Iron Eagle

HBT Weekend Wrapup

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Doug Masters: What’s the hold-up?

Tower: We are having trouble finding a jeep suitable for your, um, purposes.

Doug Masters: Bullsh**, you’ve got a whole country full of them!  You just lost a refinery!  Looks like they’ll be importing oil this year, Chappy!

At least that’s what I made of the news from Libya this weekend.  I had the sound down, though. Really, though, would that have made any less sense than what’s really happening?

  • Grady Sizemore has been ruled out for Opening Day. Really, though, the day after the trade deadline is his Opening Day this year, ain’t it?
  • Quote of the weekend from D.J. Short: “I, for one, look forward to reading Jon Heyman’s reaction when Castillo signs a contract before David Eckstein.”  Well, Castillo signed before Eckstein. And Heyman hates it. Seems that Castillo “exudes mopey-ness.” That kind of trenchant analysis is why SI pays him the big bucks.
  • I was 14 years-old the last time a baseball season began without Tim Wakefield on someone’s roster, be it in the minors or the majors. I presume that the streak will continue, but not for too much longer.
  • I like slam dunks that take me to the hoop, my favorite play is the alley oop. I like the pick-and-roll, I like the give-and-go, but when they said “ball Zack?” he should have just said no!
  • Mookie Wilson reclaims the number 1 jersey for the Mets. Mookie Calcaterra did not appreciate me pointing out that her nicknamesake was in the news again.
  • Brian Wilson strained his oblique. Brian Wilson is oblique. I sense irony.
  • Curt Schilling referred to his 2004 Red Sox teammate Manny Ramirez as a “cheater.” Which, while not particularly polite, is true.  There are a lot of things that one could call Schilling that aren’t polite but which are true too.
  • Am I the only one who wasn’t aware that the White Sox’ closer’s job was actually up for grabs? I assumed it was Matt Thornton’s job the day Bobby Jenks split. The things you learn reading HardballTalk!
  • With the release of Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez all but gone, that leaves Carlos Beltran as the last guy for Mets fans to kick around. Except the kicking of Beltran never made any kind of sense whatsoever. Anyway, he’s playing again.
  • Pat Neshek was waived by the Twins and picked up by the Padres. Hard to think of a better place for a pitcher to have a fresh start than in Petco Park.
  • Ryan Zimmerman resumes baseball activities.  I too resumed baseball activities yesterday, having bought my son and daughter their first baseball gloves, a ball, bat and tee. We left the tee and bat aside for the time being and just focused on trying to play catch. The first 15 minutes were spent with both of them trying to explain to me how silly it was for right-handed people to wear the glove on their left hand. The next ten minutes were spent with the ball bouncing off the heels of their gloves and into their chins, faces and shoulders.  Then it was decided that it was great fun for daddy to simply throw the ball up in the air as high as he could and catch it, which was met with a round of applause each time.  Then they walked over near the bushes and started digging up worms, holding them on the ends of sticks and chasing the other one with them. Baseball activities may have been resumed a bit too early.

And on we go into the last full week with no baseball that counts until November.

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.