Talks between Jeter and Yankees already looking problematic

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When it comes to matters of Derek Jeter, the Yankees and free agency, everyone seems to agree on one thing: it’s best that the negotiations do not turn ugly.  Unfortunately, that may no longer be possible.

Yankees managing partner Hal Steinbrenner told a New York-based radio station Tuesday that Jeter is wanted back, but also that he’s running a “business” and that the Yanks aren’t simply going to hand the 36-year-old shortstop a blank check because he’s loved and revered.  It was a sensible comment, given that Jeter has fallen off considerably both on offense and defense and finished the 2010 season with an OPS of 710 — a good 127 points below his career average of 837.

Jeter knows that he’s not the player he once was and his agent, Casey Close, knows that just as well.  But Close also knows that the Yankees will face a PR nightmare if they let their “captain” walk this winter and go with Eduardo Nunez at shortstop instead.  There’s no denying that Jeter has major leverage in this situation and it certainly sounds like he plans to use it.

SI.com’s Jon Heyman heard from industry sources Wednesday that Jeter could be seeking a six-year contract that would take him into age 42.  And now Jeter’s agent is telling AOL Fanhouse that his client’s value to the Yankees “cannot be overstated” and that “no athlete embodies the spirit of a champion more.”

Contract talks probably haven’t even started yet and the two sides are already battling it out publicly. Jeter wants to end his career in New York, the Yankees want him to end his career in New York, but there’s a clear disagreement as to how much he deserves to be paid over these final few years.  And for how long he deserves to be paid.

Jeter isn’t going anywhere.  He will be back with the Yankees in 2011 and for a few years beyond that, but the path toward a peaceful pact this winter looks to be a rocky one.

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: