ESPN Research monster Mark Simon and Doug Kern of ESPN Stats & Information put together a list of some players who have contractual options for next season, using information from the excellent Cot's Baseball Contracts. Take a look:
Lance Berkman NYY ($15M club, $2M buyout)
David Ortiz BOS ($12.5M club)
Albert Pujols STL ($16.0M club, $5M buyout)
Mark Ellis OAK ($6.0M club, $0.5M buyout)
Jose Lopez SEA ($4.5M club, $0.25M buyout)
Omar Infante ATL ($2.5M club, $0.25M buyout, with $1M more if he meets plate appearance criteria)
Jhonny Peralta DET ($7.0M club, $0.25M buyout, with various incentives attached that could increase option)
Edgar Renteria SF ($10.5M club, $0.5M buyout)
Jose Reyes NYM ($11.0M club, $0.5M buyout)
Adrian Beltre BOS ($5.0M player, $1M buyout if he has 575 plate appearances)
Eric Chavez OAK ($12.5M club, $3M buyout)
Bill Hall BOS ($9.25M club, $0.5M buyout)
Nick Punto MIN ($5.0M club, $0.5M buyout)
Miguel Olivo COL ($2.5M club, $0.5M buyout)
Yorvit Torrealba SD ($3.5M mutual, $0.5M buyout from either)
Gregg Zaun MIL ($2.25M club, $0.25M buyout)
Coco Crisp OAK ($5.75M club, $0.5M buyout)
David DeJesus KC ($6.0M club, $0.5M buyout)
Jason Kubel MIN ($5.25M club, $0.35M buyout)
Magglio Ordonez DET ($15.0M club)
Bronson Arroyo CIN ($11.0M club, $2M buyout, possibility of increase to $13M based on 2010 innings)
Jeff Francis COL ($7.0M club)
Jon Garland SD ($6.75M mutual option, buyout of either $0.3M if player rejects or $0.6M if team rejects)
Aaron Harang CIN ($12.75M club, $2M buyout)
Ian Snell SEA ($6.75M club)
Chris Young SD ($8.5M club)
J.C. Romero PHI ($4.5M club, $0.25M buyout)
Matt Thornton CWS ($3.0M club, $0.25M buyout)
Kerry Wood NYY ($11.0M club)
At first glance, some no-brainers for the second-tier option to be picked up: Thornton, Infante, Garland.
At first glance, some no-brainers for the option to be rejected: Berkman, Romero, Harang, Lopez, Hall.
In early May, the Red Sox had conversations about possibly releasing David Ortiz, but he rebounded in a big way and now it makes sense for Boston to pick up his option for $12.5 million, because Ortiz has demonstrated he can still hit, and because one possible alternative scenario could be a nightmare for the Red Sox. Imagine if Ortiz delivered himself into the hands of the Yankees, and took advantage of the helpful dimensions of new Yankee Stadium to have a 35-homer season.
Peter O'Malley says that Frank McCourt needs to sell the Dodgers.
Says O'Malley, within Bill Shaikin's story: "For many years, the Dodgers have been one of the most prestigious institutions in our city and throughout professional sports. Sadly, that is not the case today."
This would be like having Johnny Carson, in retirement, saying out loud that a late-night talk show host needs to give up his job. And what this does is it gives Bud Selig and Major League Baseball owners cover to start putting pressure on the McCourts to sell the club.
McCourt is now completely isolated, writes Bill Plaschke.
And meanwhile, the Dodgers -- finishing a tough year after the front office was never allowed to augment the pitching staff in the way it should be -- got smoked by the Giants on Thursday, and San Francisco moved into first place.
And within this piece, there is word that Joe Torre knows what he will do for next year. Unless he has been holding double-secret negotiations with McCourt on an extension in the midst of what friends say has been a frustrating season for Torre, what this almost certainly means is that Torre is leaving, because the choice to manage the Dodgers in 2011 must be unilateral; it has to be made in concert with Frank McCourt.
From Doug Kern of ESPN Stats & Information, how Jonathan Sanchez shut down the Dodgers:
(A) His strike percentage of 74.4 (on all pitches) was the highest of his career in a start. It was spread across all pitch types (76.7 percent on fastballs); the free-swinging Dodgers swung and missed 18 times, the most for Sanchez since April.
(B) His curve and slider worked well; Dodgers went 0-for-7 against those two pitches, which also accounted for five of Sanchez's season-high 12 strikeouts. They also chased half of all those two pitches outside the strike zone.
(C) His high strike percentage led him to zero three-ball counts the entire game (not even 3-2). That's another first in his career as a starter. He went 2-0 to only two batters, both of whom later made outs.
If the Twins' victories on Tuesday and Wednesday were nails in the White Sox coffin, then what Minnesota did on Thursday was throw dirt on the Chicago season, in completing a sweep. Joe Mauer and Carl Pavano worked well together, writes La Velle Neal.
From Mr. Kern, some more on Delmon Young's homer on Thursday: Young went yard on a first-pitch curveball from Mark Buehrle; of Young's 56 career homers, more have come on the first pitch (18) than on any other count. It's also only the ninth curveball homer of his career, but his fifth this season. That matches his total on fastballs. Thirteen of Delmon's 18 taters this year have come on off-speed pitches. Among all MLB players with double-digit homers, only Pedro Alvarez of the Pirates (8-of-11) has a higher percentage of homers on off-speed pitches.
For good measure, Delmon added singles in the second and fourth innings. That now ties him with Denard Span for the second-most hits on the Twins team this year (153; Mauer has 161). He also leads Minnesota in RBIs (102) and in total bases (249). More importantly, with Thursday's outing, his season batting average has returned to exactly .300.
Bring on the Yankees, writes Tom Powers.
Ron Gardenhire should be the Manager of the Year in the AL, writes Sid Hartman. A month ago, I thought Ron Washington was a lock, but it will help Gardenhire that the AL Central race carried into September.
Now the next question about the White Sox is this: Will Ozzie Guillen return as manager?
There are a lot of folks within baseball who don't think he will, and believe it's more likely that he'll wind up managing the Marlins. The opinions of only two people really matter: that of White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who ultimately will decide whether he wants Ozzie to stay, and Guillen.
A notable member of the White Sox family is moving on: organist Nancy Faust, who has been with the team for 41 years.
The Jeter discussion
The reaction to Derek Jeter's hit by pitch is stunning, given that in every game there are probably no fewer than 20-25 instances in which players on the field try to deceive the umpire. Catchers moving their gloves to try to make a pitch out of the strike zone look like a strike; outfielders and infielders raising their gloves as if they caught a ball just above the ground, even when in many cases they know they did not, in an attempt to deceive baserunners; first basemen stepping away from the bag early on a bang-bang play in order to convince the umpires that they caught the ball before the baserunners arrived.
And the first part of Jeter's drama -- if that's what you want to call it -- was purely reactive. For his entire career, his hitting mechanics have carried him toward home plate -- he dives into his swing -- and whenever he gets hit or the pitch comes inside, he typically spins or lurches away from home, as he has his entire career. When Chad Qualls came inside with his fastball the other day, the ball hit the knob of the bat and then hit Jeter, as he spun away, and the home plate umpire was decisive and emphatic: A hit by pitch. The decision was made before Jeter even started his ruse.
Late on Thursday, Reds right fielder Jay Bruce recalled over the phone a similar play from early in his career. A pitch came inside and immediately the home plate umpire -- who shall go unnamed here -- told Bruce to take his base. Bruce, a little confused and perhaps wanting to swing the bat, instinctively mentioned that he hadn't been hit, and the umpire stared at Bruce and sternly said, "Jay, I said to go to first base."
In other words, the call stands.
So Bruce went to first. And every time the same umpire sees Bruce, he reminds the outfielder of the play. In other words, the umpire's call stands.
But because it was Jeter doing the acting the other night, instead of one of the other 1,000 players in the big leagues, the Yankees' captain is getting hammered publicly. Jeter's antics were over the line, writes Gary Shelton.
Mark Bradley likes the Braves' chances, and he wonders if he's the only one.
Jake Westbrook was The Man for the Cardinals, Rick Hummel writes. Watched a lot of the Reds' game against Arizona, and Edinson Volquez was dominating, at times, and at times he also lost the strike zone. Dusty Baker will have an interesting decision on what to do with him in the postseason, because Volquez has the pure stuff to shut down a good lineup.
The Reds hit the road in drag, John Fay writes.
Moves, deals and decisions
2. A name to watch in the managerial searches in Florida and Arizona: Rick Renteria, the first-base coach for the San Diego Padres.
3. The Diamondbacks, of course, first must decide who their next general manager will be, and it may come down to a choice between Jerry DiPoto, who has made some nice moves -- the Daniel Hudson trade, for example -- in his short time as interim GM, and Kevin Towers, the former general manager of the San Diego Padres. Towers put a lot of the pieces in place for the Padres team that's succeeding now. Somebody else could emerge, of course, but Towers has the most experience as a GM of all those interviewed, and DiPoto is the known quantity to club owners. Towers would presumably be much more expensive. A decision is expected soon.
4. The next Cubs manager must understand the team's history, Tom Ricketts tells Ameet Sachdev.
7. The Pirates will soon make a decision on the team's coaches, Dejan Kovacevic writes.
Dings and dents
A Mets pitcher's season is over because of an injury, Anthony McCarron writes.
The Diamondbacks want to reduce their strikeout totals, which are almost certainly going to turn out to be record-setting.
I think some of the Arizona players are missing the point of what the D-backs' strikeouts represent: Not only will the high strikeout totals gnaw at their run production, but they are also a barometer of how vulnerable the Diamondbacks are against good pitchers, who are more capable of taking advantage of Arizona's hyper-aggressiveness.
2. The D-backs salvaged a split.
3. The Indians got to frolic in extra innings, Dennis Manoloff writes.
4. The Pirates are 50 games under .500, after losing on the road, again. Think about that for a second.
The Patience Index
• Ron Gardenhire has surpassed Ron Washington as the leading candidate for the AL Manager of the Year, writes Randy Galloway.
• Kevin Mitchell is to stand trial, a judge rules.
• Pitching has propelled the Astros' late-season surge, Zachary Levine writes.
• Richard Griffin identifies six can't-miss events on the Jays' 2011 schedule.
• The Rangers have taken up the claw and antlers, writes William Wikerson.
• Willie McCovey is on the mend, writes Andrew Baggarly, within this notebook.
And today will be better than yesterday.