Marlins should keep Hanley, fire Fredi

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Well, not today. Hanley Ramirez’s lack of hustle and subsequent rant about his manager’s qualifications shouldn’t be rewarded. Manager Fredi Gonzalez undoubtedly made the right call in benching Ramirez after Monday’s incident, and further punishing the shortstop by sitting him down for a game or two seems like the right call.
Let’s face it, though: Ramirez is the best thing the Marlins have going for them. As a 26-year-old shortstop with a career .315/.386/.528 line, 110 homers and 167 steals already to his credit, he’s on a Hall of Fame path. And while some have questioned his work ethic, he’s made obvious gains in his play at shortstop over the last couple of years. After 2007, I would have advocated moving him to center field. Now it looks like he’s going to last at shortstop for several more years before probably moving to third sometime in his thirties.
Gonzalez just isn’t an important piece. I wrote last October that replacing him with Bobby Valentine was a good idea. He’s a generic manager with no creativity. He knows what he wants when it comes to every role on the club, so it doesn’t matter whether he has the right personnel or not. As long as a player looks like he should be a No. 2 hitter or a shutdown closer, it’s unimportant if he can actually do the job or not. It’s more about looking the part.
That’s not to say he’s all bad. But he’s is replaceable, and now that he’s lost the respect of the main man in the clubhouse, it’s only a matter of time before he is, in fact, replaced. It can’t be this week and probably not this month. But if the Marlins are still hanging around the .500 mark by mid-June, odds are that he’ll go.

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.