Rangers decline $9 million option on Vladimir Guerrero

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T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reports that the Rangers have declined their $9 million option on Vladimir Guerrero for 2011.

While perhaps surprising to some based on his big name and 115-RBI season, Guerrero simply wasn’t a $9 million player in 2010 and at age 36 was unlikely to be any better in 2011.

He struggled in the playoffs, going 13-for-59 (.220) with zero homers, but even before that Guerrero hit just .278/.322/.426 in 69 regular season games after the All-Star break.

His strong first half shouldn’t be entirely discounted either, but Guerrero’s overall production stood out far less than his RBI total would indicate, as his .841 OPS ranked 42nd among the 151 players who logged at least 500 plate appearances this season. Toss in his complete lack of defensive value and he’s just not worth $9 million at age 36.

After a World Series run declining his option was no doubt a tough decision for general manager Jon Daniels, but the Rangers made the right call. If they can re-sign Guerrero for a lesser salary it could make sense, but if not there will be no shortage of corner outfielders, first basemen, and designated hitters capable of producing an .800 OPS for a fraction of the cost.

Umpire Cory Blaser made two atrocious calls in the top of the 11th inning

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The Astros walked off 3-2 winners in the bottom of the 11th inning of ALCS Game 2 against the Yankees. Carlos Correa struck the winning blow, sending a first-pitch fastball from J.A. Happ over the fence in right field at Minute Maid Park, ending nearly five hours of baseball on Sunday night.

Correa’s heroics were precipitated by two highly questionable calls by home plate umpire Cory Blaser in the top half of the 11th.

Astros reliever Joe Smith walked Edwin Encarnación with two outs, prompting manager A.J. Hinch to bring in Ryan Pressly. Pressly, however, served up a single to left field to Brett Gardner, putting runners on first and second with two outs. Hinch again came out to the mound, this time bringing Josh James to face power-hitting catcher Gary Sánchez.

James and Sánchez had an epic battle. Sánchez fell behind 0-2 on a couple of foul balls, proceeded to foul off five of the next six pitches. On the ninth pitch of the at-bat, Sánchez appeared to swing and miss at an 87 MPH slider in the dirt for strike three and the final out of the inning. However, Blaser ruled that Sánchez tipped the ball, extending the at-bat. Replays showed clearly that Sánchez did not make contact at all with the pitch. James then threw a 99 MPH fastball several inches off the plate outside that Blaser called for strike three. Sánchez, who shouldn’t have seen a 10th pitch, was upset at what appeared to be a make-up call.

The rest, as they say, is history. One pitch later, the Astros evened up the ALCS at one game apiece. Obviously, Blaser’s mistakes in a way cancel each other out, and neither of them caused Happ to throw a poorly located fastball to Correa. It is postseason baseball, however, and umpires are as much under the microscope as the players and managers. Those were two particularly atrocious judgments by Blaser.