Option calls due in by midnight Monday

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Teams and players will have to announce by midnight on Monday night whether they’re exercising or declining their 2012 options. The Cubs’ Ryan Dempster struck first Saturday, exercising his $14 million player option to stay in Chicago. Here are some of the other calls still to be made:

Grady Sizemore (Cle) – The Indians hold a $9 million option on Sizemore that ranks as one of the toughest calls of the offseason. Dealing with injuries for the third straight season, Sizemore hit .224/.285/.422 with 10 homers in 268 at-bats. Still, he’s just 29 and he was one of the AL’s best players four years running from 2005-08. For $9 million, the Indians should take the chance that he bounces back. (Update: MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian is reporting that the Indians will decline the option and pay a $500,000 buyout.)

Aramis Ramirez (ChC) – Even though Ramirez overcame a rough start to hit .306/.361/.510 with 26 homers, it’s long been assumed that the Cubs would decline their $16 million option on his services. That doesn’t seem likely to change with Theo Epstein in town.

Brandon Phillips, Francisco Cordero (Cin) – The Reds have been trying to work out new deals with both in lieu of picking up options worth $12 million. Phillips’ option is sure to be exercised if nothing can be worked out. Cordero seems likely to get a two-year deal worth significantly less than $12 million per season.

Marco Scutaro (Bos) – Scutaro’s contract includes a rare double option that allows Scutaro to return at a lesser price if the Red Sox decline to pick up their half of the option. However, all indications are that the Red Sox will pick up their half and bring their shortstop back at $6 million for 2012.

Nick Swisher (NYY) – The Yankees have weighed a bid for Carlos Beltran, but their plan is to exercise Swisher’s $10.25 million option. Even if they decide later that they’d rather have Beltran, Swisher should be tradeable at that price.

Yadier Molina (StL), Robinson Cano (NYY) – It’s long been obvious that these two are getting exercised. Molina will make $7 million in 2012, while Cano will get a hefty raise to $14 million.

Dustin Pedroia leaves game with a sprained left wrist

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Bad news for the Red Sox today. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia was involved in a collision at first base with Jose Abreu of the White Sox. Pedroia stayed in the game at the time but was replaced by Josh Rutledge in the second.

The injury: sprained left wrist. Which, no, is not good, but there was some initial concern that he may have aggravated the knee which has been bothering him of late. They’ll no doubt provide an update after the game. As of now, the Sox lead the Sox 1-0 in the bottom of the third.

 

Brad Ausmus is not a fan of the Tigers’ schedule

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Everyone in baseball has a tough schedule. The season is a grind. Some teams, however, due to weather and happenstance, have stretches which are a tougher grind than others. The Tigers are in one of those right now.

Detroit played the Astros on Thursday night, and lost in a three-hour and thirty minute contest. It was a getaway day, er, night, and they didn’t get to Chicago to face the White Sox until the wee wee hours of the morning on Friday. Waiting for them: a double header which was to start at 4pm. The first game of it was rained out, though, so they woke up after a short “night’s sleep for nothing. Then the nightcap was delayed over an hour, giving them another late bedtime. On Saturday it was another double header, so it was another early wakeup and another long day at the park. And, of course, another day game on Sunday, before a flight to Kansas City.

This stretch has made Brad Ausmus grumpy. Here he was after Friday night’s late finish:

“Give some credit to the White Sox pitchers, give some credit to the schedule we have. We’ll try to get about 5 hours of sleep and come back tomorrow and play two more.”

He was particularly miffed at the scheduling of two doubleheaders in a row:

“You can’t control the weather but I think it would have been prudent to play the second game tomorrow in August,” he said. “That would have made a lot more sense to me.”

Ausmus did note, however, that it’s not the White Sox’ job to make a schedule that is convenient for their division rivals.

You can look at this in a few different ways. One one level, Ausmus is understandably upset about a particularly arduous stretch of games. On another level he’s probably trying to protect his players, who have looked flat, by changing the subject from their play to the schedule. On a different level, you could say that he’s making excuses for a team that is underachieving. And, of course, those three things are not mutually exclusive.

The thing is, though, that the Tigers have lost seven of ten, are five out of first place, four games under .500 and could conceivably leave their series with the Royals this week in dead last in the Central. Ultimately, extenuating circumstances like the weather and an unfortunate schedule don’t save a manager whose talented and highly-paid team struggles like the Tigers have. If they don’t turn it around soon, Ausmus could be hitting the bricks and the Tigers could be fixing to sell off and rebuild.