Sports Illustrated runs a fascinating profile of Jayson Werth this week. It’s very long, very good and is worth a full and thoughtful read, but one passage from the first page stood out at me:
Werth is quick to deflect questions that demand introspection. He
agreed to an interview only if no questions involved his wife, his two
kids or any aspect of his private life. The rest of his relatives are
off limits too. Asked–gingerly–if he would pass along the number of his
mother, the former track star Kim Schofield Werth, he snaps, “My mom is
unavailable. She just got her phone number unlisted and moved from
Illinois to the Ozarks.” Ditto his stepfather, the former big leaguer
Dennis Werth: “I’ve got his number in my cell, but I’m not giving it
“I don’t see why he has to share his thoughts about me with the rest of the world.”
If I were thrust out into to the public spotlight like that I would probably feel equally protective of my privacy and my family, so I have no criticism of Werth for this.
But, to the extent people are still thinking that it would be a great idea to sign a big long term deal with the Yankees, the quoted passage is a pretty good indication that life for Werth in New York would be something approaching hell. The press simply demands more of a player there, and to survive as a big money player in the Big Apple you either have to (a) be a smooth and professional PR assassin like Derek Jeter; or (b) you have to be a self-effacing and personable character like Nick Swisher or someone.
Based on this glimpse of Werth — and I admit, it’s only a glimpse — he doesn’t seem to fall in the “New York-Friendly” category of superstars.
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.