The fact that the Cardinals remain a top-5 attendance team in one of baseball’s smallest market is a testament to the fan loyalty they’ve cultivated. But things are a tad off this year: Rick Hummel reports that the Cardinals are down 2,843 fans a game. No big worries given that they’ll still be over three million, but it’s worth noting I suppose.
And really, my excuse for posting this is really to make people go read the discussion about it over at Baseball Think Factory. Based on an early comment the conversation moves to trying to identify which cities, if any, are unequivocal baseball towns as opposed to football towns or towns of other sports.
The verdict so far: only St. Louis, New York and Boston are baseball towns, and down the thread some people make the argument that even New York can’t claim that as clearly as you’d think. It’s more a town for winners — making it an all-sports town — than just baseball. It’s just that baseball has been where the winning has been.
It certainly applies to St. Louis, though. Not sure that it applies in many other places, if at all. Even the worst football teams seem to capture more municipal fascination than do good baseball teams, almost everywhere.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.
Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.
Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.
According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.
Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.