When Jason Marquis signed with the Nats he had a lot to say about bringing a winning attitude to Washington and mentoring the youngins. That apparently wasn’t just a function of post-deal euphoria, because he’s still bringing the rah-rah. Asked whether the Nats’ many moves this offseason translate to, say, a .500 record, Marquis wasn’t having any of it:
“No, I don’t see why we can’t shoot for the stars. Why do you want to
limit yourself to 81 wins? Why do I want to limit myself to 15 wins? If
I am taking the ball 34 times, I should win 34 times. We step on the
field 162 times, we should win 162 times. You shouldn’t say ‘let’s win
81 games’ than you putting a number (on it) and you are satisfied with
81 wins. I don’t think you should ever be satisfied.”
I’m torn. On the one hand I hate it when ballplayers talk in those Bull-Durhamesque “I just want to help the ballclub” platitudes, but I also don’t like it when someone comes with the “defeat is not an option/victory is certain/give 110%” rebop either.
I’m not faulting Marquis here — I think he went with the better of the two tacks, and it’s nice to hear optimism in NatsLand, because their fans deserve some of it by now — but I think exchanges like these show the limits of what we can learn from people in the media talking to the guys who throw the baseball.
“Yes, Byron, I think we’ll win 86 games, but will fall out of the wild card race in September when Elijah Dukes develops plantar fasciitis on his plant foot.”
What else can he say?
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.