Guerrero’s 7-year itch gets scratched in Baltimore

February 05, 2011 | Drew Forrester

Andy MacPhail finally gave in.

Perhaps it’s four years of losing and the spector of having his Baltimore tenure tied to last place and disappointing results after arriving with such hope and promise.

But MacPhail is apparently going to try and deliver a winner to Charm City before most likely moving on at the end of this season.

I don’t know if we should all say “Thank you, Andy” or “What took you so friggin’ long?” but the diehards like me who have waited so long for a competitive Orioles team just might get their wish in 2011.

It all came full-circle yesterday when word trickled out that Vlad Guerrero was heading to Baltimore, seven years after snubbing the O’s in favor of the Angels.

Better late than never, I suppose.

Vlad Guerrero the-second-time-around is still better than no Guerrero at all.  (BTW, here’s Rex Snider’s blog on the subject if you want to see how he feels about it.)

Vlad is a better hitter than Nolan Reimold and Felix Pie will ever be, period.  Heck, I can’t imagine there’s one player on the Orioles 40-man roster right now who will ever have a career-at-the-plate like Guerrero.  In case you haven’t paid attention for the last 15 years or so, here are THE NUMBERS that have made Guerrero one of baseball’s five best offensive players since 1996.  Hall of Famer?  If not, they should just stop putting people in.

So that’s the summary of Guerrero.  He’s better than either of the team’s two “younger” left fielders – even now at age 36 – and his bat is as productive as anyone the Orioles have had in…well…how about forever?

But there will be criticisms about the move.  People who fancy themselves armchair GM’s will point to the fact that the Orioles had to cough up $8 million to get a guy that no one else in the league wanted.  Some will compare the paltry $2 million that Tampa Bay forked over for Manny Ramirez and wonder how on earth the Birds got bilked out of $8 million for Guerrero.  Sharp-eyes for the game of baseball will say Guerrero is showing obvious signs of wearing down, but his abilities even at the 16-year mark of his career are far greater than Miguel Tejada or Garrett Atkins, the two “prize” signings of last winter (neither of whom made it to August 1 with the club).

Unlike the off-season of 2010 when the Birds tried to convince people they were trying by signing guys on the cheap with little or no hope of making a major impact, this off-season has been quite different.  Yes, guys like Mark Reynolds and J.J. Hardy are coming to town on the heels of “off” years.  Derrek Lee, like Guerrero, is older and more vulnerable than he was when the O’s tried to get him in the past.  Justin Duchscherer was the club’s marquee pitching acquisition and he threw in 5 more major league games than your’s truly over the last 2 seasons.

But guys like Lee and Guerrero and Hardy — they’re competent, HIGHLY capable players who have a history of excellence. Do they all have (continued…)

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