Stubborn Uggla doesn't want to budge

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While it seems as though most of his suitors view him as a third baseman or outfielder, Dan Uggla isn’t interested in moving off second base, his agent told Yahoo! Sports’ Tim Brown.

“Danny Uggla’s been a full-time second baseman for the last four years,” agent Jeff Borris said. “He’s performed exceptionally well at that position. Although he has the athleticism to play other positions, he’s performed remarkably over these four years at second base and there should be no reason to consider a position change at this time.”

Of course, Uggla is pretty much universally regarded as a below average second baseman. UZR has actually rated him above average in two of his four seasons, but it had him at -10 runs last season. Luis Castillo was the only full-time second baseman to grade out worse. Overall, UZR has him three runs below average per year. Uggla commits more errors than the typical second baseman, and he’s simply not very fast. He is surprisingly strong on double plays, but he’s only going to get slower as he ages.
Money is the big reason most players resist moves to easier positions, but Uggla has little to lose here. He’s still two years away from free agency, and by the time 2012 rolls around, it’s doubtful that any team is going to give him a long-term contract to start second base. He’d almost surely be better off if he’s settled in at third or in left field by then.
There’s also the fact that second basemen, generally, don’t make a lot of money. Bret Boone (remember him?) was the last free agent second baseman to land a contract worth more than $25 million. Castillo got $25 million from the Mets two years ago, and the team regretted the signing before the ink was even dry. Chase Utley and Brian Roberts are the only second basemen currently making more than approx. $7.5 million that Uggla figures to earn in arbitration next year. Second basemen tend to be plentiful and cheap in free agency. They also often age badly. Many will likely see Uggla as a poor investment as a second baseman in two years.
Uggla has been connected with the Giants and Orioles as a possibility at third and the Braves and Red Sox as a left fielder. No one, though, has been talking about picking him up to play second base. The 29-year-old might as well take the hint.

Astros advance to the World Series with 4-0 finale against Yankees

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The Astros punched their ticket to the World Series on Saturday, shutting out the Yankees 4-0 to take their first Game 7 victory at home. Charlie Morton was nearly untouchable on the mound, holding the Yankees to two hits, a walk and five strikeouts en route to his first career postseason win.

Morton and Sabathia carried their duel through three solid innings. Morton struck out three batters and allowed just one baserunner. Sabathia worked in and out of jams in the second and third innings, supplying and stranding two runners in scoring position.

Evan Gattis was the first to strike. In the fourth inning, he punched a 2-2 slider from Sabathia into the left field wall, where it registered a projected 405 feet and broke a homer-less streak of 115 at-bats by designated hitters in the 2017 postseason. The home run signaled the beginning of the end for the Yankees’ starter. He induced a groundout from Marwin Gonzalez, then walked Brian McCann on six pitches and allowed Josh Reddick his first base hit of the playoffs. That was enough for Joe Girardi, who pulled Sabathia for righty Tommy Kahnle and an inning-ending double play to close out the fourth.

Even with Sabathia gone, there was still some hope that the middle of the order could bail the Yankees out. Greg Bird led off the fifth with a first pitch double and Aaron Hicks took a four-pitch walk. A wild pitch from Morton allowed Bird to reach third base, but Alex Bregman and Brian McCann weren’t about to let the Yankees spoil their starter’s shutout. Todd Frazier bounced a ball toward third base, where Bregman grabbed and fired it to home plate, catching Bird just as McCann put his glove down.

The bottom of the inning wasn’t any easier for Sabathia’s successors. Jose Altuve went oppo-taco on a 1-1 changeup from Kahnle, postmarking it 364 feet into the right field stands. Kahnle labored through the next four at-bats, handing out a pair of singles to Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel before sending Gattis down swinging. The next at-bat was even more troublesome. McCann roped a two-out, two-RBI double to the warning track in right field, clearing the bases and boosting the Astros’ to a cushy 4-0 lead.

The excitement fizzled a little over the next few innings. Brett Gardner muscled a leadoff single off of Lance McCullers, but was later caught at second on a force play to end the sixth. McCullers didn’t let go of the ball again. He was lights-out through the end of the game, scattering a walk and six strikeouts over four innings and clinching the pennant with a 1-2-3 performance in the ninth.

Whatever confidence the Astros had coming off of their three-game sweep in the Division Series was tested and tested again in their pennant run. They battled through three tough losses in Games 3 through 5, staved off elimination with a gem from Justin Verlander in Game 6, and finally emerged victorious tonight. Three days from now, when they enter Dodger Stadium for Game 1 of the World Series, they’ll have the chance to do it all again.