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Down The Line

September 06, 2009|Bill Shaikin

A worthy heir to Jeff Kent?

Dan Uggla overheard the franchise player complaining to reporters about a lack of respect from some of his teammates. Uggla interrupted the interview to say this: "I was one of them."

No hiding behind the veil of anonymity. And, before reporters could be escorted out of the Florida Marlins' clubhouse, Uggla accused Hanley Ramirez of not trying to play through an injury during the chase for a playoff spot.

"You got your $70 million," Uggla said

Uggla might get a ticket out of town, although not for the public shaming of his mercurial double-play partner. The Marlins are getting a new ballpark in 2012, but they have made clear that signing Ramirez to a long-term contract was not the start of a trend, just an exceptional commitment to an exceptional player.

That could make Uggla a fit for the Dodgers, who are not expected to engage in a bidding war to retain second baseman Orlando Hudson. Uggla makes $5.35 million this season and could top $7 million in salary arbitration next season, a tab the Marlins are unlikely to pay.

Uggla's power at second base would make James Loney's lack of power at first base more tolerable. Uggla, 29, was batting .244 through Friday, with 25 home runs.

In each of his four major league seasons, Uggla has hit at least 25 home runs.

In their half-century in Los Angeles, the Dodgers never have had a player hit 25 home runs in four consecutive seasons.

No kidding. The last Dodgers players to do that did it in Brooklyn: Gil Hodges and Duke Snider.

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A Mariner swims against the tide

The performances of outfielder Matt Holliday and pitchers John Smoltz, George Sherrill, Cliff Lee, Brad Penny and Rafael Betancourt have done nothing to dampen the image of the National League as something of a JV league.

Holliday and all those arms all jumped into the NL this season, from the American League. The bad players got good. The good players got better.

That's what makes the performance of Ian Snell so intriguing. Snell, 27, posted a 3.76 earned-run average for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2007, a power pitcher in his second full season. He put up a 5.42 ERA last season and a 5.36 ERA this season, and the Pirates sent him down.

The Seattle Mariners acquired him at the July trade deadline. In his last four starts -- in the big-boy AL -- he's 4-0 with a 2.49 ERA.

His walks are up and his strikeouts down, but he could pay off, since he's signed for $4.25 million next year. Carlos Silva, signed for $48 million by former general manager Bill Bavasi, is 5-18 with a 6.77 ERA for the Mariners.

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To ESPN, a tip of the yarmulke

It's an article of faith: If the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees are scheduled to play on a Sunday, ESPN dictates a night game, for a national broadcast.

The teams were scheduled to play in New York on Sept. 27. Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year, begins at sundown that day.

Since more Jews live in New York than in Jerusalem, ESPN agreed last week to start the game at 1 p.m. rather than 8 p.m., yielding to the pleas of Commissioner Bud Selig and Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.).

Weiner credited ESPN for waiving its contractual rights.

"There is," he told the Associated Press, "a higher authority."

-- Bill Shaikin

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