Vlad the Impaler…the search for a Rangers cleanup hitter

Vlad III was Prince of Wallachia. He was a mean dude. He would skin the feet of thieves, pour salt on the wounds and let goats lick away. He nailed turbans to the heads of Ottoman envoys.

He was the inspiration for Count Dracula.

vladdy.jpgVladimr Guerrero has been just as cruel to Rangers pitchers. He kills Rangers pitching. He has the highest career batting average (.396) and the highest OPS (1.127) of any opponent ever with at least 150 at-bats. In 102 games and 389 at-bats, he has 73 runs, 24 home runs and 68 RBI against the Rangers.

Now the Rangers want him on their side. They are definitely interested and they are definitely talking to his represenatives. They like the idea of him him Josh Hamilton.

A quick resolution is not expected. This is may be the ultimate off-season Catch-22.

The two sides may be perfect for each other. However…

The Rangers want badly to improve their offense but don’t have a lot of money to spend.

Guerrero wants to get paid a lot of money but doesn’t have too many teams lined up for his services.

At this point in his career, an American League team makes the most sense. Complete sense actually. There may be some debate about how much he has left at the plate but there’s little doubt that his days in the field are limited.

Big bat, big body, much wear-and-tear even if he will only be 35 in February. He needs to DH as much as possible.

The Rangers have an immediate opening. It’s just a matter of how high the Rangers will go and how low Guerrero will go.

The Rangers have options. They are very much interested in Jermaine Dye. They have made that clear from the beginning. They also have interest in Jim Thome. He is a left-handed hitter but the Rangers are willing to be flexible. They still have Michael Young, Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz from the right side. And Elvis Andrus.

The Rangers still mull Gary Sheffield as well. There is some interest in him.

The dark horse is Xavier Nady. He had Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery and missed almost all of 2009. But he hit .305 with 25 home runs and 97 RBI with the Pirates and Yankees in 2008. Both those parks (PNC and old Yankee) are tough on right-handed hitters.

He is a right-handed hitter. He can play the outfield, first base and of course DH.

One Rangers official called him, “Very interesting.”

Dye still wants to play in the field. He has told the Rangers he’s not ready to be used mostly at DH.

Guerrero should feel differently. Nady might be smart to think the same way, at least for one year after Tommy John surgery.

Vladimir Guerrero or Xavier Nady make the most sense for the Rangers.

 

 

5 Comments

I’ve convinced myself the perfect “platoon-DH-on-a-budget” player is Rocco Baldelli.

1. He can put up +.800 OPS vs lefties

2. A part-time DH roll is a good fit for his health

3. $500,000 1-yr deal

Do the Rangers want to risk $10 million to see if Vlad still has it or $500k to see if Baldelli does?

Very intresting column. I am in agreement 100% that Vlad and Nady make the most sense for the club. I am intrigued by the thought of adding Nady to our ballpark, and he could provide versatility. Vlad has destroyed the Rangers and his stats say it all. A .396 batting average is sickening against the Rangers. There have been very few games where Vlad didn’t get at least one hit and hurt the Rangers in some way. It would be nice to have him hitting for us instead of against us. He may be strictly a DH now but he can still be a HUGE impact player.

I can’t see the Rangers being a huge player for Thome and I would suspect he is a PLAN D at best. There also has to be a big internal discussion on Dye and it’s debatable on if he can be an impact player or not. In the end I think the Rangers will decide against Dye because there are quite a few question marks after his last season.

My gut says that Vlad is going to be the guy the Rangers sign, but I wouldn’t be disappointed or shocked if Nady were the guy either.

Why did you have only one little sentence about Gary Sheffield? Doesn’t seem right. So I went and looked up some of his stats from last year. From the time he started playing with regular every day at-bats on May 13th through July 18th when he hurt his hamstring he hit .323, .407 OBP, .534 SLG. He scored 33 runs with 52 hits and 31 rbi, 7 2B, 9 HR. And his strikeout to walks were just about even with 23BB/27SO. Excellent for a power hitter. He was a major reason why the Mets were playing well during this time. And last year in 2008 when he rushed back from torn labrum surgery in his shoulder he still hit 19 homeruns. His bat speed is still there. I know the knock on Sheff is his injuries, but I think he is working very hard over the winter to get in the best shape he’s been in for a while. And Vlad hasn’t been exactly healthy either lately, with a torn pectoral muscle last year and a sore knee. And previously Guerrero had a shoulder injury in 2007 and knee surgery in 2008. So his health isn’t that great either.

The Rangers should ‘bite the bullet’ spend a little bit of extra money, and nab Vlad Guerrero. One simple reason: Self-defense. He cannot kill the Rangers pitching if he is the Ranger’s DH. Some gambles are worth taking and this gamble is worth the risk/reward gamble for the above simple reason. Dye is an excellent plan “B”. Although I like Xavier Nady, recovering from that major surgery is far from a given. And Thome is not a good fit for the Ranger’s ‘young and up-and-coming’ team. I think this says it all regarding VLAD: Vladimr Guerrero has been just as cruel to Rangers pitchers. He kills Rangers pitching. He has the highest career batting average (.396) and the highest OPS (1.127) of any opponent ever with at least 150 at-bats. In 102 games and 389 at-bats, he has 73 runs, 24 home runs and 68 RBI against the Rangers. SIGN VLAD!

I feel like Xavier Nady should be our target. He has so many pluses and so few minuses.. but if not him,

Gary Sheffield would be good, he should not get hurt at DH, and he can hit…. I dont particularly like him, but he hits and RUNS ….

ever see Vlad run???? he can hardly walk.

Dye & Thome are finished…

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