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.

Marlins, Giants get into heated beanball war

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You may have heard that Giants closer Hunter Strickland broke his hand punching a door in frustration after Monday night’s subpar performance. He’ll miss six to eight weeks as a result. Strickland came in to protect a 4-2 lead but ended up giving up three runs. The tying run was knocked in by Lewis Brinson on a single to right field. Brinson moved to third base on a go-ahead single by Miguel Rojas, which prompted manager Bruce Bochy to take Strickland out of the game.

On his way to the dugout, Strickland started chirping at Brinson. Much like Bryce Harper and Strickland, Brinson and Strickland have a bit of a history. Last Thursday, Brinson handed Strickland a blown save with a sacrifice fly to deep center field. Brinson was happy to help his team tie the game, pumping his fast and saying, “Let’s go” at no one in particular. That rubbed Strickland the wrong way. Everything seems to rub Strickland the wrong way.

During Tuesday night’s game, Giants starter Dereck Rodriguez threw at Brinson with the first pitch, a 92 MPH fastball. Home plate umpire Andy Fletcher issued warnings to both benches. Manager Don Mattingly came out to argue, suggesting that his team hadn’t done anything wrong so it was unfair to essentially take the inside part of the plate away from his pitchers. On his way back to the dugout, Mattingly could be seen saying, “You’re next” to catcher Buster Posey.

The Giants scored twice in the bottom of the second against Dan Straily to extend their lead to 3-0. Posey came to the plate with a runner on first base and one out. Straily hit Posey with a 91 MPH fastball on the first pitch, prompting ejections of both Straily and Mattingly. Posey was hit on the arm. If the pitch had come in a bit lower and hit Posey on the wrist or hand, Posey might have had to go on the disabled list for a couple months. Or if the pitch had hit Posey a couple of inches higher, in the head, then who knows what would have happened.

Things calmed down from there, thankfully. The two clubs have one more game against each other in San Francisco on Wednesday and that will be the final time they meet this season. If anything further is going to happen — and hopefully, nothing happens — then it will come tomorrow.

Straily will almost certainly be facing a suspension and a fine, as will Mattingly. It’s less clear if Rodriguez and/or Bochy will be reprimanded for throwing at Brinson, even though it was fairly obvious the pitch was intentional. Regardless, the punishments amount to just one missed start for the pitchers, which isn’t nearly enough of a detriment to deter beanball wars.