Guerrero’s 7-year itch gets scratched in Baltimore

February 05, 2011 | Drew Forrester

a blemish that kept other teams away? Sure.  But they’re not slugs.  They’re not Garrett Atkins or Jaret Wright or Julio Lugo.

I don’t care what they paid Guerrero.  It seems to me like $8 million is about right for what you’d have to pay to get a Hall of Famer in the November of his career who has about as much in interest coming to a team that has lost for 13 years as I do seeing the Steelers win the Super Bowl tomorrow.

I’ve said this a lot and people must not have been paying attention:  “There’s a price to pay for losing”.

And that price, for the Orioles, is giving Vlad a couple of million more in “hazard pay”, taking what should have been a $5 or $6 million price-tag and upping it to $8 mil.  I get it.  When you lose and players don’t want to show up, it takes another trip to the Brinks truck to get the necessary funds to convince that certain player that Baltimore in 2011 really IS worth your time.

If Guerrero shows up here and pulls a Sammy Sosa circa 2005, it will cause folks to say “should have never given him $8 million” when, in fact, what it really means is:  “Should have made a legitimate effort for Adam Dunn or Carl Crawford”.

I suspect Guerrero will do just fine here.  He’s a career .300 hitter so I expect that much from him, at least.  He’ll hit put up 25 home runs.  He’ll knock in around 100 runs.  If healthy, I figure him to basically be the player he’s always been.  I doubt he’ll be as dangerous as his MVP years of the mid 2000’s, but he won’t be Nolan Reimold or Felix Pie, for sure. Guerrero will always hit. With the glove? Not so worthy anymore. But at the plate, he’ll be effective enough for folks to say “the dude can still rake.”

I know this:  Vlad Guerrero makes the Orioles better.

And I also know this:  The Orioles – even with a bunch of one-year rentals like Hardy, Lee and Guerrero – are poised to make some noise in the American League East this year.

That’s all we want in Baltimore.  Make the games in September mean something.  I don’t care – and neither do most of the other diehards – if some of the players are here on 1-year deals.  Rental-schmental…I couldn’t care less.  Just win some games, fill the seats and make Baltimore Orioles baseball meaningful again.

We’ve been waiting for Andy MacPhail to deliver.

Without question, we’ve waited too long for him to show a pulse and do something.

And believe me, I completely understand and sign-off on the notion that this off-season from MacPhail – predictably – has been about “taking chances” on players.  I get it.  I don’t always like it, but I get it.  It’s Andy’s way of doing business.  Why give Adam Dunn $14 million a year when you give Derrek Lee $8 million?  I see the off-season for what it has been:  A giant card game.  We don’t really have any face cards, but we have a few 8’s and 9’s and if someone at the table screws up and throws away a Jack, we might just win despite ourselves.  So I do understand those who look at the Orioles off-season and say, “Typical MacPhail.  Took a bunch of gambles on a few older players and brought some guys in who are “what if” types.”

I’ll give those thoughts their proper respect because they’re fair things to say.

But this Orioles team, right now, is MUCH better prepared to battle in the American League East than the one that started the season in Baltimore in April of 2010.  That much I know for certain.  Good enough to compete with the Red Sox?  Maybe not. Better than they were a season ago?  Yes, by a lot.

Guerrero’s arrival and the rest of the off-season moves give local baseball fans a glimmer of hope.

Maybe even more than a glimmer.

For the first time in a long time, the Orioles might actually be good.