When the Toronto Blue Jays signed designated hitter and confirmed Montreal superhero Vladimir Guerrero to a minor league deal on May 10th, most expected he’d have to play in the minors for at least a month before being considered for the Major League roster. That may not be the case.
Yesterday, the Toronto Star reported that Guerrero was headed to High-A Dunedin in the Florida State League on Sunday to begin his trek back to the Majors. Now, according to manager John Farrell, the plan is to have Guerrero playing in AA-New Hampshire or even AAA-Las Vegas by the end of the week. From there, he could be in the Jays lineup as early as June 5th.
I have to admit, that’s a much more aggressive timetable than I expected for the 37-year-old given he hasn’t played a game since last September.
The free agent market this winter was completely dry for Guerrero who was barely even courted by a single team until the Jays came calling in early May. This, despite a solid—although not spectacular–.290/.317/.416 slash line with 13 home runs in 590 plate appearances last season as the primary DH in Baltimore.
It’s expected that Guerrero will be the primary DH for Toronto once he makes the team with Edwin Encarnacion moving to first base on a more full-time basis. But what can the Blue Jays reasonably expect from the again former star at this point?
Last season, despite his usual consistent contact rates and decent power, Guerrero’s walk-rate plummeted to a career-worst 2.9%, a mark that was ahead of only notorious hacker Yuniesky Betancourt in all of baseball. Despite what you hear about Guerrero’s aggressive approach and willingness to swing at just about any pitch, he was consistently putting up above-average walk-rates during his prime and actually has a career 8.1% rate. It’s only been the last three seasons that his patience has started to wane with walk-rates of 4.7%, 5.4% and last year’s 2.9%. Admittedly, the lack of patience probably has as much to do with opposing pitchers’ willingness to attack the strike zone more frequently now that Guerrero is less of a threat to hit the ball out of the park as it does with some change in his level of aggressiveness.
Still, Guerrero will likely put up decent BABIP numbers—just as he has throughout his career—and he rarely strikes out, showing a continued knack for making contact on any pitch. Simply put, he’ll be much better than Adam Lind (essentially the player he’s replacing), especially against lefties.
Sorry irrational David Cooper fans, he’ll be back in AAA as soon as Guerrero is called up; if not sooner.
And the rest:
Sticking with the Jays, ESPN SweetSpot writer Alex Convery thinks they’ll have no trouble bouncing back from two tough losses at the hands of the Texas Rangers.
Josh Hamilton apparently needed IV and oxygen after his walk-off home run against Toronto yesterday in the bottom-of-the-thirteenth [Matthew Pouliot, NBC Hardball Talk]. Queue the unwarranted Michael Jordan comparisons in 3…2…1…
Johan Santana threw a four-hit shutout yesterday against the San Diego Padres [Thomas Boorstein, MLB.com]. Santana’s extremely successful season thus far has been one of the biggest surprises so far this year for me.
Speaking of aging aces, Cardinals righthander Chris Carpenter is about to resume a throwing program in his recovery from a nerve problem in his neck/shoulder/soul [Joe Strauss, St. Louis Post-Dispatch].
Recently inked Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero will miss at least the next two games with a groin problem [Jack Magruder, Twitter]. What a terrible deal.
Baseball Prospectus pitching mechanics expert Doug Thorburn takes another look at Stephen Strasburg during his recent start against the Baltimore Orioles and suggests there may be some consistency problems-a-brewing.
Speaking of Strasburg, he could become the second-fastest ever to record 200 career strikeouts [Tom Tango, The Book].
BP Managing Editor Ben Lindbergh asks how sustainable the Cleveland start is. You may be surprised to find out what he concludes.
Probably the craziest catch I’ve seen outside of Japan [Dustin Parkes, Getting Blanked].
Robert from Scarborough is either the biggest idiot, greatest troll in the history of ever [Andrew Stoeten, DJF]. #BaseballGod.
What’s the difference between Will Middlebrooks and Kevin Youkilis? [Scott Spratt, Hardball Times]. There seems to be an echo-chamber of voices from around baseball that Youkilis is as good as gone this year. I understand Middlebrooks is the third baseman of the future for Boston, but shouldn’t we all just collectively chill-out about his production thus far? He’s 23 and has 88 career plate appearances at the Major League level. If I’m the Red Sox, Middlebrooks ends up back in AAA and comes up next year for good.