Great, there go the Mets chances of signing Rickey Henderson and Bobby Bonilla again …
Manager Terry Collins told The Post yesterday his team rules, many of which will be unveiled today when he addresses his full squad for the first time, will include a limit on card playing in the clubhouse.
“It’s my understanding [card playing] was an issue last year,” Collins said. “They will be allowed to play cards, but there is going to be a cutoff time before the game.”
That’s from Mike Puma of the New York Post, who adds, from the “I didn’t know that” department, that hitting coach Howard Johnson apparently went ballistic on the team during a road trip last season, saying that they were paying more attention to cards than they were baseball. Of course, this wasn’t long after a bunch of “the Mets are gonna fire Howard Johnson” speculation began swirling around, so maybe HoJo was just a bit irritable.
David Wright is quoted in the article and it’s implied that he was one of the main card-playing offenders last year. He’s fine with the rule, but he plays the “if cards are really a distraction you’ve got bigger problems” card, which suggests that he thinks the rule is kind of silly.
For what it’s worth, I imagine this is like anything else: if your team wins a lot you can have virgin sacrifices ten minutes before the National Anthem and no one is gonna care. If you lose, you have to expect someone — especially a new someone like Collins — is going to single out small things that can be easily changed in the name of tone-setting.
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.