HBT Weekend Wrapup

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Hope you all had a great Fourth of July! In honor of our Nation’s
birthday, I
put my daughter in the cap of a defunct Canadian baseball team

before heading out to the Independence Day parade. And my birthday is on
Bastille Day, so yes, I am a double agent for Francophones the world
over. You got a problem with that?

  • A few weeks ago New York columnists wouldn’t know who R.A. Dickey was if he fell out of the sky landed on their face and started to wiggle. Now he should be an All-Star. Makes sense.
  • Carlos Beltran is coming back July 15th. Anyone with a brain knew this (i.e. after the break) was probably when he’d come back. Didn’t stop Jerry Manuel from telling people he’d be back weeks ago.
  • Not the best outing for Stephen Strasburg. He didn’t have his best stuff and likely pitched himself out of the All-Star Game. I think he was one of the few guys who looked pretty good in those white hats, though, and that has to count for something.
  • Manny Ramirez goes on the disabled list. I like Manny and all, but reporting on his every move seems like something we don’t really need to be doing anymore. In terms of relevance, it’s kind of like talking about the latest Blink 182 record or the next “Lord of the Rings” movie or something.

I’m all screwed up on whether or not today is a holiday. The libraries and banks and government offices are all closed, but my wife is working and my kids’ little day camps are open. Further screwing me up is that fireworks in my little village were Saturday — not yesterday — and the big fireworks in downtown Columbus were Friday — again, not yesterday. Basically, I’ve lost all sense of time, space and the calendar.

Whatever. We’re posting today. How much we post may be impacted by whether or not baseball’s newsmakers consider it a holiday and whether or not my temporal vertigo leads me to say “screw it” and start cracking beers at 2pm.  Either way, we’ll get through this together.

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.