Vladimir Guerrero and Rangers facing interesting decision on $9 million option for 2011

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Vladimir Guerrero had a great first half, hitting .319/.364/.554 with 20 homers and 75 RBIs in 83 games to make the All-Star team for the first time since 2007, but then hit just .249/.293/.370 through his first 45 games of the second half.
That dropped his OPS from .925 to .826, but Guerrero has rediscovered his stroke. He had two hits yesterday and is now 15-for-30 (.500) with six extra-base hits in his last seven games. His overall line for the season is back up to .305/.348/.503, which is good for the 15th-best OPS in the league, and he’s driven in 100 runs for the 10th time.
Guerrero has been an excellent pickup for the Rangers on a one-year, $5.5 million deal, but as Todd Wills of MLB.com writes they’ll facing an interesting decision on whether or not to bring him back for 2011. Texas would no doubt love to have Guerrero back, but his contract has a $9 million mutual option or $1 million buyout.
It’s possible that Guerrero will decline his half of the option and hit the open market in search of a multi-year deal, and even if he wants to stick around it’s also possible that the Rangers may not want to invest that much in a 36-year-old designated hitter with a .423 slugging percentage in the second half. His situation is not totally unlike Jim Thome’s in Minnesota, although Thome has done his mashing for just $1.5 million.

Anthony Alford to miss 4-6 weeks following wrist surgery

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Blue Jays’ outfielder Anthony Alford will miss at least 4-6 weeks after undergoing surgery on his left wrist, the team announced on Saturday. Alford was placed on the 10-day disabled list earlier in the week after sustaining a left hamate fracture on a foul pitch, and could miss significant time in what looks to be a lengthy rehab process. MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the procedure has been scheduled for next week and will be performed by Dr. Donald Sheridan in Arizona.

Alford, 22, was called up to the majors from Double-A New Hampshire last Friday. He went hitless in his first three outings, finally catching a break against the Brewers on Tuesday when he pinch-hit a leadoff double in the seventh. The injury occurred two innings later when Alford fouled off a pitch in the ninth inning, fracturing his wrist in the process.

Alford will join eight other players on the Blue Jays’ disabled list, including outfielders Steve Pearce (calf strain), Dalton Pompey (concussion) and Darrell Cecillani (partial shoulder dislocation). He’s expected to be replaced by 24-year-old outfield prospect Dwight Smith Jr.

Stephen Strasburg hit a new career high today

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Good luck getting a hit against the Nationals this weekend. Stephen Strasburg followed Max Scherzer‘s 13-strikeout performance on Friday with a dazzling outing of his own on Saturday afternoon. The right-hander whiffed a career-best 15 batters in seven innings, allowing just three hits and a walk in the Nats’ 3-0 win.

It took Strasburg several innings to get into a groove after pitching into (and out of) a jam in the first inning. The Padres loaded the bases with Allen Cordoba‘s leadoff single, a throwing error by Ryan Zimmerman and a four-pitch walk to Cory Spangenberg. By the third, Strasburg was cruising, striking out the side on 18 pitches and keeping the Padres off the basepaths until the sixth. He recorded his 15th and final strikeout in the seventh inning, catching Padres’ prospect Franchy Cordero swinging on a 1-2 pitch to effectively end his outing.

While 15 strikeouts set a new career record for the Nationals’ ace, he came close to reaching the mark twice before. The first time, he struck out 14 of 24 batters during his major league debut against the 2010 Pirates, though the 5-2 win did little more than keep the Nationals neck-and-neck with the Marlins at the bottom of the NL East. Five years later, he tied his 14-strikeout record against the 2015 Phillies, tossing a one-hitter in eight innings to cement his ninth victory of the season.

The only one who doesn’t seem overly enthused by the new record? Strasburg himself, who told MLB.com’s Jamal Collier and AJ Cassavell: “It’s pretty cool, but there’s another game five, six days from now. I’ll enjoy it tonight, but back to work tomorrow.”