It's finally official: Manuel and Minaya are gone

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The Mets just issued a press release saying that Jerry Manuel and Omar Minaya have been “relieved of their duties.” This follows their morning release about the sun rising and anticipates their evening release about darkness falling. As soon as it came out a dozen fedora-wearing reporters rushed to pay phones to call in their scoop, they were so surprised.

Jon Heyman just tweeted that Minaya is being retained by the Mets to do . . . something.  I’ve argued that such a thing wouldn’t be the worst idea on the planet and that the Mets, not wanting to pay Omar to do nothing (he’s under contract next year) may want to keep him around.  Looking at it differently, however, there’s just way too much of a chance that his mere presence makes life difficult for his successor at GM. Well, more difficult than it will already be what with having to answer to Jeff Wilpon. I could see that part of things ending poorly.

Manuel, of course, is really gone.  I’m having a hard time shedding a tear for him.  He played a big part in Willie Randolph getting ousted a couple of years ago, allegedly serving as a conduit of player complaints about Randolph to the front office. Whether or not that was really a problem, he never showed any indication that he could inspire the Mets to do anything special, and he has certainly lost the confidence of the press, the fans talk radio and all of the usual constituencies that make managing in New York unique.

The Mets now embark on their quest to find a general manager who is savvy enough to fix the many things wrong with this team but desperate enough to where he’ll willingly subject himself to Jeff Wilpons’ caprice and the seeming mandate from ownership that you can’t rebuild in New York.  I don’t know who fits that description.  It may not matter unless ownership, in addition to changing managers and the GM, changes the way they’ve been doing things for the past several years.

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.