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.

Brandon Morrow injured his back taking off his pants

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The Cubs’ bullpen got into trouble in the ninth inning on Tuesday afternoon during the first game of a doubleheader. Justin Wilson started the inning with the Cubs leading 3-2, normally a situation for closer Brandon Morrow. Wilson issued a leadoff walk to Austin Barnes, then gave up a single to Justin Turner. Morrow wasn’t warming up, curiously. Wilson ended up giving up a go-ahead two-run double to pinch-hitter Kyle Farmer and the Cubs went on to lose 4-3.

We now know why Morrow wasn’t available. He says his back tightened up taking off his pants early Monday morning, MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports. Morrow said, “It’s frustrating any time you can’t get out there, especially when you can’t go for something as stupid as taking your pants off.”

Morrow, 33, has been terrific in the closer’s role this season for the Cubs. He owns a 1.59 ERA with a 25/9 K/BB ratio in 22 2/3 innings. He is also not available for the back end of Tuesday’s doubleheader, but it sounds like he won’t need to go on the disabled list.