. Now I may watch the Orioles on TV also . Is it Opening Day yet?

I like this team a lot, but there are too many questiions about the pitching...although I think it has the potential to be great. My prediction for 2011 is the Detroit Tigers winning the World Series.

psyched they made this deal! things have been looking up since buck was installed. i wonder where wayne is.

Wow. I mean Wow. No matter how many times I read this article I still can't believe it. I can't tell whether I'm more shocked or happy. I really thought this deal was not gonna happen because I figured Andy MacPhail was going to keep being Andy MacFail and not budge on our lowball $4.5Million. Glad we got him, even though we overpaid, that's what had to be done in order for him to land in Baltimore. Great move MacFail!

Legen...(wait for it)...dary.

It's about pitching, pitching wins games, but last year we lost 19 one run games and 14 two run games...that's all I'm saying. Señor Vladimir, bienvenido!

It's about pitching, pitching wins games, but last year we lost 19 one run games and 14 two run games...that's all I'm saying. Señor Vladimir, bienvenido!

i really didn't think it would happen. the orioles just might win a few more games this season.

V-L-A-D. Vlad, Vlad, Vlad, Vlad! I don't care what other think, big fan of Vlad. Gives us a solid 4 hitter, and credibility around the league to sign a free agent. We have alot of injury prone players (Pie, Reimold, Lee), now have depth. Lee goes down, Scott plays first, Pie moves to left. Vlad goes down, Scott ot DH. Pie goes down, Reimold comes up. Sorry Wynn, you are out.

I don't care what happens, I am just excited. We all deserve some excitement. Got to say, I like the lineup and I like the roster as ball-players. can't wait!!!!

Where are the naysayers like DR who back in mid December said the O's would never sign Lee but would, instead, probably sign another Cub reject like Patterson, Hill, etc. No doubt there are others, too, who now won't man up and admit to being wrong when McPass makes good signings. If they did respond, they'd probably say it took too long or that McPass had learned from past misses rather than admit to being wrong themselves.

TA - DA!!!

That's right, TA DA!!!

I'll be a billionaire myself one day, after I hit
the Mega-million lottery more than 50 times, but the man who got his billions the hard way is the man behind the current
euphoria in Baltimore and he deserves all the kudos an earler fan 's posting calls for!

Peter Angelos is the man and don't you forget it!!!

A billionaire, unlike non-billionaires will not try to penetrate an impregnable wall; they go around it, over it, or under it, and voila, they make it all happen!

PA looked at the Orioles fan base and tried an approach that got thumbs down from the fans,

And he tried more approaches - again thumbs down.

Then, using a billionaire's wisdom, he deduced he needed help in dealing with an impregnable wall - enter Andy McPhail.

Then, again from PA himself, AM was given his marching orders and AM began
the process PA knew he could execute to perfection, due to AM's track record as a malor league executive.

PA now just had to wait for his plan to take shape and it did as AM rebuilt the team and then engineered the master stroke, the hiring of Buck Showalter.


That was it, right there!

Now AM needed the OK to strike while the iron was hot, PA nodded, and it was all over but the shouting!

One hall of famer was added to the mix to stop all in their tracks and now the Birds
can take everyine to the hoop, AL East, and everyone else, bar none!

VLAD is the new Frank Robinson for fans to go berserk over and they will go bersek as another of Vlad's lazy flies to left becomes a dinger at Candeb Yards!

436 taters!

.320 lifetime batting average!

Please, Vlad, don't be so mean!!!

I want to be the first to say it publicly, because I know it's going to happen:

Thanks to PA, AM, and BS, the guy who will lead this team to the AL pennant.

Like other fans, I'm pumped and I will be there to see Vlad continue his march to 500 taters which, hopefully, he will reach as an Oruoke in 2012.

Once again, fans, kudos to the man, Peter Angelos!

By the way, we're not related!

Vladmir Guerrero to the Orioles! I wrote just this morning that there was no way he was coming to Baltimore. Well, I was wrong, wrong, wrong. I am happy to say I didn't know what I was talking about.

These O's have a chance to be dangerous-With solid production from the Vet Squad (Roberts,Lee,Vlad,Luke Scott and Guthrie).Plus some power slugging from our new and current top players like Nick Marakis,Reynolds,Adam Jones,JJ Hardy,along wit Wieters and his monster season as he expects.Them starting arms that Macphail have acquired and drafted so highly will pick up where they left off at due to the tutelage of Buck Showalter.In Buck we trust

When I go to Vegas next week, I'm plunking $100 on the O's to make the playoffs (just for fun). I will probably lose it, but I feel this good about what's happening. Finally!

You may not lose it. Down the stretch last year against playoff contending teams they won at a percentage that equates to 96 wins. They are better this year and if that wasn't a fluke you will be cashing in.

Yes! Yes! Yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Best deal the O's Have made since Milt Pappas for Frank Robinson. Let's give some credit to the much maligned owner Peter Angelos.

Well said, Fred. Losers like lower case leonard, the grammar challenged one still have to throw digs on an otherwise stellar news day for this franchise. These kinds of losers who post here regularly remind me of a retired neighbor of mine who was said to always eat lunch in his car, in his employers parking lot. His excessive negative attitude, much like those here, does no one any good and my guess, as the resident shrink is that they are loners as well since no one wants to be around them. I feel sorry for them, I really do.

Now, getting back to our suddenly beautiful team, just remember 2008 everyone. All of baseball's "experts" had the Rays coming in last in the AL East...remember? The reason was the young pitching staff. No one ever sticks their necks out and picks unproven talent, especially pitchers, to achieve greatness. Guess what, that's exactly our situation, but our hitting will now allow the pitchers a little more latitude to stay in the game longer, or just calm down early if they get down. It's a subtle part of baseball that if you haven't played it, don't try to understand it.

To the loser who compares this team to the losing Rangers of years don't have a clue. The Rangers have never had this many good young arms until now. That's why they would lose 10-9 games. So no, it's not going to be a stretch to me for us to repeat what The Rays did. This team is much better than that team was from top to if only say, Matusz and Bergy start strong and Guthrie just continues what he's doing, well, that's why they play the game! But to me, this would not be a surprise winning team...the signs are there now. Let's now prove it on the field.

Good grief! Even I'm excited about the O's - and that's next to impossible. Heck, I'm feeling better about the O's right now than I am about the suddenly dysfunctional Ravens.

Go O's!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Who cares that the O's paid $8M? The point is the O's got a tremendous bat that can hit cleanup which is something the O's lacked for quite some time. The O's paid $4.5M for Atkins last year, so what's $3.5M more for a proven player with Vlad. Vlad is not Atkins - he's consistently put up big numbers year after year. I can't wait for Opening Day since this will be a season that the O's fans have been looking forward to for a long time. Go O's!

Wow! This is the icing on the cake of an outstanding off season. Congrats to Andy, Buck, and all of the O's staff. Great work! Oh, and major kudos to P.A. for finally bringing in professionals and letting them do their job. Some fans are worried about the starting pitching, but from what I saw last year all these guys need to do is stay healthy and we'll be in the thick of it. What a treat!

Finally fun to be an O's fan again. My only fear is that some of these players break down and future signings suffer as a result (Albert Belle syndrome). The Yanks and Sox aren't annual contenders because they seek to sign guys occasionally. They are players every year for the top talent. Sometimes it doesn't pan out.... Pavano, Burnett, etc. but they don't shy away. I'm not saying we have to go after the top dogs, after all, we didn't do that this year. Just show us that you are trying to make us better and you will find that most of us Oriole fans are lifers just needing an excuse to get excited. Mission accomplished for 2011.... keep it up!


Guerrero is a great hitter, and a genuine star!

The other winter signings were positive. This is flat out terrific! If the young starters stay hot, and if the new coaches can straighten out long-standing base-running and defensive problems, VG at cleanup puts the O's into 90-92 win territory, IMO.

I confess to extreme scepticism, based on AM's history, that this would ever get done. Showalter's arrival has obviously resulted in a sea-change--in AM and in PA. Glad to be proved wrong.

(Some fuzziness in thinking about the bench. Why Izturis AND Andino? One or the other? Why Fox and Harris? Trade Harris? Add Pie AND Reimold (more depth/protection at LF, CF, 1B, DH, and RH pinch-hit power)?

But these are quibbles. With one bold move, the O's have become competitive again. Here's to opening day!


It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Bring on the Dead Sox and the Damn Blankees!!
I'm starting to feel absolutely giddy! When's opening day gonna get here?


Hate to be a downer 'cause I love the rest of the offseason moves, but this will turn out to be a waste of money.

I'd like to urge all of the fair weather fans who couldn't be bothered to support the team in the past to stay home so I can continue to buy tickets with ease.

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About the bloggers
A Baltimore native, Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 14 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 10 seasons, including the past six with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Steve Gould is an assistant sports editor for The Sun, overseeing Orioles coverage. The Columbia native joined The Sun as a sports copy editor in 2006 after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for a lot longer than Steve Gould has been on this earth. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer. If you want more of his insight on the Orioles and other sports issues, check out his personal blog -- The Schmuck Stops Here.

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