King Felix may be shut down early

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Felix Hernandez would have three starts left if he stays on regular rest. Kirby Arnold of the Everett Herald reports, however, that he may start only two more games because the team is concerned about his workload. Hernandez’s workload, that is. Not Arnold’s. I’m sure he’ll be able to report for the rest of the season without risking injury or fatigue.

On the one hand I’m a big fan of not pushing your valuable franchise pitchers unnecessarily, and there’s absolutely nothing necessary about the rest of the Mariners season. On the other hand, even if he were to throw three more complete games, he’d still only have 22 more innings this year than last year. And he’s currently 109 pitches behind the number he threw last year. So yes, going all three starts will take him into unprecedented territory, but it won’t take him into crazy land. If they want to truly preserve him, why not just shut him down now?

But hey, if Hernandez is shut down, the writers who support CC Sabathia and David Price for the Cy Young Award* will have another fact they will believe to be in their favor. No, not durability or anything. Probably something about guts and bravery or something equally as compelling as the wins argument tends to be.

*I recently spoke with a couple of writers who had a reasonable request of me: stop referring to “the writers” as if they were some giant groupthinking blob. I try not to do that, but I’ll admit that I’ve done it a bit recently, most notably in connection with the AL Cy Young award and the Jeter phantom HBP thing. And that’s not fair, as there are a lot of them who think sharply about issues, and that’s the case even if they ultimately come out differently than I do. A lot of writers do support Hernandez. A lot of the ones who don’t, don’t do so simply on the “wins = everything” basis I’ve been criticizing. There are a lot of writers who, like me, thought the Jeter thing was much ado about nothing.

Anyway, as a guy who bristles whenever he hears the term “the bloggers” thrown around to describe everything from some mental defect with a LiveJournal account to yours truly, I think it’s more than fair that I avoid similar imprecision when referring to newspaper guys. Going forward, I’ll be careful to make it clear that when I’m talking about a dumb opinion, I’m limiting it to those who actually subscribe to the dumb opinion as opposed to everyone in that guy’s field.

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.