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Monday, January 29, 2007

Buster Olney Busts Vlad

... as one of 10 thirtysomethings to watch next year:
Another offseason has passed and the Angels again have failed to add a player who can suitably complement Guerrero's production, or cover for him if the right fielder is hurt. And some executives and scouts who've watched Guerrero in recent years see signs of physical regression in his movement, if not his production -- he hit .329 last season, with 200 hits, 116 RBI, and 33 home runs.

"He's on the slide," said one scout. "He's turned into much more of a streak hitter than he used to be. It used to be that if you tried to pitch him inside and you didn't bury the ball inside, he'd hit it good. Now you can get away with a little more, and I think it's because there are days when his back doesn't feel so good. He seems to go through periods where any tweak in his back affects his swing."

He's a gifted athlete, but he doesn't have a great body, and he swings as hard as [Gary] Sheffield. When he's going good, he can be as dominant as always. But it's a matter of time now before he breaks down."

The Angels have a promising young hitter in Howie Kendrick, some production out of veteran Garret Anderson, and shortstop Orlando Cabrera is coming off a solid season. But they have question marks at first and third base, and catcher Mike Napoli hit .164 after the All-Star break. The Angels still desperately need Guerrero to hit; it'll be interesting to see whether he stays healthy.

Update: BTF thread.

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