Over the weekend, Bobby Jenks complained that the White Sox brass keep getting on him for being out of shape. Kenny Williams isn’t all that interested in backing off:
“If he’s upset that it’s continuously brought up, then he should work on it and get it to where it’s not an issue . . . It is an issue. I’ve told him this directly to his face. If he’s going to have an extended career of effectiveness at a high level, like he certainly is capable of doing, then he has to take better care of himself.”
Kenny Williams is absolutely right to expect that his players be in tip-top shape and to accept no excuses when they fail to take care of themselves. These guys have one job, and that’s to perform in physical competition with other athletes. If someone isn’t on board with that, Heaven help them.
Kenny Williams is absolutely wrong, however, to say word one about this in public. For one thing, it’s rude and unprofessional to call your own players out, just as it would be rude and unprofessional for any employer to call out his own employees’ shortcomings in a public forum. Your TPS reports may not always have a cover sheet on them, but you don’t want your boss telling the newspaper about it, do you?
But it’s dumb on an even more basic level than that. The GM’s primary job is to build his roster. One of the primary ways to build the roster is through trades. Kenny Williams, it has been said, is even interesting in trading Bobby Jenks if given the right offer. Fact: other GMs read newspapers. Fact: when Kenny Williams slams his own player in public, other GMs will draw the inescapable conclusion that Kenny Williams doesn’t value Bobby Jenks all that much. Fact: because of that, Kenny Williams will get fewer and/or lower offers for Bobby Jenks as a result of him running down the guy in the Sun-Times or wherever.
Insist on the best, Kenny, but keep your criticisms in-house. To do otherwise only hurts the ballclub.
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.
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.