There’s been a lot of hostility directed Tony La Russa’s way for all of the NL All-Star snubs this week. Really, though, it’s the fans as a whole that made things more difficult than they needed to be by voting Dan Uggla, Rafael Furcal and Pablo Sandoval into the starting lineup.
The Braves tonight dropped the slumping Uggla down to the seventh spot in their lineup. He hit .160 in June and is off to a 1-for-16 start in July. Overall, he’s at .225/.355/.394 for the season.
In defense of the fans, Uggla probably was the NL’s most productive second baseman through the first two months of the season, and many ballots were cast in May. However, even though Uggla was outhitting Brandon Phillips and Aaron Hill, he was still a worse player overall after factoring in defense and baserunning.
The move to drop Uggla to the seventh spot comes nearly a year to the day after he broke out of his career-worst slump. Uggla was hitting .173 on July 4 last season. On July 5, he went 2-for-2 with a homer in kicking off a 33-game hitting streak.
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.