Everybody is understandably talking about Manny right now, but there was another piece of interesting news to come out of Chicago on Monday. Andruw Jones told Scott Merkin of MLB.com that he would like to play five more seasons.
“Everybody says he’s getting old or he’s losing it,” said the
33-year-old Jones. “There are things you have to work on and try to get
yourself more consistent. Hopefully when you get the opportunity to
play, you can get back on that roll. But I’m looking for another five
years, and if I play consistently, I should be where I want to be.”
It’s funny that he mentions consistency, because let’s compare his production over the past two seasons:
2009: .214/.323/.459 with 17 home runs, 43 RBI and a 782 OPS in 281 at-bats
2010: .215/.321/.474 with 18 home runs, 42 RBI and a 795 OPS in 251 at-bats (entering play Monday)
Whether you think he’s been good or bad, that’s pretty darn remarkable. Thankfully, looking at the patterns of his last two seasons, we know that if he gets off to a hot start again next April, it doesn’t mean “he’s back.” At this point, he’s merely a decent power bat who is still fairly capable in the outfield.
Jones, who signed a one-year, incentive-laden $500,000 contract with the White Sox last November, told Merkin that he would like to stay in Chicago next season. It’s worth noting that he enters play Monday with 406 career home runs, so staying in the American League is obviously his best bet if he hopes to have any shot at cracking 500 home runs. With the game increasingly shifting towards youth, however, it seems unlikely he’ll stick around long enough.
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.