The Orioles don’t have a deal with Vladimir Guerrero, as Jim Bowden reported Saturday, but they are at least looking into signing the aging slugger.
The Baltimore front office undoubtedly spent the weekend sorting out positives and negatives. Vlad might hit well at Camden Yards, but bringing him aboard would mean moving Luke Scott to the outfield, where he hasn’t played regularly since 2008 because of issues with range. Then there’s the other side, suggesting that it might be worth the potential power surge if Guerrero is willing to take an incentive-driven contract with a low base salary. But the Rangers are also thought to have some interest and the Angels could be open to a reunion, so it’s possible that his asking price hasn’t completely tumbled into a desperation level.
Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun was exploring the pros and cons this morning over on his blog “The Schmuck Stops Here.”
If the price is right, I think Guerrero would be a low-risk gamble with a high upside. If he can jack up one more season like last year, he could be the final piece in a potentially explosive batting order that could truly change the subject at Oriole Park this summer.
Mark Reynolds might put together a good season, J.J. Hardy might bounce back, Nick Markakis could turn his power numbers north, Adam Jones could reach stardom and Matt Wieters may figure it out. If that all happens, the Orioles will greatly improve. But those are big “ifs” and there are a lot of them. Plus, there’s a ceiling for their success in the American League East anyway if things do finally go right.
The O’s have the ability to make strides and the addition of Guerrero could help fill a few more seats at one of baseball’s best ballparks. Maybe that’s worth it. But it seems more likely that it will be a waste of the club’s financial resources. Pumping that money into the draft and the international market would be wiser.
Brewers closer Corey Knebel set a modern major league record for relievers to start a season, as Thursday’s appearance marked his 38th consecutive appearance with a strikeout. He set down the side in order in the ninth inning, striking Josh Bell out to start the frame.
Aroldis Chapman held the record previously, recording a strikeout in his first 37 appearances of the season in 2014 with the Reds.
Knebel, 25, has flown under the radar despite having an incredibly good season. He moved into the closer’s role in mid-May when Neftali Feliz, now a free agent, struggled. After Thursday’s appearance, Knebel is 12-for-15 in save chances with a 0.96 ERA and a 65/17 K/BB ratio in 37 2/3 innings.
Despite having hit at least 20 home runs in eight of his 11 seasons in the majors, Reds first baseman Joey Votto has never participated in a Home Run Derby. Currently, he’s tied for the National League lead in home runs with 20, and he hasn’t been invited to this year’s festivities at Marlins Park.
In the event he is invited, Votto said he thinks he can win it, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto likened himself to Ichiro Suzuki, a player known more for his contact abilities and mastery of the strike zone than power. “Just think of me as the Canadian Ichiro — Japan has theirs and Canada has theirs,” Votto said. “I could pull homers into the seats at will.”
Along with the 20 homers, Votto is currently hitting .306/.419/.601 with 53 RBI, and 52 runs scored in 313 plate appearances.
Teammate Scott Schebler also has 20 home runs at the moment and Adam Duvall, who made it to the semifinals of the Derby last year, has 16. Neither of them have been approached about participating in the Derby, either. Per Rosecrans, in the event each was invited, Duvall said he would consider participating if he wasn’t an All-Star and Schebler would participate regardless. Votto said he would only participate if he made the All-Star team.