Vladimir Guerrero is out of the Orioles’ lineup tonight with a wrist injury that dates back to Sunday, when he was hit by a pitch in the game against the Red Sox that featured ejections (and later suspensions) galore.
Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com reports that Guerrero isn’t even available off the bench and will be examined by a doctor, with Matt Wieters taking his place as the designated hitter and Craig Tatum replacing Wieters behind the plate.
Guerrero’s poor second half and abysmal playoff performance last season hinted that he was in the middle of a steep decline at age 36 and sure enough he’s hit just .279 with seven homers and a .700 OPS in 83 games after signing a one-year, $8 million deal with the Orioles, which is the worst OPS of his career by nearly 100 points.
It won’t be tough for the Orioles to replace that production, but in signing Guerrero they were no doubt hoping that he could help them stay in contention or at least fetch some decent value in a midseason trade and right now neither looks like it’ll happen even if the injury proves minor.
On Monday, Baseball America reported that MLB is prepared to expand to Portland and Montreal. We talked about that at length yesterday. One of the most common responses to that piece has been “Portland? Really?”
There’s good reason for that response. Baseball-to-Portland has been talked about for years, but there has never been any real traction. Past initiatives have failed, significant public funding for a stadium seems to be a political impossibility and, heck, Portland wasn’t even interested in keeping its Triple-A team, turning its stadium into a much more successful soccer venue and not missing the Beavers all that much.
It would seem, however, that the reports are not mere speculation and there is a genuine baseball-to-Portland initiative afoot once again. From the Oregonian:
On Tuesday, former Trail Blazers broadcaster Mike Barrett confirmed to The Oregonian/OregonLive that he is part of the Portland group.
“I am officially involved with a campaign to bring Major League Baseball and a stadium development to Portland,” Barrett said. “There is also a formally organized, sophisticated and seasoned management group running this initiative. We will keep you fully apprised of any/all developments as this project progresses.”
One guy — a broadcaster no less — saying he’s part of a group is not exactly a major needle-mover, of course. But it does contrast with past Portland initiatives that have been well-publicized grassroots affairs. While those may have been more broad-based and while their public nature may have provided some refreshing transparency, the simple fact of professional sports ownership in the 21st century is that well-monied groups who play things close to the vest are more likely to make waves. We’re in an age when technocratic hedge fund-type guys make things happen in this arena, not in an age when flamboyant public personalities do.
None of which is to say that baseball in Portland is a lock or that expansion anywhere is a short term proposition. It’s just to note that, yeah, there is a bit more going on, it seems, than just pointing at a map and saying “yeah, a team would make sense here.”