Tony La Russa did his best today to defuse the budding controversy surrounding Colby Rasmus and his future with the team, telling the Post-Dispatch that to say the situation has devolved to an “either Rasmus goes or La Russa goes” state it all wrong and overstates the situation.
Which I agree, it states the matter too strongly. La Russa is going to go when he wants to, not because management forces him out over a dustup with Colby Rasmus. By the same token, Rasmus is not going to get shipped out just because people are getting snippy with him in the course of a horrendous late-season swoon. Stuff happens when teams lose and ugliness comes to the fore.
Of course, because he’s Tony La Russa, his comments make it very clear that he thinks everyone has it all wrong but him. I’ve still yet to hear any explanation for why Rasmus’ playing time has been so wonky (one that makes any sense, anyway). Likewise, I’d be curious to know who leaked word that Rasmus had asked for a trade earlier this season, because the only person whose cause that helps to have out there is La Russa’s (i.e. Rasmus being difficult gives La Russa cover for jerking him around).
Rasmus may not understand that his best move is always to keep quiet, play well and let things sort themselves out until his power to control his own destiny increases with service time. But it seems to me that La Russa has a lot of run-ins with players that go public, and that reflects more poorly on La Russa than Rasmus’ immaturity reflects on him.
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.