Cliff Lee gave his introductory news conference with the Phillies earlier this afternoon (see the video below). There were a few notable quotes from Lee. One was about how Philly fans are great because “they don’t need a teleprompter to tell them too cheer.” I suppose that could be construed as a swipe at the fans in either Texas or Seattle, so that’s fun.
More interesting to me was when he was asked about taking the shorter, less-guaranteed money deal to come to Philly. His response.
“When you hit a certain point, enough is enough.”
Money, that is. Which I imagine is a quote that some people will run with in the next 24 hours as evidence that Lee is selfless and team-oriented and stuff. It’ll be interesting to see if anyone who does run with it also notes that, if Lee pitches as well as he believes he can over the next five years, he’ll end up making more money on this deal than he would have on the Yankees deal. And that he’s making more per-year for each of the next five years than he would have on the Yankees.
Which isn’t to slam Lee, of course. Good for him for going where he wanted on what are really great terms. But just be wary of anyone who spins this as a selfless deal in which he turned down the big Yankee dollars on a matter of principle. Because anyone writing that is distorting things pretty significantly.
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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.
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.