Ned Yost and his flexible thumb

Is it time for Ned Yost to get the axe?

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Expectations can be a drag. It’s not Ned Yost’s fault that a lot of people thought the Royals would be this year’s version of the 2013 Pirates and end a long playoff drought. So if the team is failing to meet those expectations, is it really his fault?

Well, sure. Because in this particular case the expectations weren’t terribly unreasonable. No one predicted a championship or even a division title. But respectability and occasional friskiness is definitely something this Royals team should be living up to given the talent on the roster. Perhaps Yost isn’t doing anything egregiously wrong (just go with me on that for now, Royals fans) but lots of dudes have been fired for managing a talented but underachieving team which appears to be listless and without fire.

Ken Rosenthal — who has never been one to call for managers’ heads all willy-nilly — thinks it’s time for Ned to go:

. . . if ever a team appears in need of a fresh voice, it’s this one. I’m not sure what that voice should sound like, though at this point, screeching probably would be preferable to soothing. The entire organization seems almost too comfortable, waiting for a surge that might never come . . . Considering the Royals’ talent, can anyone say [Yost] is getting the most out of this club?

Nope. Not at all. And that’s before you take into account his crazy in-game decisionmaking, his odd bullpen usage and post-game comments which, intentionally or not, suggest that winning isn’t always the most important thing. Which, to you and me and the kids at the bus stop it shouldn’t be, but to a major league manager it kinda is.

I’m not sure who today’s version of Billy Martin is. The guy who comes in, kicks butts, lights a fire under a team and manages a quick turnaround. Maybe it’s Ozzie Guillen? Maybe someone else? All I know is, it ain’t Ned Yost.

Report: Royals and Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Eric Hosmer #35 of the Kansas City Royals and the American League rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the National League in the 2nd inning of the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
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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.

Yankees sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 17:  Jonathon Niese #49 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 17, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
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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.