Mat Latos has been fantastic this year. I want to say that at the outset. If he doesn’t pitch like he’s pitched most of the season the Padres are not in this thing right now. He’s taken the ace role and, even if he may be petering out a bit under the workload as the season ends, he deserves some credit for his moxy.
But he also deserves a figurative kick in the pants right now. Partially for what looked like some pouting in last night’s game against the Cubs — he was clearly miffed by the umpire’s strike zone and the Padres’ defensive lapses, both his teammates’ and his own — but also for these comments he made to Scott Miller of CBS Sports.com, talking about the hole in which the Padres currently find themselves:
“Baseball works in funny ways,” said Latos, now 0-4 with a 10.13 ERA
over his past four starts. “The only way I could honestly put it is, we
could be like the Giants and go and change our whole lineup, put guys
with ‘San Francisco Giants’ across their jerseys. We didn’t.
“We added two guys [Miguel Tejada and Ryan Ludwick,
now hitting .221 with five homers in 54 games with the Padres]. We’ve
been the same team all year. We haven’t just gone and grabbed guys from
Welcome to baseball, Mat. Teams make trades for players, be they your team’s two guys or the six or seven players the Giants have brought in over the course of the year. It makes you no more morally or ethically superior to the Giants. It in no way constitutes an excuse for poor performance by the players who remain. It does, however, make you look really, really immature to be complaining about such things.
Latos has one start left this season. It will come against those Giants, be they authentic, in his estimation, or fraudulent. They’ll all be trying to hit the cover off the ball when Latos pitches it to them. He had best concentrate more on that and less on commenting on which team is doing a better job of keeping it real.
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.