“It’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. You can quote
me on that.”
— Joe Saunders of the Los Angeles Angels on teammate Jered Weaver not making the All-Star team.
I want to get worked up over the snubs — especially the Omar Infante inclusion and Joey Votto exclusion — but I really can’t. It’d be one thing if what happened this year was some freak occurrence, but it’s not. Snubs and oddball inclusions happen every single year. Maybe not as odd as Infante, but this stuff always goes down.
Managers pick their guys to keep team harmony intact (e.g. Ryan Howard and Alex Rodriguez’s selections). Guys get picked because baseball has decided that the All-Star game is like Little League and every team needs a participant. There are approximately 125 pitchers on each team. The rules don’t allow for a natural roster construction, so we can’t really expect to have a natural or even a logical roster. Someone is going to get left out. Probably lots of someones. It’s the nature of the beast.
And ultimately, you have to wonder how much it matters. Sure, I feel bad for youngish guys like Votto and Weaver who get boned out of a fun time and the experience, but I always wonder if older snubs like Kevin Youkilis and Dan Uggla wouldn’t rather just avoid the ten hours in a plane and get the extra days off to hang out with their family and friends back home.
And besides, maybe we’ll get something fun out of all this craziness (and the All-Star Game is a lot of things, but rarely is it fun anymore). For example, though I won’t defend his selection for a millisecond, how cool would it be if Infante ended up being the game’s MVP or something?
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.