In 2004, he came to the Angels as the best baseball player many fans had never heard of.
Just about 6 years later, everyone in the baseball world knows who Vladdy is.
The Angels got one of the biggest bargains baseball has seen this decade.
Earning himself nationwide superstar status (American League MVP in his first year with the team), Vladimir Guerrero had emerged as the face of the Angels franchise from Day 1 in Halo red… so why would it seem that the Angels may have turned the page on him?
Now 34 years of age and relegated to the Designated Hitter role with an abundance of injuries this year, Vlad’s durability has become a major concern.
His power numbers and run-producing numbers are way down, but he’s still shown that he can still put the bat on the ball.
His knees have all but given way, and he has grounded into more than his fair share of double plays.
And he’s doing this all in the final year of his contract, which leads Angel fans to ask, “What are the Angels gonna do with Vlad?”
That’s the burning question on everybody’s mind.
But it’s not like Vlad has done all bad and no good this year.
He’s still muscling balls as he has his entire career.
He’s still hitting over .300 on the season as he has every season in his career.
And lastly, he’s still the most recognizable face in all of the Angels organization.
You can’t go a handful of steps in Angel Stadium without seeing a fan wearing a Vlad Guerrero shirt or jersey.
All of this leads to the front office will have to answer, “do we want to keep him around or look elsewhere to fill a very “fillable” void?”
Although he will be 35 next season, I still firmly believe that Vladdy can play baseball at a high level.
Will he be able to play regularly in right field as he always had? My guess is no.
Will he put up 30+ homers, 100+ RBI as he has regularly during his career? Again, probably not.
But can he still be a productive player that Angel fans can root for and love?
No doubt about it, yes.
In 91 games this year, Vladdy’s numbers look like this:
.299 average, 14 doubles, 15 homers, 47 RBI, 15 doubles, 54 runs scored.
By far the weakest year of his illustrious and Hall of Fame-worthy career, but he’s still getting on base and he’s still hitting at a very respectable mark of just a smidge under .300. He’s also begun to catch some fire as the season has wound down.
I view the decision that the front office has to make to be one very similar to that of the decisions they made regarding players like Garret Anderson and David Eckstein.
These were players who were adored by the franchise, could still play, but were let go of. It will be a big PR move for the Angels and I hope they elect to hold on to Vladdy for a 1 or 2-year contract for low money.
I was let down by the Angels when they let Eck go, but he was replaceable. Orlando Cabrera did a great job of filling his void. I was able to move on from that front office decision pretty quickly.
I was incredibly disappointed to see the Angels let go of a lifetime Halo in Garret Anderson this past offseason, but it’s been a decision that’s been almost too easy to cope with thanks to the play of Juan Rivera in left.
I just don’t think I’d ever be able to move on from the departure of the Big Daddy.
That violent, crazy swing.
That awkward, painful running motion he has thanks to his knees getting run down after years in Montreal on astroturf.
The dreads (which he had for quite some time).
That helmet with more pine tar on it than any other helmet in the league.
And of course, that smile that could light up the city of Anaheim.
Regardless of how he plays, you just can’t replace a guy like Vlad. Plain and simple.
After all, he’s only one of 6 players in Major League Baseball to have career numbers of 400+ home runs and a .320+ batting average (the others only happen to be Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams, Jimmie Foxx, and Stan Musial… 5 of the all-time greats).
On a side note, the Angels do not have 1 player representing the team in the Hall of Fame. Not 1. Who better to have potentially represent the organization in the Hall of Fame than a guy whose career is in the same class in some regards as The Babe, Gehrig, Teddy Ballgame, Foxx, Stan the Man?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m an Angel fan through and through, but I could never forgive the Angels for letting him go.
You can’t replace a once-in-a-generation player, let alone a once-in-a-century player.
Here’s to keeping my fingers crossed to see Vladdy in Halo red for just one more year.