Guerrero stays in No. 4 spot

After a robust August, hitting .337 with a .625 slugging percentage, Vladimir Guerrero needed a big September kick to prolong one of the game’s most remarkable streaks.

Batting a quiet .262 with two homers and 12 RBIs in 28 games, Guerrero fell short of .300 for the first time in his career, ending a stretch of 12 consecutive seasons at .300 or higher with a .295 average. It was also the first time since his rookie year in 1997, when he played 90 games, that Guerrero didn’t hit at least 25 homers, finishing with 15.

He’s a .321 career hitter with a .568 slugging percentage, having launched 407 home runs and produced 1,318 runs batted in. That counts for something in the mind of his manager, Mike Scioscia. But, fans being fanatics, it’s not enough to stop malcontents from calling for a new lineup spot for the cleanup man.

In Game 1 of the American League Division Series against Boston on Thursday night, Guerrero singled and scored a run in four at-bats. He also had a hit taken away in his first at-bat on a fine play by third baseman Mike Lowell.

But in a big spot early in the game, bases loaded and two outs in the third inning, lefty Jon Lester made Guerrero look bad, striking him out on an elevated fastball at his shoulders.

One of the great bad-ball hitters in the game’s history, Guerrero looked bad in that at-bat. But not bad enough for Scioscia to drop him in the order and elevate, say, Kendry Morales, who was in the No. 5 slot in Game 2 against Josh Beckett.

“Veteran’s pride is a non-issue,” Scioscia said, denying the widely held notion that Scioscia doesn’t want to hurt his slugger’s feelings. “In that one at-bat, he expanded his zone. One at-bat, he fouled a ball straight back that would have ended up in the rocks [beyond center field]. He hit a sharp ground ball in the hole that Lowell dove for. He had some good swings. In one at-bat, he got a little out of his element.”

Scioscia said he likes the “presence” Guerrero brings to the lineup hitting behind Torii Hunter, whose three-run homer was the big blow in Game 1.

“With Vlad, it takes one good swing, and he gets back where he needs to be,” Scioscia said. “In the middle of the lineup, we need a consistent presence, and we feel it’s going to be Vlad. He hasn’t hit the ball that poorly. In the Texas [AL West] clinching game, he hit four bullets all over the field. That was a week ago.”

Scioscia said that if Guerrero’s struggles warrant a move down in the order, he’d do it.

“If a player’s not getting it done at a level you would need, you would understand a change has to be made,” Scioscia said. “For our lineup to go, we’re definitely going to need Vlad going. We’re a better lineup if he’s swinging the way he can.”

 

3 Comments

After tonight’s loss, I think Scioscia needs to pull the trigger and move Vlad down in the order. I have been posting for 2 months that Vlad needs to be moved down in the order. He is just not the same hitter with runners in scoring position. And again he proved me right tonight. He left 8 runners on base tonight with bases loaded twice….twice! This is ridiculous. Mike, please pull the trigger and move him. There is no tomorrow.

And as for Fuentes, I say sit him down the rest of the post season. I knew something was going to go bad tonight when he came in. He is just awful. This guy is not a closer that will get it done against a lineup like the Yankees. I say put the kid Jepsen in the closer spot the rest of the post season. Fuentes can come in for relief if we have a sizable lead. What a terrible loss tonight.

I don’t want to sit here and bash Vlad for no reason. I think he’s a first ballot hall-of-famer. That being said, its time Mike takes a real look at the post-season stats he’s produced. He’s horrible at the plate. One productive at-bat this season should not dictate the amount of time he’s receiving. He’s consistently late on his swings and when he does make contact is an easy out. Right now he’s just like Bengie running. They let Bengie walk when they felt he was done, so why not Vlad. I am against signing him to a long year deal after all his post-season results (or lack there of).

I did not mean to bash Vlady. I am a big fan and will continue to be. I just would like to see him lower in lineup. I must give him some credit for today though. Man did he come through with that big 2 run homer! So he did prove me wrong today. I really hope he continues to. I will say though that I agree that his swing on good fastballs is very late. He made good contact today, but it was a hanging breaking ball. I hope he is healthy and can continue to produce some runs for us. Go Vlady, keep it going! Good win today boys, way to bounce back!

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