Matt Anderson

Blast from the past: the Phillies sign Matt Anderson

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This will likely be the first and the last time we blog about Matt Anderson this year, but I am a sucker for comeback stories so it’s worth a mention. The Phillies signed him. Minor league deal, of course.

For those who are blanking, Anderson was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1997 draft, selected by the Tigers. Once upon a time he could throw the ball 100 miles per hour. The Tigers rushed him up the ladder in 1998, but it was mostly OK: he embarrassed Single-A and Double-A hitters that summer, and struck out a batter an inning during his major league callup that year. After starting the 1999 season in Toledo, he stuck with the big club as a reliever through the 2003 season, though he was hurt much of the time those last couple of years.

The circumstances of his most famous injury — a torn muscle in his armpit in 2002 — remain clouded.  It was widely reported at the time that he hurt himself during an octopus-throwing contest at Comerica Park.  Really.  It’s a Red Wings thing, for those who don’t know. The team and Anderson denied it at the time, but there never was a truly satisfactory answer for how he got that particular injury at that particular time.

But no matter what caused the injury, after that: wildnerness. Shoulder trouble. Years missed. Independent league ball.  He last saw major league action in a 12-game stint with the Rockies in 2005.  He last pitched organized ball in 2008 in the White Sox system. He’s 34 now. What the Phillies plan on doing with him I have no idea.

But we all love comebacks.  At least when they begin.  Sadly, they almost never end well.  Good luck all the same to you, Matt Anderson.

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.