Some great points from Ken Davidoff this morning regarding Hank Steinbrenner running off at the mouth yesterday. The upshot: though it’s hard to ignore what Hank Steinbrenner says because of his name and the sometimes outrageous nature of his remarks, we really can’t give them any weight beyond their entertainment value because the dude really has no power whatsoever in the Yankees organization.
I thought about this last night when a commenter said something about how Hank should have “kept this stuff in-house.” Actually, there is no “in-house” for this stuff. If Hank said it behind closed doors it would still be of no moment. No team executive with any power at all would actually criticize his star player for “building mansions.” In this, Hank’s ravings are no different than a fan hanging out with his buddies or a caller on a talk radio show. But he has the name and he has the office and he looks and carries himself way more like Big Stein than his brother Hal does, so we all understandably flock to it.
I don’t think it’s possible to ignore Hank Steinbrenner, if for no other reason than it would be kind of rude, after all of this time, for the beat writers to treat him as though he’s totally unimportant. He is notable in that way celebrities who don’t do anything are notable and nothing will ever change that. When he talks people will hold up the microphone, and I have no problem at all with this. But unless there’s a palace coup and Hank truly takes over, our analysis of Hank Steinbrenner’s comments should always end at “heh, that’s pretty funny/obnoxious/bizarrely insightful.” At no point should it extend to “what are the implications of what he said for the Yankees.”
As Davidoff notes, today people will ask Derek Jeter and Brian Cashman about what Hank said. They’ll dutifully respond because they’re professionals. My guess is the response will be akin to “he’s Mr. Steinbrenner and he can say what he likes and we understand that.” But they know and we should all realize that there is no actual significance to anything Hank Steinbrenner said as it relates to the Yankees.
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.