Earlier today I observed that the decision to sit Vlad Guerrero and play Nelson Cruz in right field was a good one by Ron Washington, because Cruz got to a couple of balls in the outfield in the early innings that Vlad never would have reached. One of them came on a ball towards the gap with a runner on base that almost certainly would have scored a run. Another fly out likely would have dropped for extra bases and could have led to a second run. While those plays ended up not mattering a ton given the final score, they seemed pretty big at the time.
Yet Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News thinks that sitting Vlad was a mistake, because it left a hole in the lineup:
Without Guerrero, the Rangers went back to what they were in 2009, a donut of a team. They had a great big hole in the middle. It ended up resulting in nearly a dozen donuts on the scoreboard in a 9-0 loss in Game 2. Sure, no balls bounced around in the outfield and no errors were made, but the Rangers offense offered up only the sound of silence . . . For all the fury in Josh Hamilton’s bat and all the thunder and lightning supplied by Nelson Cruz and Ian Kinsler in the bottom half of the order, the lineup works because Guerrero gives it real girth.
“Girth?” That’s a new one to me. But whatever, it’s a pretty empty sentiment here, because Guerrero’s “girth” hasn’t helped the Rangers all that much lately.
Yes, he has driven in some runs this postseason — 6 in 12 games — but he has not been a force or anything. He’s 13 for 49 in with three doubles. He hit .278/.322/.426 with only seven homers in the second half of the regular season. If you extrapolated that performance over a whole year you’d have yourself one substandard DH. To the extent he’s provided any girth, it was provided between April and early July. Not much since.
Grant is a really good writer and blogger, but in this case I think he’s doing what I’ve been doing a lot of for the past couple of years: remembering the Vlad Guerrero who used to be rather than the Vlad Guerrero who currently plays baseball for the Texas Rangers. That latter fellow is someone whose bat in no way makes up for his glove and who shouldn’t get a sniff of the outfield for the rest of the series.