Cashman: Yanks will not increase current offer to Cliff Lee

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It’s hard to put a real finger on why, but things seem to be trending toward the Rangers today on the Cliff Lee rumor front.

Maybe that’s natural.  Since the Winter Meetings began, and even before that, the Yankees have seemed like the favorite to land the ace left-hander.  Perhaps these optimistic Rangers bits are working as a kind of media-driven balancing act.  Like a run of hey, they’re nice too stories.

Or maybe it’s all for real and the Rangers are going to win this thing.  Listen to this:

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told George King III of the New York Post Sunday that he will not improve the club’s current seven-year proposal to Lee, thought to be worth close to $161 million.  They’re done adding years and money.

As far as we know, the Rangers have only been willing to offer a six-year contract and will probably not move north of that unless it’s in the form of a seventh year club option.  That means Texas is offering less total guaranteed money, no matter what the average annual salaries look like.

But, as we touched on earlier today, there are reasons a guy like Lee might turn down the extra millions to remain in the Dallas area.

His Arkansas home is not far from Arlington, he has a strong relationship with pitching coach Mike Maddux, and it’s not like the Rangers are offering chump change.  He can still retire on a big ranch in Montana, buy a penthouse in Miami, custom order an 80-foot yacht, or whatever else filthy rich athletes do.

Maybe Lee will take Texas’ six-year deal, confident in his ability to make that seventh year happen.

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: