Tuesday's thoughts: Wedge's wacky lineups

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– I’ve believed all along that Ramon Castro was the most effective
catcher on the Mets’ roster. The scary thing is that he also might have
been the organization’s best option at first base after Carlos Delgado
went down. After another hitless game Tuesday, Daniel Murphy is down to
.234/.318/.347 for the season. Castro has never played first base, but
it’s not like Murphy is even living up to the low standards set by
Carlos Delgado on defense. It’s time to send Murphy down and try
Fernando Tatis as a stopgap at first.

– Maybe it is time to do something about Eric Wedge: Travis Hafner
was intentionally walked twice by Brewers right-handers while hitting
sixth ahead of Chris Gimenez, a rookie making his fourth major league
start. Hafner, who entered with a 934 OPS, ended up hitting a rather
meaningless two-run homer in the ninth. The guy batting ahead of him,
Ryan Garko, entered with a 668 OPS against right-handers this season.

– It was a rough night for Hanley Ramirez. He committed an error on
a routine grounder, and he allowed Jacoby Ellsbury to score from second
on an infield single when neither he nor Dan Uggla could knock down the
ball. Also, with the Red Sox up 8-2 with no outs in the sixth, he was
thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double. He did hustle the
whole way, but it was an awful decision.

– The Giants offense couldn’t have much less impressive in Angels
starter Sean O’Sullivan’s major league debut. Sullivan did do a pretty
good job of keeping his 90-92 mph fastball low in the zone, plus he was
able to get ahead in the count with his curveball. Still, the Giants
showed very little interest in battling him. The lone walk he issued
came with two outs in the seventh, and he was able to complete seven
while throwing 98 pitches.

Jason Kipnis could join Team Israel for 2017 World Baseball Classic

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians throws during batting practice prior to Game Seven of the 2016 World Series against the Chicago Cubs at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.

For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.

Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.

Rangers to sign James Loney to minor league deal

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 21: James Loney #28 of the New York Mets tosses to first base against the San Francisco Giants during the second inning at AT&T Park on August 21, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  The New York Mets defeated the San Francisco Giants 2-0. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.

Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.

The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.