Aramis Ramirez exercises $14.6 million option for 2011

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For a brief moment Aramis Ramirez dropped some hints about possibly declining his $14.6 million player option for 2011, but presumably his agent (or really anyone with a functional brain) took him aside and said something like, “Uh, you just had your worst season since 2002, maybe take the money.”

Ramirez made it official today, exercising the $14.6 million option for 2011 while also forcing the Cubs to either pay him $16 million or a $2 million buyout in 2012. In other words, by exercising his option Ramirez guarantees himself another $16.6 million and also delays free agency by a year to potentially recoup some of the value he’s lost.

He’s obviously never going to get another contract like the five-year, $75 million deal the Cubs gave him in November of 2006, but if Ramirez returns to his pre-2010 levels he’s definitely capable of securing a multi-year deal for a ton of money next winter. In his first six full seasons in Chicago he hit .303/.368/.551 with an average of 35 homers and 115 RBIs per 150 games, and after a horrendous first half this year he quietly hit .276/.321/.526 with 15 homers and 51 RBIs in the second half.

Manny Machado called for interference with Orlando Arcia

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Fresh off our “Manny Machado didn’t hustle” post, here’s one about him trying a little too hard. Machado was called for interference in the bottom of the fourth inning during Monday night’s NLCS Game 3 against the Brewers at Dodger Stadium. It was actually Machado’s second attempt to interfere with Orlando Arcia during the game.

In the bottom of the second, Machado led off with a single. Cody Bellinger followed up by hitting a grounder to second baseman Travis Shaw, who fed to Arcia. Machado slid towards Arcia enough to disrupt the play, allowing Bellinger to reach first base safely. The Brewers didn’t challenge, in part because Arcia didn’t attempt a throw.

Fast forward to the bottom of the fourth. Machado again leads off and again reaches base, this time with a walk. Bellinger hits another grounder. First baseman Jesús Aguilar snags the ball and fires to Arcia covering the second base bag. Machado slides into second base and reaches out with his right hand to mess with Arcia’s throw to first base. It succeeds, as Arcia’s throw skips past first base towards the dugout. Brewers manager Craig Counsell challenged the call, alleging slide interference (the “Chase Utley rule”). The umpires reviewed the play and agreed that Machado did indeed interfere with Arcia, so Bellinger was called out. What made Machado’s effort even worse is that Bellinger would’ve reached easily regardless, so there was no need to interfere with Arcia.

The Dodgers trail the Brewers 1-0 through the first half of the game. The Brewers got their run early thanks to an RBI double by Ryan Braun off of Walker Buehler in the top of the first. Jhoulys Chacín has pitched excellently for the Brewers thus far.