When Fredi Gonzalez was fired the other day Bobby Cox — Gonzalez’s former boss — was quoted waxing admiringly about Gonzalez. He said some stuff about Jeff Loria too, however. Fun stuff that I didn’t see until this morning:
“I know that guy is unpredictable, but I was still . . . After
everything [Gonzalez] has done for that guy, are you s——- me? [The
Marlins] have gone down to the end every year, playing their asses off.
That guy doesn’t appreciate anything. He’s one of those guys that thinks
you change [for the sake of change]. He’s always wanting to fire the
coaches, always. That’s his history.”
I’d love to know what “[for the sake of change]” was covering for. I’m guessing it was a “for the ______ of it” kind of thing.
In other news, Dave Rudin of the Stamford Advocate (Stamford is Bobby’s home town, by the way) has been texting with Bobby Valentine over the past 24 hours. The upshot: Valentine isn’t sayin’ nothin.
Probably a good move. As Joe Capozzi — the guy who quoted Valentine as denying the “Valentine starts Monday” report this morning — just said, the Heyman report to that effect is probably true, but Valentine has to deny it so that the Marlins can go through the motions of interviewing Edwin Rodriguez and Bo Porter, which the Marlins are pretty clearly using as token candidates.
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.