Would he be a lifesaver? No, not at the this point in his career.
But veteran slugger Vladimir Guerrero sure could serve as a life preserver while the Tigers are treading water, waiting for reinforcements to arrive.
Guerrero, 37, was just released today by the Blue Jays — at his request. Frankly, he got tired of tearing it up in the minor leagues without Toronto brass giving him a shot in the major leagues.
So, now, he can sign with anybody.
And Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski should be making the first call.
The Tigers offense has struggled to score runs with consistency this season, for a variety of reasons. There are injuries. (Austin Jackson, Andy Dirks, Alex Avila, Brennan Boesch, etc.) Then there are players who’ve failed to live up to last year’s totals. (Avila, Boesch, Jhonny Peralta, etc.)
For whatever reason, it just hasn’t clicked.
Perhaps Guerrero could provide a spark. He’s a DH at this point in his career — he hasn’t played the outfield since 2010, and even then he only played sparingly. Good news! The Tigers don’t have a DH. OK, you could argue they have several — but they don’t have an everyday DH.
In fact, all Tigers DHs have combined to hit .228 with three home runs and 19 RBIs in 2012. Brandon Inge has done more damage than that in 23 games in Oakland.
Delmon Young has done the most DHing, but hasn’t had a ton of good at-bats this season, even if he’s had a few more lately.
Young also has been called by manager Jim Leyland the Tigers left fielder — and not Quintin Berry — until Dirks returns from the DL, whenever that may be. (And at this rate, when Dirks does return, it’ll might just be Boesch’s turn to take an injury hiatus.)
So, what the heck. Bring in Guerrero, let him get acquainted with some new teammates during the series in Chicago, then plug him into the lineup when they return to Comerica Park for a six-game home stand, starting Friday, against the Rockies and Cardinals.
The DH will be in play again; perhaps, too, should Guerrero.
He clearly has a bit left in the tank — much more, in my opinion, than Hideki Matsui or Johnny Damon, who both got picked up off the scrap heap early this season, Damon (.190) by the Indians and Matsui (.160) by the Rays.
Two years ago, Guerrero hit .300 with 29 home runs and 115 RBIs for the Rangers. All that got him was a one-year deal from the Orioles, for whom he hit .290 with 13 home runs and 63 RBIs last season.
Then the phone stopped ringing. And he didn’t sign with anybody until the Blue Jays gave him a minor league deal a week-and-a-half into May.
All he’s done in 12 minor league games is bat .358 with four homers and 12 RBIs in 12 games.
The Blue Jays, apparently, couldn’t use him.
The Tigers, well, they sure could.
Even if the Tigers continue the rotating designated hitter — and the next three days in Chicago, there won’t even be a DH — Guerrero could be a valuable commodity off the bench for Detroit. Norman Dale had more reserves at Hickory High than Leyland has these days.
Consider what Leyland sees when he peers down the dugout: Bryan Holaday, Danny Worth, Matt Young, Don Kelly and — when he’s not starting — Berry. There are some players capable of doing nice things with the bat (or, in Young’s case, the sleeve of his jersey), but none of them will scare an opposing pitcher. Guerrero, of course, would.
Guerrero also is a .336 hitter in 32 career games at Comerica Park, albeit most of that was done when he was closer to his heyday.
He’s well past his prime now.
But that shouldn’t matter to the short-handed Tigers.