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June 17, 2011

Would you let Vladimir Guerrero play outfield this week?

Had a heck of a day at the bar yesterday – plenty of comments and some interesting thoughts on how to fix the Orioles. Lots of bitters were ordered as well (just a joke, people, I understand your vitriol).

Anyway, interleague play is upon us – AGAIN. But I don’t want to ask whether you like it. We’ve beaten that one to death.

Interleague is particularly interesting for the Orioles this year, because this may be the first time during its existence that the Orioles have had a designated hitter that didn’t really play other positions.

Technically, Vladimir Guerrero is an outfielder, but he hasn’t done it much since 2008. Guerrero has started 63 of the Orioles’ 66 contests this year, hitting .288 with six homers and 27 RBIs. All of those games have come as a DH.

But for the next six games in Washington and Pittsburgh, there will be no DH. So what do you do with Guerrero?

He won’t be in Friday’s starting lineup and I doubt he’ll start any – maybe one – in left field. It’s not just that he is considered a liability out there. The Orioles don’t want him to risk injury – and last year his offensive production dipped when he played the field. (By the way, he still shags fly balls in warm-ups and would like to play outfield if the alternative is getting to hit just once. But he says it is completely up to Buck Showalter.)

While in the outfield in 2010, Guerrero batted .234 with four homers in 64 at-bats. As a DH last year, he hit .306 with 25 homers in 523 at-bats. He also saw a serious drop in power between his first and second halves of 2010 – which we assume means he wore down. Even if he isn’t part of the Orioles’ future, you want him as a potential trade chip in July, so keeping him somewhat fresh could be important.

The flip side is, even though his power numbers are down, he still can be a presence in the middle of the lineup and taking him out weakens a group that isn’t exactly playing pinball with the scoreboard.

My suggestion is start him twice in left and use him as a pinch-hitter in the other four games. I don’t’ think that’s what’s going to happen – I see him pinch-hitting in all six – but if I were in charge for a week, I’d let him play the outfield twice.

I’d also fire myself if he pulls a hamstring and is out for four weeks.

Tell me your thoughts.

Daily Think Special: Do you let Vladimir Guerrero play outfield this week?

Posted by Dan Connolly at 5:30 AM | | Comments (38)
Categories: Connolly's Corner Sports Bar


Does anybody know how much outfield Guerrero can play because of his knees? But I would think he could play in the early innings(1 - 6) in left field against lefties. I think the offense will fall off without him. I think Buck shouldn't be afraid to play him because he is an experienced veteran who has played the outfield.

Rest the guy, ...... remember last year? There will be plenty of opportunity to use him for pitchers who have forgotten how to hit.

I agree with Dan. I don't think Vlad is any more of a liability in left field than Luke Scott. Back in the day Vlad was a pretty good outfielder with an excellent arm. I'd be willing to bet his arm is still better than Luke's as well. I think you start him twice, against leftys if at all possible, and pinch hit him the rest of the road trip.

Vlad is an athelete. We could use his bat against the Nationals and Pirates.

Buck should start him on Father's Day against the Nats and on getaway day [Wednesday] against the Pirates. By the way, why is it ok to play Luke Scott in LF with a torn labrum, but questionable whether Guerrero can get a start in left?

I'm going tonight and I don't think I can handle sub-par defense in person. Listening to it is maddening enough.

Sit 'em!

I don't know if I would let him play outfield. Why not play him at First? I understand Lee is great defensively but he is not hitting. I was OK with that prior to his DL stint but now that his average is down around .215 it is time to start thinking hard about whether we can make a productive change.

Vlad is an athelete. We could use his bat against the Nationals and Pirates.

Buck should start him on Father's Day against the Nats and on getaway day [Wednesday] against the Pirates. By the way, why is it ok to play Luke Scott in LF with a torn labrum, but questionable whether Guerrero can get a start in left?

No, the risk to reward ratio is too high, considering it's the cool thing in the Os clubhouse to injure yourself this year

I don't think I would take any AB away from reimold.. We have to make a decision on him this year.. I would worry about vlads defense and every time we make a mistake it seems to cost us games. If vlad were okay to play OF why leave scott there when he can't throw.. Sorry Vlad but I would have to ph him..

No, I let Nolan Reimold play outfield.

Can't imagine anyone suggesting Vlad should play OF. He's basically a singles hitter batting fourth. Got hot and drove the ball for about two weeks there in the middle of May, but otherwise has served simply to block the playing time of guys who may someday produce here. Or not.
A failed experiment. Rather expensive, and likely unmoveable

No! Too much risk! Besides, we have 3 LF's on the roster, anyway. Just pinch-hit six days in a row.

Nah, he's a liability big time in the outfield these days. If he was mashing the ball like Bonds did while being a liability defensively late in his career I'd say go ahead. But what he is going to bring to the team at the plate will not make up for potentially costing the team runs with his defense.

Best thing to do is let him take this time to rest up and when interleague's over he'll be 100% fresh. Remember, he wore down last year with the Rangers due to fatigue so this is a good opportunity to do something to prevent that (or atleast prevent it until we trade him for a couple prospects)

I would not let Vladdy play the outfield unless it were necessary. Maybe use him as a pinch hitter if a clutch situation presents itself.

We need Vladdy to avoid injury so he can remain with the O's (which I hope) or be traded before the deadline.

He has been a real joy to watch on a regular basis. How that man hits some of the balls he does is truly amazing, and his smile says it all: "Let's have some fun doing this, guys."

Let's get some wins this weekend.


I assume the Orioles want to get Luke Scott's bat in the lineup. Having two below average defensive outfielders in the same lineup is a liability. I'm sure Guerrero can still catch a ball hit pretty much right to him, as can Scott. But the gaps and foul lines would be there to be exploited. The only way Guerrero gets in the lineup defensively is to sit Scott and play Pie, or even Reimold.

The Orioles really need to take 4 of the next 6 games before they come home. A winning record on this trip is imperative, because the schedule will work against them for the 6 weeks that follow.

Let him pinch hit. We don't need him in the outfield getting hurt and being a huge liability. He might let in more runs for the Gnats and Pirates than he produces for the good guys. After all at his current pace he would only knock in about 2 to 3 runs in the next six games.

Absolutely, he would be a 1,000% better than ANY media being from the Baltimore Sun sports staff!!

I don't think that starting Vlad versus sitting him makes that huge a difference in our chances to win or lose games in this coming stretch, although it could have some effect. But his defense and the greater chance for injury probably mitigate any advantages there. So all equal on those counts.

What would incline me to start him is that it could show potential trade partners in the NL that he could be an asset for their team, and thus might open up trade possibilities there. I'm not sure it would work, but if Buck just plopped him out there for 5 or 6 of these games then perhaps an NL team might be more inclined to pursue him.

Go ahead and let him play left field against lefties, then put Pie in as defensive replacement later in the game. I'm concerned that he might go cold if he sits for 6 games.

Even though having Vlad's bat in the lineup is important, he's too much of a liability in the field and that would cancel out any benefit.

Vlad used to be quite the outfielder, but age has caught up to him. I think he can still play out there, as long as it's not too many games. On a side note it'll be interesting to see him play against his former team the Exp... sorry, nationals.

I really can't believe how much over-valued Vlad's bat is around here. Mark Reynolds has a higher OBP than Vlad. Mark Reynolds!

No one could be more of a defensive liability than "birther boy" in left. But I am at a loss about where the talk comes from about trading Vlad or Lee or Reynolds for prospects. The first 2 have little value. They've lost their power. Reynolds is what he is (.198 avg, 200 strikeouts, and 30 home runs). What kind of prospects can you get in return?

What's the point?? It's Not like he's batting 300+ with power. Not even sure he s/b our DH - could use Scott there to keep Pie/Reimold in lineup. Never shd have signed Vlad - his 600 AB's shd have gone to Pie/Reimold to see if either or both are part of our long-term future. Shame he can't play 1st -- we've got to get Lee's bat out of the lineup!!

What's the point?? It's Not like he's batting 300+ with power. Not even sure he s/b our DH - could use Scott there to keep Pie/Reimold in lineup. Never shd have signed Vlad - his 600 AB's shd have gone to Pie/Reimold to see if either or both are part of our long-term future. Shame he can't play 1st -- we've got to get Lee's bat out of the lineup!!

I think it could depend on how big the particular field erally is. Left field in Minute Maid Park is pretty small, so I could see playing him there, but I would never let VG play right in Petco.

Let him play LF! He would be no worse Defensively then Luke Scott and he could offer more Offense then Scott, Pie, or Reimold. Let em play, Its Vlad were talking bout here. He is the best player on our team. Yes he is getting older but with the game on the line or when we have 2 outs a need a big hit to keep the inning alive or to drive in some runs, i would take him hands down over anyone else we have.

Dan...Lee hasn't been tearing it up. I know he's got the NL background, but any chance they consider Vlad for a start at 1B during this stretch?

Jeff Z's reply: No.

We jnow vlad has no power and bad knees, luke has one hralthy shoulder, lee lee hits like a misplaced pony leaguer,scott's a joke wuth one shoulder and the leagues know this Too. Pie is a little nutty ever to make it big, and vlad will get hurt and otherwise provide us with 150 singles (for $8 million) Reimold has an upside, probably a big one. Bench him or send hi m to bowie until his potential has atrophied. That's the Oriole way. Then bring back surhoff. Keep lee in the li neup. Why? No reason.

I wouldn't play Guerrero period. OBP of .316 and OPS of .717 and can't take the field. He's terrible. For some perspective, Reynolds numbers are .328 and .763 and is in the league leaders for pitches/plate appearance. Cut Guerrero now and play reimold, pie, wieters and scott at dh. Worst signing ever.

Guerrero projects to 15 HR and 65 rbi. He bats 4th. He hasn't missed any time. He rarely walks and clogs bases when he does get on (only 17 xbh, the rest singles).

Where is all this love coming from ?

I would play Vlad at first but Jeff's reply says no chance. I would then say Vlad could play left in the early innings and give way to a replacement. Many are badmouthing Vlad for all his singles but he has won several games this one remember a grounder up the middle versus KC. If it is permissible to watch Markakis ground out to second and strand legions of runners ; it certainly is permissible to play him in the field. The one caveat is an injury and we need his offense considering most of the O's are underachieving at the plate. Lee at first has produced almost nothing and Reimold has potential but that is a dubious tag which he has yet to shake. he is more pretender than contender to me.

No. There's no sense in risking an injury, and they won't be losing much by not having Guerrero's bat.

For all the hype (thanks, Sun) over his signing, Guerrero is currently almost exactly a league-average hitter by OPS. Scott, Jones and Reimold are all hitting better. Markakis is significantly worse, but his defense is so much better than Guerrero's that it's hard to justify benching Markakis for Vlad. And if you don't bench Markakis, you must actually bench a better hitter to get Vlad's league-average bat in the lineup.

Why not use Vlad in the outfield every now and then. What is Scott, Pie, Reimold and Markakis doing. Not very much.

I would have Vlad play 3rd.

i'd be more comfortable playing vlad in the outfield than having sarah palin teach u.s. history. that said the o's should look to trade vlad if they could find a taker. he has no power, no speed, can't play defense.

Why is he even on this team , why is anyone on this team ?

spy---why do you even exist?

Let VG pinch hit...I'd use him for anyone if it's clutch get maximum potential from him.

I think the guy could use a week long rest myself.

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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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