Will the Rangers bring back Vladimir Guerrero for $9 million?

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Vladimir Guerrero’s poor postseason performance has people questioning if the Rangers should exercise their half of his $9 million mutual option for 2011, but the truth is that should have been in question well before the playoffs even began.

Guerrero went 13-for-59 (.220) with zero homers and a measly .513 OPS in the playoffs, striking out 16 times while drawing just two walks. He looked bad, no doubt, but 59 at-bats shouldn’t be the driving force behind any decision. Unfortunately for Guerrero, he also finished the regular season by hitting just .278/.322/.426 in 69 games after the All-Star break.

And while Guerrero’s strong first-half production made headlines and his 115 RBIs convinced some people that he had an excellent season overall he finished with an .841 OPS in 152 games, which is a) 100 points below his career mark, and b) not particularly great for a terrible defensive outfielder forced to play almost exclusively designated hitter.

Among the 151 players who received enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title this season Guerrero ranked 42nd in OPS. Certainly solid production, but far from special considering that group of 151 players includes guys who also bring something to the table defensively and he posted that .841 OPS in a hitter-friendly ballpark. Guerrero had a .796 OPS away from Texas.

Most of the discussions about whether or not the Rangers should bring back Guerrero for $9 million next season will no doubt focus on his postseason struggles because that came on the biggest stage and is fresh on everyone’s minds, but regardless of what he did in the playoffs the 35-year-old former MVP wasn’t looking like a $9 million player for 2011.

Another interestingly named player is promoted by the Pirates

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When you promote a player from the minors, the first and foremost consideration is whether or not he can help your ball club. But, assuming that’s taken care of, teams should really, really make it a priority to call up dudes with cool sounding names because it makes life more interesting for the rest of us.

The Pirates are doing that. The other night Dovydas Neverauskas made his big league debut. In addition to being the first Lithuanian born-and-raised player in major league history, it’s a solid, solid name. Now the Pirates are making another promotion: Gift Ngoepe.

Yep, Gift Ngoepe. He’s an infielder from South Africa, making the leap to the bigs due to David Freese‘s hamstring injury. Ngoepe, 27, was batting just .241/.308/.379 through 66 plate appearances this season with Triple-A Indianapolis, his ninth in the minors, so he’s not exactly a prospect. But man, that’s a killer name.

It’s also worth mentioning that Gift and Neverauskas were arrested together in a bar fight last August in Toledo, so there is already a good basis for some bonding here.

Good luck, Gift. Gift Ngoepe. Mr. Ngoepe. G-Ngo. Man, I could do this all day.

Manny Machado teaches us to never give up

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The Rays beat the Orioles last night, but the play of the game belonged to an Oriole defender.

Evan Longoria was batting and he chopped a ball foul down the third base line. At least it started out foul. As we all know, however, it doesn’t matter where the ball starts, it matters where it is when it crosses the bag.

Manny Machado knows this and didn’t give up on the ball despite it starting several feet in foul territory. He watched it come back, stayed with it and threw out Longoria who, unlike Machado, did give up on it, assuming he’d merely get a strike and another hack. Watch:

Longoria would get Machado back, however, fielding a ball Machado smoked to third base in the ninth inning, recording the second to last out of the game.