Vladimir Guerrero, Steve Phillips, And What Could Have Been

vladimir guerrero

After a brilliant 16-year career, outfielder Vladimir Guerrero announced his retirement this weekend, according to Hector Gomez of the Dominican Listin Diario.

While he never made it to those almost automatic Hall of Fame thresholds of 3,000 hits or 500 home runs, it will be hard to keep his .318/.379/.553 career slash line out of Cooperstown.

Guerrero was one of the most dominating players of his eras. In his remarkable career, Vlad had eight 30+ home run seasons and thirteen seasons in which he batted .300 or higher. The 2004 American League MVP ends his legacy with 449 home runs, 477 doubles, 181 stolen bases, 1,328 runs scored and 1,496 RBIs. In addition to his MVP he also won eight Silver Slugger awards and was voted into nine All Star Games… And he could have posted the bulk of those numbers as a New York Met.

steve-phillips-close-jpgIt was the way that then general manager Steve Phillips squandered the free agent negotiations with a 28-year old budding superstar, that would eventually lead to his unraveling as a Mets GM and his ultimate demise.

Phillips had become gun-shy because of Mo Vaughn, much like today’s Mets are afraid to pull the trigger on an elite player because of Jason Bay.

When that happens it almost always spells The End for a general manager, especially when you play in the biggest sports market in the world – New York City.

In this town, star studded rosters are the norm and it’s what fills the seats as Phillips would soon find out.

Guerrero was the top free agent on the market in the offseason of 2003. The New York Mets desperately needed someone to build around and Vladimir fit the bill as the core player they could use to supplant aging Mike Piazza as the face of the franchise.

But it wasn’t meant to be and after a series of lowball offers and squandered negotiations, Phillips would finally retreat and told fans that Guerrero had a back problems and was a poor risk, a charge both Guerrero and his agent vehemently denied, was the reason he decided to pass.

Guerrero, who wanted to play in New York, would instead sign a 5 year/$70 million contract to play for the California Angels. Vlad would go on to win the MVP that season and Steve Phillips would go on to be fired.

Ed Leyro from Studious Metsimus, has a wonderful piece that examines the big question…  Is Vladimir Guerrero a Hall of Famer?

vladimir guerrero texas


About Joe D 7944 Articles
I'm a lifelong Mets fan who loves writing and talking about the Amazins' 24/7. From the Miracle in 1969 to the magic of 1986, and even the near misses in '73, '00 and '15, I've experienced it all - the highs and the lows. I started Mets Merized Online in 2005 to feed my addiction and interact with other passionate Met fans like you. Follow me on Twitter @metsmerized.