Is Nolan Ryan backing down from a Yankee gunfight?

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We have a good idea of what the Yankees have offered to free agent Cliff Lee — six years and $140 million, at least initially — but what about the Rangers?

Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News spoke with club president Nolan Ryan on Wednesday at the Winter Meetings, and Ryan told him that the Rangers are asking Lee’s agent, Darek Braunecker, to “tell them what it would take to sign” the ace lefty.

Odd, right?  Most front offices would simply make a solid counter-offer and hope for the best.

It sounds like Ryan is wary of getting into a bidding war with the Yankees, however unavoidable it may be.  That, or the Rangers are so confident in their ability to sign the left-hander that they are offering a proverbial blank check.  We’re thinking it’s the former.

The Yankees seem really serious about wanting Lee.  So much so that they haven’t made significant contact with any other free agent this winter.  When they fall in love with a player, and are given an opportunity to sign that player, it’s not often that it falls flat.

Oh, and you know they’re going to want to steal the spotlight from the Red Sox, who just made Carl Crawford the highest-paid outfielder in major league history.

Eyes are upon you, Texas.

Nolan and his partner Chuck Greenberg won the ownership rights to the Rangers in August after bidding $593 million and besting Mark Cuban.  Can they now go to seven years and $163 million for Lee?  If Crawford can get a seven-year, $142 million pact from Boston, $160-plus million may be the going rate for baseball’s best strike-thrower.

The Dodgers lineup looks funny

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Lineups come out every day and I look at them every day and I give very little thought to them as long as they include the sorts of players who are appropriate to the game.

On Opening Day everyone important should be playing. Between then and the last day of the season it can be almost anyone depending on health and how much rest they need. In the playoffs it should be the best possible players once again, adjusted for platoon stuff. Usually it all washes by. Managers, our criticisms of them notwithstanding, tend to be pretty good at their jobs.

The Dodgers lineup for Game 6 of the NLCS caught my eye, though, because I can’t remember ever seeing a lineup in which the players were listed, basically, in defensive order. Really, with the exception of the catcher not batting first, have you ever seen a lineup with the defensive positions arranged like this? I haven’t. It’s fun, though!

1. David Freese (R) 1B
2. Max Muncy (L) 2B
3. Justin Turner (R) 3B
4. Manny Machado (R) SS
5. Cody Bellinger (L) CF
6. Chris Taylor (R) LF
7. Yasiel Puig (R) RF
8. Austin Barnes (R) C
9. Hyun-Jin Ryu (R) P

For the Brewers, things are a bit more conventional. Kudos to Craig Counsell for not putting an askterisk or a question mark next to Wade Miley, though, which I presume means he’ll last for more than one batter:

1. Lorenzo Cain (R) CF
2. Christian Yelich (L) RF
3. Ryan Braun (R) LF
4. Travis Shaw (L) 2B
5. Jesus Aguilar (R) 1B
6. Mike Moustakas (L) 3B
7. Erik Kratz (R) C
8. Orlando Arcia (R) SS
9. Wade Miley (L) P

Is it the last Brewers lineup of the season? Tune in tonight to find out.