Phillies, Astros and Red Sox pursue Polanco

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polanco tigers.jpgMLB.com reporters are connecting Placido Polanco to the Phillies, Red Sox and Astros one day after the Tigers declined to offer the Type A free agent arbitration, allowing teams to sign him without surrendering a draft pick.
Todd Zolecki claims the Phils have been “very aggressive in their pursuit” of Polanco as their top choice to replace Pedro Feliz at third base. Adrian Beltre and Mark DeRosa have also been discussed as possibilities there. Zolecki believes that the Phillies are the favorites to land the 34-year-old, who played for Philadelphia from mid-2002 to mid-2005.
Brian McTaggert has the Astros as “seriously interested,” even though they’ve been crying poor and they’re on the hook to Kaz Matsui for another $5 million in 2010. Houston has been hoping that Matsui would take the Kenji Johjima route back to Japan, but there’s been no indication that it’s a real possibility. Matsui remains an above average defensive second baseman, but he’s often hurt and he hit just .250/.302/.357 last season.
The Red Sox could use Polanco at second base if they moved Dustin Pedroia to shortstop, though that’s probably not their preferred option. Polanco has seen his OPS drop from 846 in 2007 to 768 in 2008 and 727 last season, and while he’s more attractive now that he won’t cost teams a draft pick, that doesn’t give him any extra advantage over Orlando Hudson or Felipe Lopez.
Polanco could also be an option for the Dodgers, Twins or Cubs at second base. The Tigers won’t re-sign him, as they need to save money and have an internal replacement ready in Scott Sizemore.

Aaron Judge set a new postseason strikeout record

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For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:

The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).

It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: